Return to Transcripts main page
Attorney General Orders New IRS Probe; The Decision To Remove Breasts; Chilling Photos of Ariel Castro's Yard; Victim of Serial Bully Speaks
Aired May 14, 2013 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, let me come back out, and let you know you've been listening to Attorney General Eric Holder answering a barrage of questions on what we assumed would happen here as part of this Department of Justice briefing where he and Kathleen Sebelius were talking Medicare fraud, and now all these reporters are asking questions about this, what's made public now about this secret decision to seize these phone numbers and records from the Associated Press, from A.P. offices and reporters. This was for a two-month period last year. So this is the first time we have heard from Eric Holder talking specifically about this investigation that goes back into last year. And what this means, obviously for, you know, freedom of the press, but also privacy issues and questions about what the White House involvement could have been here.
So let me bring in Wolf Blitzer and Gloria Borger and Dana Bash, who all join me live to go through this.
And, Wolf, let me just begin with you, because listening to the attorney general in talking specifically about this investigation, this approach, and also it struck me the fact that he says he recused himself. What did you hear?
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR, "THE SITUATION ROOM": Well, on the AP issue, he did recuse himself, he says, because he does deal with the media. He himself was questioned about these leaks, these national security leaks. He didn't go into specific details. But at one point he did say, Brooke, he said, these were among the most serious leaks endangering of the American people he has ever seen. And as a result, there was good reason to go ahead and try to find out who was leaking this kind of national security information to the Associated Press. He says it was one of the most damaging ever and he was very firm on that. Even while saying he had nothing to do with it, he himself had been questioned. He had recused himself.
The deputy attorney general, James Cole, was in charge. He was the one who authorized the subpoenas to go ahead and monitor the phone calls of the Associated Press, the reporters, and trying to determine who may have leaked this kind of information to the Associated Press.
What he did say that was also explosive, just now, is that the Justice Department, Brooke, has launched a potential criminal investigation into the IRS to see if any criminal laws were violated by going after conservative organizations, specifically Tea Party organizations, organizations that were "patriot" or "patriots" in their name. And he says a control investigation is being considered right now to see if any laws were actually broken. He says it was outrageous, unacceptable, for the IRS to be targeting these conservative organizations for special scrutiny to determine whether or not they had a legitimate tax exempt status. But he did say that an investigation has now been started. That takes this to a whole new level, this IRS part of the story.
BALDWIN: So, Gloria, then to you, because when you think big picture, at least, the last couple of days in Washington, between these questions over Benghazi and that aftermath, questions here about, Wolf was mentioning now, this criminal probe into the IRS specifically and now the Associated Press and the seizing of phone records. What a week it's been.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, it's been a very difficult week. And earlier we were listening to the White House spokesman, Jay Carney, talk about this, and you can sort of hear his sense of frustration here because, of course, the IRS is something they say they knew nothing about, they had not been told about until a couple of weeks ago. They're calling Benghazi a political circus. And on this most recent matter with the AP, they say they can't intervene at this particular point because the investigation is being carried out by the Justice Department.
So on two out of three of those issues, Brooke, they have to keep an arm's length and say only things like they believe in the freedom of the press and a reporter's unfettered -- right to unfettered access, and the president believes in investigative journalism. On the other hand, they also believe that they need to find a way to keep classified information classified. So they're really walking a fine line here. But, of course, the timing of all of this, coming all at once with, you know, half a dozen congressional investigations, which Dana can talk about, is difficult for any White House.
BALDWIN: Right. We know about the Ways and Means Committee hearing, Dana Bash, on Friday. But if you can, what's the pulse on Capitol Hill? What are members of Congress saying on both sides of the political aisle?
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I think everybody here, frankly, has whiplash because there is just so much going on at once. Nobody can really fathom the idea that there is just one issue after another after another that they are frankly now having to investigate with regard to the executive branch.
With regard to the IRS, the news that we definitely just heard the attorney general make, that there is an investigation going on to see whether there was any criminal wrongdoing at the IRS. I actually interviewed a lawyer for 27 Tea Party groups earlier today, Brooke, who said that they too are trying to figure out whether they want to eventually press charges for any criminal wrongdoing to get damages for the way that these Tea Party groups are going.
So these are, you know, issues that have, of course, it's all political, but these are issues that are sort of wider and have more breadth than just the investigation of sort of what went wrong and could go very, very deep at the IRS.
BALDWIN: Well, with the whiplash, Dana Bash, and all these tough questions, and rightfully so, that these, you know, members of the media are throwing both at Attorney General Eric Holder and also at White House Spokesperson Jay Carney, let me just play some sound. This is our own chief White House correspondent Jessica Yellin just a short time ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: This involved multiple months, multiple locations, many phones. Is the president at all concerned that -- about the breadth of the investigation, about the breadth and depth that the DOJ is using to pursue leaks in general, which has become a priority for this president? He's prosecuted, in this administration, more people for leaks than every other president put together.
JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Jessica, what I can tell you is that this president believes strongly in the First Amendment and is a strong defender of the First Amendment. He believes strongly in the need for the press to be unfettered in its pursuit of investigative journalism. He also believes strongly, as a citizen and as president, in the need to ensure that classified information is not leaked.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: So, Wolf, my final question to you, and I think it just bears repeating, it's a nugget of information that I didn't know until today, that Jessica said. He said that President Obama, his administration, have prosecuted more people in terms of leaks than any other president combined. That said, in terms of optics, how does the White House handle this moving forward?
BLITZER: It's going to be really difficult. There's going to be a real problem for the White House right now because these issues are only snowballing right now. They're escalating dramatically. Having covered several administrations over these many years, I can tell you that once a formal, criminal investigation begins, whether the Justice Department or elsewhere, once Congress begins its aggressive oversight looking into these kinds of matters, and there's a lot of sensitivity whether on the IRS, whether the phone records of the Associated Press, whether Benghazi, what happened then, as Jay Carney, the White House press secretary, kept saying, four Americans were killed in Benghazi.
Once these investigations begin, it's a lot easier to begin an investigation than it is to end an investigation. So it's going to be a nightmare, I suspect, for the Obama administration, dealing with this. And it's going to cause some serious problems as far as the other legislative agenda that the president has. Some of the reporters spoke about a siege mentality, what's going to happen to all these other agenda items that the president wants.
And this is going to distract a lot of attention from what the president is trying to achieve. It's going to cause a lot of problems. And I suspect it's going to cause a lot of administration officials to go out and retain attorneys right now because once an investigation like this begins, first thing you got to do is hire a lawyer,. It's going to be expensive. I've seen this going on in Republican administrations and Democratic administrations. It's going to be a major, major problem.
BALDWIN: Wolf Blitzer, Gloria Borger, and Dana Bash on the whiplash in Washington this week. My thanks to all of you.
And from Washington, let's turn to a story that really everyone has an eye on today here and it's something that has everyone talking. Watch this.
Angelina Jolie. She is a fighter in her films. But when the cameras stop rolling, she continues that fight. Today, the actress dropped a bombshell, telling the world she made the decision to have both of her breasts removed earlier this year. The decision, she says, came after discovering she had a high risk of developing breast cancer caused by a rare gene, it's the BRCA mutation. If you opened up "The New York Times," you saw her op-ed. Let me just read a part of it for you now.
"I wanted to write this to tell other women that the decision to have a mastectomy was not easy. But it is one I am very happy that I made. My chances of developing breast cancer have dropped from 87 percent to under 5 percent. I can tell my children that they don't need to fear they will lose me to breast cancer."
And I know for many women out there, Angelina's decision here has given them comfort, food for thought, encouragement to have the test or even go ahead with their own preventive mastectomy and, in the case of CNN's own Zoraida Sambolin, our anchor on "Early Start," she chose Angelina Jolie's revelation to make her own brave announcement to the world. And Zoraida is joining me now here today.
And, my goodness, just as a friend, welcome to you. And you are brave, my friend.
And also with me, Dr. Lisa Newman, a surgical oncologist.
But, Zoraida, to you first. So doctors detected breast cancer in one of your breasts, but you have made this decision to have both of your breasts removed. It can't be an easy decision. Or perhaps it was.
ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CO-ANCHOR, CNN'S "EARLY START": Oh, no, it wasn't an easy decision.
SAMBOLIN: I'll say that when I was first diagnosed, what I thought of was, get it out, take it out, I don't want to deal with this anymore. But, you know, it's kind of evolved because I had that initial diagnosis and I had an MRI. I've gotten several opinions. And so it became a little bit more complicated along the way. That initial diagnosis became a little bit large. The other side had some other issues of concern. And so, you know, after spending a lot of time and doing a lot of soul searching, a lot of research, talking to the doctors and the radiologists, I decided that the best decision for me was to go ahead and have a double mastectomy.
BALDWIN: Wow. I want to come back to you. And here we were just talking in Cleveland last week and you continue on, obviously, working and having to handle all this on a very personal level.
But, doctor, to you, because in this op-ed in "The New York Times," Angelina Jolie says that because of this BRCA gene that her risk of developing breast cancer was a huge number. It was 87 percent. And now she says, post-surgery, it's down to 5 percent. Is the kind of reduction in risk here, that huge number differential, doctor, is that the norm?
DR. LISA NEWMAN, SURGICAL ONCOLOGIST: Yes, I would say that the numbers that Miss Jolie quoted are quite appropriate for women with known hereditary, inherited predisposition because of mutations in the BRCA 1 gene, for example. There is a range of risks from 50 percent to 87 percent lifetime risk of getting breast cancer. And the double mastectomy or the prevention mastectomy absolutely is the most aggressive and the most effective step that these women can take to lower their chances of getting breast cancer. But it's not 100 percent protection. We estimated that it lowers the risk by about 90 percent, 95 percent, so it certainly does bring those women down to the very low single digits percentiles of risk.
BALDWIN: Zoraida, back to you. And I know that you have some grown boys in your life, and I imagine that part of your decision to do this, in addition to, obviously, what's best for you, right, as a mom, but also for your boys.
SAMBOLIN: Well, I have a boy and a girl. You're taking a look at a picture of Niko (ph) there, and then there's Sofia, my nine-year-old girl. And, you know, that rocked my world. You know, at the end of the day, they are the single most important people in my life.
And, you know, I kept on thinking -- I kept on thinking worst case scenario. And I had to bring myself away from that. And I had to think differently about, you know, what can I do, how can I empower myself, and how can I make sure that I'm going to be here long-term. And so that really was, you know, what my decision was all about, you know. I would do anything for my children, just like I know that any woman who is in my same situation feels the same way.
And, you know, some people call it motivated by fear. I felt that it's what would allow me to sleep at night and to do what's right by them and by me, because it's not just - you know, I know that they need me but I need them. And so I wanted to see that long-term.
BALDWIN: What about also, and we know, you know, Angelina Jolie, she's in the very visual business, right, of film. And then you think of, we're talking to a contest in Miss America whose talking about having a double mastectomy as well and she's in the business of beauty. And there's a lot of talk, Zoraida, about -- or perhaps a fear of losing one's femininity when you lose your breasts. How do you work through that?
SAMBOLIN: You know, I have to tell you that that, this morning, was probably what allowed me to share my voice the most. Two things that Angelina talked about, her children and her femininity, because at the very beginning when I was diagnosed, I thought about my children first, but I thought about, you know, my breasts, and what they mean to me and what they mean for femininity and sexuality and the purpose that they've served in all of that. And, you know, as I'm making this decision, I thought, you know, why am I even concerned about this? You know, the most important thing are my kids. And so I really struggled with this, Brooke. I really did.
SAMBOLIN: And so when she talked about it, it allowed me to talk about it too. It allowed me to say, yes, yes, this is something that you think about. And you will come out on the other side, you just have to go through the process of thinking about it, of dealing with it, of dealing with the loss of what you're going through, and then you will come out on the other side.
BALDWIN: Zoraida Sambolin, I salute you, my friend. Thank you so much for sharing your story. And Dr. Lisa Newman, thank you for joining me. We so, so appreciate it. Much more, of course, on this opinion piece that Angelina Jolie wrote. And we have booked that contestant, that brave Miss America contestant, Miss D.C., to talk about her path moving forward without her breasts.
But coming up, we're going to take you to Cleveland as we are learning more about Ariel Castro's odd behavior behind bars. And some new pictures from his backyard. It's eerie. Coming up.
BALDWIN: Welcome back. I'm Brooke Baldwin.
Talk you now to Cleveland and these chilling photographs you will only see here on CNN of the backyard where Ariel Castro allegedly held these three women and a child locked up inside. Look at this. It's just junk. But it also offers hints at the potential horrors that Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight faced inside this home. Pamela Brown has been in Cleveland for us.
And, Pamela, let me bring you in and walk me through some of the photos, because even just looking at this child's bike, it's kind of disturbing.
PAMELA BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, just a picture of innocence there in the midst of a treasure trove of evidence in Ariel Castro's backyard, Brooke. You look at the backyard, and it just looks like a yard full of junk. Just a dinghy backyard with old materials and we see a basketball hoop and bikes. But then you look a little bit closer at these pictures and perhaps there are clues to what went on inside the house of horrors here.
We see spools and spools of barbed wire. Thick spools of barbed wire. And then we see chains in these pictures. Now, we know from authorities, we've learned, that these women were restrained in the basement of the home. We don't know if these items were used for that, but it's certainly a possibility, Brooke.
And then there's the mirror. This is a strategically placed mirror on the outside of the home, presumably so Ariel Castro could keep an eye on any unexpected visitors coming up the driveway.
And then we see the bike that you mentioned, Brooke. This pink bike fit for a little girl. Perhaps a six-year-old girl that we know lived in this home that was fathered by Ariel Castro. So that's - it's just chilling to see that. You see these bikes and you see the mini basketball hoop, so clearly these are items that were used for children. And then they're in the midst of these chains and spools of barbed wire. It really is disturbing when you look at these items, Brooke.
BALDWIN: As we look through these photos, and here's a tarp, I know, according this neighbor, who we're not naming, who shared the photographs. You know, perhaps this was Ariel Castro's way of keeping prying eyes, you know, out of this backyard. We know that he is in jail and apparently exhibiting some strange behavior. What have you learned?
BROWN: Yes, we obtained the jail logs for Ariel Castro. Essentially guards have to log every 10 minutes what he's doing. So we took a look at several pages of this log and most of its mundane, most of its him just laying down, resting. But then you come across a few that says he's in his cell naked. And then there's one entry that says that he was flossing his teeth with loose strings of the mat in his cell. So very, very bizarre behavior here, Brooke.
BALDWIN: Pamela Brown in Cleveland. Pamela, thank you.
BALDWIN: Coming up next, it is a punishment that's making waves all across the U.S. A judge wants this bully banned from every school in her county. But the superintendent disagrees and this is the video. It shows one of the girls attacked. Now as that bully remains in school, the victim in this video is about to join me live. You will hear her story and why this case could actually set a precedent. Don't miss this.
BALDWIN: A Florida superintendent finds himself in the unexpected position of backing a bully. And not just any bully here, the one seen in this video pummeling a fellow middle schooler to the point of a concussion and a fractured skull. As a result of what you're looking at here, this young woman on the top, she was charged with felony battery. And what's more, she has a history of beatings. So, a Florida judge made this unprecedented move. He banned this 14-year-old girl from every single public school in Duvall County, Florida. We're not naming her because she is a minor, but that is when the county school superintendent, Nikolai Vitti, stepped in. Vitti talked to CBS News and he told this correspondent that every student has a constitutional right to a public education. Here's a quote from Vitti. Quote, "I don't think we should use the bad decision that children make outside of school as an example or scapegoat to make a message."
Joining me now, Aria Jewett, the target of that attack in the video, and her family's attorney, T.C. Roberts.
So, just welcome to both of you.
And also joining me is our own legal analyst and attorney for our sister network's HLN Joey Jackson.
So, Aria, let me just begin with you. Help me understand what happened. Because from what I understand, the day you were beaten, a fellow student lured you off school grounds. Do you have any idea why you were targeted?
ARIA JEWETT, VICTIM OF BULLY BANNED FROM FLORIDA COUNTY SCHOOLS: Not really.
BALDWIN: Do -
JEWETT: Like --
BALDWIN: Go ahead.
JEWETT: I didn't know it was coming. And it wasn't - it was, like, unexpected.
BALDWIN: It was unexpected for you. But from what I can tell, Aria, there were a bunch of people standing around. How many people were standing there watching?
JEWETT: The police officer said there was around 20.
BALDWIN: Wow. And we're looking at you now. I know you've recovered. But according to this higher Florida court ruling, this girl, this bully, can now go back to class. I know she is back in class, not at your school. But given what happened to you, how do you feel about that?
JEWETT: I'm getting pulled out of school now because I don't want to be back. And every time I go back, I think about that. And so I don't trust anybody. So I'm just going to be home schooled.
BALDWIN: You're going to be home schooled, even though this young woman, who was accused of attacking you, isn't even at your school anymore, is that correct?
BALDWIN: Do you think she can -- this young woman, do you think she can ever stop being violent?
JEWETT: It's a possibility if she gets help.
BALDWIN: T.C., here's my question to you. I know that there are a lot of bully stories out there. We wanted to talk about this one. It struck us because this judge made this unprecedented move, you know, banning this student from all the schools in the county. Want to tell you that the girl's attorney did tell us this, let me quote, their perspective. "Our goal has been to return our client, a child, to a public school so she can complete her studies for this academic year. We believe that the child should be educated in, not banned from, the public school system."
You're a lawyer. You know the law. I mean what do you make of the point that any child has a constitutional right to a public education?
T.C. ROBERTS, ATTORNEY FOR BULLYING VICTIM'S FAMILY: When they're speaking of that constitutional right, they're referring to the Florida Constitution. And they -- the Florida Constitution says that every student in Florida has a right to public education. And that's what they're referring to.
As far as our position is that, you know, initially we didn't want Aria's attacker back in her school. And that's what we were asking for as far as how the judge ruled. The judge ruled that she's not allowed in all Duvall County schools. There's a saying in law school that we -- that we live by, is that the law, at the time, is what the judge says it is at the time. And, you know, and that's how the judge ruled. And that's something we've supported from day one. He obviously thought that the attacker was a threat to other students, not only Aria, but other students as well.
Joey, let me go to you just as an objective legal voice, because we know sort of how the judge ruled. Now we have this higher court ruling, you know, putting a pause on that and allowing this child, this attacker, to be in another school. What do you make of this?
JOEY JACKSON, HLN LEGAL ANALYST: You know, what happens in any scenario, Brooke, is that courts have to balance equities and then, you know, of course, the Florida Constitution speaks to the issue of public education. The United States Constitution does not and historically has not spoken to that because we know education is a localized issue.
However, what a court has to do is to balance the violent and vicious propensities of a student versus the need for that student to get an education and not harm other people. And so how this plays out, of course, as we know, is that a judge felt it appropriate to ban this student from the whole county.
JACKSON: And then, of course, a judge stepped in and said, no, you can't do that, but it would be appropriate, I guess, to ban her from the school. And so I think the ultimate objective (INAUDIBLE) sure that students are educated, that they're educated in an environment where they can learn, that they're not subject to other people's vicious propensities and that they can continue to grow and develop into a wonderful woman, as, you know, as I'm sure Aria will do.
BALDWIN: Aria, I just -- my final question to you. Beyond all this legal talk, you talk about how, you know, you're going to be home schooled, but this young woman, who you say attacked you, what do you think should happen to her?
JEWETT: I believe everyone should get their learning education (INAUDIBLE) that.