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JOHN KING, USA
Jerry Sandusky Trial Continues; Is Hosni Mubarak Dead?
Aired June 19, 2012 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: I am John King. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world.
Let's continue this coverage, this dramatic breaking news, conflicting reports we're getting tonight about whether the former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is dead. The state-run Middle East News Agency has reported Mubarak was declared clinically dead shortly after arriving at a military hospital in Cairo.
He was taken there after suffering a stroke and a cardiac arrest. But a general who is a member of Egypt's Supreme Council of the Armed Forces tells CNN the former president is not clinically dead, but that source telling us his health is deteriorating and he is in critical condition.
Our Ivan Watson is in Cairo, overlooking Tahrir Square.
Already, Ivan, that square was filled with a huge crowd today demonstrating because of the political uncertainty. What are your sources telling you, and how hard is it to break through? We have had these rumors before, what is fact and rumor?
IVAN WATSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's really tough, and especially because the debate over Hosni Mubarak's health has constantly been coming up over the course of the past year-and-a-half since he was ousted from power by similar protests like this in Tahrir Square, constantly false alarms and warnings that his health was deteriorating, and this as he was being brought up on charges of corruption, and as an accomplice to the deaths of hundreds of protesters in January and February of 2011.
He was found guilty on most charges and acquitted on the corruption charges. Now we have this Middle East News Agency report saying that he was clinically dead, denied by Supreme Council of the Armed Forces which is arguing he is in critical condition right now, but that his health is deteriorating.
And that is overshadowing the political struggle under way, the seismic political changes we have seen, with historic presidential elections last weekend taking place, and at the same time a naked power grab by the military council that assumed control of the country after Mubarak stepped down a year-and-a-half ago that has pledged to hand over authority to an elected civilian government, but instead has overseen the dissolution of the recently elected parliament, just two days before presidential elections, and assumed legislative powers and additional presidential powers. And that has been called a soft coup by the supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood candidate who have gathered by the tens of thousands tonight. Their numbers are thinning now to celebrate what they claim is the victory of their candidate in last weekend's presidential elections and to denounce the recent power grab by the ruling military council.
It is a complicated mess and it just shows that after Hosni Mubarak stepped down and whatever his health conditions are, Egypt's transition is still as rocky and confusing as ever -- John.
KING: And, so, Ivan, as we try to sort this out, there's obviously some sort of a health emergency, whether he is clinically dead or whether he's just in dire situation, we try to sort that out, it does beg this question.
You mentioned that the military council has essentially made clear in recent days we are in charge and we plan on keeping major influence. That is the old Mubarak guard, most of those generals. Is there any indication while he has been on trial, while we know his health has been a question mark, is Hosni Mubarak in any way still pulling any levers of power in Egypt?
WATSON: You know, I would argue that he was kind of made the fall guy. He was given away basically, he was placed on trial while many of the former elements of the regime are still very much in place.
And while there was celebration when Mubarak was convicted as an accomplice to the deaths of hundreds of protesters earlier this month, many of his senior aides who were also implicated in that were acquitted, and that was greeted with fury by Egyptian revolutionaries, by the relatives of the hundreds of people who were killed.
And that was shown as evidence to them that very little had changed at the top. And now you have had just now arguably the first free and fair elections, the first time that Egyptians have ever in thousands of years gone to the polls to elect their own leader, their own president and it wasn't clear who was going to win the election. But before the results were even counted, before the official results were even made, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces had gamed the results, had basically seized power, a lot of presidential and legislative powers before the victor was even declared.
That has thrown the Muslim Brotherhood into a very difficult position. Their candidate has been told that, if he wins, he has got to take an oath of office from this constitutional court, the same court that last Thursday declared the Muslim Brotherhood-dominated parliament null and void.
That is a poison chalice he will have to drink from if in fact he has won the election. And the crowd here was chanting Mohammed Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood candidate's name throughout the evening here -- John.
KING: And, Ivan, I want to end on that, going back to the crowd there. Obviously, these pictures of reminiscent of Arab spring, the major moment in Cairo that led to Mubarak having to step down and aside.
On the ground today there, was there any reaction to this report? And how big of an influence -- any love lost I guess would be the words on the ground there in Tahrir Square for Hosni Mubarak?
WATSON: No love lost, of course, and part of this gathering was for the Muslim Brotherhood candidate, Mohammed Morsi, for president who has declared himself president, even though the official results aren't out yet.
Part of what they did was to try to integrate himself with the idea of that revolution of January and February 2011 that caught the eyes of the world and that helped drive Hosni Mubarak out of power after nearly 30 years as the head of state here.
They were trying to regain some of that revolutionary fervor and some of that credibility, because, of course, he has been, Mohammed Morsi has been cast away by some of those same Tahrir Square revolutionaries that were calling for democracy. There was a boycott movement during the course of this presidential election, and there were also millions of people who voted against him, who voted in fact for Hosni Mubarak's handpicked prime minister, Ahmed Shafiq.
Many of them voted for him on the grounds that they were tired of these types of protests, tired of the economic hardship and downturn that Egypt has suffered since Mubarak stepped down. They were voting for Ahmed Shafiq, many of them, because they saw him as a source of stability and, of course, his campaign is still arguing that they, in fact, won the election.
So there are many questions in the air right now in Egypt. Is the former dictator alive or dead? Who is the president of this country, and whoever is elected, will he have any power, or is it going to be these shadowing army generals who are still running the show, as some would argue they have done for decades in this country, John?
KING: Ivan Watson tracking the breaking news for us in Cairo with the huge crowd, tens of thousands in Tahrir Square.
We're going to move from this major breaking international story. We will continue to stay on top of it.
But I want to take you live immediately now to Capitol Hill. That's the U.S. attorney general Eric Holder. He's just met with chairman of the House committee that's threatening to hold the attorney general in contempt of Congress. Let's listen.
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)
ERIC HOLDER, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: ... to do that at this point. I hope he will change his mind.
(CROSSTALK) QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) leadership to try to head this off?
HOLDER: I don't want to answer that question.
QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) Isn't that what you're asking him to do?
HOLDER: No, not necessarily.
QUESTION: Not necessarily or are you?
HOLDER: No, no. I'm saying that we have made an offer that we will make these things available on the condition that subpoena would be considered resolved, and to the extent that there are other questions that might be generated as a result of our turning over these documents, we are prepared to answer those questions.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you. Thank you.
QUESTION: What clearly -- what needs to be done to break the logjam?
KING: You see the attorney general of the United States there walking away from reporters.
He just had a meeting with Darrell Issa. He's the chairman of the House Governor Reform and Oversight Committee. That committee and now the full House of Representatives threatening to hold the attorney general of the United States, the top law enforcement officer of the United States, now under the threat of a contempt citation because those Republican lawmakers say he has not done enough.
And in fact they accuse him of stonewalling an investigation into a program called Fast and Furious. That was a program set up initially to track gun sales to Mexican drug cartels. Instead, the program went awry. U.S. guns went to the cartels, one of them found at the slaying of a U.S. Border Patrol agent.
The Republicans on that committee and the Republican House now prepared to cite Eric Holder, to vote a contempt citation. You heard the attorney general there saying he came to Capitol Hill to see if he could reach compromise with Darrell Issa, the chairman of that committee, and he said he was unable to do that.
He said there were still offers on the table, but unable to at this point. That dramatic meeting on Capitol Hill breaking up. We will go back to that story as well.
It's a busy night in breaking news. As we just told you, there are conflicting reports out of Cairo, Egypt, tonight about the health of the former president, Hosni Mubarak. He stepped down more than a year ago because of demonstrations in Tahrir Square, demanding change, the most dramatic moment of the Arab spring, the 30-year, more than 30-year ruler of Egypt stepping aside.
Let's bring in my colleague, CNN international anchor Hala Gorani. She's at the State Department tonight.
And, Hala, when you hear these conflicting reports, the Middle East News Agency says he has been declared clinically dead, a general who is a member of the military council telling CNN, no, he has a health scare, but he is in critical condition, but not clinically dead, my question to you, someone who knows the region so well, is this a case where you just have honest conflicting information or do people involved here have agendas that have led to these rumors to be cycled in the past?
HALA GORANI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think I would agree with your second statement there that of course in a situation that's so confusing and so chaotic in a country like Egypt, you are going to have people making statements.
Some have accused perhaps those closest to Hosni Mubarak to exaggerate his health problems so he would be moved from prison to a cushy hospital suite. But we understand now from several sources that it seems as though his health situation really is pretty dire.
The question is, is he clinically dead, is he really on death's door, did he have a stroke, did he have a heart attack, is he in a coma right now, which is another report we're receiving? John, when I look at the situation in Egypt now, there was nothing two years ago that was more stable than an Arab dictatorship.
And right now one day, you have one winner of a presidential election, the next day, it is another winner, the third day, both are claiming victory. One day, Hosni Mubarak is alive. The next day, perhaps he is clinically dead; 20 minutes later, someone denies that. One day, you have a parliament that is democratically elected. A few months later, it is dissolved.
One day, the military says it will leave. The next day, it issues a constitutional amendment grabbing more power for itself. There's confusion and so much uncertainty in this country. And why does it matter? Because Egypt is a very important country in the region.
It is the most populous Arab country. It's a crucial American ally as well and what happens there sets precedents for the rest of the region and whether or not other countries will go down their own road to what they hope will be a more democratic, open system, John.
KING: Hala, this is -- many people might view this as a cold question, and I don't mean it to be a heartless question, but my question is in this case, Hosni Mubarak, when you get these reports, he was called the pharaoh, he ruled more than 30 years since the Anwar Sadat assassination.
In terms of the future political course his country will take, does it matter whether he is dead or alive?
GORANI: That is a actually -- some might call it a cold question; it is a good question, though.
And I think the answer to that question is what did he represent symbolically that people will feel is gone when he is gone?
And I think not much. You have to remember, Hosni Mubarak was a military man who traded in his uniform for a suit, but not just him. His predecessor, Anwar Sadat, was a military man who traded in his uniform for a suit. So what are we going to see in Egypt? Will it be more military men in uniform holding on to power, which is the concern that some people have after they issued this declaration, this addendum to the Constitution, grabbing more power, or will eventually some form of democracy end up settling in to Egypt?
And I think that's going to be the answer to the question of whether or not his death matters. It's more a symbolic moving on, rather than really this one dictator that has been the leader of this country or was up until February of 2011, for most Egyptians most of their lives, John.
KING: Mubarak used to mean stability in the region.
KING: Now it's much bigger of a question mark.
Hala Gorani at the State Department will continue to work her sources. Our correspondents in Cairo and around the world working theirs as well. We will have more on this developing, breaking news in Egypt, also more -- we will get as many details as we can of the attorney general's dramatic meeting on Capitol Hill. You just saw that. It's breaking up.
But, next, more breaking news -- today's dramatic developments in the Jerry Sandusky trial. Sandusky's wife tells the jury she never saw any sexual abuse, but says one of her husband's accusers -- quote -- "had his problems."
KING: Turning now to dramatic developments today in the trial of the former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky today.
Sandusky's wife, Dottie, took the stand today and she said she didn't witness any sexual abuse by her husband. But listen to what she did say about one of the young men -- quote -- "He had his problems. He was demanding, conniving, and didn't listen a lot."
Let's bring in our national correspondent, Susan Candiotti, live in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania.
Susan, Sandusky's lawyers obviously trying to cast doubt on the alleged victims' testimony, saying they're making up these claims. It is risky. Did they make their point?
SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, they tried to make their point. And certainly, short of hearing Jerry Sandusky himself on the stand, one of the most anticipated witnesses, Dottie Sandusky.
She was on the stand, John, for 45 minutes. She was composed throughout. She defended her husband. She said she never heard any noises coming from the basement, where some of the accusers said alleged attacks took place.
She said she never saw any inappropriate conduct, and she took issue with one of the accusers in this case who said that during a bowl game that Dottie Sandusky walked in on him and her husband when they were both in a compromising position, as Sandusky was about to allegedly about to assault, sexually assault this young man.
She said instead that when she walked in, she saw her husband yelling at a boy because he wouldn't go to a dinner that night for which they had paid $50 for a ticket. The key question came from prosecutors when they said, well, why do you think all these boys, these young men now would lie?
And she said, I don't know.
But, John, what we're really waiting to find out now is whether Jerry Sandusky will take the stand before the defense wraps its case. His defense attorneys tell us they haven't made the final call just yet -- John.
KING: Dramatic call they have to make.
Susan Candiotti outside the courthouse for us tonight, Susan, thank you.
Let's get some perspective now from former federal prosecutor Wendy Murphy.
Wendy, you just heard Susan Candiotti right saying stay tuned. Do you think -- you're a former prosecutor. But if you were Jerry Sandusky's lawyer, would you let him go on the stand?
WENDY MURPHY, FORMER PROSECUTOR: Not unless I wanted to be sued for malpractice after the fact.
I don't mean to laugh about it. I have offered to eat my shoe just to prove how strongly I feel that he won't take the stand, because it will be a disaster. Among other things, the prosecution would be able to go over each and every victim's testimony with a fine-tooth comb with him on the stand for hours, if not days.
That's not good for the defense, period. So I don't see that happening. I think Dottie in a sense is a theatrical expression of Jerry, and in a sense, the defense is trying to persuade the jury that she's a seemingly nice woman, he can't be that dangerous because a woman like her wouldn't be married to a guy like that.
And, you know, I think it doesn't matter. A jury expects a wife to lie for her husband. I'm not sure she watched any abuse or much of the abuse. But the jury probably says, who cares? He would hide it. Why would he do it in front of her? She's the wife. She's going to lie for him. We give it no weight.
That's why the prosecution didn't even cross-examine her, which I'm sure was perceived as very insulting to the defense and powerful to the jury. We don't even want to cross-examine her, because she didn't make a dent in our case.
KING: But you say didn't make a dent in our case. There's a risk there though that you are passing up an opportunity?
MURPHY: Yes. But if there's nothing to be gained because you feel like you have got a slam-dunk case, why bother? It's really powerful to...
KING: We lost our signal there obviously with Wendy in Boston. Our apologies for that, a little technical issue. Our apologies to Wendy. We will keep in touch with her as the case continues.
Still ahead here, J.P. Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon returns to Capitol Hill and runs into a buzz saw, much tougher questions this time on the House side about his bank's $2 billion loss. We will hear from one of the lawmakers who led the charge, Democrat Barney Frank.
Plus, Mitt Romney makes a point of saying, yes, yes, yes, yes, don't believe what you're hearing. He is vetting Marco Rubio as a possible vice president.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
KING: You see the live pictures there. I'm going to stop for a second so you can listen, chanting tonight in Tahrir Square, this a political protest, the Egyptians' presidential election now up in the air, both candidates claiming victory.
Crowds, you see them by the thousands in Tahrir Square demonstrating for their candidate, also urging the military council to yield power.
And complicating that story tonight, this dramatic development -- conflicting reports about the health of the former president, Hosni Mubarak. The Middle East News Agency reports he is clinically dead, although a general on military council telling CNN he is in critical condition, but says the former president's health is not quite that dire.
We're continuing to track that breaking news, as well as the political demonstrations there.
KING: Coming up: more from tonight's meeting between lawmakers and the attorney general, Eric Holder, who may be cited for contempt of Congress.
Plus, Democratic Congressman Barney Frank tells us about today's confrontation with J.P. Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon over the bank's multibillion-dollar loss.
KING: Tonight's dramatic international breaking news story. You see the picture there, the president -- the former president of Egypt, Hosni Mubarak. There are questions tonight about his health. At the very moment, crowds by the tens of thousands -- you see them -- they're gathered in Tahrir Square to protest relating to the recent presidential election in Egypt.
My colleague from CNN international, Christiane Amanpour joins us on the phone from Egypt.
Christiane, one report says President Mubarak is clinically dead, a general on the military council telling us he is in dire, critical condition but not clinically dead. You were the last person to interview Hosni Mubarak before he stepped down, almost a year and a half ago. Help us understand the significance of this man and the moment.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNNI CORRESPONDENT (via phone): Well, John, President Mubarak' health has been systematically declining ever since he did step down back in February of 2011.
Remarkably, alone amongst all the Arab dictators in this Arab Spring, Mubarak was the only one to actually cede the voices of people and, after 18 days of protest, he did step down.
And again, he's been the only one to face justice in his own country at the hands of the people. And he was convicted back in June the 3, a few weeks ago, and sent from a military hospital where he had been throughout the legal process to a prison.
Sources close to the family, folks in the know, tell me that there were not the kind of medical conditions that were necessary for someone of Mubarak's failing health. They didn't have the technological support nor the medical doctors there. And so he has been progressively declining since he was moved to that Tora prison on June 3.
Mubarak, as you know for a long, long time, more than 30 years in power, was a very, very close and loyal ally of the United States, and indeed of Israel, as well. And when I spoke to him just shortly before he stepped down in February of 2011, he said to me that he was fed up. He knew that he had to step down, he would step down, and that he wanted to do so, though, after a period of transition. He said to me that there would be chaos otherwise.
And of course, what we're seeing in Egypt now is not chaos. It's most definitely political gridlock and political confusion. And you see the military having effectively taken over and stripped all power of any president, Democratically elected or not right now.
Mubarak also said, though, that he wanted his dignity preserved, and he hoped that he would be able to slip away into exile, not from the country. He told me he would never flee Egypt, but that he would die on Egyptian soil. That he hoped he would be able to live out his years away from the glare and away from power, and stepping down would be enough. And he hoped, and he counted on the military to protect him. After all, he was one of them.
And I think from what I can tell from the reporting I've done, from the people I've spoken to, he felt very, very betrayed. Not so much by the people of Egypt, but by those who he was closest to. The military and, indeed, by the United States and others. You remember the U.S. insisted that he step down.
And there was never a public accounting for Mubarak's allies, for Mubarak's loyalty and for his friendship and for the fact that he had been such a long-standing ally of the United States.
I did speak to the Israeli president, Shimon Peres, last week when he was in Washington, receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Obama. And I asked him about President Mubarak. And he said, "Look, from my point of view, he demands respect. He was -- he kept the peace. He kept to the Camp David peace accord. And because of him, Peres said to me, there has been no major war in the Middle East for 30 years."
So to put him in some perspective, it was very interesting to hear a statesman talking about somebody who had been their partner for all these years -- John.
KING: Christiane Amanpour of CNN International in Egypt. Christiane, thank you for that important reporting and perspective. We'll keep in touch in the hours ahead as we try to sort through the conflicting information about the health of the former Egyptian president, Hosni Mubarak.
Moving back to a dramatic story here stateside today. Unlike the polite reception he received in the Senate, a fiery hearing today in the House side as JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon faced a firing squad over why he couldn't detect or stop his bank's multi-billion-dollar trading loss. Dimon was persistent, though, in assuring his company was financially stable but couldn't avoid this question.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you too big to fail?
JAMIE DIMON, CEO, JPMORGAN CHASE: No. We're not too big to fail.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Joining me now is the ranking member of the committee that grilled Dimon, Democratic Congressman Barney Frank of Massachusetts. Congressman, it's good to see you. In an odd way today -- your name is on Dodd-Frank. That is the big legislation that was passed after the meltdown a couple of years ago. In an odd way, Republicans -- some of the Republicans in that hearing room today didn't seem to want to question Jamie Dimon as much as they wanted to question the effectiveness of your bill. REP. BARNEY FRANK (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Well, that's right. Although the bill obviously has not yet got fully into force, and by the way, that's probably because of their obstruction. They have refused to provide the funds that we need to get some of these rules adopted.
So the question was not whether the bill has taken effect, although some of it already has, like having capital requirements that helped calm things down.
But the key point for me was precisely the question of the bill. And Mr. Dimon made a terrible mistake, it seemed to me, intellectually. He wanted to talk only about his bank, his bank was well capitalized, and they finally caught this mistake after 3 billion or whatever. it didn't threaten the system. That's true.
But our point was, first of all, there are other banks that are not as well capitalized, and it might have gotten worse. The issue to me today was should we continue with a Republican effort to repeal in effect or render ineffective the derivative regulation of the financial reform bill.
Derivatives are a very serious problem. They were unregulated for many years. We then put in some legislation to regulate them, and the Republicans have begun a campaign to kind of undermine that, by not funding it, by trying to have an exemption there and an exception there.
And the argument is a well-run bank like JPMorgan is, runs into funds and derivatives, I know this is not the time to repeal the regulations but rather one to make sure they go into effect.
KING: You heard the question at the top, too big to fail. And Jamie Dimon said no. That was the question during the hearing: might you fail at all? Listen to his answer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DIMON: I don't think there's any chance we're going to fail, but if we did, any losses the government would bear should go back, be charged to the banks.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is it fair to say that JPMorgan could have losses of a half a trillion dollars or a trillion dollars?
DIMON: Not unless this earth is hit by a moon.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Is that a glib answer or smart answer?
FRANK: Well, it's half smart. I'm not the astronomy expert or the horror movie expert, so I wouldn't talk about the earth moon. But the first part of what you said is true.
In the bill which is now law, it does say that, if a large institution is too indebted and needs help, unlike 2008 when AIG got money from the federal government, in this case, in the first place, the institution will be dissolved. The officers will be fired, the board of directors will be dissolved, the shareholders will lose everything.
At that point, the federal government has to spend some money getting this thing wound down. That money comes back in an assessment that's already in the law that the secretary of the treasury applies to large financial institutions. So in that sense, there is no more too big to fail. If, in fact, you can't pay your debts, the secretary of the treasury would be violating federal law to help you.
We repealed the part of the law that the Federal Reserve used in 2008 to give money to AIG. So in that part, he was accurate. Nobody left is too big to fail.
I do say that they may be a large institution which would cause some disruption as it failed. In that case, we do allow there to be some spending to try and buffer that, but every penny spent will be automatically recouped from the large financial institutions, and the taxpayers will pay nothing.
KING: And you wanted to see whether his own pay would be used to recoup some of the losses? Will it be?
FRANK: I was disappointed by his answer. He's made a big point of saying there would be call backs, which is something mandated in the law. That you can't promise people a bonus if things go well but nothing if they go badly.
And he said, there were going to be people, who are responsible, have to lose some compensation. I asked him if that would include his compensation. I would have hoped he would have said, "Well, that should be considered like anybody else." Instead, he said, "Oh, that's up to the board, and I can't tell the board what to do." Which is nonsense. He and the board are very interactive, and he's making recommendations all the time.
So his failure to include himself in the list of people whose compensation might be reduced as a result of this I think is poor leadership, leaving everything else aside, and poor public relations.
KING: Passing the buck, I think, is what we call that in Washington.
FRANK: Or keeping the buck.
KING: Keeping -- that's not passing the buck. I guess that's a better way to put it, Congressman. Appreciate your time tonight.
FRANK: Thank you.
KING: We continue to cover this story. Thank you, sir.
The attorney general, Eric Holder, could be slapped with a contempt of Congress citation tomorrow. A short time ago, he was on Capitol Hill with a closed-door meeting with lawmakers from both parties discussing a program that went awry, called Fast and Furious. It was supposed to trace weapons smuggling but ended up helping Mexican drug cartels acquire guns from the United States.
And one of those guns, tragically, was found at the scene of a murdered U.S. Border Patrol agent.
Republican lawmakers say Holder not only isn't cooperating. They say he stonewalled their investigation. Our congressional correspondent, Kate Bolduan, with us now.
Kate, he came up for a meeting to try to reach a resolution to keep a contempt citation. What happened?
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, that resolution was definitely not reached. I mean, this is a real ratcheting up of the tensions here. And this has been battle, as you know, John, that has been going on for months, between the Republican chairman of the House Oversight Committee and the attorney general, the president's top law- enforcement official.
I mean, this was -- this meeting was billed as a way to try to, a last-ditch effort to avoid moving forward with this contempt of Congress vote that Chairman Issa has threatened. And they came out of this really showing that there is no progress made.
Chairman Issa came to the microphones and spoke with reporters. He said they met for 20 minutes, and that it was more of a restating of positions. Afterwards, the attorney general came to the microphones. He spoke and said that the ball was in the -- in Chairman Issa's court. Both sides pointing the finger at the other, saying that it's up to the other side to try to break the impasse, to move forward to reach a resolution over this long-fought battle over the House Oversight Committee's investigation into the botched Fast and Furious operation.
I'll tell you, Elijah Cummings, the ranking Democrat on this House Oversight Committee, he spoke with reporters, as well, and he said that he believed that the chairman, Chairman Issa, had made up his mind before he even went into the meeting today to move forward with this vote. I asked the attorney general about just that. Listen to what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ERIC HOLDER, ATTORNEY GENERAL: Given the extraordinary nature of the offer that we made, and given the extraordinary way in which we have shared materials to date, that I think we are actually involved more in political gamesmanship, as opposed to trying to get some information they say they lack.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: But John, bottom line, this really comes down to this ongoing investigation from the House Oversight Committee. The attorney general, though. says that they have provided more than 7,000 documents of pages relating to this investigation and the operation, that they've done more than enough to try to move forward with this.
He says that he's offering additional documentation, but it's coming down to, really, a faceoff, if you will. They are at an impasse. Chairman Issa said that he believes there's time to avoid the contempt vote, which is scheduled for 10 a.m. tomorrow, if the attorney general and Department of Justice provides more documentation, we will have to see if that happens before tomorrow's vote.
KING: Clock ticking on that one. We'll stay on top of it. Kate Bolduan on Capitol Hill. Kate, thanks.
Coming up here, how an incumbent president in a bad economy is trying to change the campaign playbook and increase his support one voting bloc at a time.
KING: First a question. If Mitt Romney changed his position on same sex marriage and immigration in the span of a month, do you think the conversation would be about how brilliant it was? I think not.
But tonight's "Truth" is more about the politics of the moment than a double standard. There are two campaigns under way. Governor Romney hopes to tap into economic anxiety that you can find from coast to coast. His, more or less, a single-issue campaign.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: People of Michigan want someone who would get the job done, not just talk politics, but talk jobs and make America the right place for employers to come back, to grow jobs, to grow incomes, and to make our future brighter and strong, and I'll do it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Now, the president's challenge is very, very different. Yes, the economy is by far the No. 1 issue for him, too. But he knows the history. Any incumbent in tough times takes a hit. But he needs to work his base piece by piece and turn out every last vote.
Endorsing same-sex marriage, for example, energizes the left. And it is Latino voter intensity the president is after with the new immigration policy about face.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is not amnesty. This is not immunity. This is not a path to citizenship. It's not a permanent fix.
(END VIDEO CLIP) KING: Now the shift has some Republicans hopping mad. Even as they mutter under their breath, it's a clever political move.
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REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: The president himself who said the last couple years that he couldn't do this. And so the question remains whether he's violating the Constitution.
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KING: Now Mitt Romney had hoped a new Republican plan to help younger illegal immigrants get legal status would help him begin to fix what you'd have to call a crisis among Latino voters.
But president Obama beat Romney and the GOP to the punch and is already benefiting. Look at these numbers: 64 percent of likely voters in a Bloomberg News poll support the president's policy shift. And all Governor Romney can do is paint it as a diversion.
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ROMNEY (via phone): You will see throughout the next four months or so, the president continually trying to change the subject from the economy. And, of course, to a certain degree, it works. You know?
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KING: Let's talk truth tonight with Yahoo! News Washington bureau chief David Chalian, Democratic strategist and CNN political contributor Maria Cardona, and Republican strategist and CNN political contributor Ana Navarro.
So your guy is boxed in. What does he say now when he goes to a big Latino event later next week where he had hoped to be able to say, "Here's what I'm going to do"?
ANA NAVARRO, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, we'll see. He hasn't spoken, really, about immigration since the primary. I think this is a big day.
KING: Does it disappoint you that he won't even say what he would do on day one if he wins? If -- whether he would leave this temporary order of the president in place? He says, "I want to deal with this long-term with legislation." But he won't say what happens on day one, day two, day three, month four, month five as you try to figure that out.
NAVARRO: Well, you know, he doesn't need to. Four years ago at this same conference that both Obama and Romney are going to be at this -- this week, Barack Obama said -- gave a deadline. Said "In one year I'm going to do immigration reform." And he didn't.
And yes, John, this is going to give Barack Obama a bump with Latino voters, no ifs, ands or buts. The question is how long will it last, how big will it be? Because at the end of the day, he still has not delivered on his immigration promise. He promised a diamond ring to the Latino community. And after three and a half years, when we saw that we were falling out of love with him, he showed up with a cubic zirconia.
KING: That's good.
NAVARRO: That's what Mitt Romney has got to...
KING: But for Mitt Romney, it's a fair policy question. If you take office next January 20, and this policy is in place, you're not going to be able to change the policy. If he can get it done in six months, God bless him. Immigration's become quicksand.
It's a fair policy question. Why won't he answer? Because if he says, "I will leave the president's order in place," the right gets mad?
DAVID CHALIAN, YAHOO! NEWS WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF: Exactly. See, part of this boxing in is Mitt Romney's own doing. He boxed himself in during the nomination season. And you'll recall, right after he became the nominee, John, he was in Pennsylvania with Marco Rubio standing next to him. He was asked about the Rubio plan that was coming up. And he said he'll take a look at that. He wasn't ready to embrace it then.
So he's created this place where he still feels the need to not offend the right on this issue, so therefore, he can't answer the question.
KING: Base, base, base election. Everybody is afraid. Everybody's spread out. Our friend here mentioned Marco Rubio. This morning, ABC News, John Call (ph), a fascinating reporter, good guy, used to work here. He has good sources. Says Marco Rubio's not being vetted. Governor Romney tonight deciding he had to publicly disagree. Let's listen.
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ROMNEY: There are only two people in this country who know who are being vetted and who are not. And that's Beth Myers and myself. And I know Beth well. She doesn't talk to anybody.
The story was entirely false. Marco Rubio is being thoroughly vetted as part of our process.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Not to disagree with the governor, but there are never just two people. Inside his campaign there might be just two people. But Marco Rubio has a chief of staff. He has a council. Everybody who's vetted, somebody finds out.
The candidate finds out, then their lawyer finds out, then their spouse finds out. Then sometimes their friends and family find out because of the questions. Do you think Marco Rubio is really being vetted? MARIA CARDONA, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: I think that he said that because he was forced to say it because of whatever was leaked. Whether it was from the Romney campaign or from the Rubio campaign, it was a mistake.
Because now Mitt Romney is yet again in another box, trying to say, "Oh, yes, by the way, Marco Rubio is being vetted." And now it doesn't look like it's actually true. And I think that that's going to hurt him yet again with Latino voters, if it's possible to hurt him even more with Latino voters, because they're going to see it as a snub.
I mean, as a Democrat and as a Latina, I actually took a little offense to it, too. Because he's been letting Marco Rubio hang out there as a possibility for a VP candidate.
KING: But Romney did go through this process last time with the McCain people. And he didn't like it. No. 1, he didn't like it because of how cumbersome the vetting was, and No. 2, he didn't like it because in the end, they picked Sarah Palin. And forgive me, Governor Romney wouldn't say this publicly, didn't think that was the best choice.
If you look at the list right now, you hear Senator Portman. You hear Governor Pawlenty. Senator Thune, you're starting to hear a little bit more about. Then you hear Rubio. Then there's Mitch Daniels, who's going to Perdue University, apparently. Mitch Daniels, Chris Christie, Bobby Jindal, sort of your second-tier list. Why -- why does he have to say publicly he's vetting Marco Rubio if he's not?
NAVARRO: Well, first of all, I think that Marco Rubio is being vetted now. We don't know when that vetting began. But I think that right now Marco Rubio is being vetted. And I'm glad for that, because he deserves the consideration.
KING: So does his accountant.
NAVARRO: You know, I'm beginning to think that Mitt Romney did this so that Latino Democrats would actually come in defense of Marco Rubio. This is a first in this campaign. And I think it's -- I think it's a brilliant move.. I congratulate Mitt Romney.
KING: You can triangulate it.
CARDONA: But here -- here is where actually at the end of the day I don't think it matters. Because obviously, at the end of the day, it's going to be the candidate that Latino voters and everybody else are going to vote for.
And the box that Mitt Romney has painted himself into, whether -- and it doesn't matter whether -- with the Democrats if it's a cubic zirconium or a diamond, we believe a real relationship. And President Obama has had a real relationship with Latinos. Mitt Romney has absolutely zero relationship and zero credibility on anything that he talks to...
NAVARRO: A one-year vow. And he didn't deliver.
KING: I need to call time out to our political conversation tonight because of breaking news. We'll come back; we'll continue this. I suspect you could keep going, too.
A lot of breaking news to follow tonight, including out of Egypt. We'll be right back.
KING: Breaking news, live pictures of Cairo, Egypt. CNN's unmatched resources tracking conflicting reports tonight about the health of the former Egyptian president, Hosni Mubarak. Our coverage will continue in the hours ahead.
We'll see you back here tomorrow night. "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.