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President Obama Visits Africa; Health Care Reform Detour

Aired July 10, 2009 - 18:00   ET

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


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Just a short while ago, President Obama landed in Africa. You saw it live here in THE SITUATION ROOM. And if he was hoping to get a break from some touchy diplomacy, forget about it. Residents of Ghana are cheering his decision to visit their country, but some people in Kenya, the homeland of the president's father, they are feeling a bit snubbed -- just another day of juggling on the global stage for the president of the United States.

Our White House correspondent, Suzanne Malveaux, looks at how President Obama performed over at the G8 Summit in Italy -- Suzanne.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the president's final stop overseas is Ghana. That's where he's going to be giving a major speech on the importance of democracy. But there was also an important lesson that he learned here in Europe, and that is how difficult it is to get world leaders to agree.

(voice-over): President Obama wrapped up the G8 Economic Summit a popular figure, but admittedly a bit weary.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The one thing I will be looking forward to is fewer summit meetings.

MALVEAUX: This would be his third international summit during his first six months in office, meetings that have grown from the leaders of eight of the world's richest nations to more than 40 heads of state, all trying to get a piece of the action.

OBAMA: What I have noticed is everybody wants the smallest possible group, smallest possible organization that includes them. So, if they're the 21st largest nation in the world, then they want the G21.

MALVEAUX: Mr. Obama suggested it wasn't the most efficient way of getting things done, but it did produce some results -- a September deadline for Iran to show whether it will negotiate giving up its nuclear program...

OBAMA: The international community has said here's a door you can walk through that allows you to lessen tensions and more fully join the international community. MALVEAUX: ... and $20 billion in aid for struggling farmers to feed the poor. The president made the pitch to his counterparts using a story about his own Kenyan roots.

OBAMA: I have family members who live in villages. They themselves are not going hungry, but live in villages where hunger is real. And so, this is something that I understand in very personal terms.

MALVEAUX: But Mr. Obama also acknowledged some disappointments.

OBAMA: We did not reach agreement on every issue, and we still have much work ahead on climate change.

MALVEAUX: The president failed to get developing countries who are also big polluters, like China, India, and Brazil, to commit to a specific goal in lowering greenhouse gas emissions.

(on camera): As for the global economic crisis affecting all of these countries, world leaders were cautious, giving their own economic policies more time to try to turn things around -- Wolf.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: All right, thanks very much, Suzanne, traveling with the president.

Before leaving Italy, the president also squeezed in a very special meeting, a private audience with Pope Benedict over at the Vatican.

We're told they exchanged their strong, starkly opposing views about abortion, embryonic stem cell research, among other things.

The president left something behind. He delivered a letter to the pope from Senator Ted Kennedy. No word on what it said. The first lady and the Obama daughters also met with the pontiff.

While the president's been away, some fellow Democrats put up another detour in the drive for health care reform. Concerns about costs and possible tax increases are weighing heavily on many lawmakers.

Our congressional correspondent Brianna Keilar is joining us now with more on a reality check.

Brianna, what are you hearing?

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, President Obama and Democrats have laid a pretty ambitious timeline for overhauling health care, and now some questions about whether they can follow it.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KEILAR (voice-over): President Obama is telling Congress the clock is ticking on health care reform.

OBAMA: I never believe anything is do or die, but I really want to get it done by the August recess.

KEILAR: A tall order for congressional Democrats, who have missed self-imposed deadlines. In the House, 40 fiscally conservative Democrats, including Arkansas' Mike Ross, sent a letter to leaders, concerned Congress isn't doing enough to cut ballooning health care costs.

(on camera): Could you vote for the House health care bill as it stands right now?

REP. MIKE ROSS (D), ARKANSAS: No. This is the biggest domestic issue that we will tackle this -- this century. And so we think we need to slow it down a little bit, and do it right.

KEILAR (voice-over): So far, there are two prevailing ideas. One calls for a government-run health insurance plan favored by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: The only debate on that is what it will be called, a patient option, a public option. Write in your suggestions.

KEILAR: The other is a nonprofit health cooperative with less government involvement. But after hours and hours of negotiations, lawmakers are still struggling with how to pay for it.

In addition to cutting costs, Congress will have to raise taxes to foot the $1 trillion bill. Democrats on the House Tax Writing Committee agreed Friday evening to increase taxes on individuals who make more than $280,000 and on couples earning $350,000 or more.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KEILAR: Now, Democrats are hoping to bring in $540 billion with that tax, according to two Democratic sources. But they could need more tax money than that, Wolf, and they have already ruled out or all but ruled out other tax proposals on employer-provided benefits and sugary drinks like sodas, just to name a few.

BLITZER: All right, Brianna, thanks very much.

Brianna is going to work this story for us in the coming weeks.

What is being described as a reinvented General Motors has emerged after 40 days in bankruptcy protection.

CNN's Poppy Harlow has details on what's next for the largest automaker and her conversation with its CEO -- Poppy.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

POPPY HARLOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, it is official. There is a new General Motors, and the U.S. taxpayer is backing this new company up to the tune of $50 billion.

Here is how GM will try to turn itself around. It will be much smaller. The company is shutting thousands of dealerships. The goal, cut those dealerships down to 3,600 by the end of next year. That is down from about 6,000 dealerships across the country today. They're closing 16 U.S. plants. That's going to mean eliminating about 20,000 more U.S. workers by the end of this year.

GM, the new GM, will carry significantly less debt than before because of the bankruptcy, and they say this company will produce more attractive products ,GM saying this morning it will launch 10 new vehicles in the United States and 17 new vehicles around the world over the next 18 months.

The three priorities at this company, the CEO, Fritz Henderson, saying today it is customers, cars and culture. But here's the thing. The bankruptcy process is financial. It does not change the culture at the company.

So, I asked the CEO today if he can assure the U.S. taxpayer that now owns most of GM that the culture that led it into bankruptcy has really changed. Take a listen to what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FRITZ HENDERSON, CEO, GENERAL MOTORS: I have always been a believer that culture is about how you act and how you perform, and where you spend your time.

And where we're going to be spending our time as a leadership team from me on down is great cars, customers, being singly focused on customers, and finally making sure that we have a culture which is faster, which is leaner, which has accountability embedded in it, and that it's all about winning. And, so, that's where -- that's where as the president of the company I'm going to be spending my time.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARLOW: But, Wolf, GM has a major, major problem, and that is that it has been losing U.S. mark share now for decades. General Motors now has less than 20 percent of the U.S. market when it comes to auto sales. That number once stood at more than 50 percent.

And, yes, GM does still outsell Toyota in the United States, but not in the world. It lost that title of the world's largest automaker to Toyota just last year.

And to wrap things up, Wolf, President Obama's head of the auto task force, Steve Rattner, said this week a company cannot be truly viable if it continues to lose market share. We will be watching -- Wolf.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: Poppy, thank you. And to our viewers, you can see Poppy's full interview with Fritz Henderson of GM by going to CNNMoney.com.

What risks did Michael Jackson take to be able to simply fall asleep? We have shocking new details about something he allegedly did that doctors say no human should ever do.

And who should care for Michael Jackson's children? Jackson's father, who allegedly beat Jackson as a child, says he should care, or the mother, who has limited contact with the children over the years.

And what do suspected murderers, wanted sex offenders and others running from the law have in common? More than 35,000 of them have been nabbed in a massive police sweep.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Right now, a picture is emerging regarding what Michael Jackson allegedly would do simply to try to get some sleep. There are new and disturbing details about prescription drug use and Jackson's allegedly taking doses that are extremely high for any human to take.

CNN's Randi Kaye has more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I have right here a confidential police document from 2004. It's from the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department. And I can tell you that we are not naming the people involved in this document, but these interviews were done with two of Michael Jackson's former security guards.

This is a confidential document, so we're not going to name those guards. But according to the document, one of them told investigators that Michael Jackson was taking "10-plus Xanax pills a night." And he said that when he expressed concerns to another one of Jackson's employees, he was told, "Jackson was doing better because he was down from 30 to 40 Xanax pills a night" -- 30 to 40 Xanax pills a night.

Now, one of the security guards did tell investigators that he would get Xanax prescriptions at pharmacies for Michael Jackson under "fictitious names" actually, including even the security guard's own name. He also named three other employees who he said were doing the very same thing.

Now, the other security guard questioned in the document that we have also backs that up. According to him, he said that he had also picked up prescriptions for Michael Jackson in someone else's name.

Now, we're not going to name the doctors who are mentioned in this, but I can tell you that one of the security guards interviewed by investigators named five doctors that he said were writing prescriptions for Michael Jackson. Again, not all of those prescriptions in Michael Jackson's name.

The security guard said in several states across the country including New York, California, Florida, he personally drove Jackson to different doctor's offices to get prescriptions. That really paints a picture here of doctor shopping. Now, that is also in line, of course, with what our sources are telling us that he told us that investigators want to interview every doctor who Michael Jackson ever really came into contact with.

Also, I want to mention that one of the security guards described Jackson as sharp and "in tune" before he went into the doctor's office for those visits then afterwards, the security guard said he would come out and he was "out of it and sedated."

That is all from this confidential document from the sheriff's department where two of Michael Jackson's former security guards were interviewed. That is the very latest on the Michael Jackson investigation.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: Randi Kaye, thank you.

Let's get some analysis of what's going on with our CNN contributor, Bryan Monroe. He was the last journalist to interview Michael Jackson.

Were there indications that you knew about, that you had heard about of this amazing use of Xanax, either 10 pills a night, or even 30 or 40 pills a night, way, way beyond any normal use?

BRYAN MONROE, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, Wolf, when I interviewed him back in 2007, in September of 2007, I both spent -- over the course of three days, I didn't see any evidence of drug use, that he was out of it. In fact, what I saw was the opposite.

He was sharp. Randi's report about the security guard alluding to him being on top of it. And when I sat down and talked with him, he talked for a good hour and a half, easily, on a range of topics, and there was no slurring of words, he was very much on top of it.

But, you know, I talked to people who have been working with him, and, in fact, one of his health advisers, during the trial, just before that, and said that there were times, particularly towards the end of the trial, when he would really be wiped out. That trial took a lot out of him.

And we know that before, by his own words, he admitted that he had been addicted to prescription drugs back during -- just after the fire incident where his hair caught on fire after filming a Pepsi commercial, and that sort of started the process. But that trial was really, really a difficult thing.

And in fact, I was told at the end of the trial he was so wiped out, he placed a call to his adviser who came and saw him. And, in fact, at 5: 00, they were going to escape from the big media hoard and go -- he, his driver and Michael were going to go and drive up to San Francisco to check into a hospital because he was so wiped out.

They got about 20 minutes outside of Santa Barbara and turned around, and instead, ended up at a small hospital, Cottage Hospital in Santa Barbara. And they just walked in by themselves, no entourage, checked in him at 5: 00, laying on a gurney in the emergency room.

They hooked him up to i. v. fluids, and for the next 12 hours, from 5: 00 p. m. to 5: 15 a. m. , when we checked on him again, he was still taking i. v. fluids. He was that dehydrated. And, in fact, the doctor at the time was said to have told this adviser that had he not been brought in, he may have been dead.

BLITZER: Amazing. Really dehydrated.

All right. Listen to Joe Jackson, Michael Jackson's father. He gave an interview to ABC News, and he had this exchange. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who do you think should raise these children now that Michael is gone?

JOE JACKSON, MICHAEL JACKSON'S FATHER: Their grandmother, Katherine, and I. Yes, there's no one else.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Now, obviously, Katherine, the grandmother, has custody, but there's been some concern about Joe Jackson, given the charges that his own son Michael made that he was abusive to him as a little boy.

MONROE: Well, you know, Joseph has played a strong role in Michael's upbringing. In fact, I asked Michael about Joseph, and he went from both praising Joseph -- you know, Joseph had his own beginning as a steelworker. He also had a little music group on the side called The Falcons -- and Joseph taught Michael and the brothers about stagemanship.

In fact, he remembers Joseph telling Michael, you know, "Never let them see you cry on stage." And in the same breath, he would also talk about how Joseph would have a belt in his hand while they were practicing.

And Michael said, in fact, he didn't get beat during practice. It would have been after the rehearsals when he would get his whuppings. And so, it was a very complex, tense relationship there.

But Joseph and Katherine have been living in separate homes. Joseph lives in Las Vegas, Katherine and the family lives in Encino. And I think, ultimately, it's going to come down to what the judge thinks is in the best interest of those children.

Now, I think it's with Katherine, with those nine brothers and sisters and that extended family, all those cousins, and Grace, the nanny, hopefully playing a role in that structure, because that's where they belong.

BLITZER: As you know, Monday there is a custody hearing out in California. Debbie Rowe, who's the biological mother of the two older kids, we don't know if she's going to seek some sort of custodial rights. MONROE: Yes, we don't. You know, she initially, right in the middle of when the story was breaking, initially said that she wanted to be back in their lives. Then her lawyer came out said hold on, we're still working that out.

So we don't know exactly what she will be saying, but, again, she really hasn't played much of a role in the lives of those kids, particularly over the last few years, I'm told. And I think, ultimately, those kids should be with the Jackson family. Now, if Debbie wants to have visitation or see them, you know, at the end of the day, with three little kids, you can never, ever have too much love in their lives.

BLITZER: Absolutely. All right, Bryan. Thanks very much.

All right, we're going to have more on the Michael Jackson investigation, and you're also going to find out how the pop superstar thought, thought he might be able to free two American journalists imprisoned in North Korea. Stand by.

Also, her confirmation hearings are coming up fast. They are going to begin Monday morning. We have got the results of a new poll on whether Americans want Sonia Sotomayor on the high court.

And why shouldn't "Dreams From My Father" and "The Audacity of Hope" be allowed in supermax cells? You're going to find out what the Bureau of Prisons is saying.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: A development just coming in to THE SITUATION ROOM right now about the custody hearing that had been scheduled for Monday on the three Michael Jackson kids.

Let's go to Mary Snow. She's got the latest information.

What are we learning, Mary?

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we're learning, Wolf, that that guardianship hearing that was slated to be held on Monday has been delayed now for a week.

And a spokesman for the court is saying that this hearing -- this request came in from Michael Jackson's mother, Katherine Jackson, and the singer's ex-wife, Debbie Rowe. So, this hearing is now moved to July 20, instead of July 13.

(NEWS BREAK)

BLITZER: We're learning that one of Michael Jackson's many fans may have been the North Korean leader, Kim Jong Il. Just ahead, Jackson's friend Gotham Chopra, he's going to be joining us. And he will be revealing a side to Jackson you may not have known about. Stand by.

Plus, the treasury secretary pressed about the prospect of higher taxes -- Fareed Zakaria talks about his interview with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.

And the secret of their success -- why a new crackdown by the feds is capturing violent criminals by the thousands.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Happening now: new details about what was on Michael Jackson's mind in the days before he died. One of his close friends reveals what the singer said in their last talk about those two American journalists being detained in North Korea and the communist country's leader, Kim Jong Il.

A nationwide sweep to take dangerous fugitives off the streets -- the feds go after tens of thousands of criminals on the loose.

And confirmation hearings beginning Monday for Judge Sonia Sotomayor. What will the Supreme Court nominee face from the senators?

All of this, plus the best political team on television.

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

Those who knew Michael Jackson all talk about his empathy and his deep concern for others. Now we're learning he actually wanted to try to help two American journalists imprisoned in North Korea, even inquiring whether Kim Jong Il was one of his fans.

Gotham Chopra writes in TheHuffingtonPost.com about his last conversation with Michael Jackson. Chopra is the son of Deepak Chopra and the co-founder of Liquid Comics. He's joining us from Los Angeles.

Gotham, thanks very much.

I read your article. And it was really, for me, eye-opening. But tell our viewers the thrust of that last conversation you had with Michael Jackson.

GOTHAM CHOPRA, FRIEND OF MICHAEL JACKSON: Sure. Yes. No, thank you for having me.

It was eye-opening for me as well. I have been friends with Michael, had been friends with Michael for almost 20 years. I have been very good friends with Laura Ling, one of the journalists in question, for many years as well.

And -- and I got a surprise phone call several weeks before Michael's passing. As was often the case with him, I got a phone call in the middle of the night. He had heard about Laura Ling and Euna Lee's predicament, having been detained in North Korea for several months now.

And he was curious if I had talked to her and heard how she was doing. But he was also curious if perhaps he could get involved in some way. He told me that he had gone online and seen some pictures of Kim Jong Il, who obviously likes to wear military jackets. And Michael said: "You know, it's kind of like me. I like the same sort of outfits."

So, he was wondering, perhaps, if there might have been some sort of fan connection between Kim Jong Il and himself, in which case he thought there was something he might be able to do.

BLITZER: Did you do some research -- did you find if Kim Jong Il did, in fact, like Michael Jackson's music, for example?

CHOPRA: I -- I tried to. I mean, it's been documented in the past that Kim Jong Il does have a fascination with certain Hollywood iconic stars. So, you know, we thought maybe there was a chance he might communicate a lot with the family, as well.

Sadly, we weren't able to find any specific connection. And, of course, then, you know, Michael's passing happened, really, before we could get too deep into the research, I'm afraid.

BLITZER: Because it's been widely reported, as you know, that Kim Jong Il loved -- loves James Bond movies, for example; loves Courvoisier and some other specialized drinks. I suspect he loved Michael Jackson, as well.

But this does point to a whole other side of Michael Jackson that a lot of our viewers around the world right now are not necessarily familiar with, something you're much more familiar with -- his humanitarian side.

CHOPRA: Sure. I mean, yes. It speaks very much to, you know, some of what has been talked about and certainly his work with the Make A Wish Foundation and the Heal The World Foundation, which he started many years ago, has been talked about.

But Michael was an incredible humanitarian. And I think even on very specific issues like this, which weren't, you know, big, huge global issues of famine or poverty, he felt very deeply. And when he also knew there was a connection -- he knew that I was friends with Laura and that I was trying, you know, with the family, to do whatever we could to try to get information and facilitate their release.

It was something that he felt strongly about. And it was very common, actually, in his private correspondences, for him to reach out to people in need.

And so I think it is a different side of him. He's been celebrated in so many different ways. And, obviously, he was a conflicted person. He'll be remembered for -- for many different things.

But his humanitarian side, hopefully, will be a legacy. And maybe in this case, it can actually have, you know, a literal effect.

BLITZER: Because this is what you write on the HuffingtonPost.com. You write: "To me, Michael's memory will always be as a great friend and mentor. To many around the world, it will be as an iconic and brilliant musical artist. Wouldn't it be staggering if one Kim Jong Il were to honor him post-death as a truly great humanitarian?"

It would be amazing if Kim Jong Il now decided to release those two American journalists and say, you know what, in memory of Michael Jackson.

CHOPRA: It certainly is something I know all the friends and family would -- would be rejoicing over tremendously. And who knows, crazier things have happened. So we're keeping our fingers crossed.

BLITZER: We could only hope and pray.

Thanks very much, Gotham, for joining us.

CHOPRA: Thank you for having me.

BLITZER: Could America afford stimulus spending, health care reform and other expensive government programs?

CNN's Fareed Zakaria poses that question to the Treasury secretary, Timothy Geithner, in an exclusive interview. We're going to show you his answer. We're also going to speak with Fareed. That's coming up next.

And U.S. marshals are boasting an impressive haul from a nationwide summer sweep to take fugitives off the streets. We're going to give you the details of Operation Falcon.

Stay with us.

You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Let's bring in CNN's Fareed Zakaria.

He had an exclusive interview with the Treasury secretary, Timothy Geithner.

Fareed is joining us now from New York.

It was an important interview -- Fareed.

And I want to play this exchange that you had with the Treasury secretary.

Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FAREED ZAKARIA, HOST, "FAREED ZAKARIA GPS": The economists -- I think it would be fair to say a lot of economists think that it's likely to be lower than 3.2 percent. If that happens, my question to you is, as the deficit, as a percentage of GDP, becomes much higher, are you willing to do whatever it takes to keep the deficit, as a percentage of GDP, within the range that the president has suggested?

TIMOTHY GEITHNER, TREASURY SECRETARY: He understands deeply the importance of making sure that we put in place a stronger foundation for recovery as a whole. And part of that will be a return to living within our means as a country.

ZAKARIA: And that may mean higher taxes?

GEITHNER: Well, it will...

(CROSSTALK)

GEITHNER: It will mean...

ZAKARIA: There's no magic here. There are only two ways to...

GEITHNER: Right.

ZAKARIA: ...to close the...

GEITHNER: As a country -- and there's no mystery in this -- we're going to have to bring our resources and our commitments closer into balance. It is a necessary thing for us to do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: It sounds like the rich people are going to be paying a lot more taxes, based on what he's suggesting.

Is that an accurate assessment, Fareed?

ZAKARIA: Wolf, I would go further, because the magnitude of the changes, he's talking about really getting deficits under control. And when I said that would mean higher taxes, he didn't qualify it in any way.

That struck me as very important because this is a campaign promise of President Obama, that he was not going to raise taxes except on, you know, people earning more than $250,000.

Now, you can't do much anymore by limiting yourself there. I would suggest that it means that the administration is considering, as one option, fairly broad taxes. I've heard people talk about a national sales tax, a value-added tax. Every other advanced industrial world in the world has one.

So I think the seriousness with which he talked about the need for deficit reduction suggests, to me, we might be -- they might be contemplating general tax increases at some point in the future. He was very careful to say we're not there yet, where it is much more important right now to stimulate the economy.

But at some point, clearly, they are thinking about both spending cuts and tax increases.

BLITZER: Did he impress you as someone who's really on top of this situation and knows what he's doing?

ZAKARIA: You know, he did. I think that Tim Geithner has, in some ways, gotten a bad rap because his presentation, perhaps, is not always as skilled -- as skilled, actually, as it was in this interview. He came across quite well.

I think he's new to the limelight, as it were. He was a -- you know, he was a guy who was at the back, you know, doing the staff work behind-the-scenes.

But what strikes me is he's very -- actually, he's steeped in the issues. Sometimes he isn't -- he isn't as well versed at how you present it in a very simple, cogent way on television -- you know, what's the -- what's one message to get across. And he, frankly, still needs to work on that.

But I think he's a very smart guy, a decent guy. And he seems to have a mastery of the detail, yes.

BLITZER: When are we going to get out of this economic recession?

Did he tell you?

ZAKARIA: I think if he knew, you know, he might even quit his job and start trading stocks or something.

No, I think that he clearly feels that things are more stable now than they were. And I think the administration is taking a lot of comfort from that.

But there was no indication that they felt that the housing market had bottomed; that, you know, the economy in general had bottomed. I think they're well aware that things have not turned the corner, that unemployment could get worse.

When I asked him about the second stimulus, he -- it was very clear he was reserving the option to do precisely that.

BLITZER: Fareed Zakaria, thank you.

The full interview, by the way, will air on "FAREED ZAKARIA GPS" Sunday at 1:00 p.m. Eastern. It replays at 5:00 p.m. Eastern on Sunday. I think you're going to want to see this interview -- very important interview.

Meanwhile, there have been some massive sweeps nabbing tens of thousands of fugitives across the United States.

We asked CNN's Brian Todd to take a closer look and explain Operation Falcon.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, this is the work of the U.S. Marshals. They do this once a year. This is the sixth year they've staged this operation. Marshals' officers tell us a lot of state and local police forces are turning over their murder warrants to the Marshals' task forces, because they know how effective they are at catching these fugitives.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TODD (voice-over): U.S. Marshals boast an impressive haul from Operation Falcon -- a nationwide summer sweep to take fugitives off the streets.

JOHN F. CLARK, U.S. MARSHALS DIRECTOR: During the month of June and the results are astounding. Over 35,000 of America's most wanted and most violent criminals were arrested.

TODD: John Clark is the director of the U.S. Marshals and says the program, linking local, state and federal law enforcement officers, was a success.

CLARK: This might be considered the cream of the crop for the most violent felons that are out there. For example, we arrested 433 murder suspects.

TODD: One of those murder suspects is 29-year-old Jeremiah Jackson. Police say this is him holding up a Walgreens store in Cleveland, Ohio. He's been charged with the murder of Tracy Pickryl. Police alleged days after the Walgreens incident, Jackson shot Pickryl in the back during a botched robbery at the Soap Opera Laundromat.

DAWN PICKYRL, VICTIM'S SISTER: For what?

For a gold necklace and $36, $50 or whatever came out of -- out of that place?

He had to take her life for nothing -- for nothing.

TODD: Jackson was taken into custody by the Cleveland police SWAT team and U.S. Marshals. He's being held on $10 million bond. An attorney has not been retained or assigned for the murder charge, but his father told CNN affiliate WJW...

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, COURTESY WJW)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I know it's not him to be like that. And I know that he must have gotten with the wrong crowd.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(END VIDEO TAPE)

TODD: And it wasn't just suspected murderers who were rounded up. The Marshals say of those 36,000 arrests, more than 2,300 were wanted sex offenders. In the course of that month long sweep, they also recovered nearly 600 guns and about 2,400 kilograms of narcotics -- Wolf, pretty impressive. BLITZER: And some 500 suspected murderers were on the loose, right, going into Operation Falcon?

TODD: That's right. You might say that that's kind of a -- it seems like a high number -- 500 suspected murderers on the loose in the United States. But the Marshals say that, relatively speaking, that isn't that many considering the number of homicide investigations they have going on at any one time. They say that the last -- last year, the number of suspected murderers caught was about 300. So they're getting better at this.

BLITZER: Let's hope.

All right, Brian. Thanks very much.

Is one stimulus package enough to get the U.S. economy back on track?

Why President Obama is being urged to level with the American people.

Plus, Friday funnies -- Conan O'Brien's take on the president's speech in Russia.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: The grilling begins Monday morning, 10:00 a.m. before the Senate Judiciary Committee -- Judge Sonia Sotomayor, will she be confirmed by the committee and then the full Senate?

Let's talk about that and more with CNN's Congressional correspondent, Brianna Keilar; David Frum, the former speechwriter for President George W. Bush; and Politico's chief political correspondent, Mike Allen.

First of all, is she going to be confirmed?

What do you think?

DAVID FRUM, FORMER BUSH SPEECHWRITER: Yes.

MIKE ALLEN, CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, POLITICO: The 70 to 85 is the window. The White House will tell you it will be 80...

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: Votes in favor, you mean?

ALLEN: ...75.

BLITZER: So you think she's going to get at least 70 or 75 votes to confirm?

ALLEN: It's going to be big. Now, we're told that the hearings are going to be a little more exciting than we thought. I think they're trying to help your ratings, Wolf, because there's going to be no tweeners on this. You're going to have Democrats talking about how great she is. Republicans now promising a more robust -- and they're using the word inquisition. So they feel like bolstered, in part, by (INAUDIBLE)...

BLITZER: What do you think?

How many votes?

FRUM: I'm not going to predict in advance listening to the testimony, because she could lose this in the hearings. That's what happened to Robert Bork, after all.

Now, I'm sure she'll be very carefully coached and very careful. But there are a lot of opportunities for her to go wrong.

BLITZER: I was surprised, Brianna, when I saw the CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll that came out today. And it's pretty close, should the Senate confirm Sotomayor as the Supreme Court justice?

Forty-seven percent said yes. Forty percent said no. Thirteen percent apparently don't know enough about it. They say they are unsure.

You cover the Hill. It looks like -- unless there's some major, major bombshell -- that she's going to get confirmed.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think right now, there's no evidence that there's any will on the part of Republicans to block her confirmation. But at the same time, we're expecting a whole lot of fireworks. They're really going to -- and they've been laying the ground work all week for this on the floor in the Senate, Wolf -- painting her as a liberal activist judge.

We know they're going to highlight some things, for instance, her -- that New Haven firefighters' decision, where Republicans say it shows that she's for affirmative action. We know that they're going to pull a lot of these things out.

BLITZER: But they have to be careful, because she's Hispanic -- a Latina and Republicans are trying to get back some of those votes. So they've got to be delicate in this matter.

ALLEN: Right. That's why this was an unbelievably shrewd pick and why Brianna is right, that, in the end, they're not going to try and die on that hill.

But the poll that you just read has given them the sort of courage, justification, emboldened them to be a little tougher on her, at least in the hearing. Not a lot of them are going to vote against her, but you look at that poll and an interesting curiosity about that poll, going into it, the chief justice, John Roberts, was 60/30. People were for him. So much more for him.

Another curiosity about that poll, if you ask about Barack Obama's nominee, the numbers are much higher. When you stop -- ask about her name, it's more split. BLITZER: Interesting.

FRUM: If high profile Latino or Hispanic nominees got you a majority of the Latino vote, George Bush would have won a majority of the Latino vote. This is a population has been hit by a lot of economic problems. They're at the center of these housing foreclosures. These are bread and butter voters.

And I think for Republicans, the downside risk is much less than is commonly said.

On the other hand, they don't have the votes, unless she makes a mistake.

BLITZER: And what's interesting is the way they -- the committee has decided to divide up the days next week. I take it Monday, the chairman, Patrick Leahy, and Jeff Sessions, the ranking Republican; all the members -- 19 members of the committee, are each going to have -- have their long opening statements. At the end of the day, she will make her opening statement. And then they go into recess.

The questioning -- the grilling begins the next day, is that right?

KEILAR: That's right. The fireworks, the back and forth, the questioning, we're expecting to get that on Tuesday. But that doesn't mean we're not going to hear some really strong statements coming from Republicans, dredging up these issues that we've been talking about.

So, I mean we -- it's definitely worth watching on Tuesday. I think it still might be...

BLITZER: It's definitely worth watching on Monday, too. But go ahead.

ALLEN: And because of...

KEILAR: Yes, it starts on Monday.

BLITZER: Yes.

ALLEN: Because of Brianna's point about portraying her as a liberal activist, the White House strategy is to make her seem as boring as possible. Everything that she says, both in her answers and her opening statement, is going to get framed around rule of law, moderation, middle of the road.

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BLITZER: And you know what's interesting...

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: What's interesting is every one of those 19 Senators is going to have 30 minutes uninterrupted to question her. Thirty minutes -- it's going to be a 30 minute interview and then you go to the next senator.

I -- I don't remember a Senate committee having hearings like that.

FRUM: I have one piece of advice to give those senators. If you ask short questions...

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BLITZER: No, that's not going to happen.

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: You know, you remember Joe Biden when he was a member of the Judiciary Committee, his questions?

FRUM: Yes. No, he -- actually his questions were like the single most indispensable factor in getting conservative judges confirmed.

ALLEN: Roberts and Alito went four days. They're telling us this could go five, just because of the questioning. They say that increases her chances of slipping on a banana peel. Good look.

BLITZER: We're going to have live coverage, as I say, starting at 10:00 a.m. Monday morning, we'll be here.

Let's talk about a second stimulus package on the Hill. I know some are saying -- Steny Hoyer is suggesting maybe it's possible, maybe it isn't. But you know what, they've only spent a small percentage of the first nearly $800 billion.

Why -- why, already is there so much talk already about a second package?

KEILAR: Well, there's, I think, some speculation about it. And what you heard this week was Steny Hoyer, the number two Democrat in the House, opening the door by saying, basically, if more action is needed, we need to be open to that.

But a lot of Democrats were really quick to pat that down. Harry Reid said that he didn't think there was any indication it's needed right now.

But I think, coming on the heels of Vice President Biden's comments that the Obama administration may have misread the economic situation, there have been some questions with unemployment numbers heading for double digits -- I think there's a lot of concern. But you hear the administration really tamping that down and saying hey, we've only just started. Wait 18 months.

BLITZER: Is there going to be a second stimulus?

ALLEN: They sure are going to talk about it, because the first one is not going to have a transformative effect. We still have, as Brianna suggested, tough days ahead. Probably next month, the month after, it will hit 10 percent...

BLITZER: Nationally, 10 percent unemployment.

ALLEN: Even 10.5 percent. And then, that is going to be what Mark Penn called a trip wire moment, when the media will focus very intensively on what's been done on the jobless situation. We'll look back at what was going on in 1983. And the White House is going to need to have something to say. And they aren't going to be able to just say that this money is still going out the door. They need more things to talk about.

FRUM: They put together a flawed and defective first stimulus package, where the priority...

ALLEN: You're not saying you wanted them to spend more money?

FRUM: I wanted them to spend -- I wanted them to do a payroll...

ALLEN: You are.

FRUM: ...a payroll hol -- a payroll tax holiday and to get the money out faster. That could have been done -- that could have gone into effect 30 -- within 30 days -- $40 billion a month directly into the pockets of American workers. And it could have been stopped the moment the crisis was over, not building a permanent (INAUDIBLE).

ALLEN: But the crisis isn't over and...

FRUM: But they chose...

ALLEN: ...it isn't going to be for some time.

FRUM: They chose, instead of doing that, which was recommended to them by a lot of smart economists, to do something that was slow and sluggish so they could feed more money to their political allies. They made a political choice because they underestimated the severity of the problem.

ALLEN: Well...

FRUM: And that selfish -- that politically selfish action has now caught them into trouble that we are all in. And they -- what they ought to do is accelerate a proper second stimulus by canceling the first. Ninety percent of the money from the first is unspent. Don't waste that money (INAUDIBLE)...

(CROSSTALK)

ALLEN: But wait a second...

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BLITZER: Hold on a second.

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BLITZER: That's not going to happen, is it?

KEILAR: Well, this would be really...

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KEILAR: No, it's not going to happen. And this would be a really tough spot for Democrats, talking about a second stimulus. There is a -- there is really just not much appetite on the Hill to do something that spends more and more money. That's why there's so much talk in health care about it has to be paid for. It's going to cost a trillion dollars...

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: And we heard the president talking about that, too. He's not going to do the health care reform unless it's paid for. Quickly.

ALLEN: And, Wolf, it's not just lack of appetite, it's fear. They -- the Democrats know that the best argument against them in the midterm and re-election is borrow and spend. And they don't want to do anything to add to that argument.

BLITZER: I want all of you to have a great weekend.

We've got to leave it right there.

Thanks very much.

ALLEN: Thank you.

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: The late night comedians, they certainly had a field day with Governor Sarah Palin's resignation announcement.

Guess what?

I even became a punch line of one of the jokes.

Our Friday Funnies just ahead.

Plus, we're going to show you Jewish and Arab children coming together for a friendly competition -- one of our Hot Shots.

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BLITZER: A nice picture of Jewish and Arab children coming together during a football peace soccer camp in Israel.

We want to get your weekend started with some good laughs from the late night comedians.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM "THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH CONAN O'BRIEN," COURTESY NBC) CONAN O'BRIEN, HOST: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she sees no need for a House resolution in praise of Michael Jackson. So there's no need for it. Yes. Yes, Pelosi added, isn't it enough that I'm slowly starting to look like him?

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: And David Letterman talking about Governor Palin. And you'll see it's not easy being in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM "THE LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN," COURTESY WORLDWIDE PANTS INC.)

DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST: There was a surprising announcement over the weekend that the governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin, is leaving the office. She's stepping down. Governor...

(APPLAUSE)

LETTERMAN: Something I said?

(LAUGHTER)

LETTERMAN: But she -- a lot of people do this -- a lot of public figures do this. And I've tried to do it. It doesn't work. You blame the media. When you have trouble, you blame the media. And today, as a matter of fact, she was up in a helicopter shooting Wolf Blitzer.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: And Conan O'Brien once again, this time on President Obama when he was in Moscow.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM "THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH CONAN O'BRIEN," COURTESY NBC)

O'BRIEN: Today in Russia, President Obama delivered a speech to the graduating class of Moscow's new economic school. That's right. The title of the speech was Can We Borrow Four Trillion Rubles?

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: We're going to have coverage of the Sotomayor confirmation hearings. It starts Monday morning, 10:00 a.m. Eastern.

Please be sure to catch THE SITUATION ROOM Saturday edition tomorrow, 6:00 p.m. Eastern. Among our guests, the Middle East special envoy, Richard Holbrooke; the special representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan. That's it for us.

I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Up next, "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT."

Kitty Pilgrim sitting in for Lou -- Kitty.