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THE SITUATION ROOM
Obama Scoffs at GOP Benghazi Probe; Obscure IRS United Suddenly in the Spotlight; Interview With Congressman Darrell Issa; Ice Surges Invade Homes; Air Force One for Sale; Astronaut's Amazing Music Video in Space
Aired May 13, 2013 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, President Obama vows to hold the IRS accountable for any targeting of conservative groups. But angry lawmakers -- and they are angry on both sides of the aisle -- they demand a full investigation.
The president also scoffs at GOP outrage over those Benghazi talking points as a political, in his words, sideshow. The House Oversight chairman, Darrell It's such a, has been leading the charge.
He's standing by. He joins us live here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
And giant waves of ice, 30 feet high in some places, pushing ashore with a terrifying roar and crushing lakefront homes.
I'm Wolf Blitzer.
You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
President Obama today got a chance to answer his critics on Benghazi and to join those criticizing the IRS for scrutinizing conservative groups. He dug in his heels on Libya, dismissing GOP allegations of a cover-up and accusing Republicans of using the deaths of Americans there for political gain. On the IRS, the president seems ready to join lawmakers of both parties in piling on, saying any intentional targeting of conservative groups is outrageous.
Let's go straight to our chief White House correspondent, Jessica Yellin.
She's watching the stories for us -- Jessica, the president seems to be getting increasingly frustrated.
JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Wolf.
Yes, especially on Benghazi. The president views the talking points controversy as a manufactured political issue.
Here's what he said just hours ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The whole issue of this -- of talking points, frankly, throughout this process has been a sideshow.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
YELLIN: Two reasons, Wolf, that he says there is no there there.
One, he says his administration told the public what it believed to be true in real time after the Benghazi attack, as the administration got the information.
And, two, he says Congress had these talking points and viewed the e-mails about them months ago, so he's questioning why Congress is expressing outrage now.
But, you know, Wolf, nothing the president said today answers his critics or keeps this from being a top concern in the House of Representatives for a long time to come -- Wolf.
BLITZER: On the IRS, Jessica, this is, obviously, a bad situation.
But how bad is it specifically for the White House?
YELLIN: Well, aides tell me the president is concerned about what happened at the IRS. And, look, he made clear today that there will be consequences once this internal audit does come out. The IRS is doing their own audit.
Here's what the president said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Then that is outrageous. It is contrary to our traditions. And people have to be held accountable and it's got to be fixed. So we'll wait and see what exactly all the details and the facts are.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
YELLIN: So the White House won't say what the president will do once the audit comes out. But remember, there was a corruption scandal at the GSA, part of this government, and people went to Vegas, they partied on the government's dime, and the head of the GSA was forced to resign. So we'll see what happens here and how quickly the president takes action and if it's enough.
But he put himself in a box today and signaled that he's going to do something. And if he doesn't, Wolf, he'll pay a political price.
BLITZER: He certainly will.
We'll see what happens.
Thanks very much, Jessica Yellin, over at the White House.
The IRS controversy is centering around the activities of a little known division which deals with requests from groups seeking tax-exempt status.
We asked our Brian Todd to take a closer look at this division within the IRS.
What are you finding out -- Brian?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, this is the first story many of us have done about the so-called Exempt Organizations Division of the IRS. It is buried in the bureaucracy, but is now at the center of the latest political fight between Republican leaders and the White House.
TODD (voice-over): It's one of those obscure government offices that you'd maybe never hear of if it wasn't at the center of a political storm.
Just what is the Exempt Organizations Division of the IRS, now accused of unfairly scrutinizing conservative groups like the Tea Party?
Marcus Owen ran that division for close to a decade.
MARCUS OWENS, FORMER HEAD, IRS EXEMPT ORGANIZATIONS DIVISION: It's the part of the IRS that focuses on organizations that are otherwise exempt from federal income tax, just the way there is a component that focuses on individuals.
TODD (on camera): Owens says part of the problem with the division is that it's not even here in Washington. A key office of the division is in Cincinnati, not that being part of the DC bureaucratic monolith is a great thing. But Owens says part of the problem with it not being here is that the office isn't always attuned to issues that could become politically charged.
(voice-over): Like what's causing the furor now, that this IRS branch allegedly used political search terms while reviewing the application for tax-exempt status for so-called 501(c)(4) groups. Those groups have mushroomed since the 2010 Citizens United decision by the Supreme Court, which allows groups to get that tax-exempt status and raise money as long as their main purpose is not targeting candidates.
(on camera): There are some of these that are deceptive, correct?
CRAIG HOLMAN, PUBLIC CITIZEN: There are actually many that are deceptive. The vast majority of 501(c)(4)s are, indeed, legitimate social welfare organizations. But we're talking about now several hundred of these organizations that have just sprung up ever since the Citizens United decision and are primarily involved in elections.
TODD (voice-over): Craig Holman monitors campaign spending for the watchdog group, Public Citizen. He says the IRS should scrutinize these groups because many, like the conservative Crossroads GPS, and the liberal group, Priorities USA, portray themselves as social welfare organizations, but spend billions on ads like this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But President Obama has a plan to help.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: But Marcus Owen says the Exempt Organizations Division at the IRS isn't as transparent about scrutinizing those groups as it used to be.
OWENS: For approximately 25 years, leading up to the IRS reorganization in about the year 2000, there were a series of steps, procedural steps, in place that were recorded, available for public review, transparency, in the common parlance, that permitted the IRS to identify organizations' applications that needed more sophisticated review.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
TODD: Owens says those so-called trip wires were eliminated in the early 2000s in the name of efficiency, when the IRS reorganized.
We called and e-mailed the office of Lois Lerner, who's head of that Exempt Organizations Division, to get response to what Owens said about those safeguards being taken away. We didn't hear back -- Wolf.
BLITZER: That same office, though, occasionally is being criticized for not doing enough to police these various groups.
TODD: That's right. The analyst for Public Citizen, Craig Holman, who we interviewed, says what the IRS should really be apologizing for is not doing enough to take away the tax-exempt status of those groups that mask themselves as educational, but who really run political ads.
Now, on the contrary there, Marcus Owens says that's not true, that they have often revoked that status, that they have a very active auditing process. So, again, that's again part of the controversy here.
BLITZER: And the controversy is not going away.
All right, Brian, thanks very, very much.
Coming up, he's part watchdog, part pit bull -- Congressman Darrell Issa, he's leading the GOP's tough criticism of the way the Obama administration has handled the Benghazi attacks.
He's standing by to join us here in THE SITUATION ROOM live.
And like a frozen tsunami -- a wall of ice up to 30 feet high in some places pushes into lakefront homes.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BLITZER: All right, we're just getting this into THE SITUATION ROOM, calling it a quote, "massive and unprecedented intrusion," the Associated Press now saying the Justice Department secretly obtained two months of phone records of its reporters and editors. According to the AP report, the government hasn't even said why it wanted the records. U.S. Officials have said in the past that the U.S. Attorney is conducting a criminal investigation into who may have leaked information to the Associated Press for a May 2012 story about a foiled al Qaeda plot to blow up an airliner. The U.S. Attorney's office has just issued a lengthy statement responding, in part -- and I'll read it to you -- "We take seriously our obligations to follow all applicable laws, federal regulations and Department of Justice policies when issuing subpoenas for phone records of media organizations. Those regulations require us to make every reasonable effort to obtain information through alternative means before even considering a subpoena for the phone records of a member of the media."
That statement just coming in from the U.S. Attorney's office.
Let's talk about this, Benghazi, the IRS scandal that's going on right now.
The Republican congressman, Darrell Issa of California, is joining us.
He's the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
Congressman, Mr. Chairman, thanks very much for coming in.
REP. DARRELL ISSA (R-CA), CHAIRMAN, HOUSE OVERSIGHT AND GOVERNMENT REFORM COMMITTEE: Well, thanks for having me on.
And I think leading off with this very disturbing revelation that this sneak and peek kind of approach was done, you can imagine if Congress wanted to know about leaks that obviously came out of the administration that ended up in the press, they would be outraged if we tried to get that information. But that's exactly what they're doing is they're looking at what is considered to be confidential. People wanted the Pentagon papers, too, but it didn't mean you could look behind the doors broadly the way they're doing.
BLITZER: So are you going to be investigating this Justice Department -- what the AP says was a secret intrusion, obtaining two months of phone records from reporters and editors?
Is -- are you adding this now to your list of items on your agenda?
ISSA: Well, Wolf, I have a fairly full plate.
BLITZER: I know you do.
ISSA: I serve on the Judiciary Committee. And from a Constitutional standpoint, the First Amendment, it's very clear that Judiciary will have the lead on this and Chairman Goodlatte and I will be happy to work together. And a lot of times, that's where it belongs.
And this is a Constitutional question, and a question of DOJ, once again.
BLITZER: If, in fact, they suspected, Eric Holder's Justice Department, that there were leaks going to the AP, were they justified in going ahead and secretly monitoring phone calls that the reporters and editors were engaged in?
ISSA: I think one of the amazing things is they have the ability to listen very transparently to all the government phones and government activities. And, again, you said it in it your opening, they had an obligation to look for every other way to get it before they, in fact, intruded on the freedom of the press.
BLITZER: The AP issued a statement: "There could be no possible justification for such an overbroad collection of the telephone communications of the Associated Press and its reporters. These records potentially reveal communications with confidential sources across all of the news gathering activities undertaken by the AP during a two month period provide a road map to AP's newsgathering operations and disclose information about AP's activities and operations that the government has no conceivable right to know. We regard this action by the Department of Justice as a serious interference with AP's constitutional rights to gather and report the news."
That's a pretty tough statement.
Now, Eric Holder -- you're no great fan of the attorney general, as a lot of our viewers know. He's the attorney general. He's in charge of the Justice Department.
Would you want to question him, as far as this decision to secretly record phone conversations, monitor phone conversations of AP reporters and editors?
ISSA: If this question went to the attorney general, then he's responsible and he should be held accountable for what I think is wrong.
On the other hand, if it didn't go to him, the question is, when is the Justice Department going to take responsibility for what it does, whether it's Tom Perez and the scandal they had in St. Paul, or this, or, quite frankly, the fact they're still behind -- standing behind the courts, trying not to deliver the answer, in the case of Fast and Furious, to the cover-up of how they lied to Congress and deceived the American people for months.
There are serious problems at DOJ. This is just the latest one.
BLITZER: All right. I know there are going to be a lot more on this story coming in. But once again, AP disclosing that their phone records were monitored for a couple of months secretly by the justice department. Look, as journalists, all of us don't like this kind of stuff. And let's get some more information to see what's going on.
ISSA: And it's got a chilling effect on the ability for you to get information from people who don't want to be public.
BLITZER: All right. Let's talk about Benghazi right now. The president was very blunt today, as you saw. I'll play a couple of clips of what the president had to say about your investigation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The whole issue of this -- of talking points, frankly, throughout this process has been a sideshow. The e-mails that you allude to were provided by us to Congressional committees. They reviewed them several months ago, concluded that, in fact, there was nothing afoul in terms of the process that we had used, and, suddenly, three days, ago this gets spun up as if there's something new to the story. There's no "there" there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: All right. There's no "there" there. He couldn't be more blunt.
ISSA: He couldn't be more blunt and more inaccurate. First of all, he used the plural. As far as I know only the slight intelligence committee received this, and they received it simply a question of what did the CIA know in their talking points? More importantly, had we received this, we would have recognized immediately that there was a progression from truth to lie in 12 changes.
BLITZER: The talking points that eventually were released to Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, when she went out a few days later after September 11th, after the attack in Benghazi, and when she suggested it was the result of this angry reaction to this YouTube anti-Muslim video as opposed to Ansar al- Shari al Qaeda affiliate attack.
ISSA: Exactly, Wolf. And I think the important thing for the American people to understand, we're working with a fledgling country we just helped save, and we managed to have on "face the nation," the president of Libya calling it what it was, a premeditated September 11th attack on America and our ambassador to the U.N. saying that he either didn't know what he was talking about.
He was lying effectively by saying just the opposite. Nothing could be diplomatically dumber when we need to work with the Libyans to get the investigation. You know, the fact is, you have a backdrop of a picture and your own people picked up evidence that the FBI never got. They never got because they weren't allowed in for three weeks.
They weren't allowed in for three weeks according to the acting ambassador in no small part because of strained relations.
BLITZER: Strained relations between the U.S. and Libya because of what Ambassador Rice suggesting that the leader of Libya didn't know what he was talking about.
ISSA: That was Gregory Hicks. He was the acting ambassador's opinion and he said so under oath.
BLITZER: Yes. We know when he testified before your committee last week. I'm going to play another clip of what the president said today. Let's discuss.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: So, the whole thing defies logic, and the fact that this keeps on getting churned out, frankly, has a lot to do with political motivations. They've used it for fundraising. And, frankly, if anybody out there wants to actually focus on how we make sure something like this does not happen again, I am happy to get their advice and information and counsel.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: All right. So, the accusation is that this is just political motivation on your part, you trying to embarrass the president.
ISSA: Wolf, the election's over. We had a serious hearing with serious career state department officials. I opened up that hearing by asking Gregory Hicks, a 22-year veteran and the man who took the last phone call from the ambassador in which Ambassador Stevens said, "Greg, we're under attack." He relayed that and his impression that it was a premeditated attack to the operations center at the state department within minutes.
Those kinds of statements aren't political. These people that were in front of our committee are not political. At some point, claiming politics is simply the wrong approach. There were three problems in Benghazi. They asked for more security. They got less. They asked for relief for seven hours and there was not an effective relief plan from outside of Tripoli or outside Libya.
And afterwards, the American people got false statements before they got the truth. You can't rewrite any of that. What you can do is say, let's fix it so it never happens again.
BLITZER: Do you know why the ambassador, Chris Stevens, was even in Benghazi on the anniversary of 9/11, knowing security there was limited, knowing the British had pulled out, the Red Cross Had pulled out? What was he doing there to begin with? Who made that decision for him to go to Benghazi?
ISSA: Well, Ambassador Stevens was a very brave man and he had been in Benghazi, and they loved and respected him. But, he was there, according to Gregory Hicks, in no small part because Secretary Clinton planned on making Benghazi a permanent consulate facility. She planned on announcing that potentially with a trip to Libya in December.
The ambassador was doing the work he had to do, even though there'd been reports that things were getting worse, not better, and so on. We may never know everything that the ambassador hoped to accomplish in a day or two basically in Benghazi. What we know is that he took four additional people with him.
He had more security, not less security. Had he not been there and the same attack had occurred, they would have simply gotten through the walls faster and we still could have lost many lives.
BLITZER: Mr. Chairman, hold on a minute. Don't go away. I want to talk about the IRS scandal that's unfolding right now as well. President Obama's vowing to hold the IRS accountable for the targeting of conservative groups. Congressman Issa, he's is standing by to weigh in on that when we come back.
BLITZER: Welcome back. We're joined once again by Darrell Issa. He's the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Let's talk about this IRS scandal. When I say it's a scandal, the president of the United States, himself, said today this is outrageous, should never have happened. He only found out about it Friday through the press reports. Here's the question, do you believe him?
ISSA: I take him at his word. None of us would have gotten to this if Jim Jordan, one of the subcommittee chairman, hadn't come to me and demanded that we get to the bottom of this. We wrote, we asked, we called in the IG, we asked him to investigate. He didn't think there was anything there, but he did the investigation. And what he's discovered is far more than what you already know.
The scandal here includes the fact that this was once fixed. Once fixed. They went to Cincinnati. They said, you got to stop doing that. They left, they reinstituted the same search points.
BLITZER: In other words, they were looking for any groups that had Tea Party our patriot --
BLITZER: -- words like that. And so, you're saying, they'd stopped it, but then, they renewed it.
ISSA: They renewed it.
BLITZER: Here's the question, why?
ISSA: Well, obviously, they thought this was an effective tool. Now, the amazing thing is, as far as we know today, many of these groups -- and we want to hear from these -- many of these groups still don't have their status.
BLITZER: Their tax exempt status.
ISSA: Their tax exempt status. Well, groups on the left were running right through. Remember, there's only one place in America. You apply for the status, it goes to Cincinnati. So, when people say it was isolated, no. This was America's place to get the status. And those who wanted to advocate the bill of rights, the constitution, patriotism, smaller government found themselves delayed or denied while other groups apparently found themselves rushing through.
But Wolf, there's a bigger issue here. This could have been Martin Luther King a generation ago. This could have been the left during the Vietnam War. We have to make sure that the control systems that are not in place when we're done, when ways and means, the committee of primary jurisdiction, we have to make sure this can't happen again.
And right now, the IG's report is going to say in no uncertain terms the control systems are not there to protect the American people.
BLITZER: So, will your committee investigate, ways and means? Who is going to investigate do the oversight in the House of Representatives?
ISSA: Well, we're going to do it with Ways and Means. They have specific jurisdiction, including the ability to look at these applications in real-time. As a matter of fact, they've had many of these applications for a while. We requested the inspectors general to do his report, we work with him and the other IGs regularly. Our intention is to continue working with them.
We're the investigation and the organizational committee, but when it's all said and done, the constant oversight, the special role, will be the Ways and Means Committee and Dave Camp. And it has to be. Chairman Camp has to take a role in reforming the IRS.
BLITZER: All right. So, bottom line as far as the IRS situation is concerned, at this point, you don't know as far as how high this went, the decision to go after Tea Party groups or groups that had the word patriot or whatever in their name?
ISSA: We don't know how high it went. What we know -- and this is the disturbing part is it was discovered and it continued. It was discovered and stopped and it continued. And the whole time that was going on, there were that was denials going on.
But with hundreds of groups finding themselves delayed or denied at least 72 apparently still denied, what we have -- excuse me -- is we have a situation in which, if you were conservative, you wanted smaller government, you wanted patriotism, and you wanted, perhaps, to tell people what the meaning of the constitution is, you found yourself locked out, while if you wanted to advocate candidly for the president's party, you were more likely to be approved.
That's really disturbing and should be disturbing to people who don't want to, someday, have the shoe on the other foot.
BLITZER: A lot of these investigations are going to explode, I suspect, the IRS, Benghazi, the justice department secretly taking a look at AP reporters and editors', their phone conversations. You did the "fast and furious" investigation. I suspect, you still have some issues as far as that is concerned.
ISSA: We do, Wolf, but there's a lesson here, which is government is hard. It's big and it's hard to run. And if you're going to get the bureaucracy, forgetting about politics, if you're going to get the bureaucracy to behave, it takes the House, the Senate, and the White House working together.
That's been one of the problems is that this transparent government hasn't understood that we serve a constructive role if they'll let us, and that's one of the challenges for the second term of the president is, can he understand that we want to work with him on real reform, we want to work with him on helping get the bureaucracy to deliver a better product that it currently does?
BLITZER: Darrell Issa is the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Mr. Chairman, thanks for coming in.
ISSA: Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: You're going to have your hands full. No doubt about that.
Ahead, a shocking twist in the grisly stabbing death of an eight- year-old inside her California home.
Also, giant waves of ice 30 feet high in some places pushing ashore and crushing lakefront homes.
And how would you like to buy, yes, how would you like to buy Air Force One? A plane that carried presidents? It's going up for auction.
BLITZER: Happening now, growing political backlash on both sides of the aisle against the IRS for politically targeting various conservative groups. Could there be some serious fallout for the White House?
Plus, sounds like something out of a sci-fi movie, tsunami-like waves of ice invading people's homes and destroying them. You're going to see where it's actually happening.
And they say they want him to rot in jail. CNN's exclusive interview with the brothers of the Ohio kidnapping suspect Ariel Castro. That's coming up in our next hour.
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM .
Let's get back to the Obama administration coming under serious fire right now for its response to Benghazi. Also the IRS scrutiny of conservative groups and now suddenly the seizure of phone records from the Associated Press.
Joining us our CNN chief political analyst Gloria Borger and our chief national correspondent John King. Quickly, let me start with you, John. You used to work with the Associated Press. When you heard about this, that the Justice Department secretly monitoring phone calls from reporters and editors of the AP supposedly looking into allegations someone is leaking information to them -- how did you react when you heard that?
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: If you work in our business, and I worked at the Associated Press for 12 years so I have a personal tie to that company, this is it very chilling. This is very chilling. The government gets angry about leaks of classified information. I understand that. And they have ways to investigate them.
But did they cross a line here? Did they do something inappropriate here, possibly something that went over legal barriers here? It's -- when this happens, however it happens, it sends a chilling message from the government to people in our business and I think the AP is justifiably outraged.
BLITZER: I think all of us as journalists react negatively when we hear these stories. Although if you look it from the other side, if there was a serious leak about an al Qaeda operation or whatever, they're trying to find out who may be leaking this information to the news media, do they occasionally have the right to secretly monitor our phone calls?
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, that's a matter up for discussion. I remember during the Scooter Libby stuff during the Bush administration, there were phone records, there were e-mails, et cetera, et cetera. So you know, I think this is chilling for journalists because you have to have that kind of privacy in order to do your work.
BLITZER; They wanted to get phone numbers, they wanted to monitor the phone numbers to see who was making calls, how long the calls were. It's stuff that will be investigated I'm sure down the road.
Gloria, you've got a strong piece on CNN.com about the Benghazi uproar.
BLITZER: And you refer to that famous line, the cover-up, is always worse than the original crime. A lot of us remember that from Watergate. Among other things you write this: "Apply that cliche to Benghazi and questions about the motive for removing the terror link from talking points about the Libya attack in the closing months of an election. Maybe there's a corollary question we ought to be asking: in politics when did spin trump everything, even the truth?"
BORGER: I don't know the answer to that question, but if you look at it in terms of this particular case, you know, there are a couple of things going on.
First of all, this was in the heat of a fall election campaign heading up to the presidential campaign. Benghazi was an issue. It's clear politically the Democrats didn't want to make it more of an issue than it was. Mitt Romney had made some mistakes in talking about Benghazi, so they were happy to leave it there.
Secondarily, we also had some differences between the CIA and the State Department about how to best handle this. The CIA put the information out there. It was very clear the State Department wanted less information out there than the CIA did. That's bureaucratic infighting. We're used to that in Washington. But it did affect the dissemination of the truth, and we wound up with knowing something that actually turned out to be false.
BLITZER: Because those various iterations of those talking points, 12 different versions, wound up with Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations going out on the Sunday shows and in effect telling the American people a story that was inaccurate.
KING: And I'm paraphrasing your last guest, the chairman of the committee, the Oversight Committee looking into this, but he said it was from the truth to a lie in 12 steps, meaning the 12 versions, rewrites of those talking points.
Here's the question: were they rewritten to protect people at the State Department, to protect the president of the United States in a campaign where you don't want terrorism in there, to protect Secretary Clinton? Or rewritten because there was tension between the State Department and CIA because one of the less-told truths - it's not an untold truth -- is that Benghazi was essentially mostly a CIA storefront where you had some State Department personnel.
And at the State Department there was a great deal of resentment, saying they were getting talking points from the CIA saying, you were warned, you should have protected your people. The State Department are saying, wait a minute, most of those are your people. So do we have two agencies fighting each other within the United States government, or do we have some people in the State Department trying to politically protect the leadership of their department and perhaps the president? That is one of the questions that hopefully if we have are an investigation that goes after the truth and not partisanship, we can answer.
BLITZER: And we'll see what happens in the immediate days. Neither of these subjects will go away. Guys, thanks very much.
When we come back, a Philadelphia abortion doctor accused of gruesome killings, the verdict is now in in this case. We'll update you on what happened.
Plus, a startling twist in the stabbing death of an 8-year-old girl. Police make an arrest.
BLITZER: A Philadelphia abortion doctor accused in the gruesome killing of babies has been found guilty. Seventy-two-year-old Kermit Gosnell was convicted on three counts of first-degree murder, one count of involuntary manslaughter in the death of a patient. There are also additional charges involving abortions done on babies 24 weeks or older. The high-profile case now moves to the penalty phase where jurors will consider the death penalty.
A stunning twist in the grisly stabbing death of an eight-year- old inside her California home. Her 12-year-old brother who told police he saw an intruder in the house has now been arrested. CNN's Kyung Lah is joining us now with the latest. What do we know, Kyung?
KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Investigators, Wolf, are not telling us that much today about the evidence they have, about the motive that they have. What we do know is that the person who is in custody for the murder of this little girl, eight-year-old Leila Fowler, is her 12-year-old brother. Investigators believe that her brother weaved a tale that he told them a lie when he said on April 27th he was home alone with his sister, his parents at a Little League game, when a long-haired man broke into the house and stabbed his sister.
Police now say that the person who is their suspect is the 12- year-old boy. This boy and his family had generated a tremendous amount of sympathy from this small town of 7,500 people. They had attended a candlelight vigil where the boy was present. He went back to middle school and generated a tremendous amount of sympathy.
Here's what one parent who is the parent of a girl who knows the suspect -- she attends the middle school with the suspect -- here's what this parent told us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PENNY KILGORE, DAUGHTER KNEW SUSPECT: It's unreal how somebody at 12 years old can have a mind-set to do something like that, especially to his own sister. You know, and not to just -- to think of what that poor little thing went through.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LAH: Just to give you a sense of what this community went through, that initial crime happened one April 27th, although the next two to three weeks there was a massive manhunt in this area. A community that doesn't even lock their doors ordinarily. So this was a stunning turn for this community. We are also hearing, Wolf, that the family of Leila Fowler as well as this 12-year-old boy will be having a press conference tomorrow. So we hope to learn some more details, Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Kyung. Thanks very much. What a horrific story that is.
Just ahead, 30 feet high in some places, giant waves of ice pushing ashore and crushing lakefront homes.
And how would you like to buy Air Force One?
BLITZER: Looks and sounds like something out of a sci-fi movie but it's all too real. Giant tsunami-like ice waves creeping onshore as high as 30 feet, slamming into homes and destroying them.
Lisa Sylvester is joining us now with some of these really unbelievable details.
What's going on here, Lisa?
LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Wolf, you know, typically when you think of snow and ice, you think of it coming down, you don't think of it as moving across as in moving across the lake, across your backyard and through your home. But for dozens of families, that is exactly what happened.
Take a look at this very bizarre video.
SYLVESTER (voice-over): A menacing slow moving wall of ice. You can hear the ice crackling. As it gets closer, it sounds more like the chugging of a train rolling in.
DARLA JOHNSON, WITNESS: It's crawling up the walls of the houses.
SYLVESTER: And roll in, it did.
JOHNSON: Oh, my god, their door is in.
SYLVESTER: Darla Johnson shot this video as it approached this row of townhouses.
JOHNSON: I got pretty scared this might not stop.
SYLVESTER: High winds helped push massive ice flows off Lake Mille Lacs and into the homes of worried neighbors. Everyone is calling it an ice tsunami, but --
REBECCA LEGATT, NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE: It's not an ice tsunami. It's actually an ice shove. So an ice shove is a surge of ice that's moved on shore, whether it'd be a lake body or an ocean body, onto a coastal shoreline, and it's typically caused by wind conditions like it was in this case.
SYLVESTER: The ice is semi-melted with the consistent strong wind, it starts pushing from the center out, as it builds it creates its own sail. The wind picks it up and the momentum carries it ashore.
Minnesota was not the only area impacted. Further north in Canada in Manitoba, the same weather system destroyed or damaged more than two dozen homes and cabins.
Donna Billows has lived here for 23 years.
DONNA BILLOWS, HOME DESTROYED: The bang, the ice came right through the living room here. He said, grab your purse, grab whatever you can. Get the keys. We've got to get out of here. SYLVESTER: And this is what's left of Myles Haverluck renovated cabin on Ochre Beach. He was just getting ready to light his barbecue when he saw a sight he's never seen before.
MYLES HAVERLUCK, COTTAGE DAMAGED: I mean, I've never been in a tornado, but I'm going to assume that it sounds something like that. It's just -- it's just a big roar and you can just -- you can see it coming and you keep thinking, oh, it's not coming any farther, it's going to stop, but it just kept on coming.
SYLVESTER: A freaky weather phenomenon that's common in Alaska, but not in Minnesota. The bad news for home owners, many insurance policies don't cover the damage.
SYLVESTER: Now no one was hurt physically, that is, but it sure is going to hurt financially for those homeowners, and it's also hurting the local economies. Saturday was the start of the walleye fishing season in Minnesota, that's typically a very busy time for resorts there, but instead of pulling in fish, they're pulling up chunks of ice -- Wolf.
BLITZER: They're really amazing pictures, Lisa, thanks for sharing.
SYLVESTER: Yes, I've never seen anything quite like that, Wolf. You sort of see that snow that just keeps chugging along and keeps getting closer, and you can actually hear it. And it does. A lot of people said it sounded like a freight train and that's exactly kind of what it sounds like as it got closer and closer. Nothing that they could do about it, Wolf, very sad.
BLITZER: Scary. Scary indeed. All right, Lisa, thank you.
Air Force One goes on the auction block this week. We're not making this up. A plane that carried presidents could be yours for the right price. Our Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr has this story for us.
Explain, Barbara, what is going on.
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's unbelievable, Wolf, but if you can get some friends together and you can come up with $50,000, Air Force One just might be yours.
STARR (voice-over): As this plane goes down, President James Marshall is rescued from terrorists. Now this becomes Air Force One.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, welcome aboard, sir.
STARR: OK, so it was Harrison Ford in the 1997 thriller, but the concept is the same. Any Air Force plane carrying the president is Air Force One. Now the federal government is auctioning off this aging DC-9 that flew presidents and first ladies throughout the Ford, Carter, Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and Clinton years. The bidding will open at $50,000.
This was one of Nancy Reagan's favorite planes. President Clinton was the last commander in chief to ride it to Buffalo, New York, in 1999. Today, President Obama mainly flies this 747, a symbol recognized around the world, says Air Force historian Robert Spiers.
ROBERT SPIERS, U.S. AIR FORCE HISTORIAN: It's an extension of the office of the presidency, the head office of the United States and the people of the United States. And it's often known as the flying White House or the flying Oval Office.
STARR: John King was on board when President George W. Bush took a secret trip to Baghdad in 2006. The Secret Service wanted the president to fly in on an armed military plane due to the threat of being shot down.
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: He said, no. We'll go in in secret, but I want the picture of the United States of America, the flagship, that big flag on the back tail on the ground.
STARR: Wolf Blitzer interviewed Colonel Mark Tillman who flew President Bush over the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, a flight that put the plane in the international crosshairs because the president did not land.
COL. MARK TILLMAN, AIR FORCE ONE PILOT: There was no way I couldn't land that day.
BLITZER: Even in Baton Rouge?
TILLMAN: That day going in New Orleans, I had to stay well above the helicopters providing relief efforts. So I stayed above them. I stayed out of their way.
STARR: Now the call sign for Air Force One actually began back in the Eisenhower administration, and it has continued to be a real part of American history. Of course, it brought the body of President Kennedy home from Dallas and, as you know, Wolf, on 9/11 President Bush used it to get back to Washington.
BLITZER: A lot of history there and I love -- I spent seven years covering President Clinton. I spent a lot of time on Air Force One. I was excited and thrilled every single time I was on that plane. Thanks very --
STARR: I can only imagine.
BLITZER: Yes. Lot of history.
STARR: Yes. BLITZER: Thank you.
Just ahead in our next hour, they say they want him to rot in jail. They want the world to know their story. The brothers of the Ohio kidnapping suspect Ariel Castro, they speak out in an exclusive interview with CNN.
Plus, an extraordinary rendition of David Bowie's "Space Oddity" as you've never heard it before from space. Jeanne Moos is next.
BLITZER: David Bowie's classic as you've never heard it before. Here's Jeanne Moos.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He will forever be known as the singing astronaut as he orbited the earth, then International Space Station commander Chris Hadfield sang a version of David Bowie's 1969 hit "Space Oddity".
It has folks on earth over the moon. That's really his voice and guitar playing recorded up there with more music mixed by producers on the ground. Chris's son described it as --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Unbelievably fun to do. It took six months.
MOOS: Such a hit, even another commander responded in cyber space. William Shatner joked, "I have two words for him, show off."
(On camera): You know who else tweeted about the song? David Bowie himself.
(Voice-over): "Chris Hadfield sings 'Space Oddity' in space. Hello, space boy," which is the name of another Bowie song."
This was the Canadian astronaut's grand finale before heading home after five months in space.
Even before he covered Bowie, Chris was winning fans demonstrating how astronauts use a barf bag, how they brush their teeth with no running water.
CHRIS HADFIELD, FORMER COMMANDER, ISS: So what I do, is I just swallow the tooth paste.
MOOS: He did a sing-along with hundreds of school kids back on earth. In an effort to demonstrate not just the science of space but --
HADFIELD: The humanity of it.
MOOS: -- he even poured water in his eye to show what happens when astronauts cry.
HADFIELD: You just end up with a bigger and bigger ball of water.
MOOS: In between tweeting out pictures of earth, Chris recorded the Bowie song.
(On camera): The astronaut took some minor liberties with the lyrics, tweaking them to fit the current mission. His one major change from Bowie's version -- gone is the part Bowie sang about a major malfunction.
There's something so touching about it, and if "Ground Control" makes you lose control, at least you will shed a tear and not a water ball.
Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.