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Holiday Travel Nightmare; Final Report on Sandy Hook Massacre; Official Says Nuclear Deal First Negotiated in Secret; Interview With. Rep. Mike Rogers; Obamacare, Relief or Worry?; Miley Cyrus and Giant Cat Rock It

Aired November 25, 2013 - 17:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: John, thanks very much. Happening now, storm front. Severe and deadly weather making its way across the country just as 43 million Americans are taking to the roads and skies for Thanksgiving. What will it mean for your holiday commute?

Descent into madness, a new report details the final days of the Sandy Hook shooter. Could he have been stopped?

And closed door deal, has the U.S. been secretly been negotiating with Iran for months? What will a new deal with the former American adversary mean for your safety and even your gas prices?

I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Heavy rain and snow, frigid temperatures and deadly road conditions all on the move and threatening to disrupt Thanksgiving travel plans for millions of Americans. A dozen people have died in road accidents. Hundreds of flights have been canceled. Hundreds of others are facing long delays, all during one of the busiest travel weeks of the year.

CNN's Rene Marsh is over at Reagan National Airport here in DC.

Let's begin, though, with our meteorologist, Chad Myers, over at the CNN Severe Weather Center -- Chad, what do our viewers need to know, especially those who are thinking of traveling this week?

CHAD MYERS, ATS METEOROLOGIST: You have Gulf of Mexico moisture that's going to try to run on top of Canadian cold air that has run down into America. Those two things don't like to happen at the same time.

This rain now in the Gulf Coast states will turn into snow. And it will turn -- it already turned into some ice for Denver and Dallas last night. Better now. And planes are flying, don't get me wrong -- 5,800 planes at the moment. It should be about 6,000, but they're still flying.

The deal is when it gets up here into this cold air, when that moisture from the Gulf of Mexico gets here, we are going to have watches and warnings all the way from Canada all the way south even into Virginia. And, in fact, we even have some watches already posted right now.

All because of this, that Gulf of Mexico humidity, moisture, whatever you want to call it, kind of like a conveyor belt.

Do you know how you put a box on a conveyor belt and it ends up higher or lower depending upon where you want to send it?

This conveyor belt is sending this moisture up into some much colder air -- Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia, Kentucky -- all going to be part of this as the low turns to the north. It's going to rain a lot in Atlanta tomorrow. Big, big delays in Atlanta with low clouds tomorrow. I mean it could be a couple of hours.

Brian then by tomorrow night, this is 6:00 tomorrow night, it's raining in New York. And this is the key. It's raining in all the big cities. I-95 is just wet. But if you're going east to west, from the rain into the ice, into the snow, this is going to be the problem. You're going to run from New York City over to State College in Pennsylvania and it's going to be an icy mess.

In Pittsburgh, again, ice. Rochester, West Virginia, Eastern Ohio, all the way down even into West Virginia. All of these highways, all of the roadways are going to be if not stopped, very, very slow. And the wind is going to be in the Northeast. So although it's going back and it's just going to rain in New York City, it's going to be the wind that's going to really slow things down. The winds in New York City could be 40 miles per hour.

We were just discussing whether those big, you know, Snoopy balloons in the New York -- in the big Macy's Day Parade will be -- actually be flying or will they literally be flying?

They may have to make a big call that morning to see if the winds are just too strong.

BLITZER: Yes. What awful timing for rough weather, this week especially.

Chad, thanks very much.

Let's head over to Reagan National Airport here in Washington.

Our aviation correspondent, Rene Marsh, is standing by.


What's going on?

What are you seeing?

What do we anticipate -- Rene.

RENE MARSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, this is the situation. You've got your bags packed, you bought your ticket and now it's that nail-biting wait for millions of Americans -- will their flight actually take off? That's the big question.

So what are airports and airlines doing behind-the-scenes to make a bad situation better?

Well, we asked that very question today. Airports say that they have been preparing for this kind of bad weather for months now. Airlines, in the meantime, they are tracking this storm very closely around the clock. They are protectively notifying customers if it's necessary. They are pre-canceling flights, as well.

We saw that American Airlines, they pre-canceled hundreds of flights. And they're doing all of that just to ensure that these travelers aren't stuck at airports for the holidays.

We also know that they are monitoring, minute by minute, all the flights in the air in their command center and they're measuring that up against the weather conditions. And that is when they're making the decision whether to cancel these flights.

Take a listen.


ALEXANDRIA MARREN, UNITED AIRLINES OPERATIONS VICE PRESIDENT: We have, you know, very rigorous checklists and coordination plans, communication plans. So we bring out our checklists. We activate our incident response team. It's actually a very coordinated effort and you can call this the nerve center of the airline, where we're able to bring all the groups together.

And then each of our airports is -- has a center of their own, so that we're able to disseminate the information, make the best possible decisions, you know, getting the aircraft out of the severe weather zones.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Before it even got cold, we had folks training and refreshing their use of the snow plows and unique airfield snow equipment that we use here. We purchased all the deicing fluid and solid materials that we would need to use throughout a winter period.


MARSH: All right, so, you know, you look at those radars, it looks really scary, especially if you have holiday plans and you want to make sure you get to your destination. But many of the airports that we spoke to here on the East Coast, specifically, right here in Washington, as well as some of the airports there in the Buffalo/New York area, they say they do expect delays this holiday.

However, they don't expect that it would create a disruption that they would, in turn, have to shutdown the airport. So a silver lining there for travelers.

But they still do expect those delays, so be prepared for that -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Let's hope it's not too bad.

All right, thanks very much, Rene Marsh, for that.

To find out what really goes on at the world's busiest airports, a team of more than 30 CNN journalists is uncovering some amazing and moving stories, this time at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. You can see them at

All right, there's some breaking news we're following. Connecticut authorities have just released their final report on the massacre at the Sandy Hook Elementary School almost one year ago.

CNN national correspondent, Susan Candiotti, has been going through the report for us.

So what does the report say, in a nutshell -- Susan?

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, first of all, it tells us that he acted alone, that they have found no evidence that anyone helped him plan this or helped him carry it out. And, also, that there is still no clear motive, that this very day, until this very day, as to why he did it and why he chose Sandy Hook Elementary. But for the first time, Wolf, they're seeing photographs taken inside the school, the aftermath. Now, you're not going to see any actual crime scene pictures. But, first of all, you do see, remember, when he made entry to the school, he shot at least six to eight times to get through a glass window -- there it is right there -- to make his way into the school before he began his shooting spree, taking the lives of 20 children and two adults and then, later, on, killing himself.

And we also see a picture of the Bushmaster. That's that assault style rifle that he used to carry out these killings that day, before taking his own life with a handgun.

But we're also seeing, for the first time, pictures inside the house, Wolf, inside the house and some of the things they found. For example, we learned from this report that he was obsessed with -- we know he played some violent video games, but he also like Super Mario Brothers. But there you see his bedroom with all the windows taped shut, with black garbage bags over them, to keep out the light. We see that he also had a gun locker inside that house, as well. All the guns legally purchased, according to prosecutors in their report.

And we also know that he was obsessed with a game called Dance Dance Revolution -- so much so that he would play it at least three times a week at a local theater near where he lived, where they actually show this game in the lobby, where you dance. You dance to music. You touch the floor. A very popular game.

And exhibited a lot of odd behaviors, as well. He liked to change his clothes constantly, so much so, that his mother was constantly cleaning his clothes, as well. He disliked holidays. He didn't like light. He did not like to be touched. He also didn't allow a cat in the room. No Christmas tree was allowed to be put up for the holidays. His mother was not allowed in the room, or anyone else, for that matter -- Wolf.


All right.

Thanks very much.

Susan Candiotti, with the latest on that. Almost one year exactly since that horrible, horrible day.

Up next, secret talks between the U.S. and Iran revealed. We're learning new details about what it took to reach this historic nuclear agreement with Iran.

And critics are slamming the deal. The president's deputy national security adviser, Tony Blinken, is here in THE SITUATION ROOM. He'll defend it.

That's coming up.


BLITZER: We're learning fascinating new details about what was going on behind-the-scenes in the months and even in the hours leading up to this weekend's historic nuclear deal with Iran, right down to the pizza that was ordered, the chocolates that secretary of State, John Kerry, shared that day, the day the deal was struck.

Let's bring in our chief national security correspondent, Jim Sciutto.

He's in Geneva.

He's got all these details for us -- so walk us through a little bit of what happened -- Jim.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I'll tell you, Wolf, we had this impression that these talks were a staid affair here in Geneva over the last month. But it turns out they go back months, to March, secret talks in Oman between U.S. and Iranian officials, and that the drama went right up to the final hours. Secretary of State John Kerry saying he wasn't sure a deal would be signed until after midnight on Sunday morning, and that there was one final meeting between him and the Iranian foreign minister, Javad Zarif, a make or break meeting, said U.S. official, before this landmark deal came to be.


SCIUTTO (voice-over): The landmark nuclear deal was signed and celebrated in public in Geneva, but it was first negotiated in secret, including talks far away in Oman, between U.S. and Iranian officials. Secretary of State John Kerry made some of the first outreach while still a senator, more than a year ago. And right up to the final moments early Sunday morning, after breaks for pizza and chocolates, he wasn't sure a deal would happen.

The agreement puts unprecedented limits on Iran's nuclear program. Iran restricts the enrichment of uranium to a level well below that necessary to build a nuclear bomb. It dilutes or converts its existing stockpile of enriched uranium. And Iran allows intrusive, daily monitoring of nuclear sites, including the once secret facilities at Natanz and Fordow.

In exchange, the West will free up some Iranian assets frozen overseas and relax some sanctions, including those on gold sales and airplane parts -- in all, about $7 billion in relief. The president defended the deal this afternoon.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: International inspectors will have unprecedented access to Iran's nuclear related facilities. So, this will help Iran from building a nuclear weapon.

SCIUTTO: The agreement will ask for only six months, pressing the pause button on Iran's nuclear program but not deleting it. A point that critics of the deal say sounds ominously familiar. In the 1990s, North Korea agreed to freeze its nuclear program in return for sanctions relief, but they broke their promises, and in 2006, shocked the world by conducting their first of three nuclear tests.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, (R-SC) FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE: I've seen a movie like this before called North Korea. It did not end well. I don't think this -- what does this deal accomplish in terms of the end game? The end game is to dismantle the plutonium reactor. The end game should be to stop enrichment. This still allows 18,000 centrifuges to stay in place.

SCIUTTO: Administration officials counter there is unprecedented verification in the deal that would uncover any cheating immediately.


SCIUTTO: The administration will launch an aggressive outreach campaign on the Hill. Secretary of State John Kerry is going to be on the phone with members of Congress this week, even during the Thanksgiving break, and in person, right after the Thanksgiving break ends to build support despite that stiff opposition, Wolf. But still, it's going to be a tall order.

BLITZER: Certainly is. All right. Thanks very much, Jim Sciutto in Geneva.

Let's bring in the president's deputy national security advisor, Antony Blinken. He's joining us from the White House right now. Tony, thanks very much for coming in.

ANTONY BLINKEN, DEPUTY NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR: Thanks for having me, Wolf. BLITZER: So, now that the agreement was signed early Sunday morning, Geneva time, when will the sanctions actually start being lifted, those sanctions that are going to be lifted for the Iranians?

BLINKEN: First of all, Wolf, listen, what's important to understand with regard to sanctions is throughout the six-month period, all of the core sanctions stay in place, and indeed, they continue to be implemented. The oil sanctions, the banking sanctions, the pressure on Iran will actually continue to grow.

They will get some modest and very controlled relief that will be doled out over the six months to make sure that they're making good on their commitments and that process will start probably sometime around the New Year.

BLITZER: -- billion dollars that they'll get over these next six months, they'll begin to feel some of the benefits early, early in the New Year, not in December.

BLINKEN: Oh, that's right. At the earliest. But keep in mind, Wolf, Iran has about $100 billion around the world that is locked up in bank accounts that it can't access because of the sanctions. That amount will stay there. And indeed, it will increase because the amount of oil that they're allowed to sell under the sanctions, the proceeds from that go into the same accounts, and so, that amount will grow.

At the same time, they'll be getting about $4.2 billion over six months from those accounts in a very controlled way. So, when you put this in the context of the amount of money that will continue to be out of their reach, it's a very small amount. It won't have a material impact on their economy.

BLITZER: You heard Jim Sciutto's report from Geneva. He said there's actually been secret U.S./Iranian negotiations under way, including in Oman going back for months. When did those talks begin?

BLINKEN: Wolf, we've long said that we would welcome having bilateral contacts with Iran. And throughout the years, there've been various contacts and conversations. But, we also said very clearly that if any of those contacts got to the point where contacts turned into discussions and discussions turned into negotiations, then we would make sure that all of our partners knew exactly what was going on, including the P5, including partners like Israel, and that's what happened just a few weeks ago.

BLITZER: But for months, you had secret negotiations under way, high level state department officials traveling to Oman to meet with high level Iranian officials, right?

BLINKEN: What we had, Wolf, were contacts to see if there was a basis for having a discussion, for having a negotiation. And when we got to the point that in fact, the Iranians made it clear they were prepared to have a real discussion and real negotiation, at that point, all of this got channeled through the P5+1 process.

That is, with our partners from Europe, Russia, China and also making sure that our other partners like Israel knew what was going on.

BLITZER: They released, the White House did, two photos of the President Saturday night as he was reviewing, I guess, information coming in from Geneva. There he is with you. He's getting the information. Susan Rice was -- we didn't know where she was then. We know she went to Afghanistan. I think that's Ben Rhodes, your deputy, in the background over there. How involved was the president in the final deal that was put together?

BLINKEN: Intensely involved. Multiple times throughout those days, the president was asked to make sure he was comfortable with the deal that was being put on the table. We were seeking his guidance. We were seeking his OK. And so, he was engaged throughout this process multiple times during those days.

And indeed, he's been engaged throughout as we have established this policy. He's been directing it. He's the one who brought together all of these countries to support our sanctions, working relentlessly over the years in all of his engagements with foreign countries to get them to sign up to the sanctions.

And he's been the one who has overseen our efforts to design a negotiating strategy and then to implement it.

BLITZER: We know that at least three Americans are being held in Iran right now. The retired FBI agent, Robert Levinson, Amir Hekmati, a former U.S. marine, and a Christian pastor, Saeed Abedini. The pastor's wife was just on CNN's "The Lead" and she made an appeal for the release of her husband and the other Americans. Listen to this.


NAGHMEAH ABEDIN, HUSBAND HELD IN IRAN: Expect them to speak out and say we asked for his release and this is horrible what has happened. He's not going to survive even a few months in that prison. And, this is Iran's continuous violation of human rights and here's an American citizen who's being held there because he's a Christian and he needs to be released immediately.


BLITZER: So, a lot of folks are asking, Tony, in exchange for the $6 billion or $7 billion they're about to get in relief on these sanctions, why weren't they included, why are they still being held captive inside Iran?

BLINKEN: Well, first of all, I watched your report and I heard her, and it is very powerful, and the president has raised this. In fact, in his conversation with President Rouhani, when Rouhani was in New York for the U.N. General Assembly and they spoke on the phone, the only issue other than the nuclear file that the president raised was the three Americans who are in Iran.

And he asked for Rouhani's assistance in freeing them and allowing them to return to the United States. And Rouhani said that he would look into it. With regard to these negotiations, the only subject on the agenda is the nuclear file. There are, unfortunately, many things that Iran does around the world that we don't like, including its support for terrorism, including its destabilizing activities in the Middle East.

None of this was on the agenda for the nuclear negotiations. The only thing on the agenda was the nuclear file, to see if we can get to a point where the world is satisfied that Iran has a nuclear program that is only for peaceful purposes, that it can't produce a bomb. That's what we're focused on.

But as I said, the only thing the president raised with President Rouhani when he spoke to him other than the nuclear issue was the fate of these three Americans and asking that they be returned to the United States.

BLITZER: Well, in the case of Saeed Abedini, they apparently intensified his incarceration. They threw him into a more hostile prison environment that looks like a real slap at the U.S., directly at the president after he raised it with Rouhani.

BLINKEN: We've been repeatedly clear that we're calling on Iran to release them. The president's raised it. We will continue to raise it. And we hope to see them return home.

BLITZER: We certainly do. All right. Tony Blinken from the White House, thanks very much for coming in.

BLINKEN: Thanks. Thanks for having me, Wolf. Appreciate it.

BLITZER: Thank you.

Coming up, we're going to get immediate reaction to what we just heard from Tony Blinken. A fierce critic of this deal, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Mike Rogers, he's standing by live. In fact, he's coming into the SITUATION ROOM right now. Mr. Chairman, stand by. We're going to talk to you in a moment.

Also, the president attempts to revive his case for comprehensive immigration reform, gets heckled by one of the people selected to stand behind him on the stage. Awkward. That's just ahead in the SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: You just heard the interview with the president's deputy national security adviser, Tony Blinken, defending the historic nuclear deal with Iran.

Let's get some reaction from the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Republican Congressman Mike Rogers of Michigan.

Mr. Chairman, thanks very much for coming in.


BLITZER: All right, so you're supposed to know all the top secrets going on. You're the chairman of the Intelligence Committee.

Did you know that for months and months and months the U.S. was engaged in secret talks with the Iranians in Oman?

ROGERS: There was no formal notification, certainly that I received. And my understanding is that neither did the Senate, which is concerning.

BLITZER: Why wouldn't they share that, because they share a lot of the most sensitive secrets, the classified information, with the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, the ranking member, as well -- as well as the Senate Intelligence Committee?

ROGERS: Yes, with full -- you know, we have full access to every classified program, every covert action program, as we should in our role for oversight. It was concerning that they didn't believe it was important enough to do this. And that just raises questions about what -- what did they prearrange prior to the P5-plus-1.

I mean it raises -- this is why you don't want to do this. It raises unnecessary suspicions about what was agreed to prior to the P5-plus- 1.

BLITZER: Now, you don't like this deal.

ROGERS: No, I don't.

BLITZER: Even though you just heard Tony Blinken say the initial easing of sanctions is very modest and they could be reinstated at any time.

ROGERS: That, to me, is a little bit naive about how much time and effort it takes to build sanctions to the point where we have them. A couple of concerns.

One, I think their facts are wrong and I hope -- I hope they didn't make their deal --

BLITZER: What facts are wrong?

ROGERS: When they say it's only going to be $4.5 billion, that is just inconsistent with (INAUDIBLE) --

BLITZER: Well, in their paper --

ROGERS: -- number.

BLITZER: -- in their document, they suggested maybe $6 billion or $7 billion.

ROGERS: Well, by the time it's done, experts believe it will be about $20 billion, number one.

And number two, it opens up gold and precious metals.

BLITZER: So what does that --


BLITZER: -- when you say $20 billion for -- over six months?

Is that what you're saying?

ROGERS: Right. But here --

--- and you're saying --

ROGERS: -- here's the problem with that.

BLITZER: -- gold and precious metals.

Why is that a big deal?

ROGERS: The reason this is a big deal is because this is the way they can barter for other things. And they've done this with other nations before. They've been trying to get around sanctions using the barter system. And they've done it with other ways, having, you know, more money on one side and one side trading a different account. They've tried all different ways to get around it.

Now it opens up their ability to barter in gold and precious metals. This is a huge pressure release valve for them. And not talking about that worries me. We ought to know what the facts are of the deal. So if it's a good deal -- I'm not talking about trying to sell the deal. You expect the White House to do that. But we ought to argue about the facts of the deal and what it means and what we didn't get --

BLITZER: But it --

ROGERS: -- so we relieved pressure, which they need desperately, and we got, really, nothing. Every part of their --

BLITZER: But when you say --

ROGERS: -- weapons program --

BLITZER: -- got nothing --

ROGERS: -- gets to stay intact.

BLITZER: -- won't the international community have greater inspection opportunities?

Won't they stop enriching certain amounts of uranium?

Won't they deal with their centrifuges?

Aren't there some major concessions the Iranians have made?

ROGERS: No, I don't think so. What they've said is we're going to suspend, for six months, where we're at. They didn't have to dismantle any of their centrifuges. Remember, they weren't supposed to have any of this. So they went from six U.N. resolutions saying you can't do this to, well, I guess you can do it now. And, by the way, we're going to freeze where you're at and we're going to approve enrichment going forward, at whatever percentage they do, which is why -- exactly why you had the secretary of State come out at a press conference and say, no, we really didn't say anything about enrichment, and the Iranian foreign minister saying this allows us to enrich uranium, finally the world has recognized it and we'll --

BLITZER: But it's got to be under 5 percent --

ROGERS: Yes, but here's --

BLITZER: -- which is, presumably, not enough to build a nuclear bomb.

ROGERS: Here's the problem with that. So a program has three different components -- missiles, weaponization, enrichment. So they -- we know that they have gotten to the 20 percent enrichment. Basically the tenets of the deal recognizes, and they admit, they've got to 20 percent enrichment. That's the hardest enrichment number to hit. Once you hit 20, very easy to get to 90. Zero to 20, very difficult.

So what we've done is allowed them to do exactly what their intentions were all along, is to get to a thing called the dash. So the dash is putting the whole program together so you have a nuclear bomb sitting on a missile ready to launch.

So the argument has been -- and the differences between intelligence services around the world is -- how long is the dash?

So they're developing their missile system, they're developing enrichment capability and they're developing a weaponization. We think that this allows them to continue with the two pieces of it, the missile piece. Nothing in the deal affects that. Weaponization, that's the dangerous piece. We know that they've already hit the enrichment number.

So what we've said is --


ROGERS: -- you get to keep all the parts of your enrichment. We're not going to touch any of that, other then you have to stop doing it for six months.

BLITZER: But what's wrong with testing the Iranians for six months to see if Rouhani, the new president --

ROGERS: Here's the problem --

BLITZER: -- Zarif, the foreign minister --

ROGERS: I hear --

BLITZER: -- they've got -- let's say they have the support of the Supreme Leader, the ayatollah. ROGERS: Yes.

BLITZER: What's wrong with testing to see if they're willing to cooperate --


BLITZER: -- and if not, at the end of six months, what has the U.S. and the international community lost?

ROGERS: Well, first of all, we know that they've been cheating on the program all along. We've certainly established that. We know that they're -- how aggressive they are in pursuing surreptitious sites to develop a program. We know that they're very good at that.

We know that Rouhani has done a great bait and switch in the previous negotiations. Very good at that.

Think about what we have just done. We have just told them, you can continue to enrich, we're not going to do anything about your missile and your weaponization sites, military sites. We have just given them permission.

That's why Khomeini came out today and said guess what, gang, they've just welcomed us into the nuclear world.

That's a huge problem.

BLITZER: So is the only alternative war --

ROGERS: No, absolutely not.

BLITZER: -- just to use a military option?

ROGERS: Absolutely not. BLITZER: Because nobody wants to do that.

ROGERS: Absolutely not. As a matter of fact, that's what's so frustrating about this, the narrative of it's either war or this very bad plan. No. Not -- wrong. We were getting ready to do a third round of sanctions, we being the United States Congress. The president opposed the first round. He opposed the second round. The third round was finally getting to the Iranian elite.

So what was happening is finally, the elite in Iran, the governing class of Iran, if you will, the business class, was finally saying we have to decide, we're either going to get a nuclear weapon or we're going to financially ruin the country of Iran forever.

Well, what they've done is they relieved the pressure on that. You gave them everything that they wanted. That's why the Arab League is a -- thinks this is a bad deal. Israel thinks it's a bad deal. A bipartisan group in Congress thinks this is a bad deal, which is apparently why they had secret meetings to talk about it, because most of the people who are concerned about it, including the neighbors of Iran who are most concerned, now don't think it's a good deal. And here's the worst part of this. You may have increased the likelihood of military conflict. And you've might -- you've increased the likelihood of a nuclear proliferation in the Middle East.

All of those are bad outcomes. I hope we reconsider in the next few months.

BLITZER: I hope none of that happens.

ROGERS: Me, too.

BLITZER: And I'm sure our viewers do, as well.

Mr. Chairman, thanks very much for coming in.

ROGERS: Thanks.

BLITZER: Mike Rogers is the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.

Up next, President Obama interrupted by a heckler in a surprising location. You're going to hear his response.

Plus, two very different takes on Obamacare. You will find out why one man calls it mind-numbing while another says it's a relief.


BLITZER: President Obama's in California talking about immigration reform. Just a little while ago in San Francisco, his speech was interrupted by a heckler in a very surprising location. Our senior White House correspondent, Jim Acosta, is joining us. Jim, tell us what happened.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, White House officials were asked a question earlier today, were they trying to distract the country from Obamacare? A spokesman traveling with the president told reporters if that were their strategy, it would not work. Case in point, this immigration event.

But besides that, Obamacare, they know the target date for fixing is only five days away. He's heard from Democrats who are nervous about that.

As for Iran, members of his own party also nervous about that deal that was struck over the weekend. But as for the subject of immigration reform, you would think in a friendly audience, the president would not hear from critics. But that was not the case when he heard from one heckler during his remarks. Here's how that exchange went.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stop deportation. Stop deportation!

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What I'd like to do -- GROUP OF PEOPLE: Stop deportation. Stop deportation!

OBAMA: Now what you need to know, when I'm speaking as president of the United States, and I come to this community, is that if in fact I could solve all these problems without passing laws in Congress, then I would do so. But we're also a nation of laws. That's part of our tradition.


ACOSTA: So even on the subject of immigration reform, he is taking heat. The president said although he did make a little bit of news out there, saying once again he would accept a piecemeal approach to solving that issue instead of tackling it in one giant bill at once, he described immigration reform as a Thanksgiving day turkey, Wolf, that can be carved up into different parts. But make no mistake, if he had his hands on the wishbone, it would be to wish for that Obamacare Web site to be working, Wolf.

BLITZER: Jim, hold on for a moment. Gloria Borger is with us as well. Some disturbing poll numbers, Gloria, for the president today. Our new CNN/ORC poll asked the opinion of the president right now. Look at how it's collapsed. Twelve points since May. Can he manage government? Fifty-two percent said yes in May, 40 percent said yes right now. That's a pretty disturbing number.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, it is. If I were sitting at the White House right now, I don't think I would be thrilled by these numbers, Wolf.

Look, the two most important bonds between the president and the public are trust and competency. You look at that 40 percent number, that's a competency number. We also have numbers that show that only 46 percent of the public thinks that he's honest. So those are real problems.

However, you might have said the same things about Bill Clinton. You might have been able to say the same things about Ronald Reagan in his second term. So somehow, those presidents managed to resurrect themselves. So, let's not write off this president just yet.

BLITZER: Well, does he have the clout to get stuff done right now?

BORGER: Well, I think, you know, that's a huge problem for him, because if the public doesn't think you're competent to manage the government and you grow increasingly unpopular, then I think people in Congress are going to be able to challenge you a little bit more. Does he have the ability now to get immigration reform done? We've heard the president say now that he's willing to do it in a more piecemeal fashion. And I think he would have to accept that. That's not something he would have said just a year ago. BLITZER: Gloria Borger, thanks very much. Jim Acosta over at the White House, thanks to you as well.

Just ahead, an unlikely visitor pays a visit to the Vatican. You will find out who Pope Francis is meeting face-to-face now with for the first time.

Plus, Katie Couric's surprise career move. We have details of her brand new gig, coming up.


BLITZER: The White House says tech experts working on the troubled Obamacare Web site are now on track to meet the president's goal, overcoming most online problems by November 30th. The president touted progress earlier in the day in California, where he says Obamacare is working as intended.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So even as we're getting this darned Web site up to speed.


And it's getting better, states like California are proving the law works.


BLITZER: Well, many people are frustrated and angry over the way Obamacare is being implemented. There are others who do find it a godsend.

We're covering Obamacare with two special reports starting with CNN's Casey Wian.


TOM HARRIS, HANDYMAN: I thought it was a great idea.

CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tom Harris is a 62-year- old self-employed handyman who had high hopes for Obamacare.

HARRIS: My expectations were that it would actually enhance my existing health care plan.

WIAN (on camera): And how has it worked out for you so far?

HARRIS: That wasn't the case. I was notified that my plan would be ended at the end of this year, in December. I was very surprised.

WIAN (voice-over): Harris suffers from debilitating allergies. He's seeing a specialist, Dr. Robert Eictches, at the prestigious Cedars- Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, at least until January 1st when his bill would go up.

HARRIS: I know if I go see him, it's completely out of network and it does not apply against my deductible. So it's really out of network, it's almost in another orbit.

WIAN: The new Obamacare compliant plan being offered by Harris' current health insurance company will actually cost him $5 a month less but Eictches and four of Harris' five doctors are no longer in that network.

DR. ROBERT EITCHES, ALLERGIST AND IMMUNOLOGIST: I've had patients come to me saying please do whatever you need to do, because I don't know if I'll be able to come back to see you after December 31st.

WIAN: Eictches says 10 percent of his patients now must either find new doctors or pay steep out-of-pocket costs.

HARRIS: It's mind-numbing. It's mind-numbing.

WIAN: Even for Dr. Eictches, less than six weeks before Obamacare takes effect, he still doesn't know which if any insurance plans he'll accept. He has already stopped taking Medicare.

EICTCHES: Honestly what I may think about is not taking any insurance at all. I have a lot of patients who have been seeing me for over 20 years and we have a bond. It'd be sad to lose those patients.

WIAN: For Harris, Obamacare has meant fewer choices and headaches. Untreatable by presidential apologies.

HARRIS: It's just so beyond. I certainly wish him well but the situation that I find myself in, the dynamic I find myself in is a real struggle.

WIAN: Casey Wian, CNN, Los Angeles.


BLITZER: Despite all the problems, there are in fact success stories as well, with Obamacare doing exactly what it was designed to do, get people insured.

CNN's Miguel Marquez has that.


MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Today Kate and Justin Leeper aren't insured. Come January 1st, that will change.

KATE LEEPER, INSURED IN CALIFORNIA: I recently changed jobs, so I took a contract position where I don't have benefits.

MARQUEZ: Keeping up that previous insurance would have cost 1500 bucks a month. Too much. She tried private insurers, but the application process, onerous.

(On camera): You'd have to fill out paperwork?


K. LEEPER: Not just paperwork, but trying to remember every doctor's visit you've had for the last year and every, like, procedure or major issue you've had for the last 10 years. MARQUEZ (voice-over): And another problem for the 35-year-olds, who are healthy writer, actor, stuntman and husband Justin?

(On camera): You are a vegetarian?

JUSTIN LEEPER, INSURED IN CALIFORNIA: Yes. No meat, no dairy, never had coffee, don't drink soda, no alcohol, no drugs, work out four times a week.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): He's a bit of a medical mystery suffering a condition doctors so far can't diagnose.

J. LEEPER: That was usually enough for them to say no, we can't cover you.

MARQUEZ: So they logged on to Covered California.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Welcome to Covered California.

MARQUEZ: Ten thousand Californians now signing up daily.

K. LEEPER: I didn't have to know a whole lot. I just put in some basic information, our Social Security numbers, our birth dates.

MARQUEZ: The Web site working as advertised presented them 30 insurance option.

(On camera): What's it going to cost you?

K. LEEPER: Right. About $500 a month. Less than that.

MARQUEZ: For both of you?

K. LEEPER: For both of us.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): The actual quote, $467.

(On camera): What does it feel like to know you are covered?

K. LEEPER: It's a relief.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): Now waiting for their first bill, they say the real test for Obamacare -- the day they'll need to use it.

Miguel Marquez, CNN, Los Angeles.


BLITZER: Here's a look at some of the other top stories we're monitoring right now in THE SITUATION ROOM.

A contractor connected with a deadly building collapse in Philadelphia is charged with six counts of third-degree murder and six counts of involuntary manslaughter, according to the city's district attorney.

Last June, the four-storey wall of a vacant building came crashing down on to an adjacent thrift store, killing six people, injuring 13.

The Russian President Vladimir Putin and Pope Francis meeting face-to- face today for the first time. The closed-door meeting at the Vatican was part of Putin's two-day visit to Rome, a major point of discussion, reportedly, Syria's deadly war.

Another media icon is joining the ranks of Yahoo! Katie Couric will make the jump to the Internet giant early next year as its global anchor. The deal appears to end her current news role at ABC News, although she'll continue hosting her daytime talk show, at least for now.

Couric is best known for her years as co-host of NBC's "The Today Show." At CBS she became the first woman to solo anchor an evening news program.

Coming up, severe and deadly weather making its way across the country, threatening holiday travel plans for millions of Americans.

And Miley Cyrus outshined by a giant cat at the American Music Awards. Jeanne Moos is next.


BLITZER: Miley Cyrus always seems to steal the show at awards program, but at the American Music Awards, it was the giant cat behind her that got all the attention.

Here's CNN's Jeanne Moos.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's the cat's pajamas, no, not Miley Cyrus' outfit. We mean the cat.

The lip-synching cat at the American Music Awards, an Internet star is born. It left many scratching their heads.

"That cat in the background during Miley Cyrus' performance is totally freaking me out, especially when the cat cries."

Kitty tears cracked up the guy who posted this vine. It was a performance that had cats in living rooms glued to the screen, or at least posed in front of it, so owners could post a tweetpic.

And not only cats. My dog just growled at the cat behind Miley Cyrus.

(On camera): Miley didn't just sing with the cat. She was covered in cats, at least the parts that were covered.

(Voice-over): Her French-cut two-piece was festooned with kitties galore, so were her shoes. Next thing you know, the London-based designer who made the outfit was pitching his cat-covered iPhone cases. One poster eyed the cat's ear, pretending to find a scary Illuminati, a secret society reference.

Lip-synching instantly eclipsed other musical felines famous on the Internet. Play yourself off, keyboard cat.

A cat name Little Bob, known for having a deformed jaw that make hers tongue stick out, e-mailed MTV, complaining that Miley stole my facial expression.

(On camera): In this performance, the cat didn't get Miley's tongue. The cat used its own tongue.

(Voice-over): The performance ended with a wink and a wag of the tongue forever looped on the Internet. At least Miley didn't twerk the kitty. She behaved with an animal rather than like one.

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.