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Obama Picks Chuck Hagel; Obama to Nominate Brennan as CIA Dir.; Mom Opens Fire on Home Intruders; Prosecutors to avail key residence today; Colorado Theater Massacre Suspect in Court; Banks Near $10B Mortgage Settlement

Aired January 7, 2013 - 09:00   ET


CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. Thanks a lot.

Happening now in the NEWSROOM. A war hero and Washington politics. Former Senator Chuck Hagel may need those war survival skills as one- time allies rally against his pending nomination as Defense secretary.


DONNIE HERMAN, WIFE SHOT MAN WHO BROKE INTO THE HOME: My wife is a hero. She protected her kids. She did what she was supposed to do as a responsible, prepared gun owner.


COSTELLO: A Georgia man praising his wife after she fought back against an intruder. Gun rights advocates say, we told you so.

RG3 down and out. But should the Redskins have replaced their franchise quarterback long before his knee buckled?

NEWSROOM starts now.

Good morning to you. Thank you so much for being with us. I'm Carol Costello. We begin with a new battle, or should I say another battle that's brewing this morning in Washington.

At the center, former U.S. Senator Chuck Hagel. In four hours, President Obama is expected to name Hagel as his choice for Defense secretary. But that nomination could be bruising. Hagel is known for being fiercely independent and the loudest outcry could come from Hagel's own fellow Republicans.

They say he's the wrong choice to oversee the military. The combat veteran, who was badly wounded in Vietnam, is openly wary of armed conflict.


CHUCK HAGEL (R), FORMER U.S. SENATOR: The pain, and we didn't have any medics there with us, and we did have some guys, again, that I think were in pretty bad shape. So the morphine and everything was used for them. You know, if I ever get out of all this, I am going to do everything I can to assure that war is a last resort. That we, a nation, a people, calls upon to settle a dispute. The horror of it, the pain of it, the suffering of it.


COSTELLO: Hagel won two Purple Hearts for his service in Vietnam. He also saved the life of his brother, who was fighting alongside him. Hagel has also long called for cuts in Defense spending.

National correspondent Jim Acosta is on Capitol Hill to set the stage.

And, Jim, some Republicans say this is an "in your face" nomination by the president.


COSTELLO: It doesn't sound good.

ACOSTA: Well, we'll have to see what happens. You know, a lot of times, you know, this sort of hue and cry will get going in the early rounds, but once the confirmation hearings get going, some of that does tend to melt away.

You're right. Lindsey Graham was on CNN's "STATE OF THE UNION" yesterday calling this an "in your face" nomination and basically saying that this is going to be a very controversial pick for President Obama.

We should note that the White House just put out some official guidance that at 1:05 this afternoon the president will come out and make a personnel announcement. We expect that to be the announcement of Chuck Hagel for Defense secretary and John Brennan for director of the CIA.

But getting back to Chuck Hagel, you mentioned some of his credentials just a few moments ago. He is not only a Republican senator who served in these halls with many of these same senators who might be opposing him or asking him tough questions, he also served in Vietnam.

But, Carol, he took some very controversial positions over the years and made some controversial statements. He opposed the Iraq surge, the surge of troops into Iraq to help stabilize that country during the second term of George W. Bush. He has from time to time opposed unilateral sanctions on Iran. That also raised the dander of neo- conservatives here in Washington.

And so it's no surprise -- and he's made some comments about Israel and the Israeli lobby group, APAC, calling them the Jewish lobby. That has angered a lot of Jewish Americans and Israelis about that. And so it's no surprise that Lindsey Graham is making some of these tough comments that he made earlier today on "STATE OF THE UNION."

Here's what he had to say.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: This is an "in your face" nomination by the president to all of us who are supportive of Israel. I don't know what his management experience is regarding the Pentagon, little, if any. So I think it's an incredibly controversial choice, and it looks like the second term of Barack Obama is going to be an "in your face" term.


ACOSTA: And we should also note that Mitch McConnell, the Senate minority leader, the top Republican here in the Senate, made some softer comments on the other Sunday talk shows. He was saying that Chuck Hagel will get some thorough vetting, will get tough questions, but was not talking about that nomination in the same stark terms that we heard from Lindsey Graham.

So, you know, one interesting thing to note, Carol, President Obama is making this nomination with Congress out of town, so there's also some time for maybe some of this nomination to melt away. We'll have to see.

COSTELLO: We will. Stick around, Jim Acosta. We'll get back to you in the next hour.


COSTELLO: I want to take a closer look now at the anti-Israel claims against Hagel through the eyes of a seasoned diplomat. Nicholas Burns is a former undersecretary of state. He joins us now by phone.

Good morning, Mr. Ambassador.


COSTELLO: Before we speak, I want to -- I want to tell people exactly what Hagel said that -- you know, those comments that are haunting him today. In one statement, he said -- and this was a long time ago. He said, "I'm not an Israeli senator. I'm a United States senator." Of course, Mr. Hagel said that when he was serving in the Senate. And at another time he says, quote, "The Jewish lobby intimidates a lot of people up here."

Not very diplomatic words, right? But are they anti-Israel?

BURNS: No, I don't think so. And, Carol, Senator Hagel has a long record of support for Israel, support for Israel's security. I think this is an outstanding choice by President Obama because Senator Hagel is clearly, without any question, one of the most knowledgeable and experienced leaders we have on foreign defense policy. He's got a long record of support for the U.S. military, and he's a combat veteran in Vietnam. So he's seen war.

And I think he's going to add weight to the Cabinet, and he's going to work well with the president and I think be a real boost to our foreign and defense policy.

COSTELLO: Well, what do you suppose he meant when he said the Jewish lobby intimidates a lot of people up here? What did he mean by that?

BURNS: Well, I don't know what he meant specifically, but I know that the remark was made some time ago, and I know that Senator Hagel has been very consistently supportive of the obligation and interests that the United States has to support Israel's security. He has never deviated from that. He's also been -- and I know this because I was involved in Iran policy in the Bush administration -- a very strong supporter of the effort to deny Iran nuclear weapons.

Frankly, some of the charges that I've seen in the press, completely unfair and exaggerated and I hope that Senator Hagel will get -- he deserves a fair hearing. And the president certainly has the right to nominate who he pleases to the Cabinet. I think -- if his nomination does go through, I think it's a very, very good choice.

COSTELLO: Ambassador Burns, thanks for being with us this morning.

At the same time as the Hagel announcement, President Obama will also reveal his choice to head the CIA. Right now John Brennan serves as the president's chief advisor on terrorism and homeland security. He also served 25 years at the CIA, but that doesn't mean the nomination will be a slam dunk.

Pentagon correspondent Chris Lawrence explains.


CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): John Brennan is the White House's point man for targeting terrorists. He's got an office in the West Wing and the ear of President Obama. Moving to Langley would be a big change.

PETER BERGEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Going to the CIA, you are further away from the West Wing of the White House and immediate access to the president.

LAWRENCE: But in a way, Brennan would be coming home. He joined the CIA after reading a want ad in the newspaper, learned Arabic, and become a station chief in Saudi Arabia.


LAWRENCE: Brennan was a candidate for CIA director four years ago, but he pulled out of contention when critics slammed his involvement in Bush-era interrogations. The job went to Leon Panetta and later David Petraeus. But the former general had a culture clash with some career CIA analysts. Following outsiders, Panetta and Petraeus, may be easier for Brennan.

BILL HARLOW, FORMER CIA CHIEF SPOKESMAN: They'll think here's a guy who understands us and will have our backs and defend us.

LAWRENCE: Brennan was intimately involved in the run-up to the assault on Osama bin Laden.

BERGEN: At one point, the analysts came back in, and they said, well, you know, whoever is living in this compound has a dog, and, of course, very observant, Muslims don't have dogs. But Brennan had been on the bin Laden account for -- himself for 15 years, and he remembered that, in fact, bin Laden had a dog when he was living in Sudan.

LAWRENCE: Brennan supported the raid, but afterwards he initially implied that bin Laden was armed when he wasn't. Brennan suggested bin Laden cowardly used a human shield when he did not.

BRENNAN: There was a female who was, in fact, in the line of fire that reportedly was used as a shield to shield bin Laden from the incoming fire.

LAWRENCE: Brennan broke new ground last year.

BRENNAN: We can be more transparent and still ensure our nation's security.

LAWRENCE: He became the first official to publicly explain how the government uses drones to target terrorists.

BERGEN: John Brennan is somebody who's -- was in the room when all these decisions were made and is one of the principal architects of this campaign. This is surely going to come up in his confirmation hearing.

LAWRENCE: So will accusations Brennan helped manipulate leaks to boost the administration's national security credentials. And unlike the adviser job, which does not need Congress' approval, this time Brennan will have to face his critics head on.

Chris Lawrence, CNN, Washington.


COSTELLO: And we are expecting a formal announcement on the nominations of former Senator Chuck Hagel and John Brennan in just about four hours. Of course we'll bring you live coverage when that happens.

It was a profitable weekend for many gun dealers across the country with gun shows seeing record turnouts as concern continues to grow over changes to our nation's gun laws.

These are crowds in Stamford, Connecticut, which is less than an hour from Newtown. In Los Angeles, people waited in line for more than four hours to get inside the gun show there, and they're paying a lot more for guns. Thanks to high demand, the prices for things like shell cases are tripling.

And it was a similar scene outside Orlando, Florida, where thousands of gun buyers turned out over two days to shop for weapons and ammunition. But opinions remain mixed over whether we need more gun laws.


VICTOR BEAN, GUN SHOW PROMOTER: The answer is not more gun legislation. We already have laws banning murder. But we still have murders?

ALLEN COOLBAUGH, GUN OWNER: You know, I don't think we should stopped from owning whatever gun we want to own other than fully automatic guns. High capacity magazines, nobody really needs them.


COSTELLO: And then there is this growing debate. Should you know who owns a gun? In Connecticut, one state representative wants to make public the names of all 170,000 handgun permit owners. Comes after a New York newspaper, "The Journal News," was criticized posting an online map showing the names and addresses of gun permit owners.

But it's a different story in New Jerseys, where state assemblyman Dave riddle, himself a former police officer, wants to ban the release of gun owners' names and addresses. Rible told a Jersey radio station that only law enforcement needs that type of information.

And then there's this story out of Georgia, which is gaining national attention and likely to become an example of why we need to protect the rights of gun owners. A Georgia mother armed with a .38 protecting her children from an intruder. Her husband is calling her a hero this morning.

Carrie Cavanaugh of CNN affiliate WUSB in Atlanta tells us what happened.


HERMAN: My wife is a hero. She protected her kids. She did what she was supposed to do as a responsible, prepared gun owner.

CARRIE CAVANAUGH, REPORTER, WUSB: Donnie Herman was on the phone with his wife as an intruder was breaking into their home. Walton County Sheriff's deputies say the mother works from the home on Henderson Ridge Drive. Her 9-year-old twins didn't have school. Around noon, a strange man arrived at the door. Deputies say he began continuously ringing bell. When no one responded, he grabbed a crowbar from his truck. He pried his way in. That's when the mother grabbed her kids, her gun, and hid in a crawl space.

SHERIFF JOE CHAPMAN, WALTON COUNTY, GEORGIA: The perpetrator opens that door. Of course, at that time, he's staring at her, her two children, and a .38 revolver.

CAVANAUGH: Sheriff Joe Chapman says the woman began firing all six rounds, hitting the suspect in the face and neck five times.

CHAPMAN: She starts yelling at him, stay down or I'm going to shoot you again. That's when she gets her two children out of the crawl space, and they run downstairs and run out of the house to a neighbor next door.

CAVANAUGH: They ran next door, and the man took off in his truck. Sheriff Chapman says 32-year-old Paul Slater crashed up the road. Deputies found him on the ground. Chapman said he told the deputies, help me, I'm close to dying. The mother and her children were not harmed.

CHAPMAN: We're in the neighborhood where several law enforcement officers lived, and I don't think they could have handled the situation any better than what she did.

HERMAN: Her lives are saved, and her kids lives are saved. That's all I'd like to say.


COSTELLO: Our thanks to CNN affiliate WUSB which reports the intruder, the suspect, was placed on a ventilator with punctured lungs, a punctured liver, and a punctured stomach.

The man accused of using three guns to murder people at a Colorado movie theater will be in court for a key preliminary hearing this morning. And the evidence unveiled today is expected to be graphic and quite painful for the families of the victims.

James Holmes, the accused shooter, will be in court. And for the first time, prosecutors will unveil 911 tapes and video from inside the Aurora theater.

Here's Casey Wian.


CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Twenty-five-year-old James Holmes is charged with killing 12 people and wounding dozens more. Prosecutors are expected to call scores of witnesses before Arapaho County District judge William Sylvester. He'll determine whether the evidence is sufficient for Holmes to stand trial on more than 150 counts, including murder, attempted murder, and weapons charges.

Weapons included explosives allegedly used to booby-trap Holmes' apartment. His attorneys are expected to present a diminished mental capacity defense.

RICK KORNFELD, ATTORNEY, FORMER PROSECUTOR: The government is going to absolutely say this. The government is going to say, this guy wasn't crazy. He was crazy like a fox. He was conniving. He was premeditated. He was methodical. And that all may be true, but at the same time, you could be all those things, but you could also have a mental disease or defect.

WIAN: He had been seeing a psychiatrist at the University of Colorado, where he was a doctoral candidate in neuroscience until dropping out in June. His attorneys say he was hospitalized in November after repeatedly banging his head into a jail wall.


COSTELLO: Casey Wian joins us now from Colorado. Casey, a question for you: the district attorney, I understand he sent a letter to the families of the victims. What does it say?

WIAN: That's right, Carol. The victims, of course, are going to be enduring -- those who are here in court are going to be enduring some very disturbing, graphic and painful testimony over the next several days. They've warned about autopsy photos, hours of video from the scene, 911 calls, things like that. The prosecutors wanted to make sure the victims are prepared, if they choose to be in court, and the victims' family members choose to be in court, that they're prepared for what they are going to encounter.

Some of those victims' relatives are actually expected to be in the same courtroom as James Holmes. Others, though, don't want to be in the same room as him, and they will be in an overflow room that holds many more people, Carol.

COSTELLO: Could James Holmes enter a plea today?

WIAN: No. This is a preliminary hearing, which means the prosecution needs to show enough evidence to persuade a judge that James Holmes needs to go to trial. A plea would not happen before an arraignment, which would happen after the judge makes a determination that, yes, he must stand trial.

No one here believes the prosecution is going to have any difficulty persuading the judge that James Holmes should go to trial on many of those 166 counts that he faces.

COSTELLO: Casey Wian reporting live from Aurora, Colorado, today.

To sports now, and RG3. Is there a difference to being hurt and being injured? As Robert Griffin, the super hero rookie quarterback, and he'd say yes. Or maybe he would have said yes.

As you know, Seattle will go on to play the Falcons. RG3's season is over. The question this morning, should Griffin's season have ended before the Seattle game? What if Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan had taken out RG3 after he re-injured his right knee? But he didn't. Even after the first quarter, when Griffin fell down on an incomplete pass and was gimpy when he got up.

After the game, Shanahan explained why he stuck with his rookie quarterback.


MIKE SHANAHAN, REDSKINS' COACH: When I talked to Robert, and Robert said to me, he said, coach, there's a difference between being injured and being hurt. He said, I can guarantee I'm hurting right now. Give me a chance to win this football game because I can guarantee I'm not injured. So, that was enough for me.

ROBERT GRIFFIN III, REDSKINS' QUARTERBACK: I'm the quarterback of this team. My job is to be out there if I couldn't play. The only time I couldn't play is when I went down, and I took myself out of the game.

So, this is the way you have to play it. And I don't feel like me being out there -- just to tackle the next question, I don't feel like me being out there hurt the team in any way. You know, I'm the best option for this team, and that's why I'm the starter.


COSTELLO: RG3's knee buckled on him in the third quarter when he was trying to rally the Redskins. He came out of the game then, and he'll have an MRI on that knee.

Another what if. What if the Redskins -- and the Redskins fans are wondering about this what if -- what if FedEx field's playing surface wasn't so sloppy? After all, it wasn't raining or snowing. The field was a mess. We'll talk about that factor when Vince Cellini joins us for the big play in just about 40 minutes.

Ray Lewis played his last home game as a Baltimore Raven, helping the team he's played with for 17 years move on in the post-season. Lewis led the Ravens with 13 tackles as Baltimore beat Indianapolis 24-9. Lewis plans to retire after the Ravens' playoff run ends. Baltimore plays at Denver on Saturday.

They're accused of seizing homes when their customers defaulted on their mortgages. And now, some banks are paying billions for it.


COSTELLO: Twenty-one minutes past the hour.

They're accused of breaking the rules, and now, some of the nation's biggest banks are reportedly preparing to pay up billions of dollars and pay up to American homeowners.

Alison Kosik is in New York.

Is it enough, though? Because a lot of homeowners got ripped off.

ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: And that's the question. You know, we're not getting details exactly of the specific figures, but let me backtrack and tell you the story behind this.

This all comes from the robo-signing scandal a couple of years ago, Carol. This is when banks were accused of fast-tracking their approval of foreclosures without reviewing the paperwork as they should have, and affected more than 4 million homeowners.

All right. Let's bring this up to today. And today, we're expecting to hear an announcement from the Treasury Department's office of the comptroller's currency about a roughly $10 billion settlement. It once again could be announced today. And it's expected to include 14 big banks with big names like Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Citi, and Wells Fargo. Here are the details that we do know at this point. These banks, they may pay more than $3 billion in cash payments to borrowers who are wrongly foreclosed on in 2009 or 2010. An additional $6 billion would go to non-cash assistance, and that includes loan modifications. It would go to help with short sales and relocation assistance.

Now, of the 4.4 million homeowners affected, the half million or so who requested a review of their foreclosure proceedings at the time of their foreclosure, they're going to be getting the biggest payments, Carol. And that's the same with people who are determined to have suffered harm because of these foreclosures that shouldn't have happened in the first place.

Now, here's what's interesting. Those who were foreclosed on that didn't ask for a review, they will reportedly get just a couple hundred bucks.

So, you know, it's lesson learned here. Squeaky wheel gets the grease -- Carol.

COSTELLO: Alison Kosik reporting live from New York City this morning.

We're hearing about possible new gun measures being considered by Joe Biden's task force that was established after the Sandy Hook shootings. What, if any, new gun laws should be passed? It's our talk back question today. Or send me a tweet @carolCNN.


COSTELLO: Now is your chance to talk back on one of the big stories of the day. The question for you this morning: what, if any, new gun laws should be passed? We're getting our first glimpse into what the White House may propose in terms of gun legislation. According to "The Washington Post," Joe Biden and his task force are considering reinstating the ban on assault weapons and high capacity magazines, requiring universal gun checks for gun buyers, establishing a national gun sale database, strengthening mental health checks, imposing stiffer penalties for carrying guns near schools or giving them to minors.

Wow, ideas, something to talk about.

Forget that. Already, NRA-backed lawmakers are shooting down the administration's approach.


SEN. HEIDI HEITKAMP (D), NORTH DAKOTA: I think you need to put everything on the table, but what I hear from the administration and if "The Washington Post" is to be believed, that's way -- that's way in extreme of what I think is necessary or even should be talked about, and it's not going to pass.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, but, you know -- HEITKAMP: See, that's the other thing.


COSTELLO: We're talking about this on the same day that James Holmes, the accused Aurora shooter, appears in court, a painful reminder, along with Sandy Hook, of why we're even discussing gun laws right now.

In a CNN/ORC poll taken after the Sandy Hook shooting, about two- thirds supported new gun restrictions, including a ban on semiautomatic assault weapons. But gun rights advocates don't much like that either. So what kind of gun control might they favor? As one lawmaker put it, nothing, if you call it gun control.


REP. MIKE THOMPSON (D), CALIFORNIA: A lot of times when you talk about gun control, you turn off more than half of your audience. And this is more than just that. What we're doing is we're working to prevent gun violence. It's a very complicated issue, and there's a lot of moving parts.


COSTELLO: OK. So how do you prevent gun violence?

Talk back question today: what, if any, new gun laws should be passed?,, or send me a tweet @carolCNN.

I'll be right back.