Return to Transcripts main page
THE SITUATION ROOM
Tiffany: Costco Selling Counterfeit Rings; Meteor Blast Injures More Than a Thousand People; Obama's New Cabinet in Limbo
Aired February 15, 2013 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KATE BOLDUAN, HOST: Happening now, a massive blast as a meteor explodes with the force of an atomic bomb over Russia, injuring at least 1,000 people.
Also, heart attacks killing kids. In fact, it's the number one killer of student athletes.
Dr. Sanjay Gupta has the facts parents need to know.
And a lawmaker's secret daughter revealed by a Tweet. Congressman Steve Cohen is here to talk about the child he didn't know existed for two decades.
We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world.
Wolf is off today.
I'm Kate Bolduan.
You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BOLDUAN: The sound of massive explosions over Western Russia as a meteor plunging toward the Earth blasted apart with the force of an atomic weapon. The shock waves powerful enough to knock over walls and shatter windows.
Russian state media reports some 3,000 buildings damaged and at least 1,000 people have been injured, many by flying glass. Twenty thousand emergency responders have been dispatched in the aftermath.
CNN's meteorologist, Chad Myers, is looking closer into the disaster.
CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Take a look at this -- a stunning close up view of a meteor as it moves quickly toward Earth. Here it is from another angle, just further away -- so close, it seems as if it's just over this buildings' rooftop. Amazing.
This meteor show happened at around 9:20 in the morning local time in one of the most remote places on Earth, the Ural Mountains of Western Russia.
A picture worth a thousand words. But the story of this powerful meteor is just beginning to unfold. As captivating as it was, it also caused a lot of damage.
Here, evidence of the force of this meteor as the windows of an office building shattered. Russia's Interior Ministry says 270 buildings sustained some type of damage, mostly from broken glass, the result of the shock wave caused by the blast.
In this video, we can see and hear the moments as the meteor exploded.
DR. VLADIMIR BASMANNIKOV, CHELYABINSK HOSPITAL SURGEON: The wounds that we received included people with mainly incised and contused wounds, all due to windows and window frames all breaking and flying around. And you see here the result, how many people are here.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
BOLDUAN: And our Chad Myers is joining me now -- Chad, I mean the video is truly amazing. I've watched it over and over again today.
BOLDUAN: And, clearly, this does not happen every day.
BOLDUAN: But how unusual is an event like this?
MYERS: I just got off a call-in with NASA. The last time we've had something this big was 1908, 1908, over 100 years ago.
This was an asteroid about 50 feet around that entered the Earth's atmosphere and exploded. It was a rocky asteroid. So we've talked about meteors. Meteors are typically known as metal. And you find them on the ground. This was a rock that entered the atmosphere, heated up to probably 40,000 degrees, and then exploded 12 miles above the surface of the Earth.
There it comes. It gets hot. As it gets hot, it can't stay together anymore and it exploded. Three hundred kilotons was that explosion, as it entered the Earth's atmosphere and exploded.
And people don't understand. And I just kind of want to get into this. If parts of this, if any of the rock actually hit the ground, those are called meteorites, things you can pick up. Otherwise, it's an asteroid and a meteor. If you can't find any of it, then we don't call it a meteorite.
BOLDUAN: Yes, the lingo is confusing in and of itself.
MYERS: Yes, I know.
BOLDUAN: But we actually have two kind of space events that are going on today.
I mean was this incident in Russia, we can call, is that connected in any way to the asteroid that passed by the Earth just a few hours ago?
MYERS: You know, we've been talking about this event now for six months, a -- a very big asteroid, I mean as big as a 15-story apartment building in New York -- came between us and our satellites. The Earth here, the satellites that we use for communication, for DirecTV, Dish, for you and I talking to each other, between us and out the other side, missed us by 17,000 miles.
But the one that we missed that we knew was coming that missed us was coming from the south. The one that hit us today in Russia was coming from the north. So they are not related whatsoever.
I -- you know, there's a word coincidence and some people don't believe in coincidences, but that was a big one.
BOLDUAN: Yes. Well, I'm sure that conversation and the conspiracy theories on that will continue, as well.
BOLDUAN: Chad, thanks so much.
We'll talk to you soon.
MYERS: You're welcome.
BOLDUAN: Here in Washington, growing concerns about President Obama's new cabinet, with many key nominees still in limbo and the clock clearly ticking on a number of critical issues.
Let's bring in our chief White House correspondent, Jessica Yellin, for more on this -- Jessica, it's been a tough week for President Obama and his nominees.
JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Kate. And the president has said he is frustrated with the process. But it doesn't matter for him right now, because the Senate is on recess, and so -- that means so is the effort to get his team in place.
YELLIN (voice-over): Up in the air, the future of the president's nominees for Defense secretary. CIA director and Treasury secretary. Tim Geithner already left the job.
The choice that's gotten the most attention is the president's pick for Defense, former Senator Chuck Hagel. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) angry about the Hagel (INAUDIBLE)?
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you, everybody.
It's good to see you again. I haven't seen you in a while.
YELLIN: Hagel already lost one vote in the Senate and his next chance for a do-over is one week away.
The longer he hangs out there, the more time critics have to find problems.
Senator McCain told Fox News...
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, COURTESY FOX NEWS)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: There's a lot of ill will toward Senator Hagel because when he was a Republican, he attacked President Bush mercilessly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
YELLIN: Also in limbo, the president's pick for CIA, John Brennan. He's one of the the president's most trusted White House a various.
First, one Republican said, he'd hold up Brennan's confirmation until he got answers about drone use in the US.
The president said this...
OBAMA: There has never been a drone used on an American citizen on American soil.
YELLIN: Then critics warned they might hold up Brennan over something else -- the talking points that led administration officials to say that the attack in Benghazi was sparked by a protest.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: When Brennan comes before the Congress, we're going to -- we're going to find out who changed those talking points or die trying.
YELLIN: Then there's Treasury nominee, Jack Lew. His confirmation was meant to be smooth sailing, but Republican senators tell CNN they plan to slow him down over questions about everything from his work at Citigroup to how the White House will overhaul Medicare.
SEN. JEFF SESSIONS (R), ALABAMA: There are a number of problems that could arise and may ripen. I believe that his nomination should not go forward until we get a response from the White House with regard to the Medicare trigger.
YELLIN: Sources say the president is still making decisions about these posts, secretaries of Commerce, Labor, Transportation and Energy, among others. The White House has been looking for women and minorities to fill those roles.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
YELLIN: And, Kate, I'm told that, according to Democrats close to the White House, the president could announce his nominees for those posts or others as early as Tuesday or Wednesday of next week. But the president is still deciding some of them.
Now, I should point out that it is not unusual for the president to have holds on his nominees. When Secretary Clinton was nominated to be secretary of State, she had a hold for a day. Secretary Holder, Eric Holder, the attorney general, was held for a week, and Geithner, Treasury secretary, it took him two months to be confirmed.
But what's frustrating for the administration is they think it's a moving target. The Republicans keep finding different reasons to hold up the picks the president has already announced -- Kate.
BOLDUAN: And at least another week before we see any possible votes on these nominees.
YELLIN: At the very least.
BOLDUAN: Jessica Yellin at the White House.
YELLIN: At the very worst.
BOLDUAN: All right. Thanks, Jessica, much.
Let's talk more about the nomination fight with our chief political analyst, Gloria Borger -- so, Gloria, we -- we were listening to Jessica's piece and the reasons Republicans are giving for why they want more information.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Um-hmm.
BOLDUAN: When you take a step back, though, kind of from the 30,000 foot view, how much do you think Republicans holding these nominations is more about Republicans themselves or is there something else?
BORGER: You know, these things turn into proxy fights.
BORGER: And, for example, as Jessica was pointing out, Benghazi is one of those proxies. You have Republicans very upset about not receiving all of the information, so they say; about what occurred on the night of the attack on the American embassy there. And so they're hold -- you know, they're holding up Hagel and Brennan as part of that.
On the war in Iraq, they don't like the way Hagel behaved on the war in Iraq. So that's about him. They don't think he testified particularly well. That's about him.
But do they like the president's foreign policy?
No. So these things kind of blend. But generally, you could say that for national security Republicans, these two nominees, Brennan on drones, for example, the use of drones, these two nominees become proxies for policies they either question or they don't like.
BOLDUAN: Right. Well, in moving forward, I mean we're moving into the second term and the kind of makeup of Congress is, relatively speaking, the same.
I mean what do you -- how much do you think this will impact, you know, this hold on nominees impact the relationship between Republicans and Democrats?
BOLDUAN: It can't get much worse, can it?
BORGER: -- the White House isn't happy...
BORGER: -- over Hagel. They believe that it's petty to hold him up when they believe that he's going to eventually get confirmed.
So they're not happy about it.
Republicans need to work with this White House on issues like immigration, for example.
Will this make for bad blood?
Would it hold up immigration reform, if it's in the interests of both parties to do it?
I think the person who gets really affected by this, quite honestly, is Chuck Hagel himself, because he's got to go now and lead the Pentagon. And the question is whether this has a spillover into his ability to lead what's kind of an unwieldy building to begin with.
So, you know, this could turn into a problem for him.
BOLDUAN: And work with Congress in terms of many of the issues dealing with...
BORGER: Exactly. And you're...
BOLDUAN: -- the defense (INAUDIBLE)... BORGER: -- and you're facing the automatic spending cuts on the military budget. And so they do have to sort of now turn around and work together. And so there's no doubt it makes it more difficult, particularly on military issues.
BOLDUAN: And when we know that this becomes kind of a -- nominations become kind of proxy fights for other issues...
BOLDUAN: -- do you think this could potentially backfire for Republicans?
BORGER: Well, in talking to Democrats, they clearly believe it can.
BOLDUAN: They sure think so. Right.
BORGER: And they say, you know, bring on the fight. I had one top Democrat say to me that the Republicans looked what he called, quote, "petty and vindictive" when it comes to all of these nominees.
You know, there's a great sense that the president is entitled to the people he wants to have his cabinet, even if you disagree with them or you don't think they are up to snuff. If you don't find any ethical trespasses, then give the president whom he wants. There are a lot of people who believe that, including some Republicans.
BOLDUAN: I mean, you know, talk about petty fights, I think that's all we really see between the White House and Congress at this point.
BORGER: At this point. At this point.
BOLDUAN: So par for the course, I guess, unfortunately.
Gloria, thanks so much.
BOLDUAN: Still ahead, Carnival is slapped with the first lawsuit over that nightmare cruise. The plaintiff calls it "a floating hell." We're live at the port.
Plus, a lawmaker talks to us about the daughter he never knew he had and the Tweet that took their story public.
BOLDUAN: As I'm sure you can only imagine, the Carnival "Triumph" is now facing a massive cleaning operation to remove the raw sewage that created a nightmare for some 3,000 passengers and a thousand crew members. One of them has just filed the first lawsuit, this being a passenger over that cruise described in court papers as, quote, "a floating hell." The investigation into the fire that triggered the crisis is now under way. Obviously, many people interested in that outcome. CNN Sandra Endo is in Mobile, Alabama. So, Sandra, what's the latest?
SANDRA ENDO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kate, investigators are now sifting through the information they retrieved from the ship's so- called black box, the voyage data recorder. And they're trying to piece together how exactly that engine room fire started. This morning, they also interviewed the captain as well as some passengers try to figure out a full account of what happened on board that vessel.
ENDO (voice-over): The crippled carnival "Triumph" received one more tow to undergo repairs and a cleanup in Mobile. Hours after the final passengers got off the ship headed anywhere but back to the stinking vessel where they were trapped for days. Investigators are trying to figure out how the engine fire started.
PATRICK CUTY, COAST GUARD SENIOR MARINE INVESTIGATOR: I would say it was a big fire. The fire is hard to classify. All you need is one fire in the wrong location and it could be as bad as a huge fire.
ENDO: Carnival says the fire broke out last Sunday in an engine room towards the rear of the ship, containing several of the vessel's six engines.
JOSEPH ALVAREZ, PASSENGER ON CARNIVAL TRIUMPH: I looked and saw smoke and I was like, oh, my God.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was an experience where most of us felt like we were going to die and I can't even describe how horrifying it was.
ENDO: The (INAUDIBLE) and maritime officials are the lead investigators since the ship is registered in NASA. U.S. Coast Guard and NTSB officials are also working to figure out what went wrong. Specifically, investigators are looking into the cause of the fire, crew response, engine maintenance, and safety procedures on board the ship.
We spoke to a maritime expert who has participated in these types of investigations which could result in minor safety changes to more drastic measures.
DR. RICHARD BURKE, STATE UNIVERSITY OF NEW YORK MARITIME COLLEGE: There can be sanctions against members of the crew and against the officers. And in the most extreme cases, there could be sanctions against the owners of the ship.
ENDO: An engine fire on Carnival Splendor in 2010 also left thousands of passengers adrift for days in the pacific with no power and limited food. The Coast Guard and the NTSB have not yet released its findings of that incident.
ENDO (on-camera): Now, a senior coast guard investigator CNN spoke with today says that once the fire was put out and the power was shut off, the passengers were never in danger - Kate.
BOLDUAN: And Sandra, what else are you hearing from officials, from investigators about that massive cleanup operation that has happened on board this ship now?
ENDO: Yes, obviously, it's a huge undertaking and interesting to note the investigator that we spoke to said that there was a deck full of perishable food on board, and obviously, when the power went out, they were really concerned about the smell and you would think that maybe they would just throw it overboard, but instead, in compliance of maritime rules, they actually shrink wrap all the perishable food to try to contain that smell.
BOLDUAN: Not envy. The folks that are task with that job this week and weekend. Sandra Endo in Mobile for us. Thanks so much, Sandra.
You can hear more passengers -- really their horror stories and see more pictures of the horrible conditions tonight on a Piers Morgan special called "Triumph and Tragedy on Board: The Nightmare Crews." You want to stick around for that. That's here, of course, 9:00 eastern only on CNN.
Tiffany sues discount warehouse giant, Costco, for millions of dollars. Find out why next.
BOLDUAN: President Obama takes his push for tougher gun control laws to his hometown of Chicago, a city steeped in gun violence. Our Lisa Sylvester is monitoring that and some of the other top stories coming into the SITUATION ROOM right now. What's going on, Lisa?
LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Kate. Well, the president just finished speaking at a high school where among other things he talked about 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton. She was gunned down in Chicago just weeks after she returned from inaugural festivities right here in Washington.
Earlier today, Obama posthumously awarded the presidential citizens medal of the nation second highest civilian honor to six educators killed in the Newtown Connecticut shooting massacre last December.
And in a plea deal file today (ph), former Democratic congressman, Jesse Jackson Jr., admits he and his wife spent about three quarters of a million dollars in campaign funds on personal luxury items including purse (ph) and Michael Jackson memorabilia. The agreement calls for Jackson to pay back hundreds of thousands of dollars.
And the storm-battered town of Seaside Heights, New Jersey is making a comeback from superstorm Sandy. The first piling was driven into the sand today to begin rebuilding its iconic boardwalk. Our affiliate, News 12 New Jersey, reports the mile-long walkway should be completed by May 110th, but amenities like railings, lighting, and ramps will come after that.
And luxury jewelry giant, Tiffany, is suing Costco for millions of dollars in damages, alleging the warehouse club was selling counterfeit versions of its diamond rings, selling rings they advertised as Tiffany diamond engagement rings. The lawsuit which was filed with the U.S. district court is seeking damages equal to triple the amount of any profit Costco made on the sale of the rings, some of which it says are being sold for as much as $6,400.
Now, costco hasn't commented on the lawsuit. But I'm not sure, you know, I bet shoppers if they saw $6,400, they were thinking, is that a real Tiffany diamond or not?
BOLDUAN: Sometimes, it's only if it's in the box that matters.
BOLDUAN: When you see that little box, that's all that matters.
SYLVESTER: That's right. It will look good.
SYLVESTER: Diamonds are --
BOLDUAN: Thanks, Lisa. Oh goodness.
A massive asteroid on a collision course with the Earth when and if it happens, what can be done to prevent a catastrophe? We'll take a closer look at this potential doomsday scenario.
BOLDUAN: A double threat from space today. An asteroid that came disturbingly close to Earth and a meteor that exploded over Western Russia.
The blast had the force of a nuclear bomb and a shockwave shattered windows, even knocked down walls. More than a thousand people were injured, many by flying glass and some 3,000 buildings were damaged. Hours later, an asteroid half the length of a football field came within 17,000 miles of Earth, sounds far, but it's actually kind of close.
Star gazers in Australia, Asia, and Eastern Europe could see this view of the asteroid with the aid of a telescope or binoculars. CNNs Tom Foreman is here with more on both of these outer space events that we come in contact with today. So, Tom, breakdown for our viewers what happened this morning in Russia.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Just an amazing day in space. And yes, the people in Russia got a very rude awakening this morning on the way to work. This explosion of this meteor happened right over their place up here. You can see on the top of the globe up there, and this was a really big explosive event. This meteor came streaking into the atmosphere.
Let's talk about the size of this thing because this is fascinating to think about. It was about 10 tons, only about 10 feet across. This isn't very big but it was going 33,000 miles an hour. That's why it exploded. When these things come out of space, they have gases in them, things like that, and as they heat up and that's superheated friction of our atmosphere, they blow apart. And that's what happened with this.
Actually, about 30 miles above the earth, that's how strong that shockwave was. Look at the damage. You mentioned some of them a minute ago. A thousand people injured, 270 buildings damaged.
This is not linked, however, not linked in any way to 2012 DA-14. I keep having trouble with that name. Because that was the asteroid we were talking about all day. Let me give you some reference points on this because this is important. We always think about the earth as being close to the moon. That's how we talk about. Here's the earth, here's the moon over here, and it's close but it's not really close to the moon.
The moon is actually about a quarter million miles away from the earth. What is close to the earth? Well, satellites are close to the earth. We have them at all different levels. The furthest ones out are about 22,000 miles away from us and this asteroid, we're talking about, came streaking past the southern hemisphere and cut partially through that very group.
If you look at the earth over here and you look at our satellite or the passage of this asteroid, you could see that it cut about 17,000 miles away but within that belt of satellite out there. So it really was pretty close in those terms.
Now it wasn't a big threat, though, because pretty close is pretty far away in space terms -- or at least in earth terms, and it wasn't really that big. When you think about it, this thing was only about 50 yards long. It was traveling about 18,000 miles an hour. That's a big deal. And if it had hit earth, it would have exploded with the force of more than two million tons of dynamite. But there is no real chance it was ever going to do that. Still scientists were watching it awfully closely -- Kate.
BOLDUAN: When you talk about the two -- however would you say, two million tons of --
FOREMAN: Two million tons.
BOLDUAN: Well, what kind of damage would that have done if -- if it had been -- if it had been heading towards earth?
FOREMAN: You know, it's interesting when you talk about that because we actually have sort of an example of what that would do. Many, many, many, many, many, many years ago there was a meteorite that slammed into Arizona. And to this day, you can go near Flagstaff. You can visit Arizona Meteor Crater. It's an amazing, fascinating site to see.
It is believed that the meteorite that struck in this crater was about the same size as the asteroid that passed today but it was about twice as heavy because this was largely made of nickel and iron. Sometimes they're made of more rocks, sometimes more metals. This one was a pretty heavy one, they believe, although they never really found much of anything of it. That's just what they believe from some of the evidence there.
The bottom line is, this crater, if you started walking around the edge there, Kate, that's more than three-quarters of a mile just to go around it. You can imagine the tremendous amount of force it would to take to hit the dry earth and make it explode out that way. That would have killed anything in the immediate vicinity. And by immediate vicinity, I mean many, many miles and it probably would have knocked down trees and everything else for hundreds of miles in all directions.
That's a sense of what that would be done. So it's not really an earth-ending event from an asteroid this size but bear in mind this wasn't a particularly big asteroid. This was only about half the length of a football field and they can be a whole lot bigger than that.
BOLDUAN: Fascinating stuff. Thanks, Tom. You always put a very unique spin on it all. Tom Foreman, thank you.
As Tom was just talking about, you can imagine the devastation if the asteroid or meteor had actually impacted earth. But what can be done if there was one that we could see hurdling towards us?
Lisa Sylvester is looking into this.
Lisa, I'm sure this was a little scary to figure out -- this all out.
LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, you know, Kate. Scientists say there are so many space, rocks, meteors and asteroids out there, and the vast majority of them, we don't even know about. Destroying an asteroid headed toward earth, well, it's been done in science fiction movies but it's never actually been done in real life.
SYLVESTER (voice-over): It was something that came out of the blue. You can hear the frightening sounds. A bright streak across the sky, an explosion and a loud bang. A meteor exploding over Russia. The Russian Interior Ministry says 1,000 people suffered injuries, mostly from broken glass. Scientists were rehashing what happened even as they were keeping their eye on another separate cosmic event, an asteroid passing only about 17,000 miles from earth, closer than our weather and TV satellites in space.
Melissa Hayes (INAUDIBLE) is a scientist at the University of Maryland where they keep a database of asteroids and comics that could pose a problem for earth.
MELISSA HAYES-GEHRKE, SCIENTIST, UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND: We want to get a good idea of what sizes of objects are out there that could possibly hit us and how many of each size objects out there. And we're finding that the really big ones are rare which is great but the small ones are much, much more common such as the one that passed over Russia.
SYLVESTER: But while scientists can see cosmic rocks coming our way, doing something about it is the tricky part. In theory, NASA would be able to knock a threatening incoming asteroid off orbit so it misses earth but there's very little precedent for that. The only thing that comes close was a 2005 mission where NASA steered a probe about the size of a coffee table into an oncoming comic. A project known as Deep Impact. But that was on a much smaller scale.
HAYES-GEHRKE: In principle, it should work because, as I say, that strategy is a very straightforward strategy of just hitting an asteroid with an object. And so with all of the physics theory we have, it should work just fine. But certainly there would be a lot of details in launching a massive object into space, making sure that we guide it correctly so that it will hit the right spot on the asteroid to knock it appropriately -- appropriately off course.
SYLVESTER: Scientists say these events, the meteor in Russia and the asteroid's close call, should be a wakeup call.
If that asteroid instead of missing earth had impacted, say, Washington, D.C., it would have been devastating.
HAYES-GEHRKE: If it's dense enough and it could hit the earth impact then the impact crater itself would not be that big but the effects from the shockwave and the heat from the impact would be enough to basically wipe out everything within the beltway around D.C.
SYLVESTER: Wow. So scientists would not only need to identify that an asteroid is headed towards earth but they would also have -- have to have enough time to do something about it and they say that they would need at least a couple of years to be able to work on a strategy for intercepting or diverting one but the good news, Kate, is that the technology is out there.
BOLDUAN: Years. They need a lot of planning time.
SYLVESTER: Yes, they would at least need a couple of years.
SYLVESTER: Because again this has never been done before.
SYLVESTER: I mean, you know, you see in the movies and you see that they'll send out a space team --
BOLDUAN: It's hardly been worked out. Right.
SYLVESTER: But the logistics of it, the science of it, they know is there, the technology is there but actually putting it all together, that's actually never been done before -- Kate.
BOLDUAN: Let's hope that they don't ever have to be tested.
BOLDUAN: Thank you so much.
There's more on the doomsday scenario and more video of the meteor that you can see much more on our Web site. Go to CNN.com. Check it out. All good stuff.
Still ahead a tweet reveals a lawmaker's secret daughter, a child he wasn't aware of for two decades. Congressman Steve Cohen is here to tell his story.
BOLDUAN: The Twitter verse was buzzing during the State of the Union speech this week but one tweet in particular drew quite a lot of attention. It was from Congressman Steve Cohen, a married Tennessee Democrat whose district includes much of Memphis, and it was this -- and this is the tweet that raised eyebrows to a woman with a Twitter handle "Victoria Brink," reading, "Nice to know you were watching the State of the Union. Happy Valentine's Day. Happy Valentine's, beautiful girl. I love you."
The tweet sparked so many questions, really a flurry of questions, who is the woman Cohen was communicating with so intimately? It turns out it was his daughter. A woman he didn't even know existed until just a few years ago.
Congressman Steve Cohen is joining me from Capitol Hill.
Congressman, thanks so much for joining me. I mean, this really created quite a bit of buzz. So tell us the story. How did you find out that Victoria was your daughter? She's now 24 years old.
REP. STEVE COHEN (D), TENNESSEE: Well, I knew her mother a long time ago and had been to an event where I thought about her mother. I liked her mother. I Googled her one night and saw that she had given birth to a beautiful young lady and kind of went back to nine months before and that was the time when we were involved. And so it kind of made me think and there were some other factors that were thrown in and then I Googled her -- Googled her and I Facebooked Victoria and she friended me, which was kind of news to me.
But she friended me, I didn't know too much about Facebook, I know not too much about Twitter, either, I guess, but I'm -- and my staff people looked at her pictures and they said, I think she's your daughter.
BOLDUAN: I mean this seems something straight out of a movie. I'm sure you thought the same thing yourself. What kind of shock were you in when you really found out this was your daughter?
COHEN: Well, it's a wonderful thing but at the time I was just kind of amazed and then, you know, just happy and then I contacted the mother and then I contacted Victoria first by letter and then later we were able to meet in Houston and have an opportunity to first meet each other and then we've met on several other occasions and more and more time that we've spent together. Hopefully now that we've kind of reached this point we'll be able to spend a considerable amount of time for the rest of my life.
BOLDUAN: Yes. And what was that like that first time? I know so many people would be wondering, what was it like when you first were able to meet with your daughter Victoria for the first time?
COHEN: Well, it was, you know, nice to see her but it was kind of -- it was pretty strange because I -- she's an adult and so you don't normally meet people as adults that are your child and -- but it was just a wonderful moment that I'll never forget.
BOLDUAN: And we have some additional tweets between you and your daughter. Let's put one of them up on the screen. This one from Victoria saying, "I hope your trip was fun and amazing," and then you responded saying, "Miss you. Will call you later. Give me a good time on the Mississippi River with Coast Guard now. Love you."
I mean, it's kind of obviously -- probably a little uncomfortable but everyone seeing your relationship grow on Twitter. But how has your relationship changed and built since you've finally met each other?
COHEN: Well, in the three years we've had chances to visit in Houston on about three occasions and a few occasions here in Washington and she was able to come to Memphis this past January and spent three days in my hometown. So it's been gradual that we've had more time to spend together and longer periods. This is a slow process.
All of my friends who I talked about it said you've just got to give it time. And I'm not real good at giving time. I like to do things now. I'm kind of a control person and a happening now person. So it was very difficult for me to sit back and have people tell me, because I'd get frustrated at times when I wouldn't hear back from her, with a call or a text or whatever, and people say, you've got to give it time and I thought, you know, I know time is the most precious commodity that we all have, and at 63 I've got less time than somebody that is less than 63.
And I want to have as much time as I can with her. So it's something that has kind of bothered me but we're doing better and I think -- yesterday she was very brave and very -- I'm proud of her for being able to do what she was able to do, and let me go public. And she has to talk to the man who's been her father for all these years, and let him know. And that was a brave thing to do and he's been really a great provider and done a lot for her. And I'm sure he -- I know he loves her and it's got to be very difficult on him.
So it's just a very difficult situation and hopefully she'll allow both of us to share in her life and that's what -- I think that's going to happen.
BOLDUAN: Well, and you are a public figure. You're a long-time member of Congress. You learned about this, you learned about Victoria some three years ago. Why did you want to keep it private until it was kind of forced into the public?
COHEN: Because her father didn't know and I was -- didn't want to upset him and hurt him in any way at all and it just came to the point, I guess, where it was necessary to let him know and that's what happened. But otherwise it wouldn't have been fair to her or fair to him. And so that's where the situation was very difficult for me because while these -- the National Republican Congressional Campaign Committee, the Tennessee Republican Party were preparing me to Anthony Weiner, which was -- it served to start with but they were doing it and people were suggesting it was some kind of a romance going on between the two of us.
Not that somebody -- I mean, Steve Martin has got a wife who's 41 and just had a child, but whatever. They were making it out like it was something that was perverted and that was disgusting to her, I'm sure, and hurtful to her. And I didn't like it either and it was just -- you know, it was just wrong and they did that and it was just necessary to clear that up.
And I couldn't say anything about it because I couldn't say anything without her permission and that would involve her father and we couldn't do that until we felt like it was necessary or she did.
COHEN: So I -- it was almost like the movie "Absence of Malice" and the media didn't understand the situation Sally Fields was putting Paul Newman in. And there was a third party involved. And I couldn't hurt the third party and if we didn't come to conclusion, I would have let it go.
COHEN: When they could have called Anthony Weiner, but they all should -- they all owe her an apology. The press was wrong to have done what they did.
BOLDUAN: Clearly folks were looking for scandal and it turned out to be something quite sweet and wonderful.
Congressman, congratulations. It's really exciting thing for you and your daughter and your family. Good luck -- good luck to you. Talk to you soon.
COHEN: Thank you so much.
BOLDUAN: Thank you.
Still ahead, Americans might accept unmanned aircraft in Afghanistan but in our backyards or hovering over our work places? The FAA is deciding how to handle the reality of eyes in the sky.
BOLDUAN: Drones used to be for wars far from the United States. But they're popping up in our own skies much more often. That's a challenge for authorities who are playing catch-up when it comes to technology and all this.
CNN's Athena Jones is here with more.
It's fascinating, Athena. What are you finding out.
ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is. You know, the FAA says that there'll be up to 10,000 drones in the U.S. skies in the next five years. They'll be used by police who are trying to fight crime, by oil companies trying to monitor pipelines. Today's announcement is a step in that direction.
JONES (voice-over): The skies across America could soon be welcoming more drones. The FAA is seeking proposals from cities, states and universities to create six test sites for unmanned aircraft systems.
The sites will help officials develop safety standards that will allow the government to fully integrate drones into the national airspace by 2015. The drone industry says they make good economic sense.
BEN GIELOW, ASSOCIATION FOR UNMANNED VEHICLE SYSTEM INTERNATIONAL: In the next three years after the FAA has figured out integration, we could see as many as 70,000 jobs be created in this new industry.
JONES: The Coast Guard uses drones for surveillance on ice sheets in Alaska and local authorities in North Dakota once used a Border Patrol drone during a dispute over cattle. Drone makers predict they'll eventually been used by energy companies to monitor pipelines and by farmers to monitor crops.
New uses will require new government rules to protect privacy.
CHRIS CALABRESE, AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION: We don't want drones to become eyes in the sky, constantly spying us. We need control so that drones are only used when we have -- we believe that a -- a crime is happening or we're trying to do something particular like fight a forest fire or finding a missing child. If we put those controls in place, we'll have a powerful technology that has appropriate controls.
JONES: In Seattle earlier this month, the mayor ended a police department drone program over privacy concerns. And the Virginia legislature is at work on bills that would temporarily ban drones there.
JONES: Now the FAA is asking for a public input on its proposed privacy requirements for these tests. And this privacy issue isn't going away. Just this week, two House members, a Republican and a Democrat, introduced a bill that would require law enforcement to get search warrants before using drones. So this continues.
BOLDUAN: It definitely will. I mean, that fine line they need to find between a helpful technology and a big brother type thing.
BOLDUAN: Yes. Athena Jones, thank you.
BOLDUAN: Still ahead, it is the number one killer of student athletes. Up next, our Dr. Sanjay Gupta with what parents need to know to prevent their children from suffering from a sudden heart attack.
BOLDUAN: We've all heard the horrifying stories of high school basketball or football player suddenly dying of heart attacks. In fact, sudden cardiac arrest is the number one killer of student athletes. In many cases, though, the condition can be easily prevented.
Here's CNN's chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta.
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kate, sudden cardiac arrest or SCA is a condition where the heart stops beating. Some people survive, most don't. And a lot of us think that it's only adults that can suffer. But children, teens, even babies can die from SCA as well.
In fact, cardiac arrest is the number one killer of student athletes, even more so than concussions. The good news is that most of these conditions are detectable and treatable if caught early. Yet a lot of parents never know that their youngsters are at risk. They don't know there are signs to look for and that their children can be tested.
One family is trying to change that by turning their tragedy into educating others.
GUPTA (voice-over): Darren and Phyllis Sudman had a happy family life until their 3-month-old son Simon was found dead in his crib. In the midst of their shock, the Sudman's pediatrician told them get tested.
DARREN SUDMAN, SIMON'S FATHER: Go get your hearts checked because babies don't die. It's just not supposed to happen.
GUPTA: They're in for another shock. Phyllis was diagnosed with a rare heart problem called long QT syndrome. It could have caused her heart to stop. She had none of the usual symptoms like unexplained fainting but she unknowingly passed it on to Simon.
PHYLLIS SUDMAN, SIMON'S MOTHER: Once I was diagnosed with long QT syndrome, you know, it can easily be treated.
GUPTA: After their tragedy, the Sudmans started Simon's Fund to pay for free heart screenings for any child in and near Philadelphia. The fund estimates that sudden cardiac arrest is responsible for up to 15 percent of sudden infant deaths. It's also the number one killer of student athletes.
D. SUDMAN: Every time we do a screening, we're potentially preventing that devastation from happening again and again and again.
GUPTA: Last year with the help of the Sudmans, Pennsylvania became the first state to require education on sudden cardiac arrest. For coaches, trainers, student athletes and their parents.
D. SUDMAN: To know that every coach in this state now has to behave a little differently, now has to know a little bit more about the health of their student athletes.
GUPTA: Since then, five other states have introduced similar bills.
JAMES THORNTON, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL ATHLETIC TRAINER'S ASSOCIATION: It gives us tools to screen and assist the athletic trainer and athletic medical staffs to be able to detect those types of problems.
GUPTA: But right now, testing is only required for kids with symptoms. And the big reason is cost. An average screening runs anywhere from $200 to $1,000 depending on where you live. But the Sudmans think it's worth every penny.
GUPTA: So, Kate, Simon's Fund, as you saw there, they work closely with the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, identifying groups of children who are at high risk for cardiac arrest. Although babies like Simon do die of cardiac arrest, the Sudmans choose to target older children who may be participating specifically in school sports and activities since they're a high-risk group specifically.
In the future, they do want all at-risk children screened, though -- Kate.
BOLDUAN: Sanjay, thank you so much. Such an important story for parents to see.
And you can see much more of Sanjay's reporting on sudden cardiac arrest this weekend, "SANJAY GUPTA MD," that's Saturday afternoon, 4:30 Eastern, and again Sunday morning at 7:30 Eastern, only here on CNN.