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STARTING POINT WITH SOLEDAD O'BRIEN

North Korea Moving Missiles; Interview with Congressman Ed Royce of California; "Best Looking Attorney General in the Country"; Faculty Asks Rutgers President To Resign

Aired April 5, 2013 - 08:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


JIM CLANCY, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: -- telling them they might want to evacuate some of their embassy staff, if not all of them.

We're understanding now that this is a message that may have been given to other embassies as well. Russians are going public with that. They say, as you noted, that they haven't made a decision to act, all of this as the North has according to the South -- the north has moved a missile or missiles over to a secret launch pad on the eastern side of the peninsula, preparing for what most people think will be a test launch.

Now, North Korea has been trying to whip up fervor among its own people and around the region that it's the U.S. and South Korea that plan to attack it. I just got off the phone with Hahn Park (ph), the UGA professor that's in close contact with the North Koreans. He says the time is ripe for negotiations.

What this young leader wants is a peace treaty guaranteeing his regime, a peace treaty with Washington. Something to consider as John Kerry plans to go to Beijing next week -- John.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, thanks so much, Jim Clancy.

Something for us to discuss now with Representative Ed Royce. He's a Republican from California, also the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee. He's held hearings on the Korean issue.

Mr. Chairman, let me start with the breaking news this morning, really the breaking news this morning that North Korea has asked the Russian embassy in Pyongyang to consider evacuating its embassy staff. What's your view of this? What's going on here?

REP. ED ROYCE (R-CA), CHAIRMAN, FOREIGN AFFAIRS COMMITTEE: Well, I think they've done the same thing with the British embassy and I think it's to try to get the news out that they are potentially going to create a hostile act. But in the past, this has worked for North Korea, the basic strategy has been to create threats and then try to get aid from the West and that's one of the strategies that got us to this point because the ability to get hard currency to that regime has allowed it to pay for its missile program, and it's very expensive program to develop a nuclear weapon.

At this point, I think we should rethink our strategy that we've had since 1994, because it hasn't worked for us. During those intervening years, it's only allowed the North to develop nuclear capability. We should instead be thinking right now about how we could cut off the flow of hard currency into the regime so it can't pay for further expansions of its weapons program.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Well, let's talk in the very near term. That's obviously a change of long-term strategy for the North Korean situation. But in the near term, you've got a missile moving to the east coast, two missiles, actually, that components and launch technology moving that is clearly moving to the east coast of the country. North Korean is saying that they are ready for a test launch.

What sort of signal does this send? I mean, every day, it's a ratcheting up of developments, not a ratcheting down?

ROYCE: It means they want something for the West. I've been in North Korea. I've been on the east coast of North Korea. The basic program for the North that has worked well to extract aid from South Korea, to extract aid from the U.S., you know, has been to do provocative acts and then to try to get us to the table in exchange for giving them something they want.

I think what's really changed inside the north is the percentage of the population is opposed to this new regime and to the squalor that they live in. And you can see that in the interviews with those who exit the country now, who flee the country. Such a large percentage of them are really rankled at the mismanagement in the North.

I think we feed into that if we give aid to North Korea. And so, my suggestion, again, is that instead of repeating the old pattern and rewarding him for bad behavior, which was the same thing we did with his father and grandfather, that the international community now cut off the international banking system to North Korea so that the regime collapses that we can -- or such pressure's put on it, that the generals decide they don't like not getting paid.

We did this before in 2005, when we caught them counterfeiting $100 U.S. bills and it really brought that regime to its knees, and I think that's what needs to happen now.

BERMAN: It's clear you would like to see what you would like the U.S. to do diplomatically. Let's talk about military actions for a second right now. What do you see the Pentagon going, and what do you think the Pentagon should be doing in reaction to this North Korean threat?

ROYCE: The Pentagon is doing is moving its ballistic missile defense interceptors to the West Coast. You see Alaska and California being beefed up in terms of interceptors. So I think the Obama administration is rather late to the game in terms of missile defense, but certainly now, they are really working at it hard, because they realize some accidental trip wire could be -- could be touched here.

But in all likelihood, this is the same type of bluster we have seen repeatedly from North Korea. I've followed these conversations for years, since 1994, and the type of rhetoric is not unlike what we see rather routinely.

They do do very provocative acts. The sinking of the South Korean warship with a North Korean torpedo was very provocative. The shelling of the island in South Korea. So we might see some additional activity like that.

But it's all predicated upon getting what they want in the North which is a package of more support.

BERMAN: We'll see -- we'll see if we wake up one morning soon and there isn't a ratcheting of the rhetoric going on, because it has been every morning lately.

Congressman Ed Royce, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee -- thanks so much for being with us this morning.

ROYCE: Thank you.

ROMANS: All right. Also new this morning, Colorado police have arrested one of the two white supremacists they have been searching for in connection with the shooting death of the state prison chief, Tom Clements. James Lohr was taken into custody in Colorado Springs. Police say both suspects had recent contact with Evan Ebel. The man suspected of killing Clements.

BERMAN: He was murdered in his home last month in an exclusive interview with Clements widow and daughters, they talk to CNN about how they want him to be remembered.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RACHEL CLEMENTS, DAUGHTER OF TOM CLEMENTS: I would like people to on see how he lived his life. So much important than how he died. He lived with so much passion and compassion of other people.

LISA CLEMENTS, WIDOW OF TOM CLEMENTS: All that was just an unmentionable darkness. But I -- I trust that people will see light coming through. They will see that a man lived a good life and people's lives were impacted by that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Clements' other daughter, Sara, said, simply, "My dad was a hero."

ROMANS: Newly released documents show a psychiatrist who treated Colorado theater shooting suspect James Holmes. She warned police about Holmes a month before the mass massacre. Dr. Lynn Fenton, a psychiatrist with the University of Colorado, she contacted a campus officer about Holmes. Fenton warned he had made homicidal statements and possessed a threat to the public.

The affidavit says Holmes had stopped seeing Dr. Fenton and began sending her threatening text messages.

BERMAN: New video shows Texas D.A. Mike McLelland was thinking about protection the day before he and his wife were found shot to the death in their home. He was captured on camera shopping at a gun store. The shop gun owner says McLelland was not looking for weapons for himself, but for others who worked for him at the Kaufman County D.A.'s office. Staffers there were nervous following the fatal shooting of assistant D.A. Mark Hasse back in January.

Public services will be held for Mike and Cynthia McLelland. The public memorial took place yesterday.

So, sign this guy up. Check out this fan at last night's Mariners/A's game in Oakland -- a vicious slicing foul ball coming right at him. What does he do? A casual, one handed, bare handed grab of the ball.

The most impressive part of this catch, though, folks. What he does with the other hand. He's got a beer in it, and he does not spill a drop. That is the guy with his priorities in order there.

After a round of high-fives comes the celebration. You can see thumb there, taking a sip of the beer that he worked so very, very hard to save.

ROMANS: The quick reflex is so cool. I mean, usually, after a big beer at a park, my reflexes are a little slower. But his were pretty quick.

BERMAN: Incredibly impressive.

ROMANS: All right. A slip of the tongue causing quite a buzz this morning. Michelle Obama sitting down with a reporter from Burlington, Vermont. Listen to her as she discusses the struggle that many parents face in balancing work and home life.

And here is how she misspeaks.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHELLE OBAMA, U.S. FIRST LADY: Believe me. As a busy single mother or I shouldn't say single, as a busy mother, sometimes when you got the husband who's president, it can feel single, but he's there.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: And the president also causing a bit of a stir with comments he just made. This came out a fund-raiser in California yesterday. The commander-in-chief couldn't say enough nice things about the state attorney general, Kamala Harris. He called her as dedicated, tough, brilliant, and this -- he called her, by far the best looking attorney general in the country.

ROMANS: We are joined by Howard Kurtz, host of CNN's "RELIABLE SOURCES" and Washington bureau chief for "Newsweek" and "The Daily Beast," and Lauren Ashburn, "Daily Beast" contributor and editor in chief of "The Daily Download."

OK, I think let's start with the president and Kamala Harris. My first reaction was, if it were Joe Biden, we'd roll our eyes. But it's a getting a lot of heat online, you guys, this morning about the president saying this about an attorney general.

LAUREN ASHBURN, DAILY BEAST CONTRIBUTOR: Are you offended?

ROMANS: I'm surprised.

ASHBURN: You're surprised?

(CROSSTALK)

HOWARD KURTZ, "RELIABLE SOURCES" HOST: Would you be offended? If I said you were smart, dedicated, brilliant and really good in front of the camera and, by the way, very good looking, your reaction would be?

ASHBURN: I just really like, why did you need to say that I'm good looking? But, like, OK, but you did --

KURTZ: That's what you need to be on television.

ASHBURN: Right. But he did compliment her.

On Twitter, getting a ton of heat for this, saying things like, you know, why is he insensitive to women? And this is just another one, he didn't put a lot of women in his new cabinet.

So, he is under fire for something like this.

KURTZ: I'm sorry. This is the media P.C. police run amok. Now, I'm more than willing to criticize President Obama when he says something dumb. "You're likeable enough, Hillary." That was dumb. "You didn't build that." That was dumb.

Making a light comment about the attorney general of California at a party fundraiser, I haven't seen anywhere she took any offense is just silly.

BERMAN: Let me read to you. You say it's media overkill. Let me read you something that may be overkill in your mind.

From Joan Walsh. She says this, "Kamala Harris deserves better. Those of us who fought to make sure that women were seen as more than ornamental, and that includes the president, should know better than to rely on flattering the looks of someone as formidable as Harris. Why not praise her Homeowners' Bill of Rights? Calling her by far, the toughest attorney general."

ASHBURN: He did praise her. That's the whole point. He said a paragraph phrasing her, before he made a joke, I think. It's not as though he called her a slut, like some people other have called Sandra Fluke. It's not as if he has been in the White House conducting himself improperly.

KURTZ: Like one of his Democratic predecessors, right. There is no history here of Obama overtly flirting with women, right?

BERMAN: There is a history of him going up to a guy, a male attorney general, and he's a dashing, he wears a really good suit. (CROSSTALK)

KURTZ: Because here's a political headline last year about the Republican V.P nominee. "Forget the budget, Paul Ryan is hot."

ASHBURN: And Marco Rubio came out of the 2000 presidential campaign, convention, the Republican convention, all of the stories about how hot he was and P, George Bush's nephew, oh my gosh, so gorgeous, good looking.

ROMANS: So, Americans are obsessed by people's looks. Is that what we've decided?

KURTZ: Here's what I think. You know, we in the press and some people in the public complain that our politicians so scripted and so choreographed and they never go off the cuff and then when somebody make as a joke, maybe a borderline joke, I don't know, you know, we cream them.

ASHBURN: It's borderline.

KURTZ: Yes.

ASHBURN: It's borderline.

KURTZ: You don't look offended.

ASHBURN: I'm not, but it is borderline. I can understand how they could have done this, I mean, how it can be such a controversy. But it's not over the top -- almost offensive, a little sort of cringing, because he is usually not tone deaf.

KURTZ: Good thing for the president doesn't seem to be on videotape, unless a secret Mitt Romney 47 percent video surfaces, and then you all get to play it over and over.

(CROSSTALK)

ROMANS: Well, he and Mr. Obama can discuss tonight each of their gaffes and decides who needs to apologize for which one.

Thanks, guys.

BERMAN: (INAUDIBLE).

ROMANS: Ahead on STARTING POINT, a growing chorus for Rutgers president to resign over the video of Mike Rice abusing players. Should he step down? Next, the professor who's leading the charge.

You're watching STARTING POINT.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: Calls are growing this morning for Rutgers University president, Robert Barchi, to resign over the video of now fired coach, Mike Rice, abusing players. ROMANS: More than 30 faculty members wrote a letter to Rutgers board of governors and trustees. It reads in part, quote, "It is indicative of President Barchi's views of diversity that he only fired Coach Rice after media attention forced him to do so."

Although, President Barchi is now suggesting, otherwise, he has known about Coach Rice's homophobic, misogynist, and abusive behavior for several months. Not only did he not fire Coach Rice, he, in essence, covered up the coach's actions by failing to telling faculty and students about them. Robert Snyder is one of the professors who signed that letter. He joins us this morning.

Good morning. So, you're -- I mean, you were not a fan of this university president before now, but you think now this is a sign that more heads need to roll.

ROBERT SNYDER, PH.D., RUTGERS UNIVERSITY: Over the last year, he's turned Rutgers into a place that's less effective as a pipeline to the middle class, for working class, minority, and new immigrant students. On top of this comes the issue with the basketball coach. Double impact has been devastating.

BERMAN: You know, I want to know, are there two sides to this story? Is it possible there is another way to look at this? We spoke yesterday to a former player of Coach Rice, Tyree Graham. Let's listen to what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TYREE GRAHAM, FMR. RUTGERS PLAYER: I do respect all other things like his passion for the love of basketball. It's -- to make us better because not only he was passionate about, you know, just basketball. He's passionate in the classroom also. These videos, and you know, these (INAUDIBLE) watching of him kicking people and hitting people with basketball, some of that was in a laughing matter and I wish that, you know, that audio showed that, and not just, you know, him sending gay slurs.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: That is a former player. Is there room for interpretation here?

SNYDER: Not on the videotape. I'm sorry. The slurs that he used against those players, the throwing of the ball at one player's head from the distance of a few feet is not an acceptable coaching strategy. And a parent, I was a youth coach myself for many years, that has no place in an athletic team.

BERMAN: And then, explain to me exactly then what the president's culpability is here?

SNYDER: Well, it's like the Nixon administration. People are asking what did he know and when did he know it? We were told earlier in his academic year that the coach was going to be suspended and fined. We never found out why. We always wondered what was at stake. Now, we know what was at stake, the videotape and the incidents behind him.

ROMANS: Why do you think he didn't fire him sooner?

SNYDER: One allegation is that they might have been stuck paying for his contract. Basketball coaches have huge contracts today in the pursuit of big-time sports success. If records have been paying that, it looked like a big bill. That bill is going to look small compare to the embarrassment they're facing now.

BERMAN: And of course, another thing that occurred to so many people, the atmosphere at Rutgers University, Rutgers, of course, where Tyler Clementi, a gay student, committed suicide. How was that affected perceptions on campus?

SNYDER: It is devastating. We went through enormous soul searching over Tyler Clementi and thought we had become a different kind of university. We looked at what happened at Penn State where people put the institution over the health and welfare of students, and we all thought we'd learned something from it, but the president hasn't learned something from it.

ROMANS: We reached out to the university about your letter. We have not received a response. Have you received a response about your letter?

SNYDER: The only response is the president refused to show up at a forum that was supposed to discuss the future of Rutgers yesterday on our campus. He's proposed oblique (ph) future. And when the politics got bad for him, he chickened out and didn't show up.

BERMAN: Mr. Robert Snyder, appreciate coming and talking to us. We'll see if this thing develops over the next few days.

SNYDER: All right. Thank you.

BERMAN: Ahead on STARTING POINT, fans of "Arrested Development," your wait almost over. The day for the new season has finally been announced. That is friended (ph). We'll tell you about it next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROMANS: Good morning. Welcome back. Here's what's trending this morning. You might think being on a hit show like "Game of Thrones" would be enough to take care of most financial concerns, not the case for actress, Lena Headey, who portraits Queen --

BERMAN: Cersei.

ROMANS: Cersei -- in the HBO series. She's going through a divorce and has asked a judge to free up $6,000 from a 2011 joint tax refund. The 39-year-old actress says she needs the money to support herself and her two-year-old son. In court documents, she claims to have less than $5 in her bank account and says she is living off credit.

BERMAN: Wow. So, Target is apologizing to offended shoppers over the color of a plus-sized dress. Listen to this. Shopper, Susan Clements (ph), noticed a kimono dress dressed was listed on Target's website as dark heather gray for smaller sizes, but the color of the plus size version was described as manatee gray.

So, Clements tweeted Target saying, "What the? Plus-sized women get manatee gray, while standard sizes are dark heather gray?" So, a Target says is that the two versions of the dress are from different merchants. They also say that there is an actual color of manatee gray, which I didn't know, apparently. They say it's a common name used in a number of products on the website. Still, Target has taken the dress off its site.

ROMANS: All right. Also trending, get ready to heat up the ham water. We now know when new episodes of "Arrested Development" will hit Netflix and there's an extra treat for fans, a bonus episode.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is that good?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Keep it together, buster. Make this fast (ph) around.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh my God! The (INAUDIBLE).

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: All right. The Bluths will be back with not 14 but 15 episodes of zaniness. Netflix says they will release all 15 episodes May 26th over Memorial Day weekend. The show aired for three seasons on Fox. The new episode is supposed to be a prequel to an upcoming "Arrested Development" movie.

BERMAN: So, ahead on STARTING POINT, in just minutes, we will get the highly anticipated employments report for March. We will break down what it means for our economy, what it means for you. That's next.

ROMANS: Then, there really is no such thing as a free lunch. Twenty- five kids denied lunch at their middle school. Now, school officials under fire. STARTING POINT back in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: Welcome back, everyone. I'm John Berman along with Christine Romans who is holding on to her phone at this very minute, because we're awaiting the jobs report, which is just moments away.

ROMANS: A minute and a half.

BERMAN: A minute and a half away --

ROMANS: A minute and 25 seconds.

BERMAN: She's got to dial right there, literally. ROMANS: A minute and 22 seconds.

BERMAN: The expectation is for 190,000 jobs created. That is not as good as we got back in February. Surprising 236,000 jobs in play in March. We're talking about cold weather. It was also the first full month of those forced government spending cuts that were in place.

ROMANS: So, we want to know how the sequester might have played in this and what it means for job growth. Much of the sequester is furloughs. Those aren't layoffs. There are people who just aren't going to work, but they're still being paid, but there'll be a knockdown affect in some towns, probably, because with less money deployed in the economy, that means fewer people are hiring.

You know, let's bring in Ali, because Ali Velshi is here this morning, and I wanted to ask him, what do you think the risk could be the expectations are here for how this is going to be? Forced spending cuts at play here and will we see a slowdown in the growth of hiring?

ALI VELSHI, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: So, you know, we saw the effect of the -- the threat of the forced spending cuts coming and starting in December with companies that said I am exposed to government spending, private companies. I don't know what's going to happen. So, they pulled back on hiring, and, yet, we still had strong jobs growth in January and in February.

Big surprise to the upside in February. We're not expecting that. So, I expect Christine is getting it in a few minutes, few seconds, but we're expecting 192,000 or so. If it comes in above 225, you'll see the market very happy about this. If it comes in below 150, 175, we're going to have a problem, and we're going to know about that momentarily.

BERMAN: Yes, literally, Christine Romans on the phone right now, getting these numbers before she yells them out loud. This week, these numbers are only part of the story.

VELSHI: Absolutely. In fact, the markets are indicated much lower right now because of the North Korea stuff that's going on and that's real talk about nuclear attacks and things like that. So, that is affecting markets. Without these jobs numbers, we're expecting the markets to be down about 80 points at the open on the Dow, and that's very unusual.

We've had very strong days, new records every single day. These jobs numbers could either be a downer on the market. And if they're bad --

ROMANS: 88,000.

VELSHI: That's bad.