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THE SITUATION ROOM
Will Senate Republicans Side With President Bush on Immigration Bill?; DA Mike Nifong On Trial
Aired June 12, 2007 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, HOST: To our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Happening now, President Bush visits Senate Republicans and tells them now is the time to pass an immigration bill.
Can he get it done?
Do they want to get it done?
Is the country blamed for the humanitarian nightmare in Darfur also serving as America's eyes and ears on the Iraqi insurgency?
And amid the shocking allegations of a sexual assault case, he prosecuted the Duke lacrosse players. Now he's the defendant.
I'm Wolf Blitzer.
You're in the in THE SITUATION ROOM.
President Bush went to Capitol Hill today for a lobbying session with Senate Republicans. Over lunch, he pushed them to revive and pass the immigration reform bill, which many of them find simply unacceptable. The president told the senators -- and I'm quoting now -- "get it done."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is a highly emotional issue. But those of us standing here believe now is the time to move a comprehensive bill that enforces our borders and has good workplace enforcement, that doesn't grant automatic citizenship, that addresses this problem in a comprehensive way.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Let's go live to our White House correspondent, Ed Henry -- Ed, can the White House get this done?
ED HENRY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: They can. The answer is maybe. But it's going to be an extremely uphill battle. It means convincing 15 senators to basically change their minds, change their votes to get this immigration debate moving forward again. And that's a task that may be insurmountable for a president whose political clout is shrinking. He's also facing the 2008 presidential calendar coming up, all of the politics of that.
I put the question to Michael Chertoff -- is the possibility of the president moving closer to lame duck status, does that prevent him from getting this done?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL CHERTOFF, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: I think the public is fed up with political maneuvering that prevents problems from being fixed. I think the public is fed up with a situation that is unacceptable and is not going to be interested in hearing that we didn't fix the problem because we were maneuvering to position ourselves for 2008.
I can tell you that people I've talked to who are not politicians, all -- even if they don't love every part of the bill -- they all feel it's time to get something done and change the game here and try to create a new landscape.
And so I think what's going to ultimately drive success here is the very strong sense that people have that the public demands a solution to a problem that is only going to get worse if we don't fix it now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HENRY: But even Secretary Chertoff admitted the legislative window is closing fast. He said if Congress doesn't get this next stage done by the August recess, it's going to be extremely hard for this president to get it done -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Immigration reform supposedly going to be one of the president's legacy issues, if you will.
But if he doesn't get it, what then?
HENRY: Well, then he will have to move on to other issue, other legacy items, like energy reform, health care reform. But those are also going to be uphill battles, especially if he loses the immigration battle.
It's going to be harder and harder for the president to convince Republicans he has the juice, he has the clout to get it done.
Ironically, the most ironic part of this whole debate, it might be Democrats who help bail the president out on issues like immigration, energy and health care. He may need and may make the argument better to them, because the Democrats on the Hill, they need to get things done now, too, heading into 2008 -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Ed Henry at the White House.
Like the lawmakers, the public is split over the immigration reform -- the specific bill now before Congress. A Pew Research poll finds 27 percent favor the bill, 34 percent oppose it, 16 percent say they don't know enough about it and 26 percent are undecided. Fifty- four percent, by the way, favor the idea of a path towards citizenship for illegal immigrants if they pass background checks, pay fines and have jobs. Thirty-nine percent oppose that idea.
We're going to have much more on the immigration battle when I speak live with the White House press secretary, Tony Snow. That's coming up later this hour.
As it fights militant Islamists in Iraq and elsewhere, the U.S. may be getting aid from a very, very unlikely source. The Bush administration has stepped up pressure on Sudan over humanitarian abuses.
But given its close ties to the Arab world, does Sudan also help the U.S. as a set of eyes and ears into the Iraq insurgency?
This a pretty important story.
I want to bring in our Brian Todd.
He's watching this -- a very, very complex, murky relationship apparently unfolding between the U.S. and Sudan -- Brian.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right -- Wolf.
As one former U.S. intelligence official says, you don't get to pick your partners in counter-terrorism. That's why, despite Sudan's human rights record, its operatives are counted on by U.S. intelligence to go places where Americans cannot.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
TODD (voice-over): Sudan -- widely condemned for the genocide in its Darfur region.
BUSH: People of Darfur are crying out for help and they deserve it.
TODD: But while President Bush has imposed new sanctions on Sudan, former U.S. intelligence officials say America counts on Sudan's accomplished but notorious spy agency. The former head of the CIA's Counter-Terrorism Center says Sudan has been a useful ally in helping track international Jihadists traveling to Iraq.
Other former intelligence officials say Sudan has long been a key transit point for those terrorists and is good at gathering intelligence in the region.
JOHN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: The Sudanese bring to the party a capacity to work easily in that environment because they blend in. And in that sense, they bring attributes that the United States doesn't have.
TODD: Contacted by CNN, current U.S. intelligence officials won't comment on their relationship with other countries. Sudan's diplomat in Washington won't comment on a "Los Angeles Times" report that Sudan sends its own spies into that Jihadist pipeline into Iraq to gather information. But he does say this about Sudan's intelligence sharing the with United States and Mr. Bush's sanctions.
JOHN UKEC, SUDANESE CHIEF OF MISSION: When the United States slaps us with things like that, this is not conducive. It doesn't help us and it emboldens those who say that, you know, the United States is there to destroy Sudan, there is no reason why we should be, you know, cooperating with them.
TODD: One former U.S. official says that kind of rhetoric influences America's policies on Darfur.
JOHN PRENDERGAST, INTERNATIONAL CRISIS GROUP: The counter- terrorism cooperation really has thrown in a wrench in it, because people are afraid we'll upset the apple cart if we push harder.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
TODD: A spokeswoman for the National Security Council would not comment on that. On the implied threat from a Sudanese diplomat that intelligence cooperation may not continue if the U.S. presses sanctions, NSC officials say they expect the Sudanese to continue their efforts against terrorism because "it's in their interests, not just ours" -- -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Are the Sudanese cooperating with the U.S. in other areas, Brian?
TODD: Yes. U.S. intelligence officials say Sudan has helped battle terrorists elsewhere in Africa, including Somalia. And they've played a key role in the region since 9/11 overall.
BLITZER: Interesting stuff. Important stuff.
Thank you very much.
Brian Todd reporting.
Sudan, by the way, is Africa's largest country, about a quarter of the size of the United States. It's strategically located just south of Egypt, across the Red Sea from Saudi Arabia. According to the "CIA World Fact Book," Sudan is 52 percent black, 39 percent Arab. Seventy percent of Sudan's residents are Sunni Muslim, most located in the north. About 5 percent are Christian, located mostly in the south, in the capital of Khartoum. The rest of the population practices various indigenous beliefs.
Though different tribal and ethnic languages are spoken, Arabic is Sudan's official language and a so-called Arabization program of the government is underway.
Osama bin Laden, by the way, lived in Sudan after he was expelled from Saudi Arabia back in 1991. The Sudanese government expelled him again in 1996. That's when he relocated to Afghanistan.
Let's go to Jack Cafferty in New York.
He's got The Cafferty File.
This is pretty interesting stuff on Sudan -- Jack.
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, I was just thinking the same thing. You learn a lot of stuff watching THE SITUATION ROOM. I didn't know all of that about the Sudan.
BLITZER: I didn't either.
CAFFERTY: I'll bet you didn't know this either. The new Democratic Congress is now getting lower approval numbers than the do- nothing rubber stamp Republican Congress that they replaced a few months ago.
A new "Los Angeles Times"/Bloomberg poll shows 65 percent of Americans disapprove of the way Congress is doing its job. Only 27 percent approve. That number is down from 36 percent in January, before the Democrats took power in the House and Senate, back when the Democrats were still promising to end the war in Iraq and get busy solving domestic problems.
They have done neither.
There's more. Sixty-three percent of those surveyed say the Democratic-led Congress is governing in a business as usual manner. Only 29 percent think they're working to bring fundamental change to what goes on in Washington. That is less than one third.
Oh, yes, then there's Nancy "there's a new Congress in town" Pelosi.
Remember her and all the blue sky she was giving us back a while ago?
She gets a whopping approval rating of 36 percent.
Way to go, Nancy.
The public is fed up with the Democratic Congress because of things like immigration reform and their failure to put an end to the war in Iraq.
So here's the question -- does Congress deserve its lowest approval rating in more than a decade?
E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or go to cnn.com/caffertyfile.
You know, the Democrats were in exile in terms of controlling Congress for like 12 years, but it didn't take them long to get their fastball back, did it?
BLITZER: Jack, thank you. CAFFERTY: OK.
BLITZER: Still ahead, hunting for Al Qaeda insurgents in one of the most dangerous parts of Iraq. Our Karl Penhaul is with U.S. troops in Baquba. You're going to want to see this report.
Palestinian versus Palestinian -- deadly fighting raging right now between rival factions in Gaza.
Are they on the edge of civil war?
And a judge appears in court as a plaintiff. He says the dry cleaners lost his pants. Now he's suing for a mere $54 million. There's new information on this case. We'll have it for you later.
Stay with us.
You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: Palestinians today may be on the brink of all out civil war. Rival factions are battling with machine guns, mortars and rocket propelled grenades. Some three dozen people are reported dead in the last two days of clashes.
The fighting pits the forces of President Mahmoud Abbas against those of the prime minister, Ismail Haniya. They've waged an on and off again power struggle for the past year, since the Islamic militant Hamas organization won the Palestinian elections and took control of the government.
Abbas represents the old line Fatah party, once headed Yasser Arafat. Hamas forces have captured Fatah's northern Gaza security headquarters and have overrun other strongholds, as well.
Fatah forces attacked the main Hamas TV station, but were driven back.
Leaders on both sides have been attacked and fighting has been spilled over into the West Bank right now, where the Palestinian government is based, in Ramallah.
Israel's prime minister has now said for the first time that an international peacekeeping force in Gaza should be given, in his words, "serious consideration."
In Iraq, meanwhile, insurgents today targeted civilians with bombs and bullets and left another two dozen bodies in the streets of Baghdad.
Thirty miles northeast of the capital, CNN's Karl Penhaul is embedded with U.S. troops in one of Iraq's most dangerous areas -- Karl.
KARL PENHAUL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, we're in the insurgent stronghold of Baquba, as U.S. soldiers hunt down Al Qaeda militants.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
PENHAUL (voice-over): They've done this a thousand times before, but it doesn't seem to get any easier.
UNIDENTIFIED U.S. SOLDIER: So you don't see no Ali Baba running around the streets?
UNIDENTIFIED U.S. SOLDIER: No one.
PENHAUL: The same question as always, but few clear answers.
UNIDENTIFIED U.S. SOLDIER: We're just doing a routine check here, homie.
PENHAUL: It's around dawn and these U.S. soldiers have been scouring old Baquba's twisted alleys for hours.
Al Qaeda militants.
Iraqi soldiers are out with the Americans.
UNIDENTIFIED U.S. SOLDIER: Put your ass into it.
PENHAUL: Today, at least some of the soldiers feel the Iraqis aren't pulling their weight. Mid-morning, fatigue sets in. And so far the platoon has come up with nothing -- neither guns nor gunmen.
UNIDENTIFIED U.S. SOLDIER: It's hit or miss. Some days we find a lot, some days we don't.
PENHAUL: Then the rattle of gunfire. Insurgents pop up close to a mosque and open fire on another platoon.
UNIDENTIFIED U.S. SOLDIER: They've got four or five guys on different rooftops.
PENHAUL (on camera): Yes?
UNIDENTIFIED U.S. SOLDIER: Pop a few shots at us. If we can't get them pinpointed, they keep it up. If we get them pinpointed, they start hopping rooftops.
PENHAUL (voice-over): Stryker fighting vehicles maneuver down in the street below us. A radio crackles the bad news.
UNIDENTIFIED U.S. SOLDIER: And (UNINTELLIGIBLE) called up and said (UNINTELLIGIBLE) called up a new report. One guy in the stroller (UNINTELLIGIBLE). The other guy was blocking.
PENHAUL: One U.S. soldier is killed, two others wounded. And down below, a wounded Iraqi calls out for medical help. That's the nature of Iraq's guerrilla war -- the American advance bogged down by a handful of insurgent gunmen.
UNIDENTIFIED U.S. SOLDIER: It's kind of like a crap shoot. Some days you get lucky, some days you don't.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
PENHAUL: U.S. military commanders say Baquba is now one of the most dangerous places in all Iraq and they say that in the coming weeks, they plan major offensive operations to root out al Qaeda fighters -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Karl, thanks very much.
Karl Penhaul risking his life to bring us that report from Baquba.
Iraq's insurgents have a new tactic, a new target. For the third day in a row, they have attacked one of the country's bridges, this one on the main north/south highway just outside of Baghdad. The campaign began back in March and April, when three of Baghdad's 13 Tigris River bridges were bombed. A bridge attack later in April killed 11 people.
In May, twin suicide car bombers hit bridges in a mainly Shiite area of Baghdad, killing at least 23 people.
Then on Sunday, three U.S. soldiers were killed when insurgents bombed this bridge in Babil Province, the first of three straight days of attacks on major arteries.
Coming up, he's taken on big money, the NRA and Iraq War. Now, filmmaker Michael Moore is going after the issue of health care.
Why is he getting some unexpected support from people at your hospital bed side?
And it's happening a lot more than you might thin -- girls, some just five years old, sold into sexual slavery. Why a growing number are ending up here in the United States, as well. Zain Verjee watching this story for us.
You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: Our Carol Costello is monitoring stories incoming into THE SITUATION ROOM right now -- Carol, what's the latest?
CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, let's start with a mystery -- Wolf.
Federal health officials are still trying to figure out what made nine airplane passengers get sick. They were aboard an Aeromexico jet which touched down at the Miami International Airport today after taking off from Amarillo (ph), Mexico. A spokesman for the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention says the ill passengers complained of gastrointestinal systems. Nobody ended up in the hospital. Aeromexico says no food is served on the flight, but that the passengers may have eaten something back at the airport in Mexico.
Congressional lawmakers call them poisoned patriots. Marines and their families testified before a House panel today. Federal health investigators say Marine families who lived at the sprawling Camp Lejeune military base in North Carolina between 1957 and 1987 drank contaminated tap water. Toxins in the water reached 40 times which is considered safe now. Former residents of the base blame the tainted water from making them sick with deadly cancers and other illnesses.
If you're among the scores of people who paid an extra $60 to get a new passport faster but still had to wait, guess what?
You can get your money back. The U.S. government is refunding frustrated travelers. There's been a huge backlog in passport applications. The delay is largely due to a new rule requiring U.S. citizens have to have passports when traveling to Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean and Bermuda. The rule has been suspended until September.
Checking the bottom line for you now. Wall Street took a tumble. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell more than 129 points, to close at 13,295. This comes as bond yields shot to their highest levels in five years. Investors worried that higher borrowing costs could slash corporate profits and derail takeovers.
That's a look at the headlines right now -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Thank you, Carol, for that.
Coming up, on the hot seat in a North Carolina courtroom, the former Duke lacrosse prosecutor is now the defendant, facing charges he mishandled the case.
And will immigration reform become President Bush's defining victory or defeat?
The president made an urgent appeal to top GOP senators on Capitol Hill today. I'll talk about it with the White House press secretary, Tony Snow. He's standing by to join us live right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
FOREMAN: Analysts tell CNN while Musharraf is facing a considerable challenge, the military is not likely to be the first to turn on him. Musharraf came from the military himself, and in his six years in power he has promoted the generals who are loyal to him while letting others retire -- Wolf.
BLITZER: And the nightmare scenario for the U.S. and the West, given the fact that Pakistan is a nuclear power, if Musharraf goes down and Islamist extremists were to take over that country, who knows what would happen. That's what most U.S. analysts, I take it, Tom, are really worried about. FOREMAN: Absolutely. A huge concern, Wolf. This an ally and a key play are in many, many ways. They see Pervez Musharraf as truly a cornerstone, linchpin of this whole operation.
BLITZER: Tom Foreman watching this important story for us.
The U.S. government today added seven nations, including some key allies, to a blacklist of states which tolerate human trafficking.
Let's turn to our State Department correspondent, Zain Verjee. She's watching this story for us.
This problem in this day and age, in the year 2007, the State Department made clear is extremely serious.
ZAIN VERJEE, CNN STATE DEPT. CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Wolf. They made it clear, it's very significant and very serious. It's called modern-day slavery, and the secretary of state says she wants it to end.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Open the door.
VERJEE (voice over): A brothel raid in Thailand. Young girls, sex slaves. One kept a diary of her abuse on the wall, in video, shot by an advocacy group that says they freed them.
These girls in Cambodia are as young as five, for sale. Some have been released. Others still trapped.
CONDOLEEZZA RICE, SECRETARY OF STATE: No one is fit to be a master and no one deserves to be a slave.
VERJEE: The U.S. says about 800,000 people are smuggled over borders. As many as 17, 500 end up in the United States.
The State Department is naming and shaming what it calls the world's worst offenders. Both friends and enemies are on a blacklist in a new government report and face sanctions if they don't clean up their act.
Raising eyebrows, India noticeably absent, with up to 65 million forced laborers and sex slaves in the world's largest democracy, according to advocacy groups.
KEVIN BALES, PRESIDENT, 'FREE THE SLAVES": It's obvious, it's out there. You can see it in the fields. You can go into the villages and just ask people, "Who do you belong to?" And they will tell you.
VERJEE: U.S. officials tell CNN about a heated debate between Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte and his boss, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, over whether to give India a pass from the harshest scrutiny. Negroponte wanted India blacklisted, Rice didn't, especially at a time when the U.S. and India are negotiating a nuclear deal.
U.S. officials acknowledge power politics played a part.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would be perpetuating a fraud to say that we don't look at multiple factors in our relationship with countries.
VERJEE: Secretary Rice agreed to evaluate India in six months, and if it hasn't cleaned up its act by then, it's in trouble -- Wolf.
BLITZER: What's the Indian government's response, Zain?
VERJEE: A spokesman at the Indian Embassy in Washington said, look, India has taken many legal steps to try and combat trafficking. He went on to say it's really cracked down on offenders. And he added that, look, the U.S. and India are actively cooperating, so making judgments like this in this kind of report, he said, isn't helpful -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Zain Verjee reporting on this important story from the State Department.
Zain, thank you.
Let's get back now to our top story. President Bush trying to breathe some new life into the immigration reform bill with a personal appeal to top Republican senators.
The White House press secretary, Tony Snow, is joining us from the north lawn.
Tony, thanks very much for coming in.
TONY SNOW, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Good to be here, Wolf. Thanks.
BLITZER: The president yesterday said, "I'll see you at the signing ceremony."
Is he convinced there is going to be a deal? Because you know the opposition, especially among many Republicans, is fierce.
SNOW: Well, look, there are at lot of people who are opposed. There are also a lot of people who want to improve the bill.
Wolf, if you take a look at the major provision of this legislation, each of the major provisions has passed with more than 60 votes already. Last week, the bill failed to move forward because Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid wanted to cut off debate before Republicans were ready to cut off debate.
They think it's important to try to offer a series of amendments to try to improve the bill. So the president was not trying to revive the bill.
What he's really trying to do is to continue a process to get the bill completed and concluded. So today he went up to Capitol Hill and he talked with a number of Republican senators, and the tone of the conversations was very constructive.
Everybody agrees the present system is broke, you've got to fix it. Now the question is how?
BLITZER: Constructive, but listen to Senator Jeff Sessions. He's a conservative, Republican from Alabama. After the meeting -- and he was inside, you were inside as well -- this is what e had said about the president. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JEFF SESSIONS (R), ALABAMA: There's no way he could have read this entire bill and actually studied it. For example, let me tell you some of the things that are in it, and all of which basically contradict the principles of all the supporters.
In fact, the bill was written more in Congress than it was by the president. It was senators that wrote the bill.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: He says the president hasn't even read this bill. Has the president read the bill?
SNOW: The president has been through the bill, and -- look, the interesting thing is the president opened up the meeting. He understands that Senator Sessions is opposed, but he also understands that he and Senator Sessions are Republicans and they're friends.
And he said, "Senator, I know you're going to disagree with me on the bill, but there's nothing you can do to prevent me from coming down to raise money for you next week in Mobile."
So the fact is that, again, there are going to be some Republicans that are not going to vote for this bill, but there are also going to be a fair amount who do because they understand this is the time to act on immigration reform. And they also think that the general principles, which are secure the borders, make sure you restore the rule of law, and make citizenship mean something, they like those principles and they're ready to move forward on them.
BLITZER: Can you get 15 Republicans in the Senate to go ahead and support this? Harry Reid says if you don't, it's over.
SNOW: I think you're going to find that this bill is going to get voted on in the Senate and it's going to pass.
BLITZER: Let's -- while I have you briefly -- I know your time is limited -- a quick question on the news that emerged yesterday on Iraq and the militias, the various militias. I want to play for you a little clip of what the president said last year about the need to disarm all the militias in Iraq.
Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There's no place in a free and democratic Iraq for armed groups operating outside the law.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: The U.S. stance has always been only the Iraqi army, the Iraqi police force should have weapons, should have arms. But now we're being told that the U.S. itself is providing arms to the various Sunni militias in the Anbar province, maybe elsewhere, because they're supposedly going to help fight al Qaeda.
Is this what you had in mind?
SNOW: Well, first, let me say, for people who are wondering why my eyes are shifting around, it's because it's raining and there's lightning.
But in answer to your question, Wolf, we've also talked about having people make a choice, which is, whether you're going to operate outside the law or whether, in fact, you're going to enter the political process -- and generals have been talking with insurgents saying, do you want to be supporting your government or not? What we're really talking about are folks who are making a commitment.
They're shifting from being those who are opposing by violent means a democracy in Iraq, to those who say, you know what? We in fact do need to support this government, and we also need to go after the people chiefly responsible for killing folks, and that's al Qaeda.
BLITZER: I'm going to let you go, because I'm worried about that lightning, having stood there for about eight years myself in that location. I know what happens when it starts raining and pouring.
Tony Snow, thanks very much.
SNOW: Wolf, thank you.
BLITZER: And still to come here in THE SITUATION ROOM, the prosecutor in the Duke lacrosse rape case that was dropped is now on trial himself. At stake, his law license.
I'll talk about it with Court TV reporter Savannah Guthrie. She's standing by, she's been covering this for us.
And also coming up, there's the trial over the multimillion- dollar pair of pants. We'll tell you what's happening today on that front.
Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: He was the prosecutor in the Duke lacrosse case, but his alleged conduct has now landed Durham County District Attorney Mike Nifong in a North Carolina courtroom as a defendant. A hearing on ethics charges got under way today.
Savannah Guthrie of Court TV is joining us now with a closer look at this extremely unusual case.
The specific charges against him, that he acted unethical with these Duke lacrosse players.
SAVANNAH GUTHRIE, COURT TV: Right. And they're pretty explosive allegations against him.
Number one, that he made improper and inflammatory comments in the media leading up to this case. And then secondly, that he failed to turn over exculpatory evidence, potentially evidence that would be favorable to the defendants, DNA evidence. And then finally, that he lied about that both to the court and defense counsel.
These are serious charges.
BLITZER: That's basic -- basic legal practice, if all the evidence that you have, especially the evidence that could hurt the defendant, has to be made available to the defendant's attorneys.
GUTHRIE: It's hard to understand how this happened. This a very experienced prosecutor.
Yes, he was just elected to the district attorney position last year, but he was a rank and file prosecutor for many, many years. And certainly this is something that prosecutors know. It's under our Constitution, the Brady case, you have got to turn over all the evidence to the defense.
BLITZER: Law students learn this in law school.
What's his lawyer saying? What's his argument, that it was just a simple error, a simple mistake?
GUTHRIE: So far what we're hearing is that number one, in terms of those media comments, that he no intent to prejudice the trial. And secondly, he's going to argue that he thought this DNA evidence eventually would be turned over and that ultimately the raw data was turned over to the defense.
Maybe we'll hear an argument that they don't have to spell it out for the defense, if they send over the raw materials, that's enough. But even that wasn't done into well into the case.
BLITZER: He's been pretty much humiliated the way he behaved. At least a lot of the public thinks so. He could be disbarred though.
GUTHRIE: Yes, that's what's so serious about this. It's not a criminal trial, although it has the feel of that there. There's evidence and witnesses coming on this week. But ultimately, the most severe sanction would be disbarment.
He's got to be hoping for something less. He's still the elected D.A. in that area.
BLITZER: And he still is operating as the D.A. right now, he's going ahead with other case despite all of this?
GUTHRIE: The office continues. He's obviously not involved in this case anymore, the charges were dropped. But he's still the elected D.A., and presumably would be, but not if he's disbarred.
BLITZER: Savannah Guthrie, thanks for coming in.
GUTHRIE: Nice to see you.
BLITZER: Savannah works at Court TV.
A D.C. administrative law judge says he got cleaned out over at the dry cleaners. Now he wants the custom cleaners to pay up for a pair of pants he says they lost, and you won't believe how much money he's seeking.
We've been following this story for you. There are new developments.
Carol Costello has more on what's turning out to be a multimillion-dollar story -- Carol.
CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's just unbelievable, Wolf. I mean, it's hard to believe this case actually made into it into a courtroom, but it did. It's going on right now, standing room only inside the courtroom. And talk about drama.
Day one featured Roy Pearson representing himself, saying he's doing this on behalf of anyone who has suffered at the hands of a dry cleaner in the District of Columbia. He wants $54 million after allegedly suffering two years of inconvenience after his pants were misplaced.
The owners of the dry cleaners, the Chungs -- they're from Korea -- they listened to his arguments through a translator, part of which centered on three signs hanging in their story guaranteeing customer satisfaction.
Now, the Chungs' attorney told the court Pearson's case is patently ridiculous, and he's only suing because he's broke after a divorce. The attorney also claims Pearson has a history of filing egregious lawsuits. We presume the trial will continue tomorrow -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right. We'll watch it with you, Carol. Thanks very much.
The days of watching your favorite movie and TV clips on YouTube may be numbered. YouTube is developing new cutting-edge technology that would stop copyrighted videos from being put on the Web site. Let's bring in our Internet reporter, Jacki Schechner.
What does it mean for all of the people out there who are relying to a certain degree on YouTube?
JACKI SCHECHNER, CNN INTERNET REPORTER: Well, Wolf, it means, for example, you missed some of "The Sopranos," you thought you could catch that clip on YouTube. That might not be so easy if this new technology is put into place.
Google, which owns YouTube, is developing a program that would automatically recognize copyrighted video from so-called fingerprints (ph), and then match those clips against an existing library of copyrighted content. Now, existing -- the new cutting-edge tool, rather, would streamline the process of removing copyrighted material from the video-sharing Web site.
Right now, copyright holders like Disney, for example, have to sort through thousands of clips that are uploaded individually, and then has to individually request that they be taken down. YouTube say the trick will be seeing if their technology can keep up with the sheer volume of videos that are uploaded every day.
YouTube hopes to start testing the technology within the month. And companies including Disney and CNN's parent company, Time Warner, are among the many that are going to be trying this out -- Wolf.
BLITZER: We'll watch it. Thank you very much.
BLITZER: Still ahead here in THE SITUATION ROOM, Michael Moore's new film "Sicko," an indictment of the U.S. health care system, it makes its debut tonight.
We'll also update you on the government's beef with him over unauthorized travel to Cuba.
That's coming up next.
And does Congress deserve its lowest approval rating in more than a decade? That's Jack's question. He's going through your e-mail. He'll have it for you when we come back.
BLITZER: The controversial filmmaker Michael Moore is stirring things up in the Golden State. The maker of the new documentary entitled "Sicko" was over at the California state capitol today. Nurses joined him on the capitol steps for a rally.
CNN's Brooke Anderson is joining us now.
I take it there's stuff going on behind you, Brooke. Tell our viewers what Moore is hoping to accomplish today. BROOKE ANDERSON, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: Right. As you say, the rally is happening right behind me now. It's wrapping up, actually. It's been very energetic -- a lot of singing and dancing and chanting. But Michael Moore is here, along with nurses with nurses from across the country, and they are hoping to bring attention to the U.S. health care industry and the problems they feel plague the current system.
Of course, Michael Moore's appearance is in conjunction with the upcoming release of his latest film, "Sicko," which is a blistering look at U.S. health care. Moore and these nurses want guaranteed health care for everybody. They want for-profit insurance companies eliminated.
Moore testified at a legislative briefing here today on health care reform, and during his testimony he lashed out at the insurance industry.
Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL MOORE, FILMMAKER: To ask that question, where is the profit here? How is going to affect our bottom line? How are we going to make money off this sick person? I mean, this doesn't look good, folks.
I mean, it doesn't look good to the rest of the world, and it won't look good to the anthropologists who dig us up hundreds of years from now. They'll wonder, what were these people thinking?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: After this rally wraps up, Moore and these nurses are going to march about four blocks, Wolf, to a theater for a special screening of "Sicko". So it really seems that the promotional push for the movie and also Moore's message is in full swing.
BLITZER: What about the federal investigation that the government is undertaking about his trip to Cuba?
ANDERSON: Right. Michael Moore is being investigated right now by the U.S. Treasury Department for the trip he took in March to Cuba.
He took three ailing 9/11 rescue workers to Cuba for medical treatment. And the U.S. government, the Treasury Department, says it's reviewing whether that trip violated the trade embargo against Cuba restricting travel to that country. The U.S. Treasury Department tells us it does not comment on investigations. Moore asserts he has broken no laws, that he traveled there under a provision for journalists, and he calls the investigation harassment.
BLITZER: Brooke Anderson reporting for us.
Thanks, Brooke, very much.
And by the way, Brooke is going to have a lot more on this Michael Moore story and the movie "Sicko" on "PAULA ZAHN NOW". That airs at 8:00 p.m. Eastern, 5:00 p.m. Pacific, right here on CNN.
Up next here in THE SITUATION ROOM, Congress gets its lowest approval rating in over a decade according to a new poll. But are you one of the people giving them low marks?
Jack Cafferty with your thoughts right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: Let's go back to Jack Cafferty in New York for "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: The question, Dr. Blitzer, is: Does Congress deserve its lowest approval rating in more than a decade?
Thomas writes, "Of course Congress deserves its low ratings. But you got it wrong when you asserted the Dems got their fastball back in short order. They haven't had a fastball since Lyndon Johnson was majority leader. Once he became vice president, all the Democrats have had since then is a heck of a screwball, one right after another. Anyone that really believed that Queen Nancy and Mad Harry, as in Pelosi and Reid, would do things differently need only look back at the extreme partisanship of the last 12 years to know that they could not produce."
Joan in Virgin Islands, "Jack, they deserve it in spades. Their dog and pony show is disgusting. More smoke and mirrors."
"More than ever, I understand why my dad always said 'politician' was a dirty word. We are still in Iraq; nothing has changed. Bushie got his bluff in and they folded. I'm ashamed to be a Democrat."
William in Arlington, Texas, "Jack, no, the Democratic Congress does not deserve all the blame for the low ratings. Republicans continue to block important reforms, and there are not enough Democratic votes in the Senate to cut off funds for the war."
"You see, there's still this guy in the White House who doesn't care what Congress thinks or about the rule of law. The Democrats have done a good job so far."
Bill, "When there's an election coming up, you can't expect anything out of the Congress regardless of which party is in the majority. First, each individual member is going to do what it takes to be reelected. And second, while the majority may intend to pass beneficial legislation, the minority always strives to thwart this. That way, it not only prevents the majority from claiming credit for being able to govern, it allows the minority to allege that the majority is a do-nothing Congress."
James in Pennsylvania, "Absolutely. They have let us down completely. We need to throw out both the Republicans and the Democrats from the government if we're ever going to stop and have real change. We have got to stop throwing away our votes on these two parties."
I think he might be on to something there.
Bill in Alabama, "No, Jack, they deserve a much lower rating. First 100 days my (EXPLETIVE DELETED)! What on earth have they done other than hold press conferences? Arrogant, out-of-touch fools! Let the revolution begin."
If you didn't see your e-mail here, you can go to cnn.com/caffertyfile. We put some more of them on the Web site, along with video clips of "The Cafferty File" -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Democrats, I can hear them screaming already, you know, give us a chance, it's only been a few months.
CAFFERTY: Come on. They're the ones who provide the funding for the war. The minute Bush vetoed the first spending bill that had those -- those benchmarks and timelines in, they turned around and handed him the exact piece of legislation he wanted, a blank check for $100 billion.
If they had either refused to fund the war, or kept sending the same piece of legislation up there, maybe the message would have gotten through. Maybe it wouldn't have. But eventually, the money for the war would have run out, wouldn't it?
BLITZER: See you here in an hour, Jack.
BLITZER: Thanks very much.
Jack Cafferty is here in THE SITUATION ROOM with us weekday afternoons from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. Eastern. We're back in one hour at 7:00 p.m. Eastern.
The widow of Russia's now famous poisoned spy is speaking out. We'll have a full report on that.
In the meantime, thanks for joining us.
Let's go to Lou in New York.
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