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THE SITUATION ROOM
"It Put the American People at Risk"; Second-Term Agenda in Trouble?; CNN Obtains IRS Investigation Report; Interview with Elijah Cummings; Russia Expels Alleged U.S. Spy; Angelina Jolie Undergoes Double Mastectomy
Aired May 14, 2013 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, HOST: All right, Jake, thanks very much.
Happening now behind the snooping into reporters' phone records, the attorney general of the United States says it was prompted by one of the most serious leaks he's ever seen, one that, in his words, "put the American people at risk."
Russia is booting out a U.S. diplomat accused of spying and displaying what it calls his disguises, his cash and other tools of the trade.
And Angelina Jolie reveals her very difficult decision, opting for a double mastectomy to try to beat the odds on breast cancer.
I'm Wolf Blitzer.
You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Already taking heat for its Benghazi response and the IRS targeting of conservatives, the Obama administration today faced growing outrage for collecting the phone records of AP journalists. So then the attorney general, Eric Holder, dropped a bombshell, saying the subpoenas were in response to an extraordinary leak that posed a great threat, he said, to the American people.
Let's go straight to our crime and justice correspondent, Joe Johns.
He has the latest -- Joe.
JOE JOHNS, HOST: Wolf, the Justice Department's sweeping subpoena of media telephone records was just highly unusual, especially in a town like Washington, DC, where, you know the exchange of sensitive information is purely part of the fabric. But the attorney general made the case today that the leak of sensitive information that started this investigation was extraordinary in and of itself.
JOHNS (voice-over): The top law enforcement officer in the country says a leak of sensitive information was so serious that the Justice Department was justified in issuing a sweeping subpoena for telephone records from reporters and an editor of the Associated Press over a two month period last year. ERIC HOLDER, ATTORNEY GENERAL: I have to say that this is among, if not the most serious, it is within the top two or three. It put the American people at risk. And that is not hyperbole. It put the American people at risk. And trying to determine who was responsible for that, I think, required very aggressive action.
JOHNS: But Holder said he removed himself from supervision, leaving it to a deputy to sign off on the controversial record hunt.
HOLDER: I've been interviewed by the FBI in connection with this -- with this matter. And to avoid a potential -- the appearance of potential conflict of interest and to make sure that the investigation was seen as independent, I recused myself from this matter.
JOHNS: The government is trying to find out who leaked to the Associated Press about a mole in Yemen's al Qaeda affiliate helping Western spy agencies, a mole who helped foil a plot to bomb airliners. It was such specific information, there were concerns it had damaged foreign intelligence sources and an ongoing operation.
Republicans wondered out loud whether the White House leaked it.
In a letter to the Associated Press, Deputy Attorney General James Cole did not confirm the investigation was related to the thwarted bomb investigation, but did say the investigation was opened in May of last year and that such disclosures can risk lives and cause grave harm to security of all Americans. The letter said that the department undertook a comprehensive investigation, conducting over 550 interviews and reviewing tens of thousands of documents, before going after the Associated Press phone records.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
JOHNS: On top of all that, in that heated news conference at the Justice Department today, Holder announced a federal investigation into alleged IRS targeting of conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status.
The smell of scandal has given this administration, suddenly, the appearance of having been thrown off balance -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Joe, what a story.
Thanks very much.
Even as he was forced to explain the AP subpoenas, the attorney general today ordered an investigation -- a separate one -- of the IRS targeting of conservative groups who sought tax-exempt status. Lawmakers on both sides are furious over that scandal. A major hearing is scheduled for Friday.
Reporters tried to get a jump today, questioning the acting IRS commissioner up on Capitol Hill.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi, Mr. Miller.
STEVEN MILLER, IRS ACTING COMMISSIONER: Hey, guys, how are you?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can you tell us why you never told Congress --
MILLER: I don't have a --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- that you had --
MILLER: Comment today, but thank you, guys. I'll be here on Friday.
MILLER: I'll be here on Friday.
JOHNS: Sir, Senator Hatch says that you purposely misled him by not informing him about this.
JOHNS: Why --
JOHNS: -- why is that?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's not going to be able to do an interview now.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Commissioner Miller --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But he will be back.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- why didn't you tell the truth when you were asked directly by Congress?
MILLER: We'll talk on Friday, guys.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
BLITZER: Let's bring in our chief political analyst, Gloria Borger -- Gloria, what do all these controversies -- the IRS, the Benghazi, the AP investigation now -- what do they do, at least in the short-term, to the president's second term agenda?
GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I spoke with a senior administration official today, who said, you know, things are still on track, as long as John McCain and Lindsay Graham don't turn against us on immigration reform, that's moving along in committee. But that's their spin, Wolf. And they're -- they're obviously sticking to it. I mean here's the reality check to this, is that these issues, taken together, have become an all-consuming political sinkhole for them and they know that.
And the one valuable commodity at the White House is the time and the energy of the president's top advisers. And this just has sucked up all of their time.
And so they understand that nothing can really break through until they get most of these things out of the front page headlines.
Now the same senior administration official said to me today that they believe that the IRS issue is one that they will be able to dispose of pretty quickly. There are going to be Congressional hearings, but I was told that the president, quote, "intends to deal with the IRS in a quick and meaningful way."
We don't know what that means.
Does that mean -- and this person would not specify -- that heads will roll?
As you know, most of the IRS is civil servants, except for the couple of top positions. So we'll have to see what is meaningful as far as the White House is concerned, once we get that report on what really occurred.
BLITZER: And we're beginning to see all of this begin to have another effect, not a good one, on the people's faith in government.
BORGER: Well, and that -- and that's really the big issue here, Wolf, because, as you know, people don't trust the government these days to take out their garbage. But this is probably going to make it even worse.
We went together and put together some numbers about trusting government and how it's been eroded over the years. You see back in the time after JFK was assassinated, trust in government was at 77 percent. Even during Watergate, Wolf, 36 percent. People didn't trust the government then. Post-9/11, people saw the first responders and they began to realize, wait a minute, those people are employed by government.
Health care, look at that, 18 percent. And now it's still at a very low level.
If I had to wager, I would say to you that trust in government is going to continue to go down, particularly because of this IRS controversy. I mean, when people see that groups were targeted, unfairly, by the government bureaucrats, it doesn't make you feel any better about your government.
BLITZER: How worried should Republicans be that they might over play their hand?
BORGER: Well, they're not worried at all that they're going to over play their hand. I mean you've got more than a half dozen Congressional committees here. But, you know, the pendulum tends to swing. Republicans believe that the public will be on their side. But they're going to have to make a decision here, which is, do they allow this to affect what they do on the second term agenda?
Do they just go, use these issues, smaller government, for a big win in the mid-term elections, which is, after all, what they're going after, or do they work with the president, as the White House thinks they will, on something like immigration reform, because they also believe that's in their self-interests?
So do they, in effect, compartmentalize one issue from another?
BLITZER: And now they're --
BORGER: We don't know the answer to that.
BLITZER: Now that there's a Justice Department investigation, potentially a criminal investigation into the IRS issue, it starts relatively tame, but you don't know where those investigations wind up.
BORGER: That's right. And don't forget, Wolf, though, it was Republicans who said to this White House, you know what, there are too many leaks coming out of the White House and you guys better look into those leaks. So the Justice Department looked into those leaks. Whether they've done it badly or not is another issue, but the Justice Department has looked into those leaks and now Republicans are investigating the Justice Department.
BLITZER: A bunch of officials are going to be hiring lawyers pretty soon, because they're going to be questioned by the FBI and other U.S. law enforcement officials.
BORGER: Absolutely. Absolutely.
BLITZER: Thanks very much for that, Gloria Borger.
Up next, with the Obama administration beset by a string of controversies and facing a string of investigations, I'll speak with Congressman Elijah Cummins, the senior Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
Wigs, dark glasses and a bundle of foreign cash -- Russia orders a U.S. diplomat out of the country, saying he was packing all the tools of the spy trade.
BLITZER: We've just received the report -- the final report from the Treasury Department's inspector general for tax administration. They have done an audit of the IRS targeting conservative political groups, conservative organizations, Tea Party organizations, other conservative organizations, and it's damning. The report is very, very damning. Among the headlines, that the IRS began using what they call "inappropriate criteria" to identify organizations applying for tax- exempt status. And they make specific recommendations.
Earlier, you heard the attorney general of United States saying that he's beginning an investigation into what's going on.
Dana Bash, our chief Congressional correspondent, is checking into all of this.
She's going through this lengthy audit by the inspector general of the Treasury Department. She's going to have a full report momentarily. Stand by for that.
Just a little while ago, by the way, I spoke with Congressman Elijah Cummins of Maryland.
He's the senior Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
I asked him first about those -- the collections of those Associated Press phone records that the Justice Department has been engaged in.
REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D), MARYLAND: It is alarming to me. I mean, the fact that you're talking about 20 -- over 20 folks in -- in two months, and getting all kinds of information with regard to A.P. It gives me concerns, because I'm concerned about freedom of the press, First Amendment rights.
At the same time, I also listened to what Eric Holder had to say about all of this. And he says that there's a criminal investigation going on. And as a lawyer, Wolf, I can appreciate that.
If he's talking about
And death and Americans possibly being, harmed, I -- I think -- I -- I -- I just don't know. I -- I think that we need more -- I still think we need more information, Wolf, as to I know he is very clear and I -- I know Eric Holder well. And I know he's a very credible person.
But I've got to -- I've got to see more, because, again, that -- this is chilling as far as the press is concerned. And I think that all Americans understand that we've got to protect and defend our democracy at every level.
And -- and as I say in our committee all the time, this is our watch and we have a duty to make sure we guard that constitution and our democracy. So, again, I'm hoping that more information will come out. I understand the U.S. attorney for D.C., Washington, D.C. is handling this matter. Eric Holder said he's recused himself. So, hopefully, we'll get some answers, and at the same time, not jeopardize the criminal investigation.
BLITZER: Let's move on to the -- another investigation that Eric Holder announced today, potentially, a criminal investigation into the IRS and its decision, apparently, to go ahead and target conservative political groups, Tea Party groups, groups that had the word "patriot" or "patriots" name in there.
Now, a formal investigation is under way to see if any laws were broken. Congressman, based on what you know, do you suspect laws were actually broken?
CUMMINGS: Yes. Laws were probably broken, but at the least, Wolf, there have been some improper actions on the part of the IRS. If it is not against the law, we need to create some laws to make it so. I got to tell you, no matter what the organization is, I don't think that any organization should be singled out for some treatment that's different than what is demanded by the law and the regulations.
If this -- I would say the same thing, if this were the NACP or whether it was a conservative group does not matter. Again, we have to guard our constitution. We have to guard our rights. And when people are treated unfairly, I've got a problem with that. I don't care where it is. And so, again, what I think we can do, some things ourselves. I understand the ways and means of the House is going to be -- the committee is going to be having a hearing on -- come Friday.
I'd love for my committee to have a hearing on this. And I want to hear what Mr. Shoeman has to say, the former director. I want to know what the acting director has to say, because I have great concerns about what they know -- knew, when they knew it, and what, if anything they did about it, whether or not they were honest with the Congress.
And so, I want to hear all of that. But I got to tell you, this is one of the most alarming things that I have ever seen and I'm very concerned about it. We got to get to the bottom of it. And by the way, Wolf, we got to do it in a bipartisan way.
BLITZER: I agree totally. You got to do it in a bipartisan way. The other question out there that we don't know the answer at this point is if it goes outside of the IRS, if there were others -- other agencies, divisions, if there were officials at the White House who may have been involved in this decision, you would presumably would want to investigate all of that as well.
CUMMINGS: I want to follow the evidence wherever it may lead. And, Wolf, this is not a new standard for me. I've said to our committee over and over again that we must operate almost like a federal court, and we must be impartial, but we must make sure that we focus on getting the facts, getting all the facts, and then concentrating on reform. That's what it's supposed to be all about.
BLITZER: Yesterday, i had Darrell Issa, the chairman of your committee on my show. We spoke extensively about the Benghazi investigation. Was it a mistake, in your opinion, you know a lot about this, for Thomas Pickering, Admiral Mullen, to avoid directly questioning the secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, about what she knew at the time about what was going on in Benghazi?
CUMMINGS: Well, Pickering said that -- Ambassador Pickering said that he did have a two-hour conversation with Hillary Clinton towards the end of the investigation, and he claims that he had already gotten a lot of information and you (ph) have what he needed. I can't say whether it was a mistake. That's why I've asked Chairman Issa to bring in Pickering, Ambassador Pickering to us so that we can have an open discussion with regard to this report.
Keep in mind that Chairman Issa has said it on national TV that the report was incomplete. He's made all kind of accusations, and we just got a letter today within a matter of minutes ago from Pickering begging, literally, for a -- an opportunity to come before our committee. And he says in his letter that the integrity of the board has been criticized, and he says that he wants to have an opportunity to come before the committee and present his case.
And I want him to have that. I've asked Chairman Issa to do that. We had accusations made. But, again, Chairman Issa has not responded to my request. Basically, what he said, Issa, that is, has said he's going to have Pickering and Mullen go to some private place with his staff and do an interview. That's not good enough. I want them in our hearing so we can hear from them directly.
BLITZER: What Issa says also is that he wants to do a private Q&A session with Pickering and Mullen with the staff, as you point out, before bringing them to an open session of the hearing. And he says, that's the normal way of doing business. Witnesses meet privately with the staffs first and then they go before a public hearing. Is he wrong?
CUMMINGS: Wolf, give me a break. We just had -- when we had the three whistleblowers come before us, who I welcome, I was glad they came, one of those whistleblowers, a fellow named Thompson, we didn't even -- we knew nothing about him. There was no interview, not by the Democrats. These interviews are usually done jointly.
He came and we did not have an idea, not a scintilla of an idea of what he was going to say before he sat there. He made accusations, and I'm sure that he is testifying, going to testify under oath and testify truthfully, but a lot of the things was said go against our military, our highest ranking members of our military, our CIA, and Pickering and Mullen.
Again, remember what I said a few minutes ago, I want the whole truth and nothing but the truth and fairness. Just give me all the information so I can make a decision as to what's going on. But more importantly, so that we can address the fact that we have security deficits in our embassies that we need to address as soon as possible.
We've got four Americans, sadly, who died and it pains me. And I want to make sure that that does not happen to anybody else under our watch as best we can do. You cannot do that -- but, Wolf, you cannot do that, unless, you have complete information.
BLITZER: Right. Look, if you don't learn from your mistakes, you're bound to repeat them down the road. And as you're absolutely right. Four Americans are dead. Let's make sure it doesn't happen again to the best of our abilities. That's why you have the responsibility of oversight and review and that's a critically important part of the U.S. government. Congressman, thanks very much for joining us.
CUMMINGS: Thank you.
BLITZER: Up next, we've just obtained the inspector general's report on the IRS targeting conservative organizations out there. We're going through it right now. Dana Bash is up on the Hill. We're going to have details. It's explosive. That's coming up.
And Russia is booting a U.S. diplomat out of the country. He's accused of espionage, spying, and displays what it calls his disguises, his cash, and other tools of the trade.
BLITZER: Happening now, wigs, dark glasses, and a large bundle of foreign cash. That's the spy arsenal Russia's counterintelligence agency says it found with a United States diplomat now accused of espionage in Moscow.
Plus, could the limit for determining when a driver is legally drunk be lowered from 0.08 to 0.05? We have details behind a tough new government push underway right now.
And Angelina Jolie reveals she underwent a double mastectomy. You're going to find out what's behind her shocking announcement.
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in the SITUATION ROOM.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.
BLITZER: All right. We just received the inspector general's report from the Department of Treasury on the IRS going ahead and auditing conservative organizations in the United States. It's pretty damning. Dana Bash, our chief Congressional correspondent, has been going through it. Dana, I read the summary and it's got some specific details in there which are going to be quite controversial.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. You know, we knew that this was going to be, as you put it, damning and it certainly appears that way. We just got it. It's pretty lengthy, but I want to read for you and our viewers kind of the not graph that summed up from the inspector general what they found that the IRS did wrong.
I'll read it to you. "The IRS used inappropriate criteria that identified for review Tea Party and other organizations applying for tax-exempt status based upon their names or policy positions instead of indications of potential political campaign intervention."
Then it goes on to talk about ineffective management. They allowed inappropriate criteria to be developed and stay in place for more than 18 months. It resulted in substantial delays in processing certain applications and allowed unnecessary information requests to be issued. Now, we've done some reporting over the last several days about what some of those unnecessary information requests are like donor lists, membership lists, and also about the delays which we are told by even a lawyer for one of these Tea Party groups today is still going on.
So, that is sort of the nut of it and it provides on black and white paper the information that Congress is going to take and run with when they have the first hearing on Friday in the House and that even the Democratic-led Senate said they're going to continue to investigate.
BLITZER: I know it's a long report. You haven't gone through all of it yet, Dana. But do they name names? Who came up with this crazy idea? Who is responsible? How high up did it go? When did people know and were other officials outside of the IRS involved in this decision?
BASH: It appears to be just focused on the IRS. I can answer that question. In terms of the names, I can't answer that for you yet. But one thing that I do think is really significant is right in the letter that the inspector general wrote, the memo kind of summarizing it, it is clear that he is troubled that even right as we speak, the IRS doesn't seem to get it. That's my summary.
It doesn't seem to get it saying that the IRS is disagreeing with some of the findings. For example, saying that the criteria used to identify these applications, they don't believe that the inspector general was right to condemn them for it. They say they're absolutely right to do that.
The other thing is that the inspector general says that the IRS thinks that these issues have been resolved but they say no, absolutely, they have not been resolved because corrective actions that they recommend in here haven't been implemented and, most importantly, as I just mentioned to you, there are still cases that are opened, that have been open for a very long time that have not been closed, either the groups have not gotten the tax-exempt status that they asked for, in some cases maybe two, two and a half years ago, and the inspector general says in a very blunt and terse way that the response is not complete until those cases are completed.
BLITZER: It's interesting that they say, and you allude to this, that they made nine specific recommendations to fix this problem, and the IRS says they're only going to implement seven of those nine recommendations. Two of them they don't want to implement, right?
BASH: That's exactly right. This goes to the heart of what we're hearing from members of Congress. And what really we saw in some of the early reporting that we've done, the timeline with some of these dates and facts that the inspector general gave to members of Congress.
For example, the idea that this -- a woman named Lois Lerner who at the IRS is the head of the Tax-Exempt Division, she seemed to, for lack of better way to say it, have her head in the sand. She didn't answer questions from members of Congress who were very specific over a period of years, Wolf, years, trying to get information because they were hearing from constituents that they were being -- the IRS was dragging its feet on applications. That is a big issue because we look at the overall questions about leadership at the IRS.
Now these are career people, at least when we're talking about someone like Lois Lerner. The official who is going to testify on Friday is a political appointee. He's the acting commissioner and there are already called for his resignation because to the point you made, they simply feel they're not answering Congress's calls, not getting the fact that what they did was a mistake and that they are not implementing the recommendations to fix it.
BLITZER: And we heard from the attorney general today. He has launched his own Justice Department investigation into the IRS to see if any criminal laws were broken by these IRS officials who targeted these conservative political organizations for scrutiny when they applied for tax-exempt status. I'm sure that sends a chill down the back of a lot of IRS officials who are now going to have to retain attorneys when they're questioned by Justice Department and FBI officials.
BASH: Absolutely. The attorney general revealed that in a press conference today that it's not just a question of the IRS acting inappropriately or perhaps, as some Republicans and even some Democrats question for political motivations, but whether they broke the law. And that is a whole different ball game as you said. They have to, as we say in Washington, lawyer up. They have to figure out how to defend themselves.
And the other thing that might be coming as well is in addition to prosecutions potentially from the government, lawsuits from outside groups feeling that they want damages for the delays that they got for missing in some cases the political year in 2012 because their applications for the status was delayed so long.
BLITZER: Some were delayed for three years, as this report says, crossing two election cycles. All right, Dana, thanks very much for that report.
We'll have much more in the breaking news when we come back. Our political analysts are standing by and are getting ready to weigh in. Ari Fleischer and Paul Begala.
Also, Russia kicks out a U.S. diplomat accused of spying. Up next, we'll also have details on the wigs, the cash, the special technical devices, as Russian officials call them. What was going on? Stand by.
BLITZER: Let's continue to assess the breaking news we're following. The inspector general of the Department of Treasury has just released a damning indictment of the IRS for targeting conservative political organizations out there for special attention, in their words, inappropriate behavior. And they come up with specific recommendations for what was going on. Let's discuss what's going on with two CNN political analysts. Democratic strategist Paul Begala, the former Bush White House press secretary, Ari Fleischer. Ari, let me start with you. Both of you know these kinds of investigations. They start relatively modest. You never know where they wind up. How concerned do you believe, Ari, the Obama administration should be right now about this formal inquiry that the attorney general announced today that would begin?
ARI FLEISCHER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think from the point of view of the White House worrying, the attorney general in the IRS matter might target anybody inside the White House, that does not sound like they have anything to worry about on that front.
In terms, though, of the damage it is doing to the country, to the government, to the faith in government and legitimate fears conservatives now have that the IRS is after them, this is a very serious issue of malfeasance. It is going to undermine a lot of faith in government.
BLITZER: Inappropriate criteria. That was the phrase, Paul, that this inspector general used that they used inappropriate criteria for a long time, sometimes spanning over two election cycles, three years, to delay giving legitimate tax-exempt status to conservative groups. How big a problem is this?
PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, it's an enormous problem. And you know, Ari and I have been in different White Houses in different settings, and I think Ari is exactly right. There is no sense that the White House was involved. Our own Jessica Yellin is reporting, and I'll read her tweet here, that the IRS report finds target criteria was not influenced by any individual or organization outside the IRS. And Jessica goes on to tweet that she bets the White House is latching on to that. I bet Jessica is right.
The larger problem, though, Ari is right here. The liberal philosophy is the underpinning of it is that government is good. And the government can do good things. Go look at the president's second inaugural address he gave just a few months ago.
This abuse of power by the IRS goes right to the heart of that. People like me, you know, we love to mock the Tea Party saying they wear a tin foil hat, conspiracy theorists. This time, it looks like they're right. This is outrageous, and I think it does undermine people's faith in government. But we have to (INAUDIBLE).
FLEISCHER: Let me put a finer point on it because here's what's coming next. The IRS is in charge of an awful lot of the implementation of Obamacare. The IRS has been given enhanced powers under Obamacare to look at people's returns to determine who should get what type of subsidies. This is going to undermine a lot of already troubled implementation of Obamacare. I predict to you that's the next legislative fight. The president is going to want to defend the IRS. He is going to be in a very weak position to do so.
BLITZER: Do you agree, Paul? BEGALA: I do. I will say the vast majority of people who work for the IRS are honorable people. They do a job that is essential to a free society, and yet of course we all hate it. And keep in mind it was only a few years ago in Austin, Texas, an IRS office was attacked by some nut in an airplane who crashed into the IRS office. So I would not want anybody to start to denigrate career professionals, 99 percent of whom do a fine job.
But it is especially damaging when this happens in a Democratic administration. I know life is not fair. It was JFK, a Democratic president who said that. In the Bush administration, the IRS was accused of targeting the NAACP. It wasn't as big a deal as this because the fundamental philosophy that my people are putting out is that government can be good and you should trust government to do certain things like health insurance. So, even though we've had scandals like this in Republican administrations, I actually think it is probably more damaging in a Democratic.
BLITZER: Let me get you both to weigh in quickly on Eric Holder saying that the leaks that the Associated Press received endangered American lives. That's why they took this extraordinary step to go ahead and try to see which reporters are calling whom and phone calls from the Associated Press. Does what -- does this justify the extraordinary measures on the press? Ari, I'll start with you.
FLEISCHER: Only Eric Holder knows and the people at the Justice Department know. Their obvious determination is the answer is yes, emphatically yes. Eric Holder, the attorney general, said today this is the most if not one or two of the most serious leaks he's ever seen of national security information.
You know, Wolf, the Department of Justice is not naive. They don't go seize A.P.'s records thinking no one is going to notice. They did it knowingly, and they did it because they must be on to something. This is what the White House has to fear because what they're on to is that somebody within the administration -- we don't know who, we don't know if it was DoD., if it was State, if it was the White House -- somebody leaked information damaging to national security. That's a crime. That's the bigger issue here. The attorney general is investigating a crime potentially committed by somebody in the administration. That would scare the White House.
BLITZER: So, Paul, very quickly, was this Justice Department snooping on the Associated Press legitimate?
BEGALA: We don't know yet. From the reporting I've seen, it strikes me as overbroad, I have to say. I don't think you should ever mess around with the freedom of the press. But Ari and, I having been White House officials, know there are times the government has to keep secrets in order to keep the country safe. This tension between freedom and security has been at play for all of our history. And we're seeing it playing out here again.
But I will note our Republican friends on the Hill were the ones calling for an investigation into the leaks, and now they're the ones calling for Holder to resign because the investigation was too aggressive. I think the Republicans are trying to have it both ways.
BLITZER: All right. Let's leave it at that point. We'll continue this conversation down the road, guys. Thank you. Much more in the next hour. Coming up on breaking news.
Also, the actress Angelina Jolie opening up to the world, revealing why she underwent a double mastectomy. The details of her shocking announcement, that's coming up.
And Russia kicks out a United States diplomat accused of espionage. Up next, we have details on the wigs, the cash, the special technical devices that Russian intelligence officials claim he was carrying.
BLITZER: Russia is kicking out a United States diplomat accused of espionage.
CNN's Jill Dougherty reports.
JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Russia says he was caught red handed. Ryan Christopher Fogle, a political officer at the U.S. embassy Moscow, who Russia says is a CIA spy, detained while trying to recruit a Russian intelligence officer.
The FSB even released video and photos showing a man with Fogle's I.D. and what the Foreign Ministry described as a spy arsenal -- wigs, technical devices, a lot of cash, and a letter, a copy of which was given to the Russian media, offering a downpayment of $100,000, "up to $1 million a year for long-term cooperation with extra bonuses if we receive some helpful information." And instructions on how to open a new Gmail account to contact the CIA.
Russia's Foreign Ministry summoned the U.S. ambassador to Moscow, Michael McFall. The CIA isn't commenting. And the State Department wouldn't budge on any details.
PATRICK VENTRELL, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN: We can confirm that an officer of the U.S. Embassy Moscow was briefly detained and was released.
DOUGHERTY: The detention of the American official revived images of the last Russian spy scandal three years featuring Anna Chapman and a ring of Russian spies who tried to gain access to U.S. decision makers.
This new spy scandal comes even as Russian and U.S. intelligence services have been cooperating on investigating the Boston marathon bombing. In a YouTube video released by RT Television an FSB agent says the officer Fogle was trying to recruit was involved in fighting terrorism in the North Caucuses which is where Russia says alleged Boston bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev met with extremists.
The Russian Foreign Ministry warned Tuesday, "such provocative actions in the spirit of the 'cold war' do not contribute to building mutual trust." But former U.S. ambassador to Moscow, James Collins, who dealt with spy scandals more than once, says they can be disruptive but the relationship usually goes on.
JAMES COLLINS, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO RUSSIA: Do we think this means we're back to the cold war? No, I don't think so.
DOUGHERTY: And you know, Wolf, the timing on this is very interesting because after all, remember, during the Boston bombing the Russians provided information about one of the alleged bombers and then recently they've been criticized for not telling everything they know. So it's possible that the FSB could be hitting back at that criticism -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Yes, Brian Todd is going to have more in our next hour on this developing story, Jill. Thanks very much.
Also coming up, Angelina Jolie reveals she underwent a double mastectomy.
And will lowering the blood alcohol threshold for drunken driving make a difference? We're putting it to the test.
BLITZER: A deadly blast in southern Afghanistan claims the lives of three coalition troops.
Lisa Sylvester is here. She's monitoring that, and some of the other top stories.
LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Wolf. Well, NATO was confirming the deaths but the nationalities of the three service members have not been released. The precise location of the IED is also wasn't specified. The blast comes a day after a car bomb exploded in southern Helmand Province killing three soldiers from the Republic of Georgia.
Google's CEO Larry Page says he suffers from a condition called vocal cord paralysis. He explained in a post on Google Plus his voice became hoarse years ago after a cold and his vocal cord never fully recovered. The same thing later happened in his second vocal cord. He says he's recovering and able to do everything at work, at home, though his voice is a bit softer. He says doctors have not determined the cause.
And Prince Harry toured some of the most storm-ravaged parts of the Jersey Shore today, with Governor Chris Christie talking to residents and shaking hands with first responders. Governor Christie presented the third in line to the British throne with a royal fleece. You see there from his Twitter page. This is similar to the one Governor Christie wore in the days after Sandy hit. He tweeted it was the best way he knew of to welcome the prince down the shore.
And we will have much more on this in our next hour. And I know Prince Harry, he was here in Washington, all the women, they were all lining up, hoping to get a glimpse of him when he was at the capitol.
BLITZER: And I'm really happy Governor Christie, he looks like he's losing some serious weight. Good for him.
SYLVESTER: That's right.
BLITZER: Keep it up.
SYLVESTER: After that surgery.
BLITZER: Yes. Good for him. I'm proud of him.
All right. Thanks very much.
Just ahead in our next hour, we're going to have much more on the breaking news we're following. The IRS audit reports CNN has obtained it. It is damning. Dana Bash is combing through for more details.
BLITZER: The actress Angelina Jolie revealed today she underwent a double mastectomy.
CNN's senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen has details.
ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, I think it's safe to say that everyone was shocked when they read this article by Angelina Jolie. But she really does have a lot to teach women about how to be empowered patients.
COHEN (voice-over): In an op-ed piece in "The New York Times," Angelina Jolie revealed that after watching her mother die of ovarian cancer at the age of 56, she decided to go out and get a genetic test to see if her mother had passed on a bad gene. And indeed she had.
"I carry a faulty gene, BRCA1, which sharply increases my risk of developing breast cancer and ovarian cancer," Jolie wrote. "My doctors estimated that I have an 87 percent risk of breast cancer and a 50 percent risk of ovarian cancer."
High numbers, to be sure. So Jolie made a big decision, to surgically remove both her breasts. She wrote, "My chances of developing breast cancer have dropped, from 87 percent to under 5 percent." And this might be just the beginning for Jolie. Doctors generally recommend that women in her situation have their ovaries removed, too.
(On camera): Angelina got tested. Should all of us run out and get tested? DR. OTIS BRAWLEY, CHIEF MEDICAL OFFICER, AMERICAN CANCER SOCIETY: I believe that certain women should get tested. My great nightmare is that a large number of women just simply because they've heard this news, without thought, are going to go out and want to get tested.
COHEN (voice-over): Experts say you only need to get tested if you have a significant family history of ovarian or breast cancer. Without that history, there's little reason to suspect a faulty gene. When a test does show a mutated gene, like in Jolie's case, a double mastectomy is just one option. Some women choose to keep their breasts getting frequent mammograms and MRIs.
After her mastectomy, Jolie got breast reconstruction with implants. She says she did it all for her six children. "They can see my small scars and that's it," she wrote in the "Times." "Everything else is just mommy, the same as she always was. And they know that I love them and will do anything to be with them as long as I can."
COHEN: Angelina Jolie noted how expensive this test can be. It can cost upwards of $3,000, which obviously is a big problem if you don't have insurance, or if you don't have very good insurance.
One of the reasons why it's so expensive is only one company makes this test, because they hold the patent on the gene. Now, interestingly, the Supreme Court is looking at this. In the next month or so, they're expected to rule whether it's constitutional to patent something that's found in all of our bodies -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Elizabeth Cohen, thanks very much.
And to learn more about the genetic testing Angelina Jolie had, and whether it might, repeat, might be right for you, you can visit CNN.com/empoweredpatient.