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Interview With Buzz Aldrin; Outrage Over Mysterious Death
Aired May 14, 2013 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: A Hollywood star's candid revelation, inside the gene test that led to Angelina Jolie's double mastectomy. Spy games, wigs, weapons, dark glasses, how Russia says it nabbed a CIA agent. Inside the Obama administration's horrible no good very bad week. Plus, a teen athlete found dead inside a gym mat. After a picture surfaces, his parents are demanding answers.
VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Did you believe that?
JACQUELYN JOHNSON, MOTHER: No.
BLACKWELL: And you still don't believe it?
J. JOHNSON: No, I don't.
BALDWIN: And, attention, space geeks. Buzz Aldrin joins me live on why America should colonize Mars very soon.
BALDWIN: Here we go, hour two. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thanks for being with me here.
I want to begin this hour with some strange going-ons in Washington. On the Justice Department's snooping today, the president's chief spokesman says that the White House learned about it yesterday when the rest of us heard the news about the far-reaching subpoena covering journalists.
And then there is the story concerning the IRS apparently making conservative groups jump through all kinds of hoops just to get tax- exempt status.
Jay Carney, White House spokesperson, said, hold on, let's get more facts.
In Washington now, we have Jessica Yellin, chief White House correspondent, and Gloria Borger, our chief political analyst.
So, Jessica, first to you there.
I know you peppered Jay Carney today about this whole IRS story. What's the movement on that? JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brooke, as you saw today, Jay Carney got questions from just about every direction on this story.
And his response was something that is very familiar to anybody who has watched White House briefings over the years. Can't comment on an ongoing investigation. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
YELLIN: You say check our history, rapid commentary, but you have to understand and hear how it sounds like the administration might be hiding something. So can we take these one at a time? On the IRS, on Friday, they gave one version of the story that has changed several times since then.
So, can you just say plainly, does the president believe that they're being truthful and does he think that the leadership there needs to change?
JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Well, I don't know how that -- I don't understand how that tracks with your first sentence about -- assertion here.
We have seen the reports, as the president said, and if the reports are true, he would consider them --
YELLIN: Even the IRS has acknowledged that some of this wrongdoing happened. So the president and this administration could agree --
CARNEY: And I think you heard the president say yesterday that if it turns out to be the case.
CARNEY: And, again, there is a lot of reporting, not all of it complementary, some of it contradictory.
YELLIN: He said it was IRS personnel, which sounded like it was isolated. We have now learned that it was --
CARNEY: How could IRS personnel be isolated? That could be the entire agency. It's well -- he's facing --
CARNEY: But, Jessica, he's facing --
YELLIN: -- Washington, D.C., office, does he -- (CROSSTALK)
YELLIN: Is he concerned that this is a broader problem?
CARNEY: He's concerned the -- he's concerned by every report he sees on this. You can believe that he's concerned by that. And that is why he looks forward to finding out what the I.G. report says.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
YELLIN: Brooke, Jay wouldn't say what the result or consequence of the president's concern or outrage would be. We will have to wait and see what the results of that report are. So we will wait and see.
I should point out real quick that at the same time, almost identical time that Jay Carney was briefing, the attorney general said he's going to open an investigation into the IRS issue. Unclear what that could produce, Brooke.
BALDWIN: Right, criminal probe specifically. Jessica, thank you.
Let me bounce to this whole Associated Press-DOJ issue.
And, Gloria, I defer to you on that, because we heard the attorney general, Eric Holder, speaking really for the first time about this, about these -- about the Department of Justice, you know, seizing these phone records from the Associated Press over the course of two months.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Without their knowledge, subpoenaed without their knowledge, right.
BALDWIN: Without their knowledge, without their knowledge. What more did he share?
BORGER: Well, look, I think that the big complaint from the AP is that not only was this a subpoena, but it was a subpoena without their knowledge, which in their view is almost unprecedented.
Eric Holder, of course, has recused himself from this matter because he was interviewed as a part of this leak investigation. And so he obviously had to recuse himself. What is interesting -- is going on here in Washington, I should say, is that don't forget it was Republicans in Congress who said to the administration, you got to get a handle on these. You have got to start investigating these leaks, so -- of national security matters.
So the White House investigates these leaks, and Republicans and Democrats, by the way, but Republicans in particular are now the defenders of the First Amendment. And many have been before, of course, but now saying along with the press, wait a minute, you cannot do this. This has a chilling effect on the First Amendment and the way reporters gather information. So it is a kind of topsy-turvy situation here, but the White House can't win. In two out of three of these cases, I would argue, on the IRS in particular, and on the A.G. subpoenas, the White House is really a step or two removed. On Benghazi, they are not removed.
But on two or three out of these, the timing is completely unfortunate for them.
BALDWIN: Gloria Borger, thank you. And, Jessica Yellin, my thanks to you as well.
And then from Washington, we go to Harlem. It is not often I hear in my ear my executive producer telling me that Prince Harry is now playing baseball. But here you have it, live pictures, Prince Harry playing some ball with some underprivileged kids there in Harlem.
Max Foster is there. Max Foster reporting that Mark Teixeira, the first baseman for the Yankees, going to hop over to the mound and toss some pitches out to these little guys and gals.
So, Max Foster, big doings in Harlem.
MAX FOSTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. No pressure on Prince Harry. Doesn't really play baseball. Not particularly good at cricket even.
So he's out here in front of the world's media, getting some practice in. But he's out. As you say, he's got the experts on site. And we will see how he does. Just been throwing some balls. He's been given this jersey as well with Prince Harry written on it, which is quite fun. Hopefully, he will put that on as well.
It is all about, Brooke, promoting his charities and one of the big causes he's interested in is getting young people into sport. And this is interesting, this project here. This is all about getting underprivileged kids into sport coaching, give them the confidence to coach teams, not necessarily go on to become coaches, but to just give them confidence that they can achieve. And he's got a similar charity in the U.K.
So he's throwing himself in here. He was throwing some balls a minute ago. I'm sure he will grab one of these in just a moment. The other day, he was playing American football, Brooke, and he actually managed to plant a football in the media pen.
FOSTER: Some think that that was on purpose. But, hopefully, it won't happen this time with a harder ball.
BALDWIN: Yes, his throwing arm has made headlines, I know, here in the U.S. and right now he's just talking to this little girl. Perhaps he knows the cameras are on him, or shall we wait? Let's see. Let's stay with this for the moment and see if we see a little baseball.
Are these live pictures or is this tape, guys? OK. OK. So these are live.
Max Foster, we're just going to leave it there. We see him enjoying a nice sunny day there in Harlem. We know he's been working with the Wounded Warriors in Colorado, touring some of damaged areas in New Jersey today with Chris Christie, the superstorm Sandy impact. So good to see him there and maybe not in Vegas this time around. Max Foster, thank you so much.
Now to a story that impacts almost every American. This is one of the biggest killers in the United States, drunk driving accidents claiming the lives of about 10,000 Americans each and every year. And so today, the National Transportation Safety Board took a bold step. It recommended that states lower the blood alcohol threshold for drivers.
CNN's Shannon Travis joins me in Washington.
And what was the recommendation, Shannon?
SHANNON TRAVIS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes.
I mean, the recommendations from the NTSB are basically to lower the blood alcohol content, Brooke, from .08 to .05. Now, I will explain a little bit more about that in a moment. There are a few other recommendations that they're making to all 50 states. They want for the states to allow cops, police officers, basically, who pull over drunk drivers to basically be able to quickly confiscate their driver's licenses.
Another thing that they're recommending is that cops who pull over a first-time offender, that they basically make those people get these ignition locking devices, where you have to breathe into it in order for the car to start. Now, back to this .08 vs. .05, what does that mean in practical terms?
Let's say, Brooke, you go out after work, you're hanging out, or what have you, you have a few beers or what have you. Take a look at what I have set up here in terms of a simulation. This is not real, Brooke. This is apple juice and this is water.
BALDWIN: What, you're not making a beer run in the middle of your Tuesday, Shannon Travis?
TRAVIS: I'm not going to have it, not right now, maybe a little bit later on.
BALDWIN: That a boy.
TRAVIS: And I won't drive, definitely.
BALDWIN: All right. TRAVIS: But just want to just give people a real-life sense of what this actually means. OK?
Estimates. For a person who is about 200 pounds, obviously, it depends on whether you're a male or female, what kind of food you have eaten, how long you have been drinking, your health condition, but let's just take a rough estimate according to a calculator that we used.
Right now, you would be able to have four of these beers and be at the limit, be just fine at the blood alcohol content limit, and three, let's say, gin and tonic. If these new rules, if these new rules are adopted across different states, Brooke, take away two of those beers. You would only be able to have two before you reach the legal limit before being considered drunk and take away one of those gin and tonics.
Now, obviously, we're talking about separate here, not all of this together.
TRAVIS: So, this basically means that you will have to drink less, but the NTSB says that there is a very good reason for this, Brooke. They estimate that between 500 and 800 people will stay alive every year if this change goes into effect.
BALDWIN: Which is a positive outcome of this potential change, but at the same time, Shannon Travis, I know some people not at all happy about this.
TRAVIS: That's right.
As you can imagine, there is some opposition, namely from the American Beverage Institute. Brooke, I am going to read this quote: "This recommendation is ludicrous. Moving from .08 to .05 would criminalize perfectly responsible behavior. Further restricting the moderate consumption of alcohol by responsible adults prior to driving does nothing to stop hard-core drunk drivers from getting behind the wheel."
Again, that's from the American Beverage Institute. One last thing, could this be coming to your state? I mentioned earlier that this -- these recommendations are only that, Brooke. These do not have the force of law. The states pretty much set their own BAC rates on their own. But there could be financial incentives for the states to adopt this new lower rate and also a number of the states are already kind of open to lowering the rate anyway.
So could be coming to a state near you. We will just have to wait and see on that.
BALDWIN: OK, Shannon Travis. I know people are wondering certainly if it could affect them. Shannon, thank you so much.
And an American diplomat in Russia is ordered out of the country after he is accused of spying. He is identified by Moscow as Ryan Fogle, the third secretary of the political department of the U.S. Embassy in the Russian capital.
The Russians claim he's actually a CIA agent who is trying to recruit a staff member of one of the -- from one of the Russian special services. They say he was caught with wigs. You saw the table, right? So, wigs and cash, a knife, dark glasses. He was detained and then turned over to the U.S. Embassy.
Mike Baker is with me now from New York.
Good to see you, Mike.
He's a former CIA covert operations officer. Listen,
these aren't the Cold War days, obviously, though we know spying still happens. What can you tell me about the case?
MIKE BAKER, FORMER CIA COVERT OPERATIONS OFFICER: Well, this is -- it's nice that you referenced the Cold War, because most people thought after the fall of the Wall, that was it. We're all holding hands and everybody is getting along really well.
But make no mistake. You know, we spend a great deal of time, as do our allies and others that are hostile to own interests, trying to find out other people's secrets. So, you know is it shocking that the agency is involved in trying to recruit a Russian intel officer? Absolutely not.
The Russians do this and spend a great deal of time trying to do the same. Do you remember that story? Just not that long ago, we expelled about 10 Russians from the U.S.
BALDWIN: That woman, the redhead? Of course.
BAKER: Yes. Right. Exactly. And that's what happened.
Everybody said, oh, this is -- what a funny story. And, my, look how hot that one Russian spy is. But we have to remember how much resource the Russians put into that and putting people here in our own country. So of and by itself, not that interesting, but what is interesting is the timing.
Now, typically, the way these things play out is that it is not as if the FSB, the Russian service -- and, remember, Putin is an old- school former KGB officer, so he's very close to the FSB -- it is not as if they just stumbled across this young man in Moscow overnight, and now they raised it.
They had this in their pocket waiting to use this for a period of time, when to play the card. And they have decided that now is a good time to play it.
BALDWIN: So, then, while they're playing the card, we know that they have detained this guy, they have ordered him out of Russia. Why not arrest him? BAKER: Well, because there is a traditional game that goes on between, you know, us and others out there in this area.
It tends to be sort of a tit for tat. In this case -- and, you know, bear with me on this one, because I think the timing of this is really fascinating. Coming on the heels of the Boston bombing, remember, we all said, the Russians, they were trying to help us, they gave us a name, they gave us the date of birth of Tamerlan Tsarnaev. They were trying to cooperate.
And then the White House after the Boston bombings talking about this new cooperation -- well, in reality, the Russians had a massive file on Tamerlan. It is not as if they weren't surveilling him the whole time he was over in Dagestan during that six months. So, they had all that filed.
We started to make some noise about the fact that, you know in reality, after the dust had settled, in looking at the situation, we probably could have prevented the Boston bombing if the Russians were more forthcoming, if they agreed to actually cooperate with us in the war on terror and shared some of that information they had on Tamerlan before the attack.
That would have been the thing that could have prevented that. Now, because that noise was coming out, the Russians decide to play this card about this individual in Moscow committing, as they say, espionage, they play the card, and suddenly we're all looking and going, well, wait a minute, it deflects it. It distracts the attention of the public and now the public now says, well, why are we spying on the Russians when we need their cooperation in the war on terror?
So, it's a well-played, Mr. Putin, sort of scenario.
BALDWIN: Tit for tat, information-sharing, or perhaps lack thereof. Mike Baker, thank you.
BAKER: Thank you.
BALDWIN: Coming up next, a chilling story without answers, a teenager found dead in his school gymnasium, wrapped up in this cheerleading mat. Police initially said no foul play. But his parents after seeing this picture are demanding answers. A CNN investigation is next.
BALDWIN: You are about to hear a story. It's a tragic story, without answers, at least not yet.
Parents of a high school athlete are demanding answers. They say police are covering up their son's death. The 17-year-old was found dead at his school in Valdosta, Georgia. Police called it an accident. But Kendrick Johnson's parents aren't buying it. They saw their son's face after he was pronounced dead and say the police explanation just doesn't add up. CNN's Victor Blackwell has the story, but, first, just have to warn you, we obtained that photo of Kendrick Johnson's face after his death. It is within this story you're about to see. It is extremely graphic.
So, please, be advised.
KENNETH JOHNSON, FATHER: I wish this on no one.
BLACKWELL (voice-over): Kenneth and Jacquelyn Johnson knew something was wrong when their 17-year-old son Kendrick did not come home from school January 10.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Come to Lowndes High School now. There is a dead body out here.
911 OPERATOR: OK, where at, sir?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Lowndes High School in the old gym.
BLACKWELL: The next day, Kendrick was found upside down in a rolled cheerleading mat, like these.
J. JOHNSON: Got weak, nervous.
BLACKWELL: Investigators say it appeared Kendrick, who was 5'10'', was reaching for his shoe that had fallen into the center of a six foot mat and he got stuck,a tragic accident.
J. JOHNSON: That it was no foul play. He had no bruises, no nothing.
BLACKWELL (on camera): Did you believe that?
J. JOHNSON: No.
BLACKWELL: And you still don't believe it?
J. JOHNSON: No, I don't.
BLACKWELL (voice-over): They think the story about the mat is a cover-up.
BILL WATSON, LOWNDES COUNTY, GEORGIA, CORONER: Well, I didn't know what to find.
BLACKWELL: According to Georgia law, coroner Bill Watson should have been contacted immediately. Kendrick's body was found at about 10:30.
WATSON: I was notified at a quarter of 4:00.
BLACKWELL: Lieutenant Stryde Jones is with the Lowndes County Sheriff's Office.
LT. STRYDE JONES, LOWNDES COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE: It is a very time-consuming process to because work your way from the outside in. Once our investigators got to the deceased, the coroner was contacted immediately.
WATSON: The only reason that I was questioning this incident whatsoever was I wasn't called to the scene in a timely fashion.
BLACKWELL: The Johnsons say the story doesn't make sense.
K. JOHNSON: That mat is so light, you could have pushed that with just a rock and it would have fell over. I tried to get in it. I couldn't get no forward my neck muscles into the mat.
BLACKWELL: Then this photo of Kendrick's face.
K. JOHNSON: As handsome as my son was, then you see him like that, it is -- it's crazy. I really feel he was murdered.
BLACKWELL: The photo has been shared thousands of times online. There is a Facebook page dedicated to the case and a local rapper has written a song.
UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTERS: We want justice. We want justice.
BLACKWELL: There are now rallies nearly every day in Valdosta.
K. JOHNSON: No matter who you are, how much money your parents have, the color of your skin, everyone deserves justice, everyone.
BLACKWELL: More than 100 days after Kendrick's body was discovered, scores of interviews and hours of investigation, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation determined Kendrick accidentally smothered to death.
JONES: We examined all the alternatives that were presented to us. And the only one that fit the physical evidence, and the forensic evidence and the testimonial evidence we received was this is an accident.
BLACKWELL: Hours after the release of the report as scheduled, as scheduled, another rally.
BALDWIN: Victor Blackwell joins me now. With all of these rallies in Valdosta, I was sitting here just asking you, when he was found, he's a fairly decent-sized man -- he was found inside the mat?
BLACKWELL: Inside the mat. And the coroner tells us that this hole in the center of the mat is 14 inches wide. His shoulders are 19 inches wide.
BLACKWELL: He says that he was found in a -- like a swimmer's position with one arm extended. The family asks, if his arm is extended, he's reaching for something on the floor, and he's 5'10'', how can that extended arm, plus his 5'10'' frame not peek out of a 6' mat.
BALDWIN: Not be peeking out the edge of the mat.
BLACKWELL: And how could he be there overnight if that is exactly what happened?
BALDWIN: Where does this case stand now?
BLACKWELL: Well, the sheriff's office says it is closed, but if someone comes forward with credible information that this was anything other than an accident, they're certainly willing to listen to it.
The Johnson family has now hired an attorney. They say their son was beaten and killed. They're lobbying the Department of Justice to look in not only to Kendrick's death, but the sheriff's office investigation of his death. I called the U.S. attorney there in that district, Michael Moore, and he says when a family comes forward with such serious allegations, they certainly are listening. He has not said yet if they will take this case.
BALDWIN: Stay on it.
BALDWIN: Could be more than meets the eye here. Victor Blackwell, thank you very much.
BALDWIN: Great reporting there.
Coming up next, we will look into the backyard of the man charged with kidnapping three young women in Cleveland.
Plus, we're learning more about Ariel Castro's bizarre behavior behind bars.
BALDWIN: Want to take you to Cleveland now and show you some just chilling photographs you will only see here on CNN of this backyard where Ariel Castro allegedly held those three women and a young girl, a young child, locked up inside.
I know it looks like a pile of junk here, but this could be really a treasure trove hinting at the potential horrors that Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight faced inside those walls.
Pamela Brown is live in Cleveland.
And, Pamela, let's begin with the photos. Walk me through what we see.
PAMELA BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Brooke. You look at these photos and it looks just like a mini-junkyard, a bunch of different knickknack items cluttered together in the backyard of Ariel Castro's home.
And then you take a closer look at these pictures and you put them in context of what allegedly happened inside Castro's home and you start to put together a more disturbing picture. We see spools, large spools of barbed wire throughout the yard in these pictures.
And then also the pictures show chains. Now, we're hearing from the person that took these pictures that there were several chains throughout this yard. So we know that the women, according to authorities, they were chained up, bound inside the home. We don't know if these items were used for that, certainly a possibility.
Also, a mirror, not just any mirror. It is a mirror that is strategically placed on the outside of the home, presumably so that Ariel Castro could see who was coming up his driveway, so that he could keep an eye out for any unexpected visitors.
And then also, Brooke, a picture of innocence here. We see a little pink Barbie bicycle in the midst of all this clutter, amidst of this mess. And we know that Ariel Castro had a 6-year-old daughter living in the house. So, again, you can only imagine that this bike, it was used by his little girl.
As far as Ariel Castro goes, he's still in restriction at the county jail, which means this is a certain protocol for high-profile inmates like himself. We looked through a jail log that we obtained. Guards have to log every 10 minutes what he's doing, and a lot of it is just pretty mundane stuff, like he's eating, sleeping, but then, Brooke, we saw a couple of things that stood out.
One, in a couple of the logs he was walking around his cell naked, and then a second one, a guard had to go in and talk to him because he was apparently flossing his teeth with part of his mat. Strange.
BALDWIN: Beyond strange. But, again, it is a man facing charges of kidnapping and rape. Pamela Brown for me in Cleveland, thank you.
Bottom of the hour now. It is the bombshell announcement that sent ripples through Hollywood and really across the world today, Angelina Jolie revealing in this "New York Times" opinion piece that earlier this year, she had not just one, but both of her breasts removed.
And she isn't the first woman, obviously, at high risk of breast cancer, to make this kind of a decision. And she will not be the last either. This is 24-year-old Allyn Rose. She is Miss D.C. She doesn't have breast cancer, but she has decided she, too, will have both of her breasts surgically removed.
You see, Rose has a genetic mutation, which means there is a good chance she could develop the disease in the coming years. It is a disease that has already claimed the lives of three women in her family, including her own mother and her grandmother.