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Obama to Lawmakers: "I Have Authority to Strike ISIS"; Obama Met with Top National Security Officials on Terror Threats Facing America; Apple Announces New iPhone 6; NFL Chief Never Had a Chance to See Rice Video

Aired September 9, 2014 - 19:00   ET


ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, breaking news, President Obama telling Congress tonight, he has the authority to act on his own against ISIS. Is he making the case to put boots on the ground?

Plus NFL star, Ray Rice, opened up to CNN. You'll see that here as the NFL commissioner speaks out for the first time since shocking new video surfaced of Rice punching his now wife. What did the NFL know and when?

And Apple filling back its newest toys. Does the tech giant still have the power to wow? Let's go OUTFRONT.

Good evening, everyone. I'm Erin Burnett. And we begin with breaking news OUTFRONT tonight, President Obama telling congressional leaders he has the authority to strike ISIS, with or without their approval. We'll speak with the top Republican, the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee for the response in just a moment.

But first that meeting, just a day before the president will address the entire nation on ISIS. He met with the two top Democrats and the two top Republicans in Congress.

Dana Bash is on Capitol Hill tonight. Dana, the president said he has the authority with or without Congress. How did that go over?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erin, a Democratic source tells me that the Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid agrees that the president, based on what he knows that he will lay out tomorrow night, does have the authority to go ahead without congressional approval. But I can tell you in talking to people here in both parties, others do not agree.


BASH (voice-over): It's 90 minutes in the oval office, a bipartisan presidential huddle with the top four congressional leaders to discuss the growing threat from ISIS. A day before the president goes prime time to explain his strategy to the American people. His spokesman gave some hints.

JOSH EARNEST, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: There is an important role for the United States and the United States military to play in supporting the Iraqis as they take the fight to ISIL in their country.

BASH: ISIS, also known as ISIL has spread to Iraq, but it's rooted inside Syria where the president has been reluctant to engage in the past. But perhaps less so now.

EARNEST: That strategy will also include supporting the Syrian opposition as they take the fight to ISIL in their country.

BASH: The president told congressional leaders he has the authority to act without Congress, but that won't stop a debate over whether Congress should weigh in with a new authorization for use of force to confront the ISIS threat or perhaps money for a counterterrorism fund.

One that the president first suggested earlier this year, but went nowhere in Congress. Some who think it's Congress' role to authorize force say just approving funding would be a cop-out.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If we appropriate the money as we are likely to do, they will say that Congress has quite literally bought into the strategy. But I don't really think that is enough.

BASH: Authorizing force does have bipartisan support. Senate GOP leader, Mitch McConnell told CNN, he would use this White House meeting to argue for a congressional vote.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MINORITY LEADER: This is a matter of extreme importance to our country and to national security. It would be to his advantage and our advantage for Congress to be, in effect, approving a plan for defeating ISIL.

BASH: A new CNN/ORC poll said eight in ten Americans believe ISIS is a threat, but there is still bipartisan reluctance to authorize military action, always a potentially, tough political vote especially two months before the midterm elections.


BASH: Now last year, the president said he was going to ask Congress for authorization for force in Syria, but there was so much division it never happened. And Democratic sources I talked to privately say this time the president has learned his lesson and would not ask unless he knew he would get it.

And the political reality, Erin, is that he wouldn't ask from Democrats, especially who want to keep control of the Senate who are worried that that kind of vote could hurt a lot of their vulnerables up for re-election -- Erin.

BURNETT: Always political. Dana Bash, thank you so much.

So when you look at the statistics right now, the U.S. has already conducted 153 airstrikes against ISIS targets in Iraq. The question is, though, can the United States win without putting American boots on the ground? All out war.

Tom Foreman is looking at what the airstrikes have actually accomplished. And Tom, I guess, that is the question. Have the airstrikes been successful so far?

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, a lot of people believe they have, Erin. Take a look at this. This is the coalition that has been put together to deal with ISIS, from North America in through Europe down here to Australia.

If you look at the top 20 militaries in the world, half of them have joined this team and they are going to focus their efforts on that area between Syria and Iraq, the red area.

We're going to put it up here where ISIS has most amount of control and this is what they think has been working. There have been these airstrikes by FA-18s and U.S. drones, which have driven ISIS fighters off of key locations, like dams and have damaged heavy equipment like Humvees and artillery pieces.

They believe that has been working. They also believe that coordination with the Iraqi military as weak and shaky as it may be, has been working. They have been able to exploit those air attacks to gain some ground back and push ISIS further.

And lastly, this is a shaky part, Erin, but it is important, they believe the cooperation with the Iraqi government, for all of its problems, is also working, at least in a tenuous sense. That is what has pulled the coalition together so far -- Erin.

BURNETT: And there is question of exactly whether you can defeat or degrade ISIS with air strikes alone and there is a question, Tom, of whether airstrikes will work in Syria, where the United States so far has not chosen to go with strikes?

FOREMAN: You are absolutely right because the equation here may not work when you move over here. Let's do it one at a time. Let's push the airplanes over there first. Can these airplanes go into Syria and cross the border and strike? Sure they can physically.

But when you go into a country that hasn't invited you, the mere fact that your airplanes have gone in there, would be considered an act of war by many people. So it is a much more tenuous situation on top of which are you going to get the on the ground intelligence telling you what to hit that you are getting out of Iraq.

Secondly, look at the army you're going to work over here. The United States, the White House is now talking about the Free Syrian Army. That is about 50,000 rebel troops out there. That is very different than a real army controlled by a government.

You have to question how much they can be relied on to exploit those air strikes and question if they are guiding the air strikes. If they are pointing you at real targets or do they start pointing you at their own enemies in the rebel movement as they struggle for control.

These are difficult questions that get complicated by a rebel group compared to a real army. And lastly, what about the government over there? You push this government over here, now you don't have a parliament that's even trying to work with you. You are dealing with a government that the United States government has already said it wants out of power, Bashir Al-Assad. They don't even want him running things there. It's unlikely he is going to be cooperative.

And even if the strikes are effective, Erin, there is a very uncomfortable position from Washington of if you defeat the rebels here, are you helping keep him in power.

The United States says they don't want him in power. That is why the equation on one side of the border is very different on the other side even if you do the same thing -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right, of course, borders may not matter when it comes to the actual word of defeat. Tom Foreman, thank you very much for laying this out.

Joining me now is Republican Congressman Buck McKeon, chairman of the House Armed Services. Great to have you with me, Chairman. The breaking news tonight, the president said he does not need congressional approval for his plan to fight ISIS. Are you all right with that?

REP. BUCK MCKEON (R-CA), CHAIRMAN, HOUSE ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE: Erin, we had a bill today that passed that basically chastised the president for violating the law on transferring detainees out of Gitmo.

My concern is it doesn't really matter what we pass. He will do what he wants to do anyway. I think what we have to be very careful about is half-way measures, the same-old, same old that we've been doing now for a number of years. Limited airstrikes, we've tried that in Libya.

I just came back from the region. I've talked to leaders in Israel, in Jordan and Egypt. They are not at all happy that we did what we did in Libya and left chaos. We did that without boots on the ground.

And I'm anxious to see what the president is going to say. I'm not interested in piecemeal effort where we don't finish the job. And the leaders in the area are very concerned of the same issue.

BURNETT: So what you just said, though, was very, very important, Chairman. You just said one of the issues in Libya was air strikes without boots on the ground?

MCKEON: Right.

BURNETT: I don't want to make this same assumption, but are you then saying that that is that what is necessary to defeat ISIS completely, boots on the ground and not just air strikes.

MCKEON: Erin, I'm calling them ISIL, because what their goal is, is to return back to the area that they controlled from 650 A.D. to 1500 A.D. They called it the Lavont. It is the whole Mideast region there. And I think people need to understand what these people's goals are. What the ambitions are and what they are willing to do to win. And we have to be doing whatever it takes to win. And I don't think you engage in an effort like that by starting off saying what you won't do. I think you have every option on the table.

And as tired as we are about war. If people understand how great this threat is, then we have to be willing to do whatever it takes to win.

BURNETT: And that includes boots on the ground, is that what you are saying? That you would put that on the table.

MCKEON: I'm saying whatever it takes to win.

BURNETT: Now what do you do with the American people on that issue? I mean, I can't imagine the president -- maybe he will, but a president whose signature foreign policy achievement has being portrayed as getting out of Iraq, how will that president go and say, I'm putting everything on the table, including boots on the ground, American troops back into Iraq?

MCKEON: That is why I'm saying we need to wait and see what the president says. I haven't heard from him. I talked to Secretary Hagel on Saturday and had a nice discussion with him. But I don't know what the president is going to say tomorrow.

If he says we're going to do a limited air strike mission in Iraq, and then leave them a safe haven in Syria, what does that accomplish? I just visited with the chief of our air force. He told me we can't win just with air strikes. You just can't do it.

So I think we ought to be realistic and say if this is a big enough threat, which I sincerely believe it is then you have to be willing to use everything you've got.

BURNETT: And so the bottom line is you say the case to be made to the American people is all-out war, is what this will take. And that means whatever it means. It might be boots on the ground, but we are talking about a real war.

MCKEON: On the other side, it is all-out war. And they'll do whatever it takes. They are up to about 18,000 in the army now. And as I met with the leaders over in the region, they have lots of money, they captured the oil fields in Syria. They took the money out of the Bank in Mosul.

They have a billion dollars a year into their treasury and adding about 500 fighters a week. Every day that goes by they are getting stronger and it will cost us more in the way of lives and treasury to win this fight. But they are in it to win and if only one side is in it to win, you better bet on that side.

BURNETT: All right, thank you very much, Chairman. Sobering interview there.

OUTFRONT next, the 9/11 anniversary approaching where new fears of a terror attack on the homeland, bridges, tunnels and trains. And the NFL commissioner breaking his silence on the brutal video that has knocked the league on its heels. Ray Rice talked to CNN. You'll see that.

Plus Apple unveils two new phones and the Apple Watch? So is it big enough to make it or is it the next big thing?


BURNETT: Today, just two days before the anniversary of September 11th, the President met with top national security officials on the major terror threat facing America. This as terror analysts issued new warnings that some of the nation's biggest landmarks are at risk.

Susan Candiotti is OUTFRONT.


SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): New York City bridges, historic landmarks, transportation life lines and tempting targets for terror.

REP. PETE KING (R), NEW YORK: This would have, again, a human disaster, economic disaster, psychological terror, none of which, any of us want to explain.

CANDIOTTI: Plots go back to the 90s when blind Sheikh Omar Abdel- Rahman was convicted of the first world trade center attack and plotting to take out the George Washington Bridge. In 2003, Iyman Faris was convicted of an al-Qaeda skiing to slice the cables on the Brooklyn Bridge. And it goes beyond bridges, (INAUDIBLE) backed by al-Qaeda, nearly pulled off blowing of New York subway. The FBI thwarted him just before the 9/11 anniversary in 2009. (INAUDIBLE) set off a car bomb, unfortunately, fizzled in Time Square in 2010. Bridges, tunnels, subways, tourist spots, chosen for a reason.

THOMAS FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Anywhere, where people would be in their every day life and get caught up in a situation where they end up killed and other people look at that and go that could be me, I do that. I go into tunnels. I take the train to work. I drive across that bridge. I fly on airplanes. So anything people do in their everyday life where people get killed doing that terrifies other people.

CANDIOTTI: At first no one knew what to think last July when huge first all American flags appeared overnight on the Brooklyn Bridge where terrorists making a calling card?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We don't take these things lightly, or as art or in the realm of speech. These are issues of trespass. They put themselves in danger and others in danger and that is why we investigate it.

CANDIOTTI: Two German artists took credit calling it an architectural omnage (ph). They left New York. It is unclear whether charges will be filed? Much of anyone be relieved, they climbed to the top of the bridge without being detected?

CARRIE GREENBERG (ph), TERROR ANALYST: One of the responses to it is really?

CANDIOTTI: Terror analyst Carrie Greenberg (ph).

GREENBERG (ph): How we put so many resources into thinking about who might be a terrorist and how to find the individuals that good old fashion law enforcement, which is protecting the bridges and tunnels and the landmarks of the cities, maybe we need to put a little more emphasis there. And I think it was a wake-up call.


CANDIOTTI: And NYPD is paying attention saying that it is making improvements including putting up barriers to keep out climbers. And as we look at the beautiful back drop of the Brooklyn Bridge and the World Trade Center, we can tell this, from New York Police commissioner William Bratton, he says tonight, they have no information of any direct threats against New York city in the days leading up to the anniversary of 9/11 -- Erin.

BURNETT: All Susan. Thank you very much.

And our next guest's knows the brutality of terror all too well. His owned father, El-Sayyid Nosair, was convicted of planning the 1993 World Trade Center bombing killing six people and injuring more than 1,000. Zak Ebrahim is now the author of the new book "the terrorist son, a story of choice."

Zak, it is really good to have you on and very perfect timing, we talk about what this week and the significance of this week. Your father was convicted of planning the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center. You just heard Susan Candiotti reporting these landmarks are major terror targets. That doesn't surprise you, does it?

ZAK EBRAHIM, AUTHOR, THE TERRORIST SON, A STORY OF CHOICE: Well I think -- well, one, I'm not a terrorism analyst, but it is unfortunate that after all of these years this is something we still have to deal with. As someone who has lived in the shadow of terrorism for a long time, you know, it makes me somewhat fearful and a bit sad. But I think that is why the message in my book is so important about empathy, about being able to look at those around us in our community and just try to, you know, be more empathetic toward --

BURNETT: Toward others?


BURNETT: And, you know, now we know what was happening with is in Syria. James Foley's killers, they now say they believe it was a British man. You were born and race in the United States but you were surrounded by the extremism of your father. How pervasive was it? How all hyphen campusing was it?

EBRAHIM: Well, I think that is one of the major aspects of living in any sort of fanatical belief. It was a turn this ideological bubble where you feel that anyone outside of that bubble is a potential enemy and that level of isolation is imperative in order to get someone to go to the lengths of violation or extremism that some do.

BURNETT: So you made a choice not to follow that path. Now, when you think about this; that is kind of incredible. You were 7-years-old when your father shot and killed the leader of the Jewish defense state. You were ten when he was convicted for the World Trade Center attack. That was your childhood. That was what you saw at the father figure. So how did you choose not to go that way?

EBRAHIM: Well I had a lot of experiences in my life that taught me -- for example, I was bullied very badly as a child and I also lived in a house hold with a violent stepfather. And when I was finally able to go out and experience the world, I couldn't use the stereo types that I'd been taught as a child as a way of treating people. I have a difficult time treating anyone who is kind to me in any other way than how I would want to be treated.

BURNETT: Well it is pretty incredible. And your book is fascinating. So Zak, thank you very much.

EBRAHIM: My pleasure.

BURNETT: And now to the stop business story of the day and that is the new iPhone. You couldn't have missed that today. Apple announcing the new iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6-plus. It has a bigger screen, both come with Apple pay which is the company's new feature that lets you use your phone to make purchases instead of using your credit card. So it would get rid of that whole credit card crisis and having your data stolen, theoretically. And then there was this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Apple watch is the most personal device apple has ever created.


BURNETT: That's right. There is now an Apple watch. So an Apple watch, you can send a message, you can play music, you can track your fitness and you do need an (INAUDIBLE). That's how they try to, you know wrap you into that. It wouldn't be as sexy if you didn't. But anyway, there was a lot of excitement over Apple's event today. And that's the number tonight, 2.4 million. That is how many tweets were sent during the event using the Apple live hash tag. That is pretty incredible.

And I want to bring in Richard Quest, host of "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS." I mean, that number, Richard, 2.4 million tweets, people care about this issue. Apple shares are something, if you don't have an Apple product, you own Apple stock somehow and your 401 (k), (INAUDIBLE) 40 percent for the year. So, is this going to change the game for them? You got a bigger iPhone, a faster, bigger screen, is this will be enough to transform things for them? RICHARD QUEST, CNN HOST, QUEST MEANS BUSINESS: The real story tonight

is not a watch or an auto pay. It is that number, Erin. For the simple reason, whatever you think of Apple, whether you are an Apple lover or an Apple hater, and the truth is that people tend to go down one side or the other.

You cannot, must not, (INAUDIBLE), ignore what they are doing. On the iPhone, it is more catch-up than leaning forward with the size of the screen. On the Apple pay, no doubt about it. Others can doing something similar. But the weight shoves the whole thing forward far much forward and for faster.

And as for the watch, it might be a gimmick initially, but again, you dare not ignore what Apple is doing. Because when you can link the phone with the watch, I have both, why do I need to link them? It doesn't matter?

BURNETT: Why do I need both, Richard? Why can't I just have one?

QUEST: The phone or the watch?

BURNETT: Yes, the phone or the watch?

QUEST: Because Apple decided and the way it is going and you and I are on the wrong side of the generational shift, if you want me to be blunt.

BURNETT: I mean, I guess it is $349 for the Apple watch, right? I mean, if you could get double that by forcing me to buy an iPhone 2, I guess that is why it is better.

QUEST: It is. And the Apple watch has core faces. It has a lot to do with different things. This might be iteration one and we need to see it in that way. Where this is going cannot be viewed on today's results or today's announcement. But 2.4 million tweets, this was the lead story. This was what people are talking about. If you ignore it, you are talking about power and money, Erin, you dare not ignore this.

BURNETT: All right. So why, Richard, the Apple pay, the new feature, they are trying to say it is secure, right, which is obviously important given what happened to Home Depot and Target. But it is called Apples pay. And it is called an Apple watch. Why is it not called i-watch and i-pay?

QUEST: My guess is that it is time to move on. It is time to grow up. It is time to sort of the I has, you know, as they say in parliament, the I's have it. Well I think maybe now it is time to widen the remake, widen the brand. So you have Apple pay, Apple watch, time to move forward.

There is no question, of all of the announcements today, Apple pay was the most significant because that is integrating Apple further, deeper into your everyday financial life.

BURNETT: That sounds terrifying. Thank you, Richard. And know that is the way it is going. Talk about being on the wrong side of the generational divide, but it terrifies me. Thank you.

All right, OUTFRONT next, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell speaking out on the shocking Ray Rice video. The big question, when he knew and -- what he knew and when he knew it.

And please go to our blog, to weigh in our new poll. Write during this commercial, should Roger Goodell step down?

Plus the Ravens threw Ray Rice for a big loss. And now he breaks his silence exclusively to CNN.

And it is billed as the most incredible volcano footage ever. Jeannie Moos talk to one of the fearless photographers who took this video and endured the heat.


BURNETT: The breaking news: NFL commissioner Roger Goodell speaking out for the first time since the video emerged of former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice knocking out his then fiancee in the elevator. Goodell is coming under withering criticism after he claimed the league never saw the video until after it was posted online by TMZ. As you're about to hear, though, Goodell says the league was aware the tape may have existed.

Rachel Nichols was OUTFRONT with more, including an exclusive statement from the man at the center of this attack, Ray Rice.


RACHEL NICHOLS, CNN SPORTS (voice-over): One day after Ray Rice's contract was terminated by the Baltimore Ravens and the NFL suspended the running back indefinitely, those involved began speaking out. This afternoon, Rice sent me this text message.

"I'm just holding strong for my wife and kid. That is all I can do right now."

There was an Instagram post from Janay Rice and finally, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell gave an interview explaining to CBS what he knew, when.

ROGER GOODELL, NFL COMMISSIONER: Well, we had not seen any videotape of what occurred in the elevator. We assumed that there was a video. We asked for video. We asked for anything that was pertinent. But we were never granted that opportunity.

NICHOLS: The tape Goodell was speaking about was the video posted on Monday by the celebrity gossip website TMZ, showing Rice knocking out his future wife inside an Atlantic City hotel elevator. Goodell stressed no NFL officials had seen the video before it was posted online.

But the since closed hotel and casino where the February 15th incident occurred, did give copies of the video to several parties, giving CNN this statement, "We cooperated fully with this investigation, giving the tape to the Atlantic City police, the Atlantic City prosecutors office, the division of gaming enforcement and Ray Rice's own attorney."

Critics have charged the league shouldn't have needed the video to realize the severity of the incident. It was July when Goodell suspended Rice for two games, a lenient penalty compared to the NFL's past discipline on drugs or gun offices.

Goodell has since written a letter to the NFL 32 owners saying, quote, "I didn't get it right. Simply put, we have to do better."

With two more high-profile domestic violence cases on the commissioner's desk right now, he'll have the opportunity to prove just how serious he is about that.


BURNETT: Rachel Nichols joins me now OUTFRONT, along with former NFL player Don McPherson and our legal analyst Paul Callan.

Rachel, you know, when you put this together and the NFL commissioner saying they didn't have the video -- well, two things, a lot of other people, as you point out, had the video. And two, even if he hadn't seen it, he knew what was in it and so, he knew what happened.

NICHOLS: Yes, it is a little bit puzzling here why it took everybody so long to be upset about this. There's a lot of domestic violence cases that don't happen on video. This one actually had an initial video that he did see, which was Janay Rice being dragged unconscious out of the elevator and Ray Rice and Jay Rice both gave statements to investigators and Roger Goodell himself describing --

BURNETT: Admitting that this was a domestic violence incident.

NICHOLS: Describing word for word what happened. Even the Ravens came out and said yesterday, yes, he had given us that full description but just seeing it made it different. That's a little bit quizzical. Why would seeing it make it so different? If a man says "I punched my wife in the face," I'm not sure what you mean more than that? There are a lot of questions, though, about this, about why they didn't see the video, once you get past that initial information, this was obtained by TMZ, so it was obtainable.

I also want to point that Ray Rice's lawyer had this video. So, when Ray Rice is called to the NFL office to get his punishment, The NFL could have said bring us the video or we're not letting you back on the field, when you're ready to bring it us, let us know.

They had the ability to see the video, and Roger Goodell going on TV tonight to say that hey didn't is a little bit perplexing.

BURNETT: Perplexing might be one word. Paul, there could be other words.

PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, it just shows you what a low standard the NFL has for judging players. I mean, it looks to me the more I see this case that they were just relieved he didn't have a gun and he didn't shoot somebody. He only punched his wife in the face, so no big deal.

That's really how they handle this case. Very low threshold and it's wrong and they forget about the public image that a major football player has and the impact that it has on the country.

BURNETT: And I don't know if we have the polls yet, but Roger Goodell did -- was asked in this interview he did with CBS tonight, about whether Ray Rice would pay again. Now, keep in mind, the context here is initial two-game suspension, right?

Then a -- now the new rules is it would be a six-game suspension and he is indefinitely suspended. Our poll says 75 percent say Roger Goodell should resign, 25 percent should not.

And I want to get your reaction to that, but first, here's how he answered the question of whether Ray Rice will play again.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What does that mean he was suspended indefinitely? Does that mean Ray Rice will never play in the NFL again?

ROGER GOODELL, NFL COMMISSIONER: I don't rule that out. But he would have to make sure that we are fully confident that he is addressing this issue clearly. He has paid the price for the actions that he's already taken.


DON MCPHERSON, FORMER NFL PLAYER: Well, Michael Vick is still in the NFL. He came out of a federal penitentiary and he then got a $100 million contract from the Philadelphia Eagles. So, if you think that the NFL is not going to welcome back someone like Ray Rice, you're kidding yourself.

I think the question about whether Roger Goodell keeps his job --

BURNETT: That's our poll. Seventy-five percent say he should resign. Now, that's the heat of the moment. But that's the poll that we have.

MCPHERSON: And that's a good reaction to the feeling that everyone is having right now. But you have to go back to the fact that the Baltimore Ravens saw the tape. The Baltimore Ravens who employ Ray Rice, not the NFL, not Roger Goodell, the Baltimore Ravens who employ Ray Rice. They decided to terminate his contract after they saw the team. Actually, they decided to terminate Ray Rice after we saw the tape.


BURNETT: But, come on, let's call that like it is. It's after the tape saw the tape and it was on TMZ. They all knew what this was a long time ago. It was when it became public and all of a sudden, they were embarrassed that they did something.

NICHOLS: And here's where I like to see things going forward with Roger Goodell, look, this issue with Ray Rice in terms of discipline, it's pretty much close, right? He suspended him indefinitely. Ray Rice is not going to play football for at least a long time. They've upped the domestic violence policy for first and second offense.

However, they still have two very high profile cases in the system right now, that frankly, Roger Goodell has fallen down on the job with. Greg Hardy who plays for the Panthers was convicted -- not charged -- convicted of beating up his girlfriend, throwing her on the ground in the bathroom, picking her up and throwing her again on to a sofa that had spread out assault weapons and other rifles on it. She was bruised, he was convicted by a judge, he is appealing for a jury trial, which is his right, but he's still playing during this. I don't know where the NFL is in all of this.

And then you have Ray McDonald who's got a similar situation, having beaten up his pregnant girlfriend, or accused felony assault charges against him for -- against his pregnant girlfriend in San Francisco.

What's happening here?

CALLAN: The commissioner is there because you can't trust the team that are strictly profit motivated to do the right thing. The commissioner should be the conscience of the league and should be making proper judgments. This is such a staggering lack of judgment by the commissioner. I can't see how he would be kept on the job.

BURNETT: So you think this will be that serious?

CALLAN: Well, I'm saying if they are doing the right thing.


MCPHERSON: But you have to be honest about what you are talking about. The NFL is not an organization that --

CALLAN: With such a staggering lack of judgment.

MCPHERSON: But the NFL is not just going to deal with the domestic violence and that's going to bring down the NFL. This is a multibillion dollar industry that is a global business, that involves 32 different cities and 31 owners and the city of Green Bay, and the owners that we're talking about -- you have owners who want to defy that the name of the team is not offensive to the very people saying you are defending me.

BURNETT: The Redskins you're talking about.

MCPHERSON: So when you talk about Roger Goodell's job is to manage these 32 teams, and how big this business is, he's not going to lose his job over this. If you want change to happen, then you keep him in place and hold his feet to the fire to uphold it with the policy --

(CROSSTALK) BURNETT: That's an interesting point.

And I have to say, I direct this question to you, Rachel, you're a sports reporter but you're also a woman. I find it shocking that in the country that says this is the most advanced country in the world, that this behavior is not only accepted but frankly condoned, because the fact that it was a two-game suspension, I'm going to call it like it is, that's condoning domestic violence, and there's no other word to say for it.

NICHOLS: And it was condoned by our most powerful sport, but it was also condone by the government in New Jersey. They put him in a pre- trial diversionary program, which should not have happened.

BURNETT: No charges, right, you go and learn and say, I will never do it again.

CALLAN: By the way, the district attorney of that county, Atlantic County, Jim McClain, said he was treated the way everybody else in Atlanta County is treated.


MCPHERSON: That's a straight commentary. The video was enough to say, OK, two games, we argued it for a couple of weeks but he's back on the field. The people in Baltimore showing up, the fans were showing up.

CALLAN: Cheering, yes.

MCPHERSON: And that is part of the problem that the culture as a whole treats women as less than so that a video of a women's lifeless body being dragged was OK.

BURNETT: That's why --

MCPHERSON: That is shocking.

BURNETT: That is why it is much bigger than the NFL.

NICHOLS: The NFL is a reflection in so many ways of our national character, good and bad, and this is a way where we all need to step it up.

BURNETT: All right. Thanks --

CALLAN: But you know, I think commissioner Condoleezza Rice is out of work, you know, right?

BURNETT: That is an interesting idea.

CALLAN: So, there's -- that is who I'm voting for.


BURNETT: Thanks to all. NICHOLS: Maybe she'll go to the pros --

BURNETT: All right. OUTFRONT next, we're going to talk about the woman at the center of this, beaten and knocked out cold. Janay Rice, though, is standing by her man and turning her anger on the NFL, on the media.

Plus, he goes boldly where no one has gone before. Jeanne Moos talks to a guy who likes it really, really hot.


BURNETT: Tonight, Ray Rice's wife Janay defending the man she loves. She is speaking out just a day after the video surfaced showing him punched in a casino elevator, leaving her lifeless on the ground. Janay is blaming the media and the NFL, not her husband. She is one of the 12 million victims of domestic abuse in the United States every single year and she's one of several women who have been abused by an NFL athlete that we are aware of.

Jean Casarez is OUTFRONT.


JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The disturbing events from inside that elevator, when Ray Rice knocked out his then fiancee Janay Palmer may be seven months old, but the impact is still being felt. "I woke up this morning feeling like I had a horrible nightmare. Feeling like I'm mourning the death of my closest friend."

This was the Instagram posted Tuesday by Palmer, who is now married to Rice, blaming the media and the public for her husband's indefinite suspension by the NFL. Rice's actions cost him his job with the Baltimore Ravens and possibly his football career, but his story isn't unique when it comes to the NFL. Rice is one of several players facing allegations of domestic abuse but the others are still playing.

RAY MCDONALD, DEFENSIVE END, SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS: When the truth comes out, everybody knows what kind of person I am.

CASAREZ: Ray McDonald, a member of the San Francisco 49ers arrested for felony domestic violence played last weekend. Carolina Panther's Greg Hardy also played, even though he is appealing a July 15th guilty verdict for assaulting his ex-girlfriend and threatening to kill her, both teams say they are waiting for the legal process to play out before considering action.

LEIGH STEINBERG, SPORTS AGENT: The problem is there really hasn't been a policy. We have precise policies when it comes to marijuana, alcohol abuse, and yet nothing for something that's a major societal problem.

CASAREZ: That is the culture of football says legendary sports agent Lee Steinberg. Drugs and alcohol could affect a game. Arizona Cardinals Daryl Washington suspended for the entire 2014 season for violating the NFL substance abuse policy. Yet no NFL or team punishment was handed down after he pleaded guilty to assaulting the mother of his child in March of this year.

According to "USA Today", the NFL has about 1,700 players. In the last four years, 20 have been arrested for domestic abuse. But the statistics may not tell the whole story, which may be part of the problem.

STEINBERG: Domestic violence is sort of swept under the rug, doesn't get the focus it needs. The women get victimized once again by the process.


BURNETT: And, you know what, what's amazing is that when Janay Rice came out and blaming the media, blaming the NFL, not her husband, there were people critical of her. But I think the crucial thing is there were a lot of people who supported her. And, by the way, there's a lot of people doing what she is doing around the country, which is staying in these situations that is the norm. People are supporting that point of view, right?

CASAREZ: It is a firestorm on social media because it is #whyIstayed, #whyIleft. And "TIME" magazine just reported a few minutes ago, 92,000 #whyIstayed, which stories have been posted. We want to show one of them right now. It's from Danielle and it says, I stayed because I thought I could change him. When I realized the truth, I stayed because I thought I had nowhere to go.

And people are really pouring out their hearts here. There was one lady said that her sister was murdered at the hands of a domestic abuser. And people are just really saying like it is. And I think an education is going on now.

BURNETT: Well, I think it's incredible that people are doing that, if this is causing them to be able to say that and say those things, that they feel with the anonymity that social media can provide, but the community at the same time, that's a great gift.

CASAREZ: That's right, a gift. It can effectuate change.

BURNETT: Yes. Thank you very much, Jean Casarez.

And if you or anyone you know is a victim of domestic violence, you can get information on how to get help and you can do that by going to

Next, imagine a downhill hike where the thermometer tops 1,500 degrees. And there's acid rain. Jeanne Moos has the story.


BURNETT: Here's Jeanne Moos with a story of two explorers who journey deep into a crater off the coast of Australia.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Did you ever feel the urge climb down into a volcano? Me, neither.

But this guy did.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You cannot physically get any closer to this lava without swimming.

MOOS: That's George Kourounas in a heat-resistant suit, along with this accomplice in adventures, Sam Cosman. George is the teeny-weeny figure at the bottom of a volcano pit in a South Pacific.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's also one of the most dangerous and difficult to get to.

MOOS: They rappelled down 1,200 feet. The depth equal to the height of the Empire State Building that took hours to descend or about 50 feet above the churning lava. Even wearing a fire resistant suit, George could only stand there a couple of minutes at the time.

(on camera): Really hot? You're like sweating in there?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, yes, absolutely. The heat from the volcano is zapping the energy out of you.

MOOS (voice-over): They used the laser thermometer to measure the temperature of flying rocks.

Look out for the lava.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Parts of it actually splashed me and melted my jacket.

MOOS: And the noise?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I call it the sound of washing machine, just churning, bubbling, gurgling.

MOOS: George said it was unlikely the volcano would erupt. They were more worried about the edge of the crater above crumbling and raining rocks down on them.

(on camera): George doesn't just rumple into volcanoes, he got married on one.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Enough messing around. It's time to get married.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The lava bombs start falling within 20 feet of her.


MOOS: To the sounds of shell, and periodic eruptions of Mt. Yasser, they exchanged vows back in 2006.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You have been my supporter, my wall, my rock. MOOS: Michelle may have melted his heart, but it took this volcano named Maroon (ph) to melt his camera when he set it down on a rock. You'll never get over that mesmerizing orange glow.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To me, it doesn't even look real and I'm the guy that's in the shot.

MOOS (on camera): But boys will be boys, even deep in the mouth of a volcano.

(voice-over): Why settle for a selfie when you can horse around with a rubber mask as long as it doesn't melt?

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


BURNETT: He's crazy. He's got crazy. What do you think?

We'll be right back.


BURNETT: Tomorrow OUTFRONT: a rising star in the Democratic Party in a really red state, lawmaker Wendy Davis joins us to talk about her run for governor of Texas. She's an underdog but she came to fame last summer with the 13-hour filibuster of an abortion bill she made in pink sneakers. And in her new memoir, she reveals she ended a pregnancy after learning that the baby had a brain abnormality. She'll be here to discuss that and more right here OUTFRONT.

Anderson starts now.