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Second Term Troubles for Obama; "Who is Going to Jail"; Two Cities Fight for NBA Team; Video Games that Help Heal Pain

Aired May 15, 2013 - 10:30   ET



CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. Thank you so much for joining me. I'm Carol Costello. It is 31 minutes past the hour.

The start of President Barack Obama's second term has been anything but smooth. There is the probe into the deadly Benghazi attack, the investigation to reported phone records being searched and now the scandal involving the IRS.

Brianna Keilar is live at the White House this morning. And -- I would suppose the White House is talking about damage control and more damage control?

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right Carol. This is a White House under fire, very much focused on these controversies right now and not certainly the President's agenda. Last night President Obama after reading the report about the IRS scandal that was put out by the Inspector General overseeing the IRS. He said in a statement that "The IRS must apply the law in a fair and impartial way." And he said the agency failed that test, he said, "He's enlisting his Treasury Secretary Jack Lew to hold accountable those who are responsible."


KEILAR (voice over): The Internal Revenue Service is facing a criminal investigation after a watchdog report found the agency targeted conservative groups starting in 2010. The agency's Inspector General found "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."

After reading the report Tuesday night, President Obama called the practice intolerable and inexcusable after promising action Monday.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Some people have to be held accountable. And it's got to be fixed.

KEILAR: IRS officials told investigator they acted on their own without influence from outside groups. The report says managers were ineffective in overseeing lower level IRS employees who didn't have sufficient knowledge of the rules governing tax-exempt organizations. It's not the only controversy the Obama administration is facing. Expect fireworks today when Republican-led House Judiciary committee grills Attorney General Eric Holder over the Justice Department's subpoenaed phone records of journalists at the Associated Press.

ERIC HOLDER, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: This administration has put a real value on the rule of law and our values as -- as Americans. I think the actions that we have taken are consistent with both.

KEILAR: Tuesday, reporters questioned Holder in a Medicare fraud event and peppered White House Press Secretary Jay Carney with questions at the White House briefings.

JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: You know the President is a strong defender of the first amendment. And a firm believer in the need for the press to be unfettered.

KEILAR: Republicans are seizing on these new controversies.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R), MINORITY LEADER: But we do know this, we can't count on the administration to be forthcoming about the details of this scandal because, so far, they have been anything but.

REP. KEVIN YODER (R), KANSAS: It lies at the President's feet. These are things going on within his administration targeting opponents.

SEN. ORRIN HATCH (R), UTAH: I've never seen anything quite like this except in the past during the Nixon years.

CARNEY: I can tell you that people who make those kind of comparisons need to check their history.


KEILAR: And of course, Carol these two controversies over the IRS and the DOJ seizure of phone records from the Associated Press come as the White House has been under scrutiny amidst questions about whether it downplayed the role of terrorism in the Benghazi attack in September.

So they've got a lot on their plate. But it does seem that as far as the White House is concerned, at least politically, they're most concerned about these controversies involving the IRS as well as the seizure of those documents. There is a concern, I think, that President Obama, while he tries to straddle not being too involved in what are supposed to be investigations very separate from the White House, that if he doesn't show some leadership on this, he could stand to look extremely ineffectual.

COSTELLO: All right Brianna Keilar reporting live from the White House this morning.

Moments ago, the House Speaker John Boehner Republican had this to say about the IRS controversy swirling around the Obama administration, he wants someone to go to jail.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), HOUSE SPEAKER: By coming forward with e- mails that -- that they've shown us in some case but have not been turned over to us. And I don't want to prolong this any more than anyone else. What I want is the truth. In addition to that, the IRS has admitted to targeting conservatives, even if the White House continues to be stuck on the word "if", now, my question isn't about who's going to resign. My question is who's going to jail over the scandal?


COSTELLO: Kirsten Kukowski is the National Press Secretary for the Republican National Committee she joins me live now. Thanks for joining us, Kirsten.


COSTELLO: We're glad you're here. So the President has the Treasury Secretary Jack Lew on this IRS case. Eric holder has the FBI doing a criminal investigation. Is that enough?

KUKOWSKI: Well, I think that speaker Boehner you know obviously hit the nail on the head. There needs to be some accountability here. And I think that over the past couple of days we really haven't seen the President spring into action and really call on actual accountably. And I think that we really need to see that, whether it be yesterday you know whether it be Holder, you know, resigning or it be somebody, you know, facing criminal action.

I think that the fact is we need leadership from this President. We need him to actually set forth a plan of action of how he is going to resolve all of these things. Whether it be the questions around Benghazi, it be issue that he face --


COSTELLO: But it seemed to me starting with the IRS -- it seemed to be like starting at the end of that plan and calling for Eric Holder's resignation. I mean doesn't there have to be some sort of investigation first?

KUKOWSKI: Well, I think it's pretty clear that over the last several years Eric Holder has come under intense scrutiny. And so I think that at this point there are just there are more and more questions around this administration around Eric Holder. And it's time for somebody to actually face consequences for their actions.

COSTELLO: Would that be the only action that would satisfy Republicans is if Eric Holder resigns over all of this?

KUKOWSKI: Well no. I think that obviously at the end of the day the President is accountable for everything that is going on in his administration. And so I think first and foremost, we need answers. Whether it be the Benghazi questions that are still swirling, the IRS, whether it be the A.P. e-mail issues. I think the fact of the matter is every time we see the President address these issues, he's angry. And he's blaming his opponents or he's blaming the media. And at some point we need to have him to actually face the facts and take responsibility and set forth an actual course of action of how he's going to resolve these issues in his administration.

COSTELLO: Why do you think the President hasn't come forward and said you know if we find that anyone in the IRS was doing something wrong, they're going to be fired, why do you think he hasn't said that?

KUKOWSKI: I think that's a really good question. Especially for a President who ran on transparency and for the need for the government to be open and honest. And so I think that that's why we're really working every day to make sure that the White House and the President are being held accountable to these things. And I think it's very important for people to keep asking these questions and to demand the transparency from this -- from this administration.

COSTELLO: If it so happens when this is all said and done, but Eric Holder is still in office, would Republicans be satisfied with that?

KUKOWSKI: Well I think that it's clear where we stand that we believe that Eric Holder needs to resign. That -- but like I said before, above -- above and beyond that, I think we really need to see action from the President.

So I think that it's time, I think that if the President needs to come out. And he needs to actually have a plan instead of just using words and being angry at his opponents.

COSTELLO: You know, a Republican law maker from Utah suggested that President Obama, you know, he used the word impeach as it applied to the Benghazi situation. Is that a word you would use at this point?

KUKOWSKI: Well, I think at this point, like I have been saying, we really just need answers. And it think that -- that's where we need to show over all of this.

COSTELLO: But doesn't the President deserved to be impeached over all of this I guess that's what I'm asking you?

KUKOWSKI: Well, I think -- I think we need some answers before we can even go there.

COSTELLO: All right Kirsten Kukowski with the Republican National Committee. Thanks so much for joining us this morning.

KUKOWSKI: Thank you.

COSTELLO: We'll be right back.


COSTELLO: This has got to be the coolest thing ever for a baseball- loving kid. For baseball loving anyone the Los Angeles Dodger pitcher Hyun Jin Ryu played catch with a little boy at Dodgers' stadium right before the game this is during batting practice. Isn't that sweet? The boy actually goes by the name of Deuce. And he's got a pretty good arm, doesn't he? And if you are wondering, yes Deuce got to keep the ball with his brand-new hero. That's so awesome.

The NBA owners could decide the future of the Sacramento Kings as early as today. A group wants to by the Kings and relocate them to Seattle which lost to the Supersonic. But the city of Sacramento isn't give up without a fight. Here's more from CNN's Casey Wian.


CASEY WIAN: Kevin (inaudible) has been a Kings fan since the team moved to Sacramento when he was Five.

KEVINI: It's the loudest arena in the NBA.

WIAN: A player helped him propose to his wife. So he's furious over the team's attempt to move to Seattle.

KEVIN: If this team moved to Seattle, it would be the Sonics. And our history, our records would be gone, Mitch Richmond, Chris Webber, Vladi Divac, Oscar Robertson, they wouldn't have an arena for their jersey to hang if. I wouldn't have a team to root for.

WIAN: Steve Piatt lost his team when the Seattle Supersonics moved to Oklahoma City five years ago. We met him at the proposed site of a new Sonic's arena. Why do you think this city should have a second chance at an NBA franchise?

STEVE PIATT, SAVE OUR SONICS: Well we really should have never lost the first one. We lost the first one not because the fans didn't want the team here. It's because we lacked the political will at the time.

WIAN: Now fans are rallying to bring the NBA back and the Mayor is on board.

MAYOR MICHAEL MCGINN, SEATTLE: We have a great city for NBA basketball, one of the largest markets in the country. We have a great ownership team. We have political support and most of all we've got the fan support.

WIAN: Back in Sacramento, the mayor is former NBA star Kevin Johnson, an all-star point guard now point man for the city's effort to keep the Kings under local ownership.

MAYOR KEVIN JOHNSON, SACRAMENTO: We've always said that it's bigger than basketball. Not only would we keep the thousand jobs that the kings have here it also ties into a billion dollar economic development with a new arena downtown. Those are very tangible and very specific.

WIAN (on camera): One advantage for Sacramento, the Kings are the only game if town. There is no competition for fans from overlapping Major League Baseball or NFL seasons, but that small size can be a disadvantage. Sacramento is only the number 20 U.S. television market. And its arena is sponsored by a local mattress chain.

Seattle's ownership group includes the CEO of Microsoft and the manager of a multi-billion dollar hedge fun. They're so well financed, that when the NBA's relocation committee recommended last month to deny the move to Seattle, they simply raised their offer by $75 million.

Former Supersonic Sean Kemp owns a restaurant near the proposed Seattle.

SEAN KEMP, RESTAURANT OWNER: It's not about money, I think we deserve another shot simple because we care about the little things around this area. It was a community relations; so it was about doing and being a part of something.

JOHNSON: Let me say this to Seattle. Great city, great sports town, great fans, great ownership group -- they deserve a basketball team, just not ours.

WIAN (voice over): Whatever the NBA decides, there is a good chance the outcome won't be final until there is a ruling in a non-basketball court.

Casey Wian, CNN, Seattle and Sacramento.


COSTELLO: Thanks, Casey.

A quick check of the weather for you -- warmer temperatures moving East while the Midwest will start cooling off and people in Sioux City, Iowa will really appreciate that. It was 106 degrees yesterday. We'll be right back.


COSTELLO: Doctors in one hospital are using video games to help kids overcome pain. But this isn't quite like Super Mario Brothers. Here's today's technology on the front lines.


COSTELLO: Paige Plotkin is doing some high-tech rehab. Interactive video games are just one of several innovative techniques being used at the newly opened pain medicine care complex at the Children's National Medical Center in Washington.

DR. SARAH BERSTOCK, CHILDREN'S NATIONAL MEDICAL CENTER: This is where we engage video and game technology.

COSTELLO: Plotkin was diagnosed with complex regional pain syndrome when she was a freshman in high school. Games like this are engineered to target different areas of the patient's body while distracting them from discomfort.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How do you feel as you do this? (inaudible).

COSTELLO: And while Paige cautious herself, the system is providing real-time seat back over physical therapists who can adjust treatment on the fly.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're going to have to lean on that, put it back and forth?

COSTELLO: The game room isn't the only techie twist you'll find at this facility. There's no more waiting room. Here at the Dub, their learning oasis is complete with touch screen computers.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But that helps you relax.

ROMANS: And patients rest in a pot bed that measures biofeedback; life change along with body temperature. And they're going roam up there but it could be added to help them cope with pain and stress as they flee.

BERSTOCK: We hope over time, we will develop more games and more technology that allow us to keep moving forward in this area.



COSTELLO: Yet another reason to listen to your mother when she tells you not to taunt the animals, listen to her. It seems that advice was lost on a field guide in Africa. Our Jeanne Moos has a look at what happened in real life and online when one man taunted an elephant.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Africa, a continent where a cheetah can jump up and join you; on safari, a place where a bike racer can get run over by an antelope --


MOOS: -- and despite a concussion, lived to laugh about becoming human road kill.

But South Africa's Krueger National Park is not a place where you expect to see a man charge an elephant. Not just any man, an off-duty field guide egged on by his mates.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Run at him. Run at him right now. Run, run at him.

MOOS: In this man bites dog story the man seemed to have won until the video was posted and a backlash from elephant lovers began.

Most commenters seemed to side with the elephant. I mean really side with it. "What a pity the elephant didn't flatten him and his stupid whooping friend" was fairly typical. Though some didn't see the harm, "What's the big deal? It's not like the elephant is going to go home and cry."

The guide may have survived the elephant encounter. His job didn't. His employer, Singita (ph) a well known group of luxury hotels and camps focusing on wildlife conservation fired him. And then Brian Masters manned up and accepted responsibility on his Facebook page. "I am so sorry this happened and I wish I could undo the stupidity of the act but I can't."

He wrote of years spent as a guide getting people passionate about conserving these wild areas, undone in 45 seconds of folly. By coming forward with his public, seemingly heart felt apology, the former guide addressed the elephant in the room -- in this case the elephant in the bush.

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


COSTELLO: Oh, dude, no. Thank you for joining me today. I'm Carol Costello. CNN NEWSROOM after a break.