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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER

Three Women Missing For Years Found Alive; Chris Christie Slimming Down?

Aired May 7, 2013 - 16:00   ET

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


JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: The first breaths of freedom after a decade of captivity.

I'm Jake Tapper. And this is THE LEAD.

The national lead. Three women kidnapped, hidden from the world, until one saw her chance and made a desperate run to freedom. We will talk to one of the loved ones who finally has his sister back.

And a neighbor says she called police and told them to check out that home nearly a year before the daring escape. But what did police do after she claimed something completely insane was going on in the backyard? She will tell us.

Plus, the politics lead. Much to the relief of his family and his admirers and his belt buckle, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie takes drastic measures to slim down. Is he getting into a fighting weight for 2016?

Good afternoon, a very busy show today. The latest from Cleveland in a moment, but we are going to begin with the money lead and breaking news on Wall Street.

Our Alison Kosik is in New York.

Alison, the closing bell just rang and apparently the market hit another milestone?

ALISON KOSIK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You can bet that they're popping the champagne bottles this evening on Wall Street because for the first time ever, Jake, the Dow is not just closing at 15000, but it's closing above it, blowing past it, closing at 15056.

Now, sure, on Friday the Dow hit 15000 during the session, but this today is the first time it's closing above this milestone. Funny thing is there wasn't a lot going on today to move the market in the way of earnings or economic reports, although there was some upbeat economic data out of Germany. Plus, we have got that continued good karma coming from last week's jobs report.

Also, trading volume was light today. That can make for some exaggerated moves in the market, but more than anything these milestones are really a psychological boost for investors. It's good for investor confidence. And I will tell you what. The market has really been through a lot just to get here. Look, there was a seven-year drought between Dow 11000 and Dow 12000. Then it took less than a year to get from 12000 to 14000 in July of 2007, and then when the financial crisis hit and the Dow erased more than half its value before getting back to the levels we're at today, so that makes almost six years between 14000 for the first time and 15000 for the first time.

Got to mention this, Jake. Not to be outdone, the S&P 500, it broke through a new record today as well, and that is an even broader gauge of your money, which often is what your 401(k) or your mutual funds track -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Alison, thanks so much.

Now to our national lead. It's a day full of hugs and tears and reunions. It's a day a decade in the making. Three woman abducted in their teens and long feared dead are very much alive today after years as prisoners inside a Cleveland home. Until this frantic 911 call, no one had heard Amanda Berry's voice in 10 years.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

911 OPERATOR: Cleveland 911.

AMANDA BERRY, RESCUED AFTER 10 YEARS: Help me. I'm Amanda Berry!

911 OPERATOR: You need police, fire or ambulance?

BERRY: I need police.

911 OPERATOR: OK. What's going on there?

BERRY: I have been kidnapped and I have been with him for 10 years hand I'm here. I'm free now.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

TAPPER: Amanda Berry disappeared April 21, 2003, after wrapping up her shift at a Burger King, on the eve of her 17th birthday. Two other girls vanished on the very same street, Lorain Avenue in Cleveland, within blocks of each other, Michelle Knight on August 23, 2002, when she was 19, and Georgina DeJesus on April 2, 2004, when she was just 14.

Both Knight and DeJesus were found alive in the same home after Berry escaped. The man who lives at that house, a 52-year-old former school bus driver named Ariel Castro, is under arrest and so are his two brothers, 54-year-old Pedro Castro and 50-year-old Onil Castro.

Apparently when Ariel Castro left the house, Berry finally and at long last seized her moment to escape. She called a neighbor over to the house and he was utterly gobsmacked to learn what was happening in his neighborhood by someone he knew, someone with whom he had even eaten ribs.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHARLES RAMSEY, WITNESS: I heard screaming. I'm eating my McDonald's. I come outside, and I see this girl going nuts, trying to get out of her house.

So he's somebody that you look and you look away, because he's not doing nothing but the average stuff. You see what I'm saying? There's nothing exciting about him. Well, until today.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: The missing women were not the only ones rescued from that home. Amanda Berry is in the center of this picture. The girl in the bed is believed to be her daughter who was also freed.

The girl is 6 years old. Berry's been missing for a decade. It's not hard to do the math and arrive at a very unsettling conclusion there. For the families of these three victims, it's been a decade of pain and uncertainty, never knowing what happened to these young women, never knowing if they'd ever see them again alive.

With their prayers finally answered, these families now have to bridge the enormous gulf of time since the abductions.

Our Poppy Harlow has been talking to relatives of one of these women, Gina DeJesus.

Poppy, what have they been telling you?

POPPY HARLOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Jake.

I have. We have been here at the DeJesus family in Cleveland all day. I had a chance throughout the morning to spend some time with and speak with the brother, the older brother of Gina DeJesus.

His name is Ricardo. I also spoke with Sandra, who is the aunt. The parents are with their daughter Gina right now. They are not home, but there have been family and friends pouring in all day.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HARLOW (voice-over): The aunt of 23-year-old Gina DeJesus.

SANDRA RUIZ, AUNT OF VICTIM: If you don't believe in miracles, I suggest you think again, because it does happen.

HARLOW: A chance at life again after hell.

STEVE ANTHONY, FBI AGENT IN CHARGE: For Amanda's family, for Gina's family, for Michelle's family, prayers have finally been answered. The nightmare is over.

HARLOW: Georgina DeJesus, known as Gina to family and friends, disappeared nine years ago on her walk home from school. She was just 14 years old. Gina's older brother, Ricardo, saw the news on television with their father.

RICARDO DEJESUS, BROTHER OF VICTIM: We was in disbelief. We cried. We were shaking. We were just happy. It's like a dream, but I'm joyful that she's home and T. glad it's over.

HARLOW: Ricardo saw his sister for the first time in nine years at the hospital Monday night. She looks thinner than he remembers, he says, but in good health.

(on camera): What did she like to do most?

R. DEJESUS: She liked to dance a lot, crack jokes, and be around with the family.

HARLOW (voice-over): He didn't speak to his sister about her ordeal. He just hugged her.

R. DEJESUS: I was very excited. I was like, I'm glad I'm able to see her. It was nine years, nine long years. And I'm just happy I was able to sit there and hug her and say, yes, you're finally home.

HARLOW: Gina's aunt Sandra recounted the strength of all three girls who disappeared who police say were found Monday night in the home of Ariel Castro.

RUIZ: And let me tell you, sisterhood, women -- those girls, those women are so strong. What we do out here, what we have done in 10 years is nothing compared to what those women have done.

R. DEJESUS: It is a miracle by God that she came home. That's all I can say. I'm just happy that she's home. That's it.

HARLOW (on camera): Did you ever give up? Did you ever think...

(CROSSTALK)

R. DEJESUS: No, never. I would never give up. I always believed in God. I have faith in God. I knew she was coming home.

HARLOW (voice-over): A protective older brother who says he won't let his sister out of his sight again.

ED TOMBA, CLEVELAND DEPUTY POLICE CHIEF: Currently, we have three brothers that are under arrest, ages 50, 52, and 54. They're being held in the city jail.

HARLOW (on camera): Do you think that the police have the right people in custody?

R. DEJESUS: That's one thing I can't explain, but I hope it is and then I will be happy.

RUIZ: Neighborhood with neighborhood. We need to watch out for all kids, really. Watch who your neighbor is, because you will never know.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HARLOW: And we're showing you right now live aerial shots of this very close-knit neighborhood in Cleveland. The community has come out. They are all around me now.

They have been filling the yard of the DeJesus home since early this morning. Now I was just inside with Sandra the aunt and there is family in there that are together and they're waiting. They're waiting to see Gina again. No word yet, Jake, on if or when she is going to come home. We know at this point, though, she is with her parents, out of the hospital, just trying to cope with something that is pretty unimaginable for all of us.

TAPPER: And, Poppy, it's such a rare occurrence that these stories have any sort of happy ending, but it's so odd that these -- this man was living right within their midst. I know you also spoke with a man who played in a band with Ariel Castro for 20 years. What did he tell you?

HARLOW: I did, Jake. His name is Tito DeJesus, but I want to make it clear that he has the same last name as this family, but they do not believe that they are related. They just have the same last name.

And here's the reason it is important. Tito played in a band, he tells me, with Ariel Castro for 20 years. He played piano. Castro played the bass. He even showed me a picture of them together, Jake. And he socialized with him,. He helped him move into his house. He's been in the home where those girls were rescued last night.

And he said nothing stood out. Nothing was odd about it. It seemed like a normal home. But I asked him, did Ariel Castro ever mention anything to you about these alleged kidnappings? Did that happen at all? And I want you to take a listen to what he told me.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TITO DEJESUS, KNOWS SUSPECT: He asked me one time. He said, hey, did they find your cousin yet? And I asked him, my cousin? And then I put two and two together. I said, Gina, well, I don't think she is my cousin. We might be related. I don't know. And I said no. They haven't found her yet.

HARLOW: Wow.

T. DEJESUS: But that was pretty much it for the conversation.

HARLOW: But he asked you about Gina? When was this? Do you remember possibly what year?

T. DEJESUS: A few years back. Exactly what year? No. Several years back.

HARLOW: Two, three years ago?

T. DEJESUS: More or less, yes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARLOW: So this is very important. If indeed Ariel Castro is the one who abducted Gina, and then later, years later, went and asked his friend Tito, have you heard about Gina, who he thought was the cousin, but wasn't, they just had the same last name, that is very striking that he would ask, have they found her yet if indeed she was in his home -- Jake.

TAPPER: Striking and creepy. Thank you so much, Poppy.

We don't know what happened in that house where three women were held captive, but we do know they are now with their families and starting the long road to recovery. What does that mean for the days and months and years ahead? We will have more of our national lead coming up.

And in our politics lead, less than a year ago, Governor and possible presidential candidate Chris Christie told me he was not interested in weight loss surgery. So what changed? That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD.

You're looking at live pictures of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. He's our politics lead. He is appearing live right now in Newark, New Jersey.

If you're going to run a grueling 18-month-long race, you have got to get into shape. Christie is starting to do just that. He's taking questions. We are going to listen in.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: Well, in terms of keeping it secret, it is nobody else's business.

(APPLAUSE)

CHRISTIE: So, you know, I mean, from -- from my perspective and my family's perspective, the steps I have taken recently are for me and for Mary Pat and the kids.

And, you know, if asked about it, I would have never lied about it, but it's not anybody else's business but mine. And so that is the reason I made the decision that I did. That's all.

(APPLAUSE)

CHRISTIE: In back, yes. Not you. Behind her. Yes, you.

(INAUDIBLE)

CHRISTIE: No, I don't feel any more effective today than I felt 12 weeks ago. No. You know, folks who ask questions like that have absolutely no understanding of what is going on or this process. You know, this is about my long-term health and I've been very fortunate the last 50 years not to have any type of effects or complications for being overweight the better part of 20 years.

And so, the decision I made was that I tried a whole bunch of other things. They hadn't worked. This was an opportunity to try something different. And I'm doing it for my long-term health.

This isn't like to feel better tomorrow. This is about being healthier for the rest of your life and to try to extend your life for as long as you possibly can.

You know, from my perspective, that kind of question just doesn't understand the issue.

Brian?

(INAUDIBLE)

CHRISTIE: No. No, listen. My decisions about anything to do with my career are based upon what I think is best for me and best for my family. And, you know, whatever size I happen to be when I have to make decisions about what to do next with my career, I doubt that will play any role or effect in what I decide to do.

You know, I think I made that pretty clear to you guys over time. It doesn't -- it's not, you know, it's not a career issue for me. It is a long-term health issue for me. And that's the basis upon which I made the decision, so it's not about anything other than that.

Yes?

(INAUDIBLE)

CHRISTIE: No. My family never convinces me to go public with stuff like this I can guarantee you. They're not thrilled about the fact that this is public.

They believe as I do that this is a personal issue for me and a family issue for us. But, no, if you're asking me did they convince me, their presence convinced me, not anything they said. They certainly weren't saying, hey, dad, go do this or Mary Pat was not urging me to go and do this. This was my idea and I came to them with the idea and they were supportive of it.

What spurred me to do it was, you know, again, as I said in this morning's newspaper. I've turned 50 years old and it made me think. And, you know, it gave -- I got confronted with, you know, your own mortality as you start to age.

And so from my perspective, you know, this is about Mary Pat and the kids and me. It's really not about anybody else. It shouldn't be about anybody else. Everybody is going to have opinions which is obvious from this scrum of people here today but I don't -- with all due respect to everybody here, your opinion on this issue really don't matter a whole hell of a lot to me. JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: That's New Jersey Governor Chris Christie taking questions from reporters in Newark, New Jersey, following reports broken this morning by "The New York Post" that he over Presidents' Day weekend underwent secret weight loss surgery.

Chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, joins us now.

Sanjay, the governor was somehow able to keep this under wraps for three months. He checked into the facility under a false name and the whole procedure took about 40 minutes. It probably was -- he probably had to stay overnight in the hospital, though.

Describe this procedure. What exactly is lap band surgery?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, it involves typically laparoscopic surgery and that means, Jake, as opposed to an incision they put in little scopes in various parts of the abdomen. And they're basically -- if you think of the stomach they are basically putting a band around the middle of it, sort of creating an hour glass shape to the stomach.

And you think about that mechanically, Jake, I think we have some animation to sort of describe it. But as you cinch down that band more and more, it takes longer for food to get from the top pouch into the bottom pouch. The emptying is a little more slow. And that's the basic nature of it.

I will tell you, as well, it's interesting because one of the questions that has always come up is do these patients still feel a lot of hunger and just have this mechanical sort of blockage here or obstruction? And the answer is that over time, the amount of hunger hormone seems to go down as well. So, you actually eat less and feel less hungry if this is working well, Jake.

TAPPER: Christie told me about a year ago that he had never considered getting any surgery. I, specifically, asked about gastric bypass, which is a different kind of weight loss surgery. A source close to Christie says there was something about the lap band surgery. It was less invasive, less intrusive. Also the doctor had undergone it himself as well as having done dozens of the procedures.

GUPTA: Right.

TAPPER: What's the difference between lap band and gastric bypass?

GUPTA: Yes, I think you sort of hit it on the head, Jake. One is going to be more invasive, which is the gastric bypass surgery. And in that case you are actually operating on the stomach itself. You're using a stapler of sorts to sort of create small pouches within the stomach and it's just more of an invasive operation.

The risk is higher up front. That is the best way to sort of look at it, although the weight gain can be much more profound up front as well.

With the lap band operation, the weight loss is going to be more slowly -- it's going to be one to two, maybe three pounds per month. I think that sort of fits with what he has said he lost so far. I'm sorry -- one to two to three pounds per week which sort of fits with what he lost so far. But it does require visits back to the doctor every month, every few months after the first year. So there is a lot more sort of follow-up with the lap band as well.

TAPPER: A lot more maintenance.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta, thank you so much for joining us.

Let's check in with our political panel in the green room, Ana Navarro, Gloria Borger, Van Jones.

Ana, we have photographic evidence that you were hanging out with the governor just a couple weeks after the surgery. There he is looking a little bigger.

Were there any tell tale signs? Was he bragging that he would be swimsuit ready for Miami summer trip and all?

ANA NAVARRO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: No, but I hope he is. If he is I just want him to know we got a great big giant pool at the Biltmore Hotel. We'll be glad to great him there in his Speedo.

TAPPER: All right. Stick around, guys, because we're going to talk about how Christie's decision might affect the presidential race.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: Welcome back. I'm Jake Tapper. Now, it's time for "The Buried Lead". That's what we call stories we think are not getting enough play.

What's long been considered a dirty little secret of the U.S. military is now getting the attention it deserves and it's coming from the very top. A report released today shows military sex assault cases increased 6 percent last year compared to the year before. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel reacted to the report with outrage and called for new initiatives to tackle the problem of sexual violence in the military.

But for President Obama, well, he says talk is cheap. He said today he wants to see a zero tolerance policy action throughout the entire chain of military command.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't want just more speeches or awareness programs or training, but ultimately folks look the other way. We find out somebody is engaging in this stuff, they got to be held accountable -- prosecuted, stripped of their positions, court-martialed, fired, dishonorably discharged, period. It's not acceptable.

(END VIDEO CLIP) TAPPER: And, believe it or not, we learned last night about the arrest of an Air Force officer who leads the actual branch's own sexual assault prevention unit, 41-year-old Jeffrey Krusinski is accused of groping a woman in an Arlington, Virginia, parking lot. He's been removed from duty while the incident is investigated.

It's a story that has captivated people around the globe. Tonight, CNN's Chris Cuomo interviews Amanda Knox. Can pieces of the puzzle in this bizarre murder-mystery finally fall into place?

Watch "Amanda Knox: The Unanswered Questions", tonight at 10:00 p.m. Eastern.

How many missing people are still out there? Well, the number is shocking. And the media is ignoring most of them. We'll have a reality check, next.

Plus, "The World Lead". She knows the pain of losing a child and she wants answers. I'll talk to the mother of Sean Smith who was killed during the consulate attack in Benghazi.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)