Return to Transcripts main page
GOP Presidential Hopefuls Square Off in Debate; U.S. Admits Downed Drone in Iran was Spy Plane; Last Debate Before Iowa; Russians Seize Radioactive Material; Deal To Prevent Government Shutdown; Bradley Facing "Wikileaks" Arraignment; Star Quarterback To Star Witness; Preliminary Hearing For Former Penn State Officials; FAMU Students Protest Florida Governor; Russian Customs Seizes Radioactive Material; Actor Christian Bale Attempted to Meet Activist in China
Aired December 16, 2011 - 06:59 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
GOV. RICK PERRY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I hope I am the Tim Tebow of the Iowa caucuses.
CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): A Hail Mary from Rick Perry on the final debate before the Iowa caucuses. And the two frontrunners try to convince voters they're the best Republican to face President Obama.
ALINA CHO, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Drone wars. Iran claims it hacked a U.S. spy plane that went down on its turf, and the U.S. admits it wasn't just watching the border.
COSTELLO: And Christian Bale roughed up by undercover agents in China. CNN cam was along for the ride. What the government did not want Batman to see on this AMERICAN MORNING.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COSTELLO (on-camera): But it was funny.
CHO (on-camera): What are you going to do?
Good morning. It's Friday. Your favorite day of the week. Mine too. December 16th, nine days before Christmas. I'm Alina Cho along with Carol Costello on this AMERICAN MORNING. So, glad you're with us.
COSTELLO: Yes. Good morning to you.
Up first this hour, GOP candidates going head-to-head for the last time before the primary season begins. The frontrunner, Newt Gingrich, playing defense on his conservative values and his electability. Mitt Romney held steady, not running away from his business background, and no bets this time either. And strangely, Denver Broncos quarterback, Tim Tebow, of all people, made his way into the debate. Jim Acosta live in Sioux City, Iowa. That had to be the best line of the night, Jim.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: It really was, Carol, and, you know, for Newt Gingrich, he probably wished he had a few more good lines to deliver, because it was a tough night for the former speaker. He found out early what it was like to be the front-runner in the final weeks before the Iowa caucuses. He was hit hard especially by Michele Bachmann, who has been pretty far back in the polls as of late, but was trying to, you know, get back in the running for the Iowa caucuses, and she went right after the former speaker.
It was curious to see Newt Gingrich engage with Michele Bachmann, because he is so far ahead of her in the polls. But at one point, the former speaker suggested that Congressman Bachmann does not have her facts straight when it comes to some of her personal attack on Gingrich, and she responded way very angry moment of remarks.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NEWT GINGRICH, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Sometimes congresswoman Bachmann doesn't get her facts very accurate.
MICHELE BACHMANN, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think it's outrageous to continue to say over and over through the debates that I don't have my facts right when as a matter of fact I do. I'm a serious candidate for president of the United States, and my facts are accurate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: Now, contrast that with Mitt Romney. He was not really challenged a great deal by the other candidates onstage. Newt Gingrich did not try to do that. The other candidates did not try to do that. It didn't happen until later in the debate when the moderators chose to do so.
And so this was a pretty well-executed plan by Governor Romney, because earlier this week, as you know, he was going after Newt Gingrich even calling him zany in an interview with the "New York Times." Gingrich never really had a chance to go after Mitt Romney on that, so he sort of volunteered a response to that comment at one key moment in the debate. Here it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GINGRICH: I sometimes get accused of using language that is to strong. So I've been standing here editing.
GINGRICH: And I'm very concerned about not appearing to be zany.
(END VIDEO CLIP) ACOSTA: So there you go, not trying to be zany. And speaking of zany, it might have struck some as being a little wacky to hear Rick Perry bring up the issue of Tim Tebow. But you know what, he has been a darling of the evangelical movement in this country ever since he's been on that tier in the NFL, winning all those games, those come- from-behind victories. So Rick Perry drew that analogy. And he didn't waste any time. He got it in in the first 12 minutes of the debate. Here's how it went.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICK PERRY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There a lot of folks who said Tim Tebow wasn't going to be a very good NFL quarterback. He won two national championships. That looked pretty good. We were the national champions of job creation back in Texas. And so I'm ready for the next level. Let me tell you, I hope I am the Tim Tebow of the Iowa caucuses.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: Funny thing, if you did polling and added Tim Tebow in the mix of this GOP field, he might be pretty close to being a front- runner at this point, guys.
We're at a steel factory here in Sioux City where Mitt Romney will be here later this morning. It's interesting to see how well he did in that debate last night and how he's sort of hanging in there in the Iowa caucuses somewhere close behind Newt Gingrich, sort of in second place with Ron Paul. If Mitt Romney could pull off and upset victory in the caucuses and then go to New Hampshire and win that primary, this race could get totally flipped upside down again. Everybody thinking Newt Gingrich would be strong in these early contests. It may be Mitt Romney after what we saw last night, guys.
COSTELLO: Jim Acosta reporting live this morning. Thanks.
Talking about Mitt Romney some more. He's picking up an endorsement could go a long way in one critical early and conservative state. According to a report from politico, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley will announce that she is endorsing Mitt Romney for the party's nomination this morning. Some analysts have suggested Haley's endorsement could be Palin'esque, though, despite her falling poll number.
CHO: Now to the countdown to a government shutdown. Feel like deja vu? Well, it should. We've been here before eight times just this year. With just 17 hours to spare, it appears Congress reached a deal to keep the government running. Our Kate Bolduan is live in Washington for us. Kate, good morning.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hey there, good morning, Alina. Late last night after marathon negotiations on Capitol Hill, Congressional leaders and negotiator were able to finally strike a deal and break the logjam and sign off on this large spending bill that will fund the government through fiscal year 2012.
This almost certainly means that Congress has narrowly averted a government shutdown and will be able to keep the lights on past late this evening. House Republican leaders, they have scheduled a meeting is scheduled this morning to speak with their members about the spending bill as well as some of the outstanding issues they still have not agreed on. Key negotiators hoped both the house and Senate will be able to vote on this spending bill today to kind of set to rest any fears of a government shutdown. Maybe we should say this time around.
CHO: You know, with the clock still ticking on that one, of course, there's a lot of unfinished business there in Washington, including the payroll tax cut. So what's still under negotiation, and is there a chance anything will get done before the end of the year, Kate?
BOLDUAN: It remain as question. And I'll tell you, while there was a glimmer of bipartisan agreement last night on the spending bill, they are still not there yet. The major contentious -- the issues in this fight, how to extend payroll tax cut, how to extend unemployment insurance as well as how to prevent a scheduled cut to payments to doctors who treat Medicare patients, something that really is needed to do every year or so.
Aides said negotiations are still happening, they are making progress, but they are not there yet. They still have some issues they have to deal with. And in lieu of an agreement, Senate Democrats are now floating a short-term extension of possibly two months of an extension of the payroll tax cut in order to avoid the tax increases they would say to many Americans in their paycheck come January. But that could mean, of course, we will be back here in a couple of months. But they still say they're still pushing to try to get that one-year deal on the payroll tax cut extension. Talks are continuing today.
CHO: I believe you'll be very busy. Kate, thank very much.
COSTELLO: Penn state assistant coach Mike McQueary is expected to testify later today at a preliminary hearing for two former university officials. McQueary, a former star quarterback at Penn State, is now a star witness in the case against Tim Curley and Gary Schultz. The former university officials are charged with perjury in failing to report suspected child abuse in the Jerry Sandusky case. CNN's Susan Candiotti is reporting at many as five witnesses are slated to testify today.
CHO: We have this just in to CNN. Russian customs officials confirmed they have seized radioactive material from the luggage of a passenger. The unidentified flier was on his way to Iran from Moscow's international airport when officials detected some 18 metal objects packed in steel cases. They tell CNN those objects are radioactive isotopes which could only be obtained from a nuclear reactor operation. We will go live to Moscow in 20 minutes for more. Wow.
COSTELLO: New information today about the U.S. drone that went down in Iran. For the first time the military official admitting it was looking for Iran's nuke sites. Iran also says it was able to hack the drone, and there's more to prove it. Chris Lawrence has the latest from the Pentagon.
CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: He's a soldier who only holds the rank of private first class. But to save him, Bradley Manning's defense team has submitted a witness list of some of the most powerful people in the country, including Hillary Clinton and the president.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Both can testify to the impact of the release of these documents on national security.
COSTELLO: We apologize for that. Inadvertently ran the wrong Chris Lawrence piece. We will get the right one up and running after a break.
CHO: All right, still to come this morning, which candidate will you be talking about? We'll get out score cards for the final debate before Iowa. That was last night. How did the candidates do? We'll tell you.
COSTELLO: And from Russia with no love. Vladimir Putin suggests Senator John McCain is nuts. McCain says the seasons are changing in Moscow.
CHO: And no red carpet treatment for actor Christian Bale in China. He had a, well, let's call it a close encounter with Chinese security. We'll tell what you triggered it in a CNN exclusive.
You're watching AMERICAN MORNING. It's nine minutes after the hour.
CHO: Now back to the new information on that U.S. drone that went down in Iran. The U.S. military for the first time is admitting that it was looking for Iran's nuclear sites. Our Chris Lawrence has the latest from the Pentagon.
LAWRENCE: U.S. officials now admit an American stealth drone was spying on Iran. It's an about-face from when it crashed when officials claimed it was only flying on the Afghanistan side of the border, strictly looking for insurgents, not spying. Even then we heard doubts.
COL. CEDRIC LEIGHTON (RET.), FORMER AIR FORCE INTELLIGENCE OFFICER: It could have been deliberately used in Iran, and it's very likely, in fact, that it was a reconnaissance platform of choice to do precisely that, to take a look at Iran's nuclear weapons system.
LAWRENCE: U.S. military officials now confirm the sentinel was flying suspected nuclear sites. They say the U.S. military didn't know what the drone was doing because it was being run by the CIA. The Afghan government wasn't informed either. And Afghan President Hamid Karzai wants his nation kept out of the Iran/U.S. rift.
HAMID KARZAI, AFGHAN PRESIDENT: That Afghanistan's sovereignty and integrity is not used one against the other.
LAWRENCE: But the U.S. defense secretary suggested the flights will not stop.
LEON PANETTA, U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY: Part and parcel of our effort to defend this country and to defend our country involves important intelligence operations, which we will continue to pursue.
LAWRENCE: The "Christian Science Monitor" spoke with an Iranian engineer who claims Iran hacked the U.S. drone and guided it down intact.
SCOTT PETERSON, CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR: They basically spoofed the drone into thinking that it was landing where it was supposed to be but in fact landing where the hackers, these spoofers, wanted it to land.
LAWRENCE: U.S. officials claim it was a technical problem. One former intelligence official said the sentinel is impossible it see and dismissed Iran's claims. But aviation experts say there's evidence Iran may have the capability to jam the drone's GPS link.
PETER SINGER, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: Its design is not to shoot down an enemy in the old way. It's more to learn what the enemy is doing and maybe react and shoot down the enemy in a very 21st century way.
LAWRENCE: But how much intelligence will Iran really get out of its prize? By all accounts, the sentinel is one of America's most sophisticated drones, but several aviation experts tell us it's not the most sophisticated stealth technology, and there are several systems coming online in the next couple of years that will make it outdated.
Chris Lawrence, CNN, the Pentagon.
COSTELLO: The two front-runners in the GOP race trying to prove they have the conservative stuff it takes last night in the final debate before the all-important Iowa caucuses. And the rest of the field, they saw a chance to go on the attack. So who came out on top?
Republican Strategist and former Congresswoman Susan Molinari is here. She's supporting Mitt Romney. And CNN Political Contributor Bill Bennett, author of "The Book of Man" is here, too. Welcome to you both.
SUSAN MOLINARI, (R) FMR. CONGRESSWOMAN: Thank you.
BILL BENNETT, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Thank you.
COSTELLO: Let's start with you, Susan. You are supporting Romney, like I said. A lot of people think he like sort of sat on the sidelines but did well in the end. And a lot of people also think Newt Gingrich did terrible in the first hour of the debate and kind of rebounded. What did you think?
MOLINARI: Well, I think it actually was a perfect storm for Mitt Romney because he was able to really keep his focus on President Obama and constantly took the questions, even if they were -- the questioners were trying to get him to go after some of the other candidates. Really kept his focus on the Obama administration and the things that he thought were -- were massive disappointments in terms of the way this country is run from both an economic and foreign policy arena.
But he had people like Ron Paul and Michele Bachmann, who were pretty consistent in attacking and poking holes in just about everything that Speaker Gingrich was saying.
So I think it was a good night for -- for Romney and what you saw consistently throughout the night is that he kept his footing. I think he got it back. He lost it a little bit in the last debate and, you know, what we've seen all along is him looking presidential, and I think he maintained that composure through the debate last night.
COSTELLO: Yes. He didn't make any bets and he didn't get testy, right?
MOLINARI: Exactly. (INAUDIBLE).
COSTELLO: Yes, exactly.
Bill, I want to ask you, Gingrich is getting -- I mean, attacks come from everywhere, right?
COSTELLO: They're calling Gingrich this unreliable conservative. He tried to defend himself in the debate last night. Let's listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NEWT GINGRICH, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I balanced the budget for four straight years, paid off $405 billion in debt, pretty conservative. The first Wealth Entitlement Reform of your lifetime, in fact the only major entitlement reform and now was welfare. Two out of three people went back to work or went to school, pretty conservative. First tax cut in 16 years, largest capital gains tax cut in American history. Unemployment came down to 4.2 percent, pretty conservative.
I think on the conservative thing is sort laughable to suggest that somebody who campaigned with Ronald Reagan and with Jack Kemp and has had a 30-year record of conservatism is somehow not a conservative?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COSTELLO: Well, he says it's laughable, but these attacks are coming from some very well-respected conservatives.
BENNETT: Yes. He's in the reminding business.
Now, while as critics are reminding people about Newt's heresies and apotheoses, he's reminding people of the overall conservative record. And during the great days of conservatism, Newt was one of the major players. And I think he's right to do that and certainly smart to do that.
But he is under attack, and I have to say, Michele Bachmann showed -- I don't know -- she's a tax lawyer, but last night she looked like a prosecutor, who's extremely tough on Newt, and I don't think his response was satisfactory. So we'll see.
You know, it's interesting. About two weeks ago, Carol, people said it may be too late for Romney to recover, because it was getting so close to the Iowa caucuses. Turns out, that really is what -- we used phrase, an eternity. You know, things can change several more times, and I thought he had a rough night last night.
He had a couple of very good, very bright Newt moments. But as Susan knows, if you're with Newt, Newt's got to be the smartest guy in the room. He's just got to be. Often he is the smartest guy in the room, but he's also the most unpredictable.
MOLINARI: And he will -- and he will remind you he's the smartest guy in the room.
BENNETT: Yes, he will.
COSTELLO: As you both know, he has rubbed many women, especially southern --
BENNETT: Yes, that's right.
COSTELLO: -- women in certainly the wrong way.
BENNETT: That's right.
COSTELLO: And when he started questioning Michele Bachmann's --
BENNETT: Yes. COSTELLO: -- mastery of the facts, she got angry. And this is what she said. Let's listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHELE BACHMANN, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think it's outrageous to -- to continue to say over and over through the debates that I don't have my facts right when as a matter of fact I do. I'm a serious candidate for president of the United States, and my facts are accurate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COSTELLO: That last part, Susan, really struck me. I am a serious candidate for the president of the United States. Was she hinting at something more?
MOLINARI: Well, you know, men are never going to learn that they have to be very careful when they debate a woman. And I -- to me this was one of the highlights of the debate.
Good for you, Michele Bachmann, for -- because the speaker wasn't only saying, you have your facts wrong, he was kind of dismissive in the way that he said it, and it kind of irked me and I bet it irked a lot of women who aren't Michele Bachmann fans. And I think she was really right to stand up and say, "You know, don't dismiss me. Don't get my, you know, facts wrong. I'm standing here on the stage right next to you as a presidential candidate." I thought she really acquitted herself very well.
COSTELLO: Bill, would you agree? Did you notice anything in Newt Gingrich's demeanor that would be dismissive of Michele Bachmann?
BENNETT: He got a lot peaked. He lost a little bit of temper there. And what she's saying, he's not really responsive, too.
Look, he's trying to make a distinction between being an official lobbyist and having influence with senior Republicans about Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
Now, the woman thing aside, the marriage thing aside, I think this is his toughest problem, right? Given the financial circumstances, the mess we're in, to have taken $1.6 million and then did I hear a little bit of a brag, well, I was a very wealthy man at the time I didn't really need this money?
COSTELLO: And he also said he was pushing regulations but he was also supporting, you know -- housing. He wanted to -- he wanted to enable many Americans to have a house. And what's wrong with that?
BENNETT: Yes, yes. He should have just reached for, I'm the Tim Tebow of this campaign, something Perry-like.
But, look, I mean, this is what happened when you're the front- runner. You're going to be subject to these attacks and he's going to get a lot more of them. COSTELLO: OK. So both of your predictions. Susan, your prediction, will Newt Gingrich win Iowa?
MOLINARI: You know, I don't think he will. I think that it will be interesting to see who will win Iowa. I think at this point again, I think Governor Romney has momentum. And we have to go back to -- we watch these things on TV, but what a lot of this has to do with, particularly in a caucus state is your ground game. Your supporters, your campaign team. And newt's been a little late to the table in terms of being able to organize a serious ground strategy.
BENNETT: My worry is that Ron Paul wins Iowa. I think, he's got a great ground game. I don't admire his positions very much. If he wins Iowa, he gets puffed up, takes some stuff seriously. And then I worry about a third -- a third party candidacy.
COSTELLO: Yes. (INAUDIBLE).
BENNETT: This thing isn't over in Iowa, though. After New Hampshire and Iowa, this is not over, I don't think.
MOLINARI: And I totally agree.
COSTELLO: Hey, thank you, Susan, very much. I'd like to talk to Bill about Christopher Hitchens --
COSTELLO: -- he, of course, died overnight. And after a long battle with cancer. You're a very close friend. You guys had many a great debate. And if you could say a few words about Christopher Hitchens?
BENNETT: We had many great debates, intense. I'm regarded as a man on the right, he's certainly a man on the left. But relentless integrity and honesty about his positions. We would get together for lunch and drink hard. I would have to go home after two hours half asleep. He will keep going and he can take on the next person and debate.
But a remarkable man. A great writer. Also well known in these debates as an atheist. My only hope is that he is getting a glorious surprise. That was -- that is my hope and prayer for Christopher Hitchens.
COSTELLO: Yes. Because it was fascinating, because he talked a lot about his atheism --
BENNETT: Yes, he did.
COSTELLO: -- when he knew he was going to die, and he did not change his mind.
BENNETT: No, he wouldn't take the cheap way out, you know, and say, OK, I'm in the foxhole now. But, again, I hope that he'll say, goodness, I was wrong all those years. That's my prayer.
COSTELLO: Thanks so much for being here.
BENNETT: Thank you.
COSTELLO: Thank you for those words.
BENNETT: You bet.
COSTELLO: We'll be right back.
CHO: Welcome back. "Minding Your Business" this morning.
Stocks break a three-day losing streak thanks to update reports on both the jobs markets and manufacturing. And this morning, U.S. stock futures are also trading higher.
In Italy, a crucial confidence vote this morning on an austerity package designed to help the eurozone's third largest economy get its finances in order. This vote is needed to help ensure passage of the $39 billion package of tax hikes and spending cuts.
Maybe time to refinance again. Mortgage rates falling again to record lows. According to Freddie Mac, the average rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage fell to 3.94 percent rather, matching the all-time low hit in early October.
And forget Black Friday and Cyber Monday, it's all about Super Saturday. That's right. Since Christmas is on a Sunday this year, this is your last full weekend to get your shopping done. So a number of stores will be rolling out their biggest discounts tomorrow, a full eight days before Christmas.
AMERICAN MORNING will be back after this.
CHO: It's 30 minutes after the hour. Welcome back to AMERICAN MORNING for a Friday. Here are this morning's top stories.
Russian officials tell CNN they've discovered and seized radioactive material from the luggage of a passenger. The unidentified flyer was on his way to Iran from Moscow's International Airport when officials found 18 metal objects packed in steel cases. We'll have a live report from Moscow coming up in a few minutes.
COSTELLO: It looks like there will be no government shutdown. Overnight congressional leaders struck a $1 trillion deal.
That agreement must still be voted on by tonight's deadline. There's still no agreement, however, on extending the payroll tax cut.
CHO: And Wikileaks suspect, Army Private Bradley Manning could speak at his arraignment hearing today at a military base in Maryland.
Bradley is charged with 22 counts of violating mill 25er code for allegedly leaking hundreds of thousands of classified documents that wound up being published on Wikileaks.
COSTELLO: From star quarterback to star witness, Mike McQueary is expected to testify today at a preliminary hearing for two former Penn State officials.
Tim Curley, the ex-athletic director and Gary Schultz, a former university vice president, both men charged with perjury and failing to report suspected child abuse in the Jerry Sandusky case.
Susan Candiotti is live in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, this morning. So what should we expect to happen in court, Susan?
SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Carol. Well, we got word just moments ago that one of the two co-defendants in this case, Tim Curley, has just entered the courthouse.
What we're expecting is to hear from at least three to five witnesses who will testify likely among them Mike McQueary, the assistant coach who is now on leave.
He is a key witness for the prosecution, and it's up to the prosecutors in this case to give a mini preview to the judge saying that Mike McQueary, what he told the grand jury, and that he allegedly told both those Penn State officials what he saw in a locker room back in 2002.
That he saw a boy allegedly being raped by Jerry Sandusky, and that he told this information to those officials. Yet they are charged with not reporting it to anyone, and they deny that Mike McQueary told them that information. That's why they're charged with perjury before a grand jury.
COSTELLO: As for the defense of this case, is it expected to call witnesses?
CANDIOTTI: Yes. As we indicated, Mike McQueary, to be among them and we might even hear in a fashion from Joe Paterno who, of course, as a result of this whole scandal was fired from his job as head coach.
Now because of his bad health, he's not expected to appear in person, but it possible that authorities would read his testimony to the grand jury into the record, and the grand jury has said that Joe Paterno acknowledged that Mike McQueary told him that he saw something of a sexual nature at the very least.
But remember, Carol, this is the first time we're going to hear from Mike McQueary, in his own words, we expect, precisely what he said to Joe Paterno, precisely what he said to Schultz and to Curley as opposed to simply the summary that we have heard to date from the grand jury presentment. COSTELLO: And we've heard so many stories about what exactly Tim Curley said. So maybe that will be cleared up as well today. Susan Candiotti reporting live from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, thanks.
CHO: All right, so how do prosecutors make the case that Tim Curley and Gary Schultz committed perjury? How common is this? And what's at stake today for Assistant Coach Mike McQuery?
Let's bring in CNN legal contributor, Paul Callan. Paul, let's go back to the basics here. Why Curly and Schultz are being charged with perjury. I mean, this is a little bit complicated. So I want to just run through it.
It goes back to what each told the grand jury. Now McQueary says he told then Athletic Director Tim Curley and then Administrator Gary Schultz that he witnessed Sandusky raping a boy in the shower.
Curley testified that McQueary only reported inappropriate conduct that made him uncomfortable nothing more than horsing around. Schultz then testified that there was inappropriate sexual conduct, groping essentially, but no sex.
He also said the allegations made were not that serious and that he had no indication that a crime had occurred. So we're hearing lots of different stories here. First of all, how common is a case like this, and is there a case here?
PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL CONTRIBUTOR: It's very, very uncommon to see perjury charges lodged against anybody. I mean, we always hear about it on television. Do you know that you're under oath? Do you know what the penalties for perjury are?
You always see that scene in a cross-examination in all of the TV shows. In truth, very few lawyers have ever seen a perjury case. They're hard to prove. They're hard to get convictions because they turn on an interpretation of words.
CHO: Right. And that's exactly what's going on here.
CALLAN: That's exactly what's going on here. There's a -- you know, there's a claim that the word sexual contact or sexual activity was used.
As opposed to just horsing around and can you be horsing around in the context of sexual activity? This is -- they're going to be arguing about things like that to determine ultimately, is this a lie under oath?
CHO: So let's talk about what will happen in that hearing today or at least what you think will happen. There are at least three, if not more, versions of Mike McQueary's stories that are floating around out there so definitely some inconsistencies. Is there a chance that the defense could go after McQueary in that hearing today?
CALLAN: I think you'll see the defense very aggressively going after McQueary. The question is how aggressive will the judge allow them to be?
CALLAN: But bear in mind, everything depends on McQueary's statement that he told them certain things, the most damaging being that he actually witnessed the child being raped in the shower.
Now, if he told that to them or one of them, and they didn't report it, they're going to be guilty, or at least one would be guilty of perjury.
Now, if McQueary told other versions to other people it will undermine his believability or credibility. But here's the ultimate question -- we don't know what's going on in the background here. Does the prosecutor have more evidence? We don't know everything that McQueary told the grand jury.
I'll give you an example. Suppose McQueary said to the grand jury, yes, I told different things to different people, because I was humiliated by the fact that I hadn't acted to protect the child.
So finally, when I sat down with Curley and Schultz, I told them exactly what I saw. There may be a very plausible explanation for McQueary's conduct that we're not aware of.
Now of course, I'm speculating about that. I have no idea. It's secret the grand jury testimony, but we're going to get a look into that secret process today to see why the grand jury indicted for perjury.
CHO: There's obviously a lot of talk about you know, former Head Coach Joe Paterno not doing enough as well. I mean, could we see more cases like this do you think?
CALLAN: Well, Paterno's involvement is very interesting also because I think he's ill now, but he could have come in as a potential witness on this as well.
I don't think you're going to see Paterno indicted for perjury or anything like that. I have a feeling we're done with the Paterno part of the case.
Except the fact that he ruled Penn State and it's really the explanation in the end, why did these guys not act? Why would they look to cover up? Well, you know, Paterno was king. Football was king.
CALLAN: And it's a company town and I think a lot of people are afraid they'd lose jobs if the football team was put out of business. That's sort of the back story to why these men may not have reported what they should have reported.
CHO: Let's not forget what a big business it is as well. You know, bottom line here, you know, do you think that the courts are just trying to make an example of these two men, Curley and Schultz or is there really something here legally?
I mean, could they actually be convicted? I know there's a high bar here. Could they actually be convicted and if so then what happens?
CALLAN: Well, I think it's a very, very shaky perjury case. There may be a case that can be presented to a jury, but proving beyond a reasonable doubt is a high standard and I think it's going to be a tough case for the prosecution.
Now on the other hand, this is a very, very serious situation. If, in fact, Sandusky was involved with 50 counts of child abuse and Penn State knew about it and did nothing about it, that's very serious.
How many children have been damaged? How many childhoods have been taken away because these individuals didn't do what they were supposed to do, report him? Have him investigated and thrown off the campus.
So if all of this is true, this is very serious, and prosecutors are doing the right thing in proceeding, but ultimately in our system, a jury decides this.
And frankly, we don't know enough at this point. They're all presumed innocent. Let's see how it played out in an American courtroom.
CHO: This is a case where the side cases, you know, outside of the Jerry Sandusky spotlight are actually quite interesting and we'll have to see how it all plays out. Paul Callan, CNN legal contributor, always great to see you. Thank you.
CALLAN: Nice being with you.
COSTELLO: Thanks, Alina.
Still ahead, amazing video extreme kayaking a daredevil takes on a 90-foot waterfall throwing caution and his paddle to the wind. Wait until you see the view from his helmet cam.
Actor Christian Bale trying to escape Chinese police. What the CNN camera crew would tell? We'll tell you what they did not want him to see. It's a CNN exclusive.
And Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin takes a shot at John McCain suggesting McCain is nuts. What the senator said that set Putin off. You're watching AMERICAN MORNING. It's 40 minutes past the hour.
COSTELLO: It's 42 minutes past the hour. Welcome back. A university scandal lands smack on the governor's doorstep in Florida. Hundreds of Florida A&M students, they're lining up on Governor Rick Scott's lawn. They're outraged over his recommendation for university trustees to suspend the school president in the wake of hazing and fraud allegations.
The governor got out of bed, grabbed his bull horn and addressed the protesters.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. RICK SCOTT (R), FLORIDA: Hopefully when this investigation is finished, nobody can question that he's done all the right things. That's what all is hoped, but why wouldn't he put himself and put the university in a position that is clear there's nobody questioning how thorough this investigation is.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's why we have a disagreement. We don't think it's in the best interests of the student body to have a leave of absence of our president. We are not going to leave until you rescind your recommendation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COSTELLO: Wow. I just can't believe the governor had a bull horn in his home, but it came in handy, right? Last month Florida A&M drum major was killed in a suspected hazing incident and just this week, three band members were arrested in another suspected hazing that left a woman badly beaten. Authorities are looking into possible fraud.
CHO: Colton Harris-Moore better known as the bare foot bandit is expected to plead guilty today to a string of crimes in Washington State before his capture last year in the Bahamas.
Moore went on a two-year crime spree across nine states and three countries involving stolen cars, boats and planes. Moore will be sentenced next month on federal charges. He could face ten years in prison.
COSTELLO: It's one of the craziest stunts we've seen in a long time. What a rush. Take a look. This is a kayaker plunging over the 90-foot falls in Alabama on purpose.
And thankfully he strapped on a helmet cam before he did it. The daredevil joined Brooke Baldwin in a CNN NEWSROOM yesterday and says even though think looks crazy, he left nothing to chance.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ISAAC LEVINSON, KAYAKER: I looked at this waterfall multiple times and decided that that day was the right time to kayak off Maclua (ph) Falls. As you crest over the lip, that's when you lose control, so you have to set your angle and be really focused on your landing from there. The idea is to land with your kayak pointed vertically down, so that that was really necessary on this waterfall to keep from being injured. I will not be running Maclua (ph) Falls again, but I was loving the memory that I have of it now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHO: Yes, probably a good idea not to tempt fate twice.
COSTELLO: You're not kidding.
COSTELLO: That's insane.
CHO: I've never seen anything like that.
Alexandra Steele is along with a quick look at the morning's forecast.
Hey, Alexandra, good morning.
ALEXANDRA STEELE, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Good morning. How do you practice for something like that?
CHO: You don't.
COSTELLO: You just pray.
STEELE: Cross your fingers and jump.
CHO: That's right.
ALEXANDRA: Let's show you what's happening around the country.
STEELE: We'll have much more on the weather coming up.
Back to you guys in New York.
COSTELLO: Thanks, Alexandra.
STEELE: Thank you.
COSTELLO: Breaking news into CNN. Russia --
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN "Breaking News."
COSTELLO: As I was saying, Russian Customs officials confirming they have seized radioactive material from the luggage of a passenger.
Phil Black is tracking the story. He's live in Moscow.
Phil what do you know?
PHIL BLACK, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, this is an unusual developing story, Carol, that we're working here at the moment. The facts are still being confirmed here for us.
But we know that from the Russian Customs Services they say that some sort of radiation alarm went off at one of Moscow's two major airports today. And they inspected one of the passenger's pieces of luggage as a result of that. Inside, they say they found 18 metal objects packed in individual steel cases. They performed initial tests on these steel cases, and they discovered that they exceeded radiation by 20 times according to Russian Customs.
They say they've conducted further tests and discover it was a radio isotope, known as NA-22, which, according to Russian Customs, can only be obtained from nuclear reactor operation.
Now, an interesting twist here. While they say those tests, or further tests were being conducted, the passenger, who was due to fly on a flight from Moscow to Tehran, fled. Disappeared. They don't know where he is. They are still looking for him.
We've spoken to the Russian Atomic Energy Agency here. They contradict some of the customs information a little bit. First of all, they say this particular isotope, NA-22, is principally, really exclusively used for medical and scientific research. And they do not believe that the level of radiation is particularly great. They do not think that it would be anymore than a passenger would receive by taking any other passenger flight. They also make the point they do not believe it is only exclusively obtained through nuclear reactor operations.
So some conflicting information there, but obviously some concern as well with a passenger, an Iranian man, we understand, trying to take some form of nuclear isotope onto a flight to Tehran.
Some conflicting information between the Russian agencies here at the moment, Carol, but we'll nail this down as soon as we can.
COSTELLO: I know you're trying to gather more information. But the guy got away? They confiscate something like this and the guy runs away?
BLACK: That, I guess, is the extraordinary, and perhaps, indeed, the most suspicious aspect of all this. As soon as his -- we understand as soon as his luggage was isolated, he knew that is being checked, he fled, and, yes, he successfully got away. I imagine there was some sort of lag between when they were simply conducting a follow-up check and when they actually realized what they maybe dealing with. But whatever that time span was, it was enough for that man was enough for that man to leave the scene, if you like.
We're told a criminal investigation is now under way and no surprise they're searching for him -- Carol? COSTELLO: Unbelievable. I know you'll gather more information for us. Thanks so much for joining us live. We appreciate it.
Phil Black reporting live from Moscow this morning.
CHO: Still to come on AMERICAN MORNING, Chicago Bear's Sam Hurd busted and in jail this morning. Find out what authorities say he did.
Fifty minutes after the hour. We're back after this.
COSTELLO: 52 minutes past the hour. Here's what you need to know to start your day.
The last debate before the real battle for the nomination begins. GOP candidates battling it out in Iowa last night, trying to pick apart the frontrunner, Newt Gingrich. Gingrich defending his conservative values and his electability.
Today, Congress must vote on a last-minute deal to avoid a partial government shutdown. Overnight, negotiators came to an agreement on a massive spending bill that will fund the government through October of next year.
Army Private Bradley Manning facing an arraignment hearing today at a military base in Maryland. He allegedly leaked hundreds of thousands of classified documents that wound up being published on WikiLeaks.
Author and essayist, Christopher Hitchens, has died after a long battle with cancer. A self-described militant pundent, Hitchens had been a contributing editor to "Vanity Fair" for the past two decades. He was 62 years old.
Chicago Bears wide receiver, Sam Hurd, hoping to work out bond this morning after being busted on federal drug charges. Authorities said he met with an undercover federal agent on Wednesday night with the intention of buying 22 pounds of cocaine and 1,000 pounds of pot per week.
You're now caught up on the day's headlines. AMERICAN MORNING, back after a short break.
CHO: Welcome back. Academy Award-winning actor, Christian Bale, in China for the premiere of his new film had a run-in with Chinese security. Bale tried to visit a blind human rights activist who has been held in his home for more than 15 months. But security made sure that wasn't happening, with the actor got roughed up and chased. CNN cameras were rolling.
CHRISTIAN BALE, ACTOR: Why can I not go visit this man?
STAN GRANT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Hollywood actor, Christian Bale, is used to action, but this is no movie set.
BALE: We've been stopped.
GRANT: Plain-clothed Chinese security, who would not identify themselves, determined to stop him and our crew contacting the detained human rights activist.
GRANT (on camera): Watch it, Christian.
We're trying to get out of here. Once again, we've been stopped. We've been stopped right here. And, as you can see, they are pushing Christian here. We're just trying to leave peacefully. We're trying to leave peacefully.
GRANT (voice-over): As we leave, the guards give chase in their car.
BALE: They're still right on our tail.
GRANT: Christian Bale says this is not what he hoped for. He'd made an eight-hour car journey from Beijing to try to meet a personal hero. The blind, self-taught lawyer, Chen Guangcheng.
BALE: I'm not being brave doing this. The local people, who are standing up to the authorities and insisting on going to visit Chen and his family and getting beaten up and, from my understanding, is being detained and everything for it, I want to support what they're doing.
GRANT: Bale has been in China for the premiere of a film that he's made here about the Japanese invasion of Nanjing (ph) in the 1930s. Bale could have rolled up the red carpet and left, but the actor, whose movie is about suffering and injustice, could not leave China without highlighting this real-life struggle.
Chen Guangcheng has campaigned against alleged forced abortions and the treatment of villagers in China. In 2006, he was sentenced to more than four years in prison for disrupting traffic and damaging property. He denies those allegations.
Chen has not been allowed to leave his home since his release last year. Local Chinese authorities in Shandong Province have his house and local village in lockdown. No one allowed in to see Chen. Authorities here declined to comment on the case.
The United States is championing Chen's cause. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has raised his case during past visits to the region.
Christian Bale now wants to add whatever weight he can.
BALE: This doesn't come naturally to me, but this was just a situation. I said, I can't look the other way. GRANT: Bale has followed CNN's coverage of Chen's case and approached us to try to meet the blind activist. His hopes were high, until this.
BALE: What I really wanted to do was shake the man's hand and say thank you and tell him what his inspiration is.
GRANT: The Chinese security continued to chase us for more than half an hour. We got away. Chen remains locked in his house.
Stan Grant, CNN, Shandong, China.
CHO: Incredible story. That was CNN's Stan Grant from Beijing.
Still to come, it's a bird, it's a plane, it's a spy drone? Unmanned aircraft, key in the war on terror, now helping to catch criminals right here at home. The ACLU says it's an invasion of privacy. We'll talk about it in our next hour.
COSTELLO: And students suspended for Tebowing. They struck a pose like the Bronco's phenom quarterback and, boy, did they pay for it.
You're watching AMERICAN MORNING. It's just about 8:00 eastern.