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Interview with Rep. Kevin Yoder; Fed Stimulus to End?; O.J. Simpson May Testify Tomorrow; Flight Diverted Over Singing; Bruins' Historic Game Seven Comeback

Aired May 14, 2013 - 09:30   ET


CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. I'm Carol Costello. Thank you for joining me. It is now 31 minutes past the hour. Allegations of Big Brother abound this morning. Lawmakers blasting the Justice Department for secretly obtaining two months of phone records from journalists, and the IRS for targeting conservative groups, despite being questioned about the practice last year. Here is the former IRS commissioner, Doug Shulman, assuring a congressional committee that such a thing could not possibly happen.


DOUG SHULMAN, FORMER IRS COMMISSIONER: We pride ourselves on being a nonpolitical, nonpartisan organization there is absolutely no targeting. This is the kind of back and forth that happens when people apply for 501(c)(4) status.


COSTELLO: Yet here we are, investigating whether the IRS did indeed target Tea Party groups. One of the men who questioned the former IRS commissioner, Congressman Kevin Yoder. He's on Capitol Hill this morning. Welcome, Congressman.

REP, KEVIN YODER, (R) KANSAS: Thanks for having me on the show this morning.

COSTELLO: You are in Kansas City this morning, not Washington. I apologize. First question. Do you think Mr. Shulman was lying, or just he didn't know?

YODER: Well, that's a very good question. We don't know what Mr. Shulman knew. I had a chance to ask him questions before the committee, asking him if targeting was going on, whether conservative groups or any groups were being targeted based upon their ideology. He made it clear that ever since the Richard Nixon era, the IRS would not tolerate such a thing, and had safeguards built into place and, you heard just there in the testimony, he said unequivocally absolutely not, there is no targeting going on. We now know that not to be true.

What we're going to have to find out is what Commissioner Shulman knew, what others knew, when they knew it, and what they did about it. If they knew nothing, we have gross incompetence going on within the administration. If they did know things, then we have individuals lying to Congress. We have to get to the bottom of that in the coming weeks as we investigate this very troubling, stunning admission the IRS made over the weekend.

COSTELLO: The IRS search for political-sounding names started in 2010. Shulman, was a Bush appointee. He's no longer the commissioner at the IRS. In your mind, if he didn't know about these things, what does that tell you about the organization? I know what you just said, but could it be that someone was operating without his knowledge?

YODER: Well, it's certainly possible and certainly possible there was a cover-up that folks were trying to hide the information. Originally, the story was that only a few folks in Cincinnati had done this on their own. Over the last day or so it's become apparent that individuals in Washington knew about this, maybe even Acting Commissioner Miller knew about this, and so we're just in the first few days of this controversy and a lot of facts to learn, but I can tell you that many Americans are just tremendously troubled, Democrats and Republicans, that the IRS would engage in targeting political opponents for audits. It is the very worst of what people think goes on in Washington, D.C. And so, as members of Congress, we are arriving on Capitol Hill this week, and we've got to get to the bottom of this. This can't happen again, we need to find out who did what, when they knew things, and how far does this go to the top?

COSTELLO: Well, I was just going to ask you about that. The president said if these things are true, people will be held fully accountable. What does that mean in your mind?

YODER: That's a great question. We have seen different situations, whether it's Fast And Furious, or Benghazi, a variety of things where the president says people will be held accountable and people will be brought to justice, we don't ever see that. And so, I think what the American people want to see is the administration as a whole be held accountable.

I'm not sure how the president can continue to say these are things that happened without my knowledge, I was ignorant and I'll hold people accountable, because ultimately it lies at the president's feet. These are things going on within his administration, targeting opponents of the president. These are mostly groups that didn't support the president's re-election. Was there suppression of the information?

The president said on Friday that he learned about this essentially by watching CNN, and you'd think that the president would have greater access to information than following it on cable news like the rest of the country. And so, if that's how the president learning about these things who in his administration is hiding these facts. Because we now know as well that the inspector general's report, was made apparently to high-ranking officials in the administration, that they knew this report was coming and not until the very last minute did they even admit this happened at the IRS. So why did the president learn it by learn about it by watching TV? That's the real problem I think in terms of how --

(CROSSTALK) COSTELLO: -- a last question for you, and I am just wondering, I know there's going to be -- lawmakers will hold a hearing on this issue to get to the bottom of it, but if the IRS already admitted that mistakes were made, why can't someone just go in and fire whoever is responsible for those mistakes? Why do we have to go through this hearing?


YODER: I think that's certainly going to be part of it.


YODER: Well, because we want to know who knew what and when they knew it. You know, quite often isn't just a rogue actor within an administrative agency that's acting. Quite often people at higher- ranking levels knew about these types of things and they said nothing. That's a problem if we have people in the president's, whether it's, cabinet or within his administration that aren't coming forward to tell him about this.

If I were him, I would be very, very upset that this was going on and no one told me, and that no one is telling the American people. When I asked Commissioner Shulman about this in 2012 he again said he absolutely can assure us that this isn't happening.

I think that's a real problem for the American people when appointees of the president come before Congress and assure us that there is no cause for concern, and we find out later that absolutely it was going on. So how did that happen? How can we avoid that? And then we're going to look at criminal penalties going forward. Some have said this isn't illegal, that you can do this under the color of the law, that's a real problem for Americans too, that this is even allowable. And so we're just really at the tip of the iceberg. This is one of those situations, maybe one of those rare moments where Democrats and Republicans both rightly are outraged and we have to get to the bottom of this on behalf of the American people.

COSTELLO: All right. Congressman Kevin Yoder, thank you for being with us this morning.

YODER: Thank you very much.

COSTELLO: In the next hour, I'm going to talk to Michigan Congressman Sander Levin. He is the ranking member of the House Ways and Means Committee which will hold that hearing on the IRS's actions this Friday.


COSTELLO: The opening bell rang just moments ago on Wall Street. It good to give (INAUDIBLE) day to day, though despite the tear stocks have been on this year. Alison Kosik at the New York stock exchange. Why the slowdown?

ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think it's a case of investors maybe saying let's breathe in, breathe out. Let's kind of assess what's going on here. You look at the Dow, it's actually closed lower in two of the three sessions and we are getting some signals that this record run may be starting to run out of steam.

Of course, I know, I know, we've said that before. Also seeing small gains being made this morning. The gains may be limited because investors are reacting to comments that the president of Philadelphia branch of the Federal Reserve, what he made last night. Charles Plosser, he thinks the job market is strong enough for the fed to begin scaling back the stimulus program as early as the middle of next month, and the program could end by the end of next year. Many are crediting that program, Carol, to really giving that boost or that wealth effect to the markets. Plosser has been against expanding the latest fed stimulus which began in the fall of last year, but he's currently one of the nonvoting members of the Federal Open Market Committee, so this could be all talk and may not really have a huge impact anyway. Carol.

COSTELLO: All right, Alison Kosik reporting live from the New York stock exchange.

Up next, talk about a jarring contrast -- a grayer and much heavier O.J. Simpson returns to court more than four years after his robbery and assault conviction. He's hoping get a new trial.


COSTELLO: O.J. Simpson could take the stand tomorrow as he tries to get a new trial for the 2008 robbery and assault conviction. Simpson briefly flashed the familiar grin in a Las Vegas courtroom yesterday. But the time in prison is clearly showed on his face and body.

CNN's Paul Vercammen is following the story for us. Good morning Paul.

PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN SENIOR PRODUCER: Good morning Carol. O.J. back in court in just a little over an hour. Yesterday, he was quite focused, as he listened to the testimony. And today, a parade of lawyers will take the stand.


VERCAMMEN: Heavier and grayer, disgraced football legend O.J. Simpson slowly stepped into a Las Vegas courtroom after four and a half years in prison for kidnapping, assault and armed robbery. The new Simpson legal team is presenting 19 claims to show he was so poorly represented in the 2008 kidnap trial by Yale Galanter that he should get a new trial. New lead Attorney Patricia Palm argues Simpson was never told about an offered plea deal and should have taken the witness stand.

Gabe Grasso assisted Galanter in 2008 and emphatically told the court Monday he wanted Simpson to testify then.

GABE GRASSO, FORMER SIMPSON CO-COUNSEL: O.J. is a very eloquent person and -- and he can explain himself very well and so I thought he would be a great witness.

VERCAMMEN: Simpson's lawyers also tried to show the former Heisman Trophy winner had been drinking alcohol, which impaired him from seeing his cohorts carried guns into the confrontation. The new Simpson team argues that Galanter knew about Simpson's plan to get back some of his memorabilia. Simpson's daughter Arnelle took the stand saying she was with her father and Galanter at dinner the night before the incident.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Was your dad drinking alcohol that night?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you recall overhearing any conversation about your dad's plan to go look at his property the next day?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And who did you hear talking about that?

SIMPSON: My dad was talking to Yale.

VERCAMMEN: Simpson is waiting to testify in this hearing --

PATRICIA PALM, O.J. SIMPSON LEAD ATTORNEY: This will be his first time to be able to tell what happened. And you know instead of hearing it in bits and pieces and you have to remember, the evidence in this case was extremely conflicting from all of the witnesses.

VERCAMMEN: Simpson may take the stand as soon as Wednesday.


VERCAMMEN: And first up today, once again, Gabe Grasso, who was once Simpson's co-counsel -- Carol.

COSTELLO: Paul Vercammen reporting live from Vegas for us.

It's another busy time for NASA as scientists watched some of the most intense flares of the year. Take a look we'll show you more when we come back.


COSTELLO: At 51 minutes past the hour time to check our top stories.

An American Airlines plane had to be diverted to Kansas City after a passenger would not stop singing a Whitney Houston song.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I will always love you --


COSTELLO: Wouldn't that make your flight pleasant? The cross country flight made the stop Thursday because that passenger simply would not stop singing "I Will Always Love You" even when she was let off the plane. The woman was questioned and then released. No charges were filed. Aviation officials say the woman blamed the endless performance on her diabetes.

In money news, Square the mobile payment service is banning gun sales. The company spokesman says the move is not related to the recent gun control debate in Washington. Square allows retailers to use mobile devices to process credit cards.

New video coming from NASA show more solar flares erupting on the sun. These eruptions are the most intense so far this year. Because of these flares, the sun is sending out billions of tons of solar particles into space and right now, those particles are not -- not directed at earth.

Never say die. The Boston Bruins complete a stunning comeback in the NHL playoffs and move on to the second round. "Bleacher Report" is coming your way next.


COSTELLO: It was a historic comeback for the Boston Bruins last night against the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Bruins did something in a playoff game seven that has never been done before.

Jared Greenberg is here with this morning's "Bleacher Report."

JARED GREENBERG, BLEACHER REPORT: Good morning, Carol. Don't ever count out the Boston Bruins down three goals in the third period against Toronto. The Bruins were not only facing their third straight loss, Boston was also on the brink of its season coming to an end. But then the Bruins rallied to get within one. Now under a minute to go Patrice Bergeron, a blast and he buries it an improbable comeback -- two goals in the final 90 seconds to force overtime. First team to score wins. Bergeron comes through again. Game over. Series over the Bruins become the first team to ever win a game seven when trailing by three in the third period. They are fired up in Beantown.


PATRICE BERGERON, BRUINS: We stayed resilient, I guess, that's what I can say is that we found a way and you know, not necessarily the -- the way we would have liked to play the whole game but you know like I said we -- we showed some character coming -- coming back in the game.


GREENBERG: Elation in Boston but Wilder myth in Toronto front cover of the Toronto Sun. "The Choke's on Us". While the Bruins advance to face the New York Rangers, the Maple Leafs are done.

The Heat/Bulls game was a joke but Dwyane Wade, Carol, was seriously wearing this -- a polka dot suit with Capri pants and loafers.

COSTELLO: Just like that guy from "Fun". GREENBERG: Yes. A curious -- confidence is sometimes curious don't you think.

COSTELLO: What is that?

GREENBERG: Half time -- that may have been the most entertaining part of the game. Final hoops but at the wrong bask. Miami with a blowout win over the Chicago, the Heat lead the best of seven series three games to one and can close things out. Hopefully they get it done because this series has been ugly ever since game two. They will have that opportunity on Wednesday.

Number two right now on's lineups. Scary moment for national star outfielder Bryce Harper and Harper goes face-first into the wall. Typically, this type of thing happens when an outfielder leaves their feet. Harper though just simply runs right into the wall apparently ignoring the warning track. He would leave the game stitches is required to his chin but no concussion and relatively speaking, Bryce Harper is ok.

And if National's fan the real good news is that they would go on to beat the Dodgers.

COSTELLO: Oh that was painful to watch.

GREENBERG: So was that outfit from Dwyane Wade. That was the most painful thing in our whole update.

COSTELLO: I know it was pretty bad. And he's an attractive man but that was pretty bad. Thank you very much Jared. The next hour of CNN NEWSROOM after a break.