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Witness Reveals Graphic Details in Edwards' Trial; Mad Cow Case Confirmed in California; Al Qaeda Train Bomb Plot Exposed; Military Creates New Spying Operation; Appendectomy Costs $1,500 or $180,000; New Secret Service Resignations; Interview with Joel Osteen; Romney's Leadership Role

Aired April 24, 2012 - 17:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: And you're in THE SITUATION ROOM. Happening now, a graphic new testimony by John Edwards' affair while he was a presidential candidate and his angry reaction when he learned his mistress was pregnant.

Plus, we'll look at Mitt Romney's role as a bishop in the Mormon Church, something he really talks about, and I'll ask a famed pastor Joel Osteen if he believes Romney is a Christian.

And does the Secret Service prostitution scandal reach into the White House? A top Republican is demanding an outside investigation of possible misconduct by Obama administration staffers.

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

A former aide is revealing vivid details about John Edwards' secret life while he was a presidential contender and about the scandal that blew up in his face. Edwards is on trial for allegedly using illegal campaign cash to hide his affair and his mistress' pregnancy. Today's testimony peels back the curtain on a personal soap opera and a political nightmare.

Our senior correspondent Joe Johns is covering the trial in Greensboro, North Carolina. He's got the latest developments -- Joe.

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, among other things the jury today hearing tape recorded messages left from John Edwards to Andrew Young, his personal aide, in a critical time here in North Carolina, the middle of December before the 2008 primary. This was a time, in fact, on December 13th of 2008 when John Edwards called this man who's worked for him so hard and so long essentially asking him to take responsibility for the child that John Edwards had fathered with his mistress Rielle Hunter.

All of this important testimony in this trial in Greensboro, North Carolina.


JOHNS (voice-over): With Andrew Young on the stand -- he's the former right hand man, errand boy and fixer, to former Senator John Edwards. The prosecution laid out a simply amazing story of sex, lies, politics and money. Young spoke of the day when Edwards' mistress Rielle Hunter made so many repeated, frantic calls to him that when he finally got her on the phone he said somebody better either be pregnant or dying. Rielle Hunter, Young says, responded nobody's dying.

When Edwards found out she was pregnant he responded gruffly. Young quoting Edwards, he said, "She's a crazy slut and there's a one in three chance it was his child." Also stunning was the response of Bunny Mellon, the big money donor from northern Virginia who agreed to help because she thought Edwards could rescue America.

Andrew Young said he secured her agreement to give hundreds of thousands of dollars for the benefit of the campaign, no questions asked, Young claimed. Checks in ever-increasing sums funneled through Mrs. Mellon's decorator and endorsed by Andrew Young's wife, according to Young.

With this money in the family account, Young said, he moved Rielle Hunter to North Carolina to keep her away from the media. She was threatening to go public, he said. He gave her a $5,000 a month allowance, a couple of times it went up to $12,000. He rented a house for her in his name. Got her a BMW. By the this time she was using an alias, Young says, going by the name of Jaya James.

Young said Rielle also lived in his house with him and his wife and kids for about three weeks which he called very difficult. He said Rielle could be very demanding. More than once, he said, Rielle said, if she didn't talk to Edwards she was going public.

And how did his wife feel about all of this? Young said she was scared to death. We were scared to death. Edwards was a viable presidential candidate and this was a truckload of money. They asked the trial lawyer Edwards if it was OK to do this. Young says Edwards told him it was completely legal.

Young said he communicated in code with Edwards because there was concern that knowledge of these matters could implicate Edwards if he were to become attorney general.


JOHNS: This, of course, is Andrew Young's version of events. The very same version he wrote in a tell-all book that he's now telling as a star prosecution witness, however, he will get cross-examined on the stand by the defense team and it can be a very different story there as the lawyers for John Edwards try to rip apart his story and destroy his credibility on the stand -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Joe Johns watching this trial unfold, thanks very, very much.

Let's get to the breaking news we've been following. A fourth case of mad cow disease confirmed right here in the United States. The Agriculture Department revealing the discovery in a dairy cow in central California. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. JOHN CLIFFORD, USDA CHIEF VETERINARY OFFICER: We will complete an investigation of this particular case and -- but there should be no concern as indicated about the safety of our food supply. We continually will do ongoing surveillance. We'll continue with FDA's feed ban as well as with the removal of specified materials or materials of concern at slaughter.


BLITZER: Let's bring in our senior medical correspondent, Elizabeth Cohen, who's done a lot of reporting on mad cow disease.

Elizabeth, you know how devastating this disease can be in humans. First of all, give us the potential threat that's out there.

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: You know the potential threat from this one cow is slim to none from the people I've been talking to. It's one cow that was never slaughtered, never intended to be eaten. It is a dairy cow and experts tell us that mad cow disease cannot be passed through milk from a cow to a human. So they said this cow represents no threat.

Even people who have been critical of the government. Even people who have sounded the alarms the loudest about mad cow disease don't believe that this one cow represents a threat. There is one thing that's a bit disturbing about this situation. They don't know how this cow got mad cow disease, Wolf, they just don't know.

Usually cows get the disease by eating infected feed. That doesn't seem to be the case here according to the USDA so we took their calling probably a sporadic case, they just don't know how this cow got sick.

BLITZER: So when this USDA official goes on this YouTube video and says there should be no concern about America's food supply right now, I suppose the experts you're speaking to agree at least for now based on what we know.

COHEN: No, the experts I've been talking to say from this -- they are not worried about this one cow in California, but they do say looking big picture that the government does need to do a better job of tracking cattle. Right now if a cattle gets sick it's not always easy to figure out where that cattle came from, because what you want to do is you want to be able to go back and say well, the cow lived at this farm, in this farm and this farm, and maybe those are potential places where the cows got sick.

The wave of the identification system set up in this country, it can be very hard to do that. So big picture, critics do see a lot of room for improvement.

And, Wolf, I want to talk a little bit about a woman I did a story with six years ago. Her name is -- her name was Charlene and she was the first person in the United States known to have this -- to have the human form of this disease. As you can see, she was very sick when I interviewed her. In fact, she died just a few months later.

Now she contacted the disease in the UK, was perfectly healthy at first, moved here not knowing she was sick and then died here. Three -- that's happened to three people. They contracted the disease outside the U.S., two in the UK and one in Saudi Arabia, didn't show symptoms. Moved here, they were fine, and then they died here.

No one, and I want to repeat this, no one has been known to get mad cow disease from a cow in the United States.

BLITZER: But it could take years, 10, 15 years to --


BLITZER: To show any symptoms, right?

COHEN: That is disturbing. So we've been seeing a few cows since 2003 with this disease. If someone were to get infected let's say in 2005, you wouldn't know it by now. You're right. The median time is about 15 years from eating the bad meat to actually showing signs.

BLITZER: So worrisome. Elizabeth, thanks very much. This programming note for our North American viewers. Stand by to hear from Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, on this the fourth confirmed case of mad cow disease. He's a guest on "JOHN KING, USA" at the top of the hour. That's for our viewers in the United States and Canada.

Jack Cafferty is here right now. He's got "The Cafferty File." Jack.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Wolf, the immigration wars are all set to heat up once again starting tomorrow when the Supreme Court hears oral arguments on the constitutionality of Arizona's controversial law. That law requires Arizona officials to check the immigration status of anyone stopped or arrested who they suspect could be an illegal alien. The Obama administration sued Arizona to prevent it from going into effect.

Supporters say it's necessary because of the federal government's failure to secure this nation's borders. States like Arizona have had to deal with serious security issues, along with the steep cost of education and health care for illegal aliens. Critics say the law encourages racial profiling and forces state law enforcement to interfere with foreign policy, whatever that policy is.

The Supreme Court ruling is expected to come in June and that means, of course, like health care, it could become quickly a political hot potato headed into the November presidential election.

If the Supreme Court upholds Arizona's law, Senate Democrats are reportedly planning to force a vote on legislation that would invalidate Arizona's law. Of course, the legislation won't pass, the Congress is divided, but it's a way for Democrats to appeal to Hispanic voters before November.

Senate Democrats might be interested to learn that most Americans agree with Arizona's approach. A new Quinnipiac poll shows 68 percent approve of the Arizona law. Only 27 percent don't. And 62 percent say the Supreme Court should uphold the law.

Here's the question, should states have more to say about their own border security? Go to Post a comment on my blog or go to our post on THE SITUATION ROOM'S Facebook page -- Wolf?

BLITZER: All right, Jack. Thank you.

We're getting some new details coming into THE SITUATION ROOM about al Qaeda's plan for follow up attacks after 9/11. Terrorists considered returning TVs to Wal-Mart with bombs inside. Brian Todd investigating.

And a new warning that Iran's leaders haven't rolled back their nuclear program one iota. That warning coming in from Israel's prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. Clearly it says the Israelis are getting impatient.

And I'll ask the popular pastor Joel Osteen what he'd say to Christians who are worried about voting for Mitt Romney because he's a Mormon.


BLITZER: A federal trial in New York has exposed a terrifying al Qaeda plot to blow up the Long Island railroad and the alleged mastermind behind it, an American.

Brian Todd has been looking into the story and alarming details here, Brian. What's going on?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Very alarming, Wolf, and you know this is one of the first times we've heard directly from al Qaeda operatives in court on their operational plans, their motivations, what they liked as ideas for attacks and what they didn't. This blockbuster in this testimony, vivid details on ideas for attacks on the U.S. homeland which came from an American.


TODD (voice-over): They knew how and when to make the most devastating impact, an explosion on a Long Island railroad train as it entered the tunnel. They went back and forth on whether the attacker would be a suicide bomber or would exit the train before a timer set it off. It was all part of an al Qaeda plan in 2008 hatched by an American

Bryant Neil Venus (ph) testifying at the trial of another alleged al Qaeda operative in a separate case said he presented the idea of attacking the Long Island railroad to his al Qaeda bosses while he was at a camp in Pakistan. CNN terrorism analyst, Paul Cruickshank, was in court this week when Venus gave the details.

PAUL CRUICKSHANK, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: As an American who often travelled on the Long Island Railroad System, Venus grew up on Long Island, he knew about New York's (INAUDIBLE) where it could be hurt the most. TODD: Bryant Neil Venus (ph), subject of a 2010 CNN documentary, was born in Queens, grew up on Long Island, the son of Latin-American immigrants. He was an altar boy and had a passion for baseball. His happy childhood ended when his parents split up. He eventually converted to Islam and gradually became more radicalized.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bryant Neil Venus (ph) was Hispanic-American. He was a high school dropout. He and washed out of the army. He's trying to get into the army. He was unemployed, and Bin Laden was saying we should maybe try and recruit some of this disaffected, maybe minority converts to Islam.

TODD: It was Venus' knowledge of American commuter systems and popular commerce which gave al Qaeda crucial insights.

(on-camera) Another idea according to Venus, he testified that he suggested an attack on a Wal-Mart in which an al Qaeda operative would buy a TV then return it with a bomb inside.

(voice-over) Neither that nor the Long Island railroad idea was ever carried out as a hard plot, but Cruickshank says this --

CRUICKSHANK: It's on the shelf in Pakistan. They probably still have some knowledge of what Venus was telling them about and the way the system was working.


TODD (on-camera): But if al Qaeda's going to launch those plots, it will do so with one less American on its side. Bryant Neil Venus (ph) pleaded guilty to helping al Qaeda plan that Long Island attack and is awaiting his sentence, Wolf.

BLITZER: Other fascinating operational details revealed in the course of this trial.

TODD: That's right. Paul Cruickshank says that Venus testified that when al Qaeda recruits got their bomb training and other training in recent years, they didn't get it in these large open camps in Afghanistan that could be targeted by drones. He say they got it inside away from the sidelines.

So, al Qaeda, according to this testimony, is adjusting its strategy to deal with the drone threat in recent years.

BLITZER: Brian Todd on top of the story as he always is, thanks very much.

The military announces a major revamp of the country's spy program. Just ahead, what it could mean for intelligence threats off the battlefield.

Plus, if you need to have your appendix removed, it could cost you around $1,000 or more than $100,000. We have details on an alarming new medical study and the disparity of prices out there as far as medical services are concerned. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Apple has just reported its earnings for the year. So far, Lisa's back. She's monitoring that story and some of the other top stories in the SITUATION ROOM. What's going on, Lisa?

LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: HI, Wolf. Apple's second- quarter earnings are out, and they are big. The company reports more than $39 billion in sales, so far, this year and that is better than what analysts expected. Apple sold more than 35 million iPhones and more than 12 million iPads in the first three months of the year.

Shares of apple are up sharply in after-market trading ending a two-week slump in the stock.

And the Pentagon is revamping its intelligence operation to focus on human intelligence gathering. One of the goals of the new defense (INAUDIBLE) is to rely less on high-tech ways of spying and it said improve the way the military works with people to gather information. The defense department says it's designed to work with the CIA and other intelligence agencies, not to compete with them.

And heading to the hospital with appendicitis could cost you anywhere from just over $1,000 to more than $180,000. Researchers at the University of California at San Francisco found there is a big difference in cost among hospitals for similar procedures like an uncomplicated surgery to remove your appendix.

Experts say one way patients can reduce the cost, go to a hospital covered by their insurance -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Good advice, of course. Thank you, Lisa.

Mitt Romney is well on his way to becoming the first Mormon presidential nominee. Should Christians feel comfortable voting for him? Up next, what the renowned spiritual leader, Joel Osteen, he'd tell a member of this church if asked that question.

Plus, a closer look at Mitt Romney's days as a bishop inside the church. We'll talk to those who advised him -- return to him for advice, I should say.

And breathtaking surveillance video of a girl plunging through the pavement. Look at this. Wow! There she is. We're going to tell you how she survived and what happened. Stay with us.


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.

BLITZER: We're just learning about more resignations in the U.S. secret service prostitution scandal. Let's bring in our senior Congressional correspondent, Dana Bash. What are you learning, Dana?

DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, CNN has learned that two additional members of the secret service are being forced to resign. Our Congressional producer, Deidre Walsh (ph) and I are told by multiple sources that not just that, an additional third member of the secret service is losing his security clearance.

And that, Wolf, effectively means that his career, as he knows it, is over. In addition, two other secret service members who were involved are being investigated for this incident in Colombia and are being cleared of serious charges, but will be dealt with apparently on lesser charges.

And so, this is updated from what we knew already which is six members of the secret service were already forced out. This means two additional are losing their jobs outright, and another one is effectively ending his career because of what happened in Colombia.

BLITZER: So, this scandal clearly escalating right now, Dana. Any word yet when -- I know that Janet Napolitano, the Homeland Security secretary is going to be testifying tomorrow, but when the secret service director, Mark Sullivan, might be testifying before Congress?

BASH: It is unclear. That's one of the questions that we've had for the committee chairman all week long here is whether or not they're going to call him up. He has been in very, very close contact with members of Congress all day every day keeping them apprised of the investigation in private.

But, I think that members of Congress are getting to the point or getting closer to the point where they feel more comfortable wanting him to come up here and talk to them in public.


BASH (voice-over): The White House council looked into it and is satisfied no one on the advanced team to Colombia did anything inappropriate, but GOP senator, Chuck Grassley, isn't.

SEN. CHUCK GRASSLEY, (R) JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: I'm not going to be satisfied until we get some independent look at this.

BASH: Grassley, the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, says he wants an outside probe. The Homeland Security Department inspector general should investigate whether there was any misconduct in Colombia by any White House staff. His reason --

GRASSLEY: So that there are no political implications with it, and the reason for all this is, this is a serious matter. This isn't just a case of prostitution being used some place. This is a case of national security and the protection of the president of the United States.

SEN. PATRICK LEAHY, (D) JUDICIARY CHAIRMAN: With all due respect, he knows that's not going to happen.

BASH: The judiciary committee's Democratic chairman says he sees no evidence of White House wrongdoing and dismissed Grassley's call for an independent investigation of the White House advanced team in Colombia.

LEAHY: With all of the presses down there, with all the coverage, if the White House had been involved, this thing would be on the front page of every newspaper in the country by now. The fact of the matter, they weren't.

BASH: Until now, outrage and disgust over the secret service scandal has largely been bipartisan, no longer. Familiar partisan battle lines are emerging. Patrick Leahy accused his GOP counterpart of playing politics.

LEAHY: Let's get this out of politics. We're talking about the security of the president of the United States. I don't care if they're Republican or Democrat. I want our president to be secure, especially when they're in another country. Don't play politics with us. We'll get all the facts, and the facts will all be made public.

BASH: Speaking of facts being made public, that's another area where Grassley is unsatisfied. He wants the White House to release information about its internal inquiry.

GRASSLEY: The most transparent administration, they say, in the history which they are aren't, but it seemed to me that all of this -- their methods and what they found out ought to be made public at the very least.


BASH: Now again, those two senators who head the Judiciary Committee, they are going to have a chance to ask their questions for the first time in public tomorrow of an administration official, that as you said, Wolf, at the beginning of this is the Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. Separate from that, the Homeland Security Committee here in the Senate is looking into this as well and its chairman, Joe Lieberman who is an Independent and we know those who follow politics know that he often clashes with Democrats. In this case he's not clashing with the White House. He says that he feels confident and comfortable that the White House did its due diligence and that nobody in the White House was involved in any misconduct.

BLITZER: Dana Bash up on the Hill. Thanks very much.

Let's go to another scandal that's playing out in Washington right now, those shocking and expensive luxury trips taken by employees of the General Services Administration. The House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrel Issa told me just a little while ago about additional allegations against officials at the GSA including an investigation of possible bribery.


REP. DARRELL ISSA (R), OVERSIGHT & GOVERNMENT REFORM CHMN.: The Inspector General Brian Miller has a referral under way and a number of the areas include misuse of GSA credit cards and allegations of bribery. This related to the contractors that they had a relationship with and used them on a no-bid basis and no-bid is an important word in government because the GSA is the agency most responsible to make sure that you do have competitive bids that you simply don't give your wife's cousin a big contract without it being the low bid and that's exactly what we believe happened in this case, but at GSA, we believe it is more widespread, the tip of the iceberg, if you will.

BLITZER: That sounds almost like bribery, if you will. That would be a crime.

ISSA: We believe the charges could include bribery and that that could be a referral coming very shortly.

BLITZER: Define very shortly.

ISSA: In a matter of days if it hasn't already happened. The actual indictment process is one that we don't directly participate in, but the inspector general does refer criminal charges at the conclusion of an investigation. We believe he's made a case for a number of crimes that could be included.

BLITZER: Is that why that GSA official took the Fifth and refused to testify before Congress?

ISSA: It certainly could include it. The questions we had for him would not have caused him to take the Fifth, but the questions he might have been afraid of being asked as to his own criminal conduct certainly would be justification protecting his Fifth Amendment rights, which is what we think he did, but he's not the only one and we believe that it's going to be much more widespread and as we continue looking over the shoulder and working with inspector generals throughout government, we think we're going to find a lot of conferences just like this, a lot of poor use of taxpayers' money and in some cases, criminal activities.


BLITZER: One of America's most popular pastors has advice for Christians who may be worried about Mitt Romney because he's a Mormon. Stand by. My interview with Joel Osteen coming up. And before he ran to be president, Mitt Romney was also Bishop Romney. We're taking a closer look at his leadership role in the Mormon Church.


BLITZER: Religion and politics in the spotlight right now with Mitt Romney poised to become this nation's first Mormon presidential- nominee. It's an issue many spiritual leaders including renowned Lakewood Church Senior Pastor Joel Osteen are being asked to address. The Houston Church (ph) is the largest in the country with nearly 40,000 attendees each Sunday. He took it over after the death of his father in 1999. His television program is seen by 10 million people weekly and his first book "Your Best Life Now" has sold over four million copies.

Joel Osteen is here in THE SITUATION ROOM. Good to have you here in THE SITUATION ROOM. Thanks very much for coming in.

JOEL OSTEEN, SENIOR PASTOR, LAKEWOOD CHURCH: My pleasure, Wolf. Thanks for having me.

BLITZER: You know so many people are inspired by you, they're moved by you and I know your congregants they come to you with questions. Here's a hypothetical question. It may have happened, but you give me an answer. A member of your congregation comes to you and says Joel, I really want to vote for Romney, but I'm concerned because he's a Mormon. I'm not sure he's a Christian. What do you say to that congregant?

OSTEEN: Well my personal view Wolf, is that when I hear Mitt Romney say that he believes that Jesus is the son of God, that he's the Christ raised from the dead, that he's his Savior, that's good enough for me and I would encourage them in the same way, is you know what, we don't all have the same views and I realize Mormonism is not traditional Christianity, but I'm probably a little broader and more open in the fact that when somebody loves Jesus and believes they're the son of God that's good for me.

BLITZER: Because that November 2011 Pew Poll 32 percent say they don't believe the Mormon faith is a Christian religion. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. What I hear you saying is you do believe it is a Christian religion, sort of.

OSTEEN: Well I do. I believe there are things that are the same, but they're -- you know obviously there's -- if you get deeper into it there are things that's not traditional Christianity, but I'm looking at more the broadness of when somebody believes that Jesus is their Savior and the son of God. To me that -- I believe they're a believer in Christ.

BLITZER: And so when there are some protests from Liberty University now, a school you're familiar with --


BLITZER: -- Jerry Falwell, the late Jerry Falwell's university, he's going to be giving the Commencement Address there, the graduation address, Mitt Romney, at Liberty University. Some are saying maybe that's not appropriate. What do you think?

OSTEEN: Well, to me it would be appropriate. Now everybody has a right to have their own views. Obviously, some people feel stronger than I do, but again, I'm trying to reach the biggest, broadest group, and you know my net may be a little big wider. When I see somebody that loves the Lord, I try not to exclude them, but to rather include them and to realize that we all have differences. You know we could look at our faith versus the Catholic faith or some other faith, Mormonism is a little bit different, but I still see them as brothers in Christ.

BLITZER: I see -- what I see you saying is that you're a big- tent Christian.

OSTEEN: I really am. I don't want to be one -- I don't want to push people away. I mean there's -- we can take the scripture and ask 10 people that are all from the same denomination and get 10 different views. So I'd just -- I'd rather be inclusive and say, you know what? If they believe in Christ, they're my brother. They're my sister.

BLITZER: Another congregant comes to you, hypothetically, it may have happened, and says you know I really want to re-elect President Obama, but I've heard he's a Muslim and in fact in that Hugh (ph) survey that came out not that long ago, 18 percent of folks say he's really a Muslim. What do you say to that congregant?

OSTEEN: Well I would tell them I've been with the president at the Easter breakfasts, not five feet away from him and heard him talk about his faith and talk about redemption and talk about salvation, and you know I just believe in all my heart that he's a Christian. He says he is. Again, I wouldn't try to push people away.

I mean if -- you know that's just the opposite of what we're supposed to do, and so I would encourage him in that. I know there's a lot of media that says that maybe he's not a lot of talk and thing, but I just -- I don't believe that. Of course, my personality is I give people the benefit of the doubt. You don't have to prove to me that you are. Just if you say you are and from the sincerity of your heart then I believe you are.

BLITZER: And if he's not a Christian, let's say someone is a Muslim, someone is a Hindu or someone's Jewish, do you have a problem with someone who is not a Christian being president of the United States.

OSTEEN: I wouldn't have a problem with it because I love all people. I think in the United States it would be a -- you know, it may be a long time before we would elect somebody, you know maybe a Muslim or a Hindu or something just because I think still 90 percent of us are Christians, but you know, I've been -- spent a lot of time in India with my father. The Hindus are some of the nicest people you'll ever meet. And so again, I'm not trying to you know push people down and see them as second-class because they're not of my faith. I think when we're electing the president we're looking at their values, their leadership ability and their faith is a big part as well.

BLITZER: Those who listen to you, you know there's a line that you've said that resonates with a lot of folks. God doesn't want us to be broke.


BLITZER: What do you mean by that?

OSTEEN: Well I don't know -- I may have said it like that, but I believe that we're not supposed to be -- growing up, there was a part of Christianity that says you've got to be poor and defeated to show that you're humble and you're supposed to suffer. I don't see God like that. I think we're supposed to excel. That he's put gifts in each one of us that you know, that we're supposed to rise higher.

And I say that coming from the background that my father was very, very poor. They got the Christmas basket they were so poor. They didn't have -- he didn't have food growing up and he rose up out of that and I don't think it's God's best. I don't think you can live life not having the funds to send your kids to college and to fulfill your dreams and so it's just of a mindset sometimes people have this poverty mindset and I'm a Christian and I'm supposed to suffer and this is God's will. That's just not how I see it.

BLITZER: And what do you mean when you say -- you speak about the importance of being a quote "now person". What does that mean?

OSTEEN: Well I think a lot of times we're putting things off and I'm going to do it later. I'm going to break this bad habit or I'm going to pursue this dream or I'm going to treat my spouse better. I think you have got to say, you know what, today is the day to make my life better and to be who I'm supposed to be and to do what I know I'm supposed to do and not always be living in the future.

BLITZER: And you're going to be speaking at Washington Nationals Park here in town and there will be a huge crowd. Give us in a sentence or two the most important message you want the folks to leave with.

OSTEEN: I think it's that God is on your side. He's a good God. You may have made mistakes. You may have some big obstacles, but you can still become who God has created you to be. Let go of yesterday. Let today be a new beginning and be the best that you can and you'll get to where God wants you to be.

BLITZER: Joel Osteen thanks very much for coming into THE SITUATION ROOM.

OSTEEN: My pleasure, Wolf. Thank you.

BLITZER: Here's a question now. Why doesn't Mitt Romney speak more about his religion? Up next, Mary Snow will speak to someone who knew him as a bishop in the Mormon Church and thinks he should be out there speaking publicly about it.

And a girl talking on a cell phone -- look at this. She takes a sudden nearly 20-foot plunge -- look at that -- into a sink hole. We'll tell you what happened.


BLITZER: Mitt Romney's expected to tighten his grip on the Republican presidential nomination today as voters in five northeastern states hold primaries in this campaign to lead the nation. Romney really talks about his leadership experience in the Mormon Church. He volunteered for key roles in the church back in the 1980's and '90s including service as a bishop. Our Mary Snow spoke to some people when knew Bishop Romney at the time. Mary, what did they say to you?

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well Wolf, this is a part of Mitt Romney's life that people may not know much about. You know unlike the jobs Romney often stresses as a former governor and CEO, this was a role that was very personal in nature. Some in his congregation had very positive experiences, others negative and at times it put him face-to-face with people who he had little in common with besides their faith.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They might ask that too in class that he labored with his own hands that me might serve the people --

SNOW (voice-over): Reading the Book of Mormon together is now routine for former Catholic Sandy and Ron Catalano, but the couple's clash over Mormonism almost destroyed their marriage. Ron was skeptical when his wife converted in the late 1970's. With nowhere to go, Sandy turned to her then Bishop Mitt Romney.

SANDY CATALANO, MEMBER OF ROMNEY'S CHURCH: So when I went to Mitt I said it is just so hard I don't know what to do, and I just broke down and said I can't do this anymore. Do I love the Lord more than I love my husband?

SNOW (on camera): And what happened?

S. CATALANO: He said to me you can love both and I'll show you how to do it.

SNOW (voice-over): Mitt Romney, they say, came up with odd jobs for Ron, an out-of-work maintenance man struggling to provide for his wife and three sons.

RON CATALANO, MEMBER OF ROMNEY'S CHURCH: What he was doing he was fellowshipping me and bringing me closer not to the religion, but just bringing me closer to him and his family and my family which is important.

S. CATALANO: He really helped change our lives for the better.


SNOW: Romney on occasion talks about his time as a church leader in the Boston area while he was making his way up the ladder at Bain Capital. Romney was a volunteer bishop, similar to a pastor at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.


SNOW: Friends of this church say he worked up to 20 hours a week doing everything from counseling members to balancing budgets.

ROMNEY: And in that capacity I had the chance to work with people who lost their jobs in some cases or were facing other financial distress, losing their homes and I found that those kinds of circumstances were not just about money or numbers. They were about lives and about emotions --

SNOW: So why doesn't Romney talk more about his roles in the church?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mitt really is a great listener. SNOW: Grant Bennett, a former LDS bishop who served with Romney says there's a cultural component of humbleness among Mormons and he says there are political risks.

GRANT BENNETT, FORMER BISHOP, LDS CHURCH: There are many, many misperceptions and -- about the Mormon Church. I think to dwell on his involvement in the church no matter how effective he might do it inevitably would lead to side discussions that may not be very productive.

SNOW: Not everyone in Bishop Romney's church was a fan, with some of the harshest criticism coming from Mormon women.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is an issue from the winter of 1986 --

SNOW: Judy Dushku was the editor of a feminist Mormon magazine, who says she first clashed with Romney when the publication couldn't be distributed at church.

JUDY DUSHKU, MORMON FEMINIST: His attitude is always I know what's best. I'm the interpreter of Mormonism for all Mormons and you have no right to comment on it and if you do comment on it, you're wrong.

SNOW: Dushku also recalls the story of a friend, a mother of four, who published a letter in the magazine saying her bishop pressured her not to have an abortion. This despite a blood clot that put her health and that of the baby's at risk. The woman who wrote that article confirmed to CNN that bishop was Mitt Romney. The Romney campaign declined comment.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I wanted him to look and hear what the woman had to say.

SNOW: Helen Claire Seivers remembers Romney as a leader who did try to address concerns of women in a church largely run by men. She credits Romney with meeting with about 250 women to discuss issues and make some policy changes.

HELEN CLAIRE SEIVERS, FORMER CHURCH ACTIVITY DIRECTOR: I thought he was pretty open and caring to say, yes, we'll do this because I don't think many church leaders would have done that.

SNOW: But note Seivers' admiration is in the past tense.

(on camera): What's your reaction when you see him on the campaign trail now?

SEIVERS: I have no idea who that man is. What it looks to me like is he's figuring out what he needs to do to win the Republican nomination and he's doing it.


SNOW (voice-over): As for the Catalanos, they say they know the real Mitt Romney and hope their former bishop does become president. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He just knows how to connect with people like us.


SNOW: Now as we mentioned, Mitt Romney does at times talk on the campaign trail about his role as a church leader. When asked about it in a recent interview with "ABC News" he said he's not running for pastor in chief but commander in chief. But he says as people want to know more about his personal life and faith, he's happy to talk about the experience -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Mary thanks very much, good report. Let's go back to Jack right now for "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: That's the most intelligent treatment of Mitt Romney's religion I've seen in either presidential campaign --


CAFFERTY: 2008 or this one. What a terrific piece.



CAFFERTY: Great job, Ms. Mary.

BLITZER: Excellent piece.

CAFFERTY: Great stuff. All right, the question, should states have more to say about their own border security. The Supreme Court is looking at that law out in Arizona. Mark writes "yes, the states that border a foreign country ought to have the right not to be invaded by foreign nationals who decide they want to come to the state for medical care, jobs or anything else for that matter. If Mexico bordered Washington, D.C., you can bet your last buck there would be a fence that would make the Berlin Wall look like a speed bump."

Bert writes "Hi, Jack. The problem with states being involved in immigration issues is that it's more than a two-way street than even at the federal level. During the good times all are welcome to the party, but when the party is over, local prejudice festers. That's what happened in Arizona. The rights of good people of color, which are the rights of all of us, then get infringed upon."

Marcia in West Virginia writes "States should have control when the feds aren't doing their job, which is to secure our borders. Bring all the guys home, especially the National Guard, hence the name, and let them do their jobs here."

Noel in New Mexico "They ought to have some say, but only when tempered by the federal government. I live in a border state, New Mexico that doesn't have the draconian laws like Arizona that intimidate not only undocumented but all those who are native born and here legally. The only way to make sure states don't fall into jingoism and xenophobia is to make sure federal guidelines and restrictions temper state laws that become over severe or wide- ranging."

And David in Phoenix writes, "Yes, it's the one thing the Republicans have right and the Democrats have wrong. Immigration is fine. Illegal immigration is a huge burden to the citizens impacted by it. Ever have of one of them crash into your car? They get no ticket, no fine, no insurance and we pay. Try going to the emergency room on a weekend in Arizona filled with free health care illegals." If you want to read more about this subject go to the blog, or through our post on THE SITUATION ROOM's Facebook page. The Supreme Court decision, Wolf, due in June I think.

BLITZER: Yes, before the summer recess. Jack thank you.

Breathtaking video we're going to show you of a young woman taking a sudden plunge down a Sink hole -- look at this. You're going to find out what happened.


BLITZER: Breathtaking surveillance video of a young woman taking a sudden plunge down a sinkhole. She made it out safely but isn't getting a whole lot of sympathy. CNN's Jeanne Moos takes a closer look at how it all went down.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This Chinese teenager was walking and talking on her cell phone when a sidewalk sinkhole opened like a trap door. Apparently those little block cones were meant as a warning.




MOOS: Water had eroded the ground underneath. A passing taxi driver saw the girl disappear and went down a nearly 20-foot hole to rescue her.


MOOS: He said at first she didn't respond, but when he shook her, she came to. Firemen put down a ladder and eventually out she climbed.


MOOS: No one even clapped, and some blamed her.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How does that happen?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She was on her cell phone. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She was not --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She was on her cell phone --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It does not matter that she was on her cell phone.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That does not happen to you.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What is wrong with you?

MOOS: Being swallowed up by a sinkhole just isn't the same as say texting into a mall fountain.

(on camera): And without further ado, we bring you the greatest hits of sinkholes.

(voice-over): This may look like a missile silo but it's a sinkhole in Guatemala roughly 30 stories deep. Burst sewer pipes and a tropical storm probably combined to cause it back in 2010. It swallowed a three-story building. And this sinkhole ate a horse.


MOOS: A deaf and blind horse named Chief. It took about six hours to successfully hoist the horse out of this hole in Maryland. Sinkholes usually occur when water eats away rock below the surface. Sinkholes have trapped fire trucks, a car and a boat, an entire House --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh and there it goes.

MOOS: -- in a seaside San Francisco neighborhood back in 1995. And then there was this Florida woman.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Packs of dirt just hitting you in the head.

MOOS: Carla Chapman (ph) fell into not one, but two separate sinkholes in her backyard in less than a year. The second one was a doozy, but the good news was she had her cell phone and called 911.

CALLER: I'm in the ground!

911: You're in the ground?

CALLER: Somebody help me!

MOOS (on camera): The bad news was at first she couldn't get service. Calls kept dropping. Can you hear me now?

(voice-over): Eventually she got through and they got her out. Maybe the moral of the story is it's better to use your cell phone once you're in the hole rather than on your way to it.

Jeanne Moos, CNN --

CALLER: Oh, God, I'm stuck in here!

MOOS: -- New York.


BLITZER: Thanks, Jeanne. That's it for me. Thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. The news continues next on CNN.