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PIERS MORGAN LIVE
New Details on Kidnapping Case; Inside Castro's Home; Angelina Jolie's Op-Ed About Having Preventative Mastectomy Increases Awareness of Genetic Testing For Women Around World
Aired May 14, 2013 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PIERS MORGAN, CNN HOST: This is PIERS MORGAN LIVE. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world.
Tonight, breaking news on the IRS scandal. (INAUDIBLE) the White House, the president calls it, I quote, "intolerable and inexcusable," and he demands that those responsible be held accountable. We'll talk to Jessica Yellin at the White House and Dana Bash on Capitol Hill.
And on the grill tonight, a man who knows his way around the White House in crisis. Clinton counsel Lenny Davis, what would he do.
Plus shocking new details of Ariel Castro's violent life behind closed doors. I'll talk to his former daughter-in-law who was in the house while three young women were being held captive. She has explosive revelations about his violent behavior. Tonight, one of Ariel Castro's attorneys also speaks out for the first time.
And Angelina Jolie's brave battle, a double mastectomy. Her father Jon Voight tells me this exclusively, quote, "I fully understand Angie's decision. What a magnificent woman she is. And so brave. I also feel she'll be an inspiration to all women who may be vulnerable to a similar situation."
I'll talk to the top congresswoman who found out she has a similar cancer gene. Now she's fighting to save more women.
But we begin tonight with the latest from Cleveland. We're learning tonight that two of the young women in the house were imprisoned in conditions that are being described as similar to a prisoner of war camp. This according to Reuters which says that Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight were in worse condition than Amanda Berry. One source says the basement of the house had chains coming from the walls and dog leashes coming from the ceiling.
Ed Gallek of WOIO is with me now.
Ed, I just read this report breaking on Reuters in the last few minutes. It really is unbelievably shocking when you get to the detail that he restrained in particular Gina and Michelle with duct tape in stress positions for such long periods of times they had bed sores. They apparently hadn't been seen at all unlike Amanda Berry precisely because of the nature of their injuries.
And it goes on to say one of the girls has difficulty moving her head around from being chained up. They think that refers to Gina. They were like prisoners of war. If he left for periods of time, he would duct tape them over all parts of their faces, even their eyes, only leaving an opening so they could breathe. He would just rip it off, pulling off skin and hair.
It goes on to say they're now exhibiting signs of malnutrition because Castro would use food as a means to torment them, according to the Reuters sources. He would bring food to one or two of the girls and make the others watch as they or he would eat it in front of them. And so it goes on. Really shocking and disturbing new details.
From what you've been hearing, Ed, from your sources, consistent with everything that is now building up about the reality of the horror that went on in that house?
ED GALLEK, WOIO, CLEVELAND: That does go along with the fact that I'm hearing that Ariel Castro had a hierarchy. He did in fact treat Amanda Berry the best. The other two, much worse. Amanda, I'm told, got fed first, she got fed better, she got locked up last, in fact, I'm told Amanda sometimes had to lock up the other two and then she got locked up. So that goes right in line with what I'm hearing.
MORGAN: And what else are we getting today? There's some suggestion that although the DNA tests have now proved inconclusive in terms of him being on the records in either the state or federally in terms of previous crimes, they are now inspecting things like the mattress, other stuff in the house, to see if he could have had other women victims in the house. Is that right?
GALLEK: That's right. The evidence that's going to be tested by the state attorney general's office for DNA and those kinds of things still has not gotten down to the lab yet. Still being gathered, put together and so forth. But here's what that will show. If there is a DNA hit other than for the people who were in the house that we know about, well, that raises the question, were there any other victims, are there any other suspects, who else was in that house that knew about it and didn't say anything.
MORGAN: Absolutely. We are getting the first reaction from attorneys for Ariel Castro, saying he will plead not guilty to all charges if the grand jury indicts him on kidnapping and rape charges. An interesting strategy. I mean, they're saying he's not a monster.
What do you make of that?
GALLEK: Well, I'm hearing from the interrogation that he really didn't deny anything, but he didn't admit it. He's been kind of evasive. One of the things we brought up last night was the court hearing transcript from several years ago where he was evasive in court. I'm told he was much the same way in his interrogation about this case, not really answering anything, kind of deflecting, kind of moving about.
MORGAN: He also says, according to these attorneys, that he loves his daughter which is of course the daughter that he bore through raping Amanda Berry. I mean, this is a defense that's going to be extremely difficult to sustain itself, isn't it?
GALLEK: Well, it is. And when I went to the home of the mother several days ago, and I spoke to a young woman there, she mentioned that he had a picture of this baby and he would talk about being his girlfriend's child. But then the family there never saw the actual baby, just the picture. So that's kind of strange, too.
MORGAN: It certainly is. This story gets stranger and more gruesome by the day.
Ed, thank you very much indeed as always.
I want to bring in Monica Stephens, Ariel Castro's former daughter-in-law, who says she was in the house during the time the three young women were being held captive and she says Castro was violent and attacked his ex-wife and his son, Anthony, multiple times.
Miss Stevens, welcome to you. Thank you for joining me. What was your reaction, when you first heard that Ariel Castro, the father of the man that you were married to, had been arrested in connection with this awful crime, series of crimes, what was your reaction?
MONICA STEPHENS, ARIEL CASTRO'S FORMER DAUGHTER-IN-LAW: I was shocked. I really can't describe it. It was definitely an indescribable feeling. But definitely caught off guard.
MORGAN: What kind of man -- what kind of man was he?
STEPHENS: I never had the desire to get to know him personally or very closely. Both my ex-husband and his mother had shared with me stories of how he had beaten them, locked them in the house and, you know, just treated them just like hostages, so I never had a desire to get to know him. He didn't have that like, you know, father-in-law appeal.
MORGAN: I mean, we've heard reports of --
MORGAN: We've reports of domestic violence and people have assumed that meant that he physically abused his ex-wife, who was obviously your ex-husband's mother. But from what you have been told by both Anthony, your ex-husband, and by the mother herself, it went much further than that. It went much more into the kind of depravity that we have seen in relation to these other women.
STEPHENS: Yes. In fact, I think -- I'm hearing I think that's another reason hearing about everything just elicited a lot of emotions for me, because it did remind me of stories that they had shared with me being locked in the house. There was something I'm not specific with the chains, kind of reminiscent where when I heard that, I just kind of shuddered. He played a lot of mind games with her and I believe with, you know, my ex-husband as well.
Of course, their stories were shared with me after the fact. They had separated from, you know, Ariel Castro at that time. But even still, it was just very horrendous, the stories like I said, after she had had a surgery, a brain surgery, and he still -- she recollected to me how he still continued to, like, beat her, like he hit her in the head, either he kicked her or hit her with a lead pipe.
Like the stories were -- I don't even think I really fully could grasp just how horrible some of the stories were.
MORGAN: And he also beat your ex-husband repeatedly when he was younger, is that right?
STEPHENS: Yes. Both of them were beaten, just not, you know, not that any domestic violence is, you know, tolerable, but this went beyond like your normal domestic violence story. It just seemed very evil in nature and I just couldn't understand how someone could treat someone they say they loved, or let alone their own flesh and blood, like that. So like I said, that really fueled my desire to not really want anything to do with him.
And my ex-husband wasn't close to him because of, you know, their past, so it made it kind of easy. I also heard he wasn't really a fan of black people, so again, it wasn't like he gave me a warm and fuzzy feeling or, you know, anything like that.
MORGAN: You went to this house that was now being dubbed the house of horrors. What was the experience of being in that house with Ariel Castro like?
STEPHENS: It's much like everyone else describes. It was short. I don't think we were there more than 20 minutes. It wasn't a normal occurrence. I think that was the one and only time I had ever been there. Ariel Castro always gave me the heebie-jeebies but I thought that was just because of my personal bias. So that, I guess like I said, I just attribute to the things I had heard about him. It wasn't -- nothing really stood out. I had always heard about how he had locked everything, like obsessively so if I had seen a lock, I'm not sure that I would have thought it was out of the ordinary. But I didn't hear anything. Nothing was out of place.
We sat, I think, like in the little dining area and I think it was kind of dim in the living room, but there weren't any noises, there weren't any, you know, there weren't any tell-tale signs. I wish there had been. Because nobody -- I just wish there had been.
MORGAN: Have you talked to your ex-husband since the revelations of a week ago?
STEPHENS: No. No, I have not. I would imagine they're probably hurting tremendously and probably not speaking with a lot of people right now.
MORGAN: We obviously had an interview at CNN with the two brothers who were also arrested and then released. Did you believe them when you saw their interview?
STEPHENS: Yes. Yes, I did. I unfortunately wasn't able to watch it in its entirety, but from what I did catch or glance, and what I know of them personally, yes, they were always just normal, you know, guys. I interacted with them a few times at family gatherings. They were always personable. I really don't think that anyone else in the family is connected with this. You know, he -- Ariel Castro committed, you know, crimes against his family, like I think they were some of his first victims, and I don't think that anyone even hearing those things would have thought you were capable of doing these monstrosities he -- you know, committed against these girls.
But I don't -- I really couldn't see anyone else and I know as far as Ariel Castro's kids, I know they were so distraught, and his mother were so distraught about, you know, the missing girls, especially Gina, that I know they didn't have anything to do with that, or and -- didn't know of anything like that. And I wouldn't have -- I wouldn't think Pedro or Onil did either.
MORGAN: What is fascinating about you talking now is that it's in direct contrast to almost everybody else I've spoken to that knew him on a friendly basis. All of them paint a picture of a harmless, nice, normal guy. But the picture you're painting is very different, almost like this wouldn't be the most shocking thing you'd heard all year, was Ariel Castro was capable of treating other human beings very badly.
STEPHENS: I think any time you hear a story, I have never even heard a story like this, so any time you hear that, I have a hard time accepting that anyone could commit these crimes. So with that said, yes, I did not know that Ariel Castro that they speak so highly of. Again, like I said, I was biased. I was close to two people who he had hurt emotionally, physically, so you know, I didn't have those same feelings about him.
But at the same time, I could see how it was not something that was publicly discussed. Things like that are often, you know, kind of kept hidden. I think that perhaps at first, maybe it wasn't, you know, known that he was so savage about it, but I think eventually his -- or her family, Milda's family, had to realize, you know, how drastic things were and she told me how, you know, sometimes she wouldn't be able to talk to her family, she wouldn't be able to leave, and then she had small children.
It was just, you know, I didn't know that, you know, nice person because these were the stories I had heard.
MORGAN: Do you think that --
STEPHENS: So I believed them.
MORGAN: Right. But do you think, Monica, that given the scale of the beatings he administered to Grimilda and also to obviously your ex-husband, Anthony, do you think the authorities should have taken more action earlier with Ariel Castro? Do you think the scale of what he was doing even then warranted more attention?
STEPHENS: Oh, well, definitely, but I mean, I wish they had, but I can see how perhaps not. The Ariel Castro that I know of kept a very tight ship so therefore he didn't let people out to discuss what was going on inside. That's how come I can kind of understand, you know, when people are like, how come they didn't get out, you mean in all those years they didn't have time to get out, I kind of can see, I kind of get a glimpse of how controlling and manipulative it seems as if he plays a lot of mind games, physical games, just a lot, so he seems like he just wears on your whole being.
So I can understand perhaps how they weren't able to, and I think that's how he was able to keep it hidden for so long, like you say. People have many wonderful things to say about him, but one thing people can all say is no, we really didn't hang out at his house much. I think he was that cold and calculated in making sure that his facade looked that good and that's the Ariel Castro that I, you know, had heard about with great anguish.
So you know, what he did in the neighborhood to save face, like I said, I was aware -- I didn't think he was, you know, a fan of black people but Chuck Ramsey said he eats ribs with the guy. I think he does what he had to do to keep his facade together.
MORGAN: I don't know if you knew Naomi Castro, who was his sister. Did you know her?
MORGAN: Apparently he had a sister called Naomi who works actually at a city jail. She's alerted officials that she is the sister of Ariel Castro and has now been assigned to administrative work. But you never encountered her?
STEPHENS: I don't believe so, or if I did, it wasn't in any, you know, lasting capacity. I can't say I didn't encounter her at a gathering or something to that effect. But I was -- I was tighter with Ariel's mother's side of the family versus his father's side so --
MORGAN: I mean, final question for you, Monica.
STEPHENS: Definitely not.
MORGAN: The interviews with both his daughters, they seem such nice, intelligent, well-spoken young ladies. Clearly unbelievably shocked by what's happened. It does seem extraordinary that this family is -- seems a relatively good family, and yet in the middle of it is this absolute monster. What is your overriding reaction?
STEPHENS: Just anguish. Really for all parties involved. The girls who were held captive, I just can't -- you know, I can't even comprehend or describe. As far as, you know, Arlene and Angie are concerned, they were always, I mean, his family -- Anthony's family was always very loving. And I know specifically they were very torn up over the missing girls' cases. So, I know that if they had had any inkling that their father was involved, they would have been compelled to do something about it. They couldn't have stomached that. Everyone in that whole community was so torn up over those girls missing, there's no way that they could have known about that. We spent a lot of time talking about it. Even so, where that's how I actually became alerted of the case was that one of my friends had texted me like hey, they found the Dejesus girl or they found Gina. And I was like oh, that's awesome. I wonder where she's been all this time. So then I started to hear about Amanda and Michelle; that community was just definitely rocked. I know that they are devastated to know that anyone they know, let alone their dad, was involved in this in any way.
MORGAN: Yes. Absolutely appalling. Monica Stephens, thank you so much for joining me.
STEPHENS: Thank you.
MORGAN: Quite extraordinary. You can sound off about stories we're talking about tonight. You can tweet me, @piersmorgan using the #dearpiers. You just might get a live, real response later in tonight's show.
When we come back, a new report says the IRS intentionally targeted Tea Party groups. Why the president's demanding that heads roll in Washington.
And on the grill tonight, former Clinton White House counsel Lanny Davis. How would he handle this mess?
MORGAN: Tonight, breaking news on the IRS targeting Tea Party groups. President Obama issued a statement saying as Treasury Department reports findings on the scandal are intolerable and inexcusable. President Obama saying the IRS must apply the law in a fair, impartial way and this report shows employees failed that test.
Jessica Yellin is at the White House, and Dana Bash on Capitol Hill. We begin with Dana. Dana, this is a right old mess for the president, isn't it?
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's certainly one way to put it. This is a pretty damning report, Piers. We knew some of what was going on from congressional sources throughout the week, but the bottom line is that it says that IRS agents simply targeted these groups because of words like Tea Party, like Patriot, because of their political affiliation. And did so with excess scrutiny in a way that there's no way they should have done. Asking them questions that they shouldn't have asked about their donors, about their contributors, about their membership.
And what made this so much worse is that the management of the IRS simply let it happen, for 18 months, 18 months, they let this go on, knowing about it without changing it. And what that meant for many of these groups is that they were in limbo. And sometimes, some cases, Piers, for years in limbo without getting this tax-exempt status that they were looking for. Now, the big question of course is the political one: was this -- were they targeted for political reasons? What this report finds is that nobody outside of the IRS influenced the decision to use this inappropriate criteria, meaning the White House didn't use it. But they also haven't found, according to this report, exactly who decided to use these criteria. What they call first-line employees, so low- level employees. But they don't know exactly who or really, the bottom line, why. They think it was just a time-saving measure that was used very, very poor judgment.
MORGAN: Right. Jessica Yellin, the president's come out fighting tonight, pretty well trying to erect a large barrier between himself and what's been going on at the IRS.
JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: He has, Piers, but he issued a statement that's somewhat clinical in that it's a lot of words, but he's not taking any direct action. I'll read to you some of his statement. He says, "I have now had the opportunity to review the Treasury Department's watchdog report on its investigation of IRS personnel, who improperly targeted conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status. And the report's findings are intolerable and inexcusable." He says "I've directed Treasury secretary Lew to hold those responsible for these failures accountable and to make sure that each of the inspector general's recommendations are implemented quickly." I'm going to skip ahead. He says, "This conduct was wrong."
I'm skipping ahead because now the Treasury secretary has issued his own statement, Piers, and he says that the IRS must be impartial and nonpartisan, and goes on to say that he believes "the need for accountability there is essential. I expect the IRS to implement the recommendations without delay."
What no one has said here, Piers, is that anyone is getting fired, that any jobs are being lost, that anyone's cleaning house instantly, or that any explicit action is being taken. So you know, I've already been in touch with some Republicans who say this is not enough.
Now, I'll point out that most people at the IRS -- in fact, everybody except two people, are career civil servants. In government, you know it is very difficult to fire anyone without following proper bureaucratic process. So maybe both the president and the treasury secretary are just waiting to follow the proper steps. But you know, this isn't the kind of action that the critics are calling for right away, and what we do know right now is that the president's basically said this is Treasury secretary Lew's problem now.
MORGAN: Right. The IRS have released a statement tonight in response to the inspector general's report saying, "The IRS is required by law to determine if organizations are engaging in a legally permissible level of political activity. Centralizing these cases was necessary to achieve consistent treatment after seeing issues with particular cases, inappropriate shortcuts were used to determine which cases may be engaging in political activities." Dana, just very quickly on this point, I heard Jeffrey Toobin earlier I think, with Erin Burnett saying part of the IRS' job is to actually root out political groups from nonpolitical groups to determine who is going to get these benefits. Now, where and how is that line drawn, and how far over it from this report do we think they crossed?
BASH: That's absolutely right. It is their job. These groups, any group, should not get tax-exempt status if their primary reason for being is political, not for social welfare. They crossed the line by not having criteria that aren't specifically political and more specifically than that, targeting conservative groups. And that's what they did, and that's what the inspector general said must be changed. And there are again, nine recommendations for ways to change that to make sure that this doesn't happen again. And one of the many things that people here on Capitol Hill are unhappy about is that they only accepted seven of the nine, and a couple of those specifically go to this point of politics.
MORGAN: Right. Dana Bash, Jessica Yellin, thank you both very much indeed.
President Obama is in full damage control tonight. My next guest knows all about that. Lanny Davis is the author of "Crisis Tales: Five Rules For Coping With Crisis In Business, Politics, And Life." He is also, of course, a former special counsel to President Clinton and the founder of Purple Nation Solutions and he joins me on the grill.
Couldn't be a more appropriate night to have you roasting on that grill, Lanny. What a mess the president finds himself in from all fronts this week. Let's start with this IRS scandal. Has the White House handled this properly, do you think?
LANNY DAVIS, FOUNDER, PURPLE NATION SOLUTIONS: Well, maybe B-plus but I'm mystified by the legalistic language. The president should be on camera in person expressing outrage, calling for an investigation of his own White House to get out in front of what the Republicans are clearly going to do. Being out in front meaning preempt what you know is coming.
And also, I think a bipartisan committee of Congress should be organized to investigate everyone who might have touched this. If this were a Republican president -- we went back to Richard Nixon with abuse of power by the IRS against political enemies -- Democrats would be shouting for that kind of investigation. I'm hoping that the president will follow the crisis management rule to preempt and show more anger and passion rather than a very legalistic statement. I'm glad he made it, but I think it could have been less legalistic.
MORGAN: And Jay Carney got a bit of a beating up by the White House press team today, and not really surprising because the language he was using seemed to be softening in terms of absolute certainty that nobody at the White House knew about this. Is it really feasible, do you think, that the IRS would independently be so overtly political against the Republicans and Tea Party in particular without anybody at the White House having at least had a quiet word?
DAVIS: Sure. I think it's possible. But they have a presumption that they have to overcome. Their public presumes that the White House must have known. The Watergate scandal led to a law that prohibits the White House from communicating with the IRS on any topic such as political targeting. So it's possible.
But what's lacking here is a preemptive mode. I don't see the president calling for a congressional investigation, a White House investigation, where everyone in the White House is asked, e-mails are looked at, did you communicate with anyone regarding this matter, even indirectly? And it certainly is a presumption that they have to overcome. But of course, I believe them if they say there is no such contact. But they've got to prove it, and by proving it, I mean transparency.
MORGAN: Lanny, let's take a short break. When we come back, we'll talk to you about other scandals rocking the White House, the battle over Benghazi and the Justice Department's seizure of reporters' phone records.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ERIC HOLDER, ATTORNEY GENERAL: This is among -- if not the most serious, it is within the top two or three most serious leaks that I've ever seen. It put the American people at risk. And that is not hyperbole.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: Using the strongest possible terms, that's Attorney General Eric Holder on the stunning revelation that the Justice Department seized phone records from the Associated Press. Holder, under fire for this scandal, says he's announcing a criminal investigation. Back on the Grill tonight is Lanny Davis.
Lanny, before we come to that, one final question that struck me in the break there about the IRS. Should there be proof that emerges that somebody at the White House knew that the IRS were targeting the Tea Party and so on, how serious would that be?
DAVIS: First of all, I think it's a crime. It's extremely politically serious. I would have liked the president to have used the words of somebody whose name I won't mention, you're fired, if anybody in my shop does that. Remember that President Bush promised to do that and he didn't do that when it came to the whole issue of Valerie Plame and the exposure on that.
And yet there were people in the White House who knew about that who weren't fired. So the word is you're fired and it should come from the president of the United States. This is very serious. We went through Watergate and abuse of power. Every Democrat should be as concerned about this as if it were a Republican president. And that's the test of crisis management: do you apply the same standard of transparency and being proactive?
And I've had words about the way the White House handled the Benghazi matter as well as now this A.P. story is very troubling.
MORGAN: Let's come to the A.P. story. Eric Holder very strong today, saying that it was an extraordinary leak, the worst he could remember basically, posing a great threat to the lives of Americans. Does that in itself justify what they did in terms of basically going after the Associated Press and potentially checking the records of up to 100 journalists?
DAVIS: Well, full disclosure, I'm not only a friend but a great admirer of Eric Holder's for many, many years. So I have to trust that, in his judgment, that this was necessary. Having said that, again purely as a matter of crisis management, I don't have any facts as to why it was so broad. There's a lot of hurdles that you have to overcome to violate First Amendment principles, which is what you're doing when you're issuing subpoenas for telephone records of something like the Associated Press or a major media organization.
I'd like to hear the attorney general, if he can -- maybe he can't -- tell us why was it so broad, could it have been narrower? If there was a serious crime, and I believe him when he says it, I don't have enough information yet to explain to me why it was so broad that it could deter First Amendment principles, in my judgment.
MORGAN: One of the problems, it seems to me, is that he recused himself from this decision making process, and therefore felt today he couldn't even talk about it, because he wasn't the guy who took these decisions. Basically chucking his number two under the bus, you might argue. But there are serious questions to be answered here. And I suppose it really comes down to was what they did actually legal?
DAVIS: Well, there is a ground for subpoenaing documents. And in a case of a crime, yes, it certainly is justifiable. Whether it's good policy and whether their ability to communicate and explain what is such a radical departure in a broad subpoena -- the subpoena that I looked at or read about, I have never seen such a thing applied to a news organization.
So at least if Eric Holder's recused himself, where is the Justice Department explaining this? Even if people disagree, what crisis management is about is explaining the facts even if they're not good facts. I don't hear any explanation. Mr. Machin, the U.S. attorney, gave a most inadequate explanation with conclusory sentences, with no explanation as to the breadth, the scary breadth that really chills First Amendment conduct that should have explained. It should be explained to all of us tomorrow morning.
MORGAN: Right. The other thing I want to repeat again is that when they accuse the A.P. of being irresponsible in terms of this leak, in reality, the A.P., when they were asked to, actually backed off the story and held off at the request of the government. So when you have an organization like A.P. behaving like that, to then go after them in this way seems extremely prohibiting to me. I just find it unacceptable. DAVIS: Look, I do want to spend one minute about Benghazi, because it's very similar. It's the absence of communication that is the serious problem in any crisis. No matter how bad the facts are, once you put the facts out -- take the talking points, for example. Now that we've seen all the versions of the talking points, we now realize that the CIA originally came up with the expression "spontaneous protest inspired by the events in Cairo," meaning the anti-Muslim videotape.
That sentence, written by the CIA, stayed with all 14 versions, never changed. Yet the Republican attack is actually contradicted when you read those talking points.
MORGAN: Except, Lanny -- let me jump in, that may be true but they removed any reference to al Qaeda as being a potential source of this problem, too. It's that that the Republicans are going after. And I think they have a right to do that, don't they?
DAVIS: Well, they certainly did remove those references, whether they were removed by the CIA or whether they were removed by people in the State Department is unclear. But the attack point -- and I do agree that that's troubling. But those talking points should have been put out months ago. And the removal of that phrase should have been explained.
I'm not justifying the removal. But the Republicans focused on the words "spontaneous demonstration inspired by Cairo." And I learned for the first time that that never changed from the CIA's first formulation.
MORGAN: The problem with that --
DAVIS: Why not communicate that right up front?
MORGAN: I agree with you. I think the problem is the removal of the al Qaeda reference was being seen as a deliberate action by people in the administration to avoid that being the narrative, that al Qaeda was still active and killing American ambassadors and other staff. I think you put it all together with the IRS targeting the Tea Party, the Benghazi issue of these talking points and al Qaeda references being removed, the A.P. being targeted by the Justice Department, in what many consider to be an outrageous manner -- you put it all together, and you have a real breach of trust in President Obama and his administration, don't you?
DAVIS: So look, yes, there's a breach of trust because of the opaqueness of the way the White House has handled it, at least starting with the talking points. I'm troubled by some of the changes that occurred. I'd like to know who made the changes and what the motive was, of course.
But you do that up front. You do that yourself. If you're in the White House, you take those talking points -- there's nothing classified there that I could tell -- and you put them out and then you try to explain and you're transparent. If there are troubling answers, those answers are just as troubling but they're made more so because they were opaque about it.
And I do contrast the way Secretary of State Clinton took personal responsibility, no ifs, ands or buts -- it happened on her watch, this terrible tragedy. She commissioned a study that concluded that there was a systemic failure of leadership in her department and she immediately implemented those recommendations. I may be biased because I'm known to be a friend of Mrs. Clinton. The fact is she stood up to the line, no ifs, ands or buts, no explanations. She accepted responsibility and did it herself rather than waiting to be forced to do it, as we've seen in this instance regarding the talking points.
MORGAN: Lanny Davis, always good to talk to you. Thank you for joining me.
DAVIS: Thank you.
MORGAN: Coming up next, the other big story of the day, Angelina Jolie's shocking decision to have a double mastectomy. What the procedure means for her and millions of other women, coming up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: She's really, really sweet. And she would never get angry. She couldn't swear to save her life. And so -- but when it came to her kids, she was just really, really fierce.
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MORGAN: Angelina Jolie talking about her mother, Marsha Anne Bertran (ph), who died of ovarian cancer in 2007, at just 56 years old. In a "New York Times" op-ed today, Jolie says that she underwent a preventive double mastectomy after learning she carries a mutation of a gene which increases the risks of ovarian and breast cancer. The decision has people all over the world praising her for her courage and candor.
Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wassermann Schultz is a breast cancer survivor and also had a double mastectomy. She joins me along with Dr. Arlene Sussman, director of women's imaging at Brookhaven Memorial Hospital, and Krista Smith, the west coast editor of "Vanity Fair."
Welcome to you all. Let me start with you, Debbie, if I may. I have interviewed you many times on this show about politics, never about this. This is an issue very close to your heart because you've been through exactly what Angelina went through. Tell me about your experience.
REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ (D), FLORIDA: Well, about five years ago, I was 41 years old. I had actually just had my first mammogram which came back clean. And I was doing a routine self exam in the shower and I found a lump in my breast that had not been there before. Was familiar enough with what I normally felt like so I knew something felt different. And I went right to the doctor, and a few days later was diagnosed with breast cancer.
A few weeks later, was after a wonderful nurse educator did my family history, my family health history. She recommended, because I'm an Ashkenazi Jewish woman, which put me at higher risk for genetic based breast cancer and I was so young in my diagnosis, that I have that genetic test as well, the BRCA test. And I ended up being diagnosed as BRCA2 positive. Angelina was BRCA1. That puts us between a 40 and 85 percent chance of getting breast cancer sometime during our lifetime and ovarian cancer as well.
The closer you get to 50, the more likely -- the chances go up. So my breast cancer was very early stage. It was 1A. And I was recommended initially to just have a lumpectomy and radiation. But once I was diagnosed with the breast cancer gene, I went as far as Angelina did as well, and had a partially prophylactic double mastectomy. I had breast cancer in one breast, but didn't want to wait for the other shoe to drop for the rest of my life. So I had a double mastectomy, also had my overectomy, means I had my ovaries removed to dramatically reduce my risk.
I have little kids. And I wanted to be around for them for a long, long time.
MORGAN: Right. Again, the story very parallel to Angelina, who wrote this brilliant op-ed piece --
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: It was incredible.
MORGAN: Read it last night. For you, Debbie, when you read it, what did you feel? You obviously must have related so much to it. You've got children, as she does. You were thinking the same thing.
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: It was like reading my own story and reliving my own decision all over again. I totally can relate to what she's saying. It's not an easy decision to have your breasts removed and to force yourself into early menopause. But you know, it really wasn't even a close call for me. And I bet if I was able to talk to her, not for her either. Her op-ed really made that clear, because when -- she fortunately -- I mean, she made the decision to do it without having cancer, to make it less likely that she would eventually get it.
I had already had it. So the odds of my having a recurrence were dramatically high. And so to me, thinking about whether I would be there for my children's birthdays and graduations and important milestones, you know, I just didn't want there to be any question.
MORGAN: The same as she was saying.
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: -- dramatically reduced the likelihood.
MORGAN: Let me ask Dr. Sussman the key question I think many people are thinking, which is the cost of this. Because my understanding is it's 3,000 dollars just to have the test. That eliminates a lot of people, doesn't it?
DR. ARLENE SUSSMAN, DIRECTOR, WOMEN'S IMAGING, BROOKHAVEN MEMORIAL HOSPITAL: It can. It is an expensive test. And most insurance companies, however unfortunately, do not cover it. The good news is the Affordable Care Act, as of 2014, as it's been written in, will cover such a test. So that's good news.
MORGAN: Let's take a short break. When we come back, I want to ask you, Krista, you've had family experiences of ovarian cancer, lost your mother and aunt to it. I want to ask you about what you make of the impact that Angelina Jolie's op-ed piece may have around the world and in Hollywood.
MORGAN: Angelina Jolie told the world today that she's had a preventative double mastectomy. Back now with breast cancer survivor Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Dr. Arlene Sussman and Krista Smith. Krista, your family has suffered terribly from cancer. Your mother and your aunt both died from ovarian cancer. What was your reaction to what Angelina did today? Because she took an extraordinary step, really, writing an op-ed piece to reveal this.
KRISTA SMITH, "VANITY FAIR": Yes, I was -- you know, as an actress, she never ceases to amaze me. I thought this was a tremendous thing that she did. It is such a gift. It is so bold. It's so brave. And she was so candid in it, as well, which I was really surprised. People have just rallied around her.
For a woman in a profession where most of it is about how you look and how you present yourself, for her to come out and say hey, I've had this issue, I've had to deal with this, my life isn't perfect, this is what my family has been dealing with -- and I think, as a mother of six young children, you know, she really didn't feel like she had a choice. I really commend her for stepping out and talking about it.
MORGAN: And what's amazing is that's she managed to keep this quiet. She's one of the most famous women in the world. I'll come to the doctor on this, actually, Dr. Sussman, because she had implants, she said. And I guess, from the picture that we saw of her out and about, you wouldn't really know the difference. Is that one of the wonders of modern science, if you like?
SUSSMAN: It is. It's a beautiful gift. She's a brave woman. These women are very brave. These are not easy procedures.
MORGAN: These are pictures we're looking at now, actually. You can talk over them, but this is actually her when she's been going through all of this.
SUSSMAN: It's not an easy decision. You make that decisions. It's brave, difficult decision. And it's a long process. And it's painful. It's not simple to go through. So they should be applauded for their efforts. MORGAN: I'll come to you in one sec, Debbie. Just one last question, Dr. Sussman: do you believe, from your medical perspective, that this simple op-ed piece and the worldwide reaction can save a lot of lives?
SUSSMAN: I think she did tremendous goodwill and good work on behalf of women worldwide. Absolutely. She's a sex symbol and she will continue to be in a very positive way for many women.
MORGAN: Debbie, let me come to you. You wanted to jump in there.
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: I just wanted to point out, one of the really tough things about BRCA testing is that it is a patented test and a patented gene. So you have to make life-altering decisions based on the results of only one test. And I've actually filed legislation that would require there to be an opportunity to get a second opinion test, because, you know, to remove your breasts, to have your ovaries removed based on the results of one test is really not fair.
And that's why Obamacare and the full implementation of the Affordable Care Act is so critical, because there are so many women who can't make the same decision that Angelina and I were able to make, because they can't even go and get themselves to a doctor when they have a lump in their breast because they couldn't afford the co- pays.
MORGAN: Right. And you also -- as she said in her op-ed piece, you need a good partner. She said I was fortunate to have a partner in Brad Pitt who was so loving and supportive. Managed to find moments to laugh together. We knew this was the right thing to do for our family.
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: -- every step of the way.
MORGAN: And I like Brad Pitt's response. He said, "having witnessed this decision firsthand, I find Angie's choice, as well as many others like her, absolutely heroic. I thank our medical team for their care and focus. All I want is for her to have a long and healthy life with myself and our children. This is a happy day for our family."
I think the pair of them have played this magnificently. And I think it will have a huge effect around the world.
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: So incredibly helpful.
MORGAN: Absolutely. Thank you all for joining me. Coming next, Dear Piers, where I respond to your Tweets about the stories we cover. And it's not always pretty, I have to tell you.
MORGAN: Finally, Dear Piers, where I respond to the tweets you sent to me, @PiersMorgan. First, David Limbaugh, who is Rush Limbaugh's brother. And he Tweets, you should now recall Piers Morgan and other mocking libs telling conservatives they're paranoid loonies for fearing government tyranny," to which my answer is -- this may surprise you -- is I'm not a mocking lib, but you do make a good point. The behavior of the IRS and the Justice Department this week does add to a form of unacceptable government tyranny.
This Tweet from John, "tying Obama to these issues is just hyper partisan GOP chatter. Please put a lid on the nonsense." To which my answer is, no, it's not. He's the president. The IRS and Justice Department are part of his government. And the book stops with the president. The lid should stay firmly off on this.
Will Tweeted, "isn't it depressing -- suspicious that POTUS is getting the news about the country from the news?" Well, I don't know about suspicious, but it's certainly one of the more shocking aspects of all of this.
Finally, from Yvette, "Angelina Jolie made a huge decision that changes the way so many mastectomized women are seen and treated." To which my answer is I couldn't agree more. She will save so many lives by talking about this so honestly. And I applaud her for it.
Tomorrow night, my exclusive interview with former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. What a time to have him. That will be live tomorrow night live at 9:00.
That's all for us tonight. Anderson Cooper starts right now.