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Attorney General On The Hot Seat; O.J. Simpson Takes The Stand; Jolie's Breasts Removed, Now Ovaries?

Aired May 15, 2013 - 14:30   ET


DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Republicans are crying the loudest, but, most importantly, the attorney general, who, of course, works for a Democrat and is a Democrat, Eric Holder, is making very clear, just like he did yesterday, that he wants to investigate this as - wherever it goes for any criminal wrongdoing.

In fact, he's explicitly said he is going to take the facts wherever they take us and it will not just be in one city, Cincinnati as drew was talking about, but also Washington and anywhere else. In fact, he said that the investigation will be centered in Washington, D.C so that they can have kind of a national blanket on this, national look at this whole thing.

Here is also what he told Democratic Congressman Bobby Scott about how he thinks crimes may have been committed.


REP. ROBERT SCOTT (D), VIRGINIA: Are there any gaps in the criminal code that would make it difficult for you to pursue criminal sanctions if you found that IRS agents were denying benefits under the internal revenue code based on politics?

ERIC HOLDER, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: That actually is a good question, and I'm not sure what the answer is. I think the provisions that you have noted are ones that we are looking at. Civil rights provisions, IRS provisions, potentially the hatch act. And I think we're going to have to get into the investigation before I can answer that question more intelligently.

But to the extent that there are enforcement gaps that we find, we will let this committee know and hopefully work with this committee to make sure that what happened and was outrageous as I've said, and hope -- if we have to bring criminal actions so that that kind of action that kind of activity does not happen again.


BASH: Just to translate here, the hatch act prohibits civil servants, federal employees, from any political activities. That will be one way that these officials may have broken the law. But he said something else later that suggested they're going to take this to the top. And that is that, you know, they're going to look into whether or not there were any false information was given to congress or anybody else. People who talk to Congress are pretty high up so that is certainly what in a bipartisan way members of Congress are not happy about.

That they have been looking at this for years and they were not given proper information. So the fact that Eric Holder just said that that might be another avenue for them to pursue criminally, I should have people close to the top of the IRS pretty worried.

ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I think I heard Joe Johns speaking earlier about the potential of false statements being an issue and also civil rights violations, so I think we have a tough road to hoe here in terms of figuring out just what was done and what it means. Dana, great work. Thank you for that.

Coming up next, first O.J. Simpson taking the stand, trying to convince a judge that he was hard done by and deserves a brand-new trial in Las Vegas.

And then Jodi Arias listening to the first part of the sentencing phase against her. It is going to decide whether she lives or dies and it doesn't get more serious than that in any courtroom. We have got live reports on both cases coming up next.


BANFIELD: Welcome back. I'm Ashleigh Banfield reporting live in Phoenix, Arizona. On the left-hand side of your screen in Maricopa County, Superior Courthouse, Jodi Arias with her head turned to the right, avoiding all of the sounds coming from closing arguments from the prosecutor in her sentencing phase.

Phase one, the aggravating phase, wrapping up now, believe it or not, one witness, it was quick. The medical examiner outlining how horrible the death of her murder victim was, the jury needs to deliberate. In fact, that clock could start soon. Deliberate whether what she did was officially cruel by law.

If they say yes, we move to phase two, whether she's worth saving. There you have it. There is Juan Martinez wrapping up his closings now. On the right-hand side of your screen, O.J. Simpson in prison blues and shackles. His legs shackled even as he shuffles to the witness stand.

After years and years of silence, O.J. Simpson takes the stand to beg for a new trial saying he was thrown under the bus by his own criminal defense attorney. Not unusual for criminal defense attorneys to hear it, they heard it before.

Joining us now from Florida, Jayne Weintraub who is a criminal defense attorney and here in Phoenix, former prosecutor, Monica Lindstrom. Jayne Weintraub, to you first, we call it in this business the Hail Mary pass. And it doesn't work often to say I had a bad lawyer, I deserve another deal, another shake at this. In O.J.'s case, do you see if he has merit?

JAYNE WEINTRAUB, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I don't see this case as one of sour grapes that you were just talking about and neither does the judge. The judge thinks this is significant enough to grant an evidentiary hearing. That alone is a very high threshold to meet.

So she must believe that there is some credibility and some substance to the claim. Remember there are two issues here. One, was he ineffective? In other words, did he render wrong on the law advice, not just strategic advice, was he wrong, did he make a mistake? That's one.

Here -- and did very a significant impact on the outcome, which obviously if he had a conflict of interest, it would have. There are two issues. One, did Yale Galanter relay the plea offer properly to his client and explain to him the ramifications and consequences of taking that plea?

And the second is whether or not Yale Galanter had a conflict of interest? O.J. Simpson claims now as part of his ineffective assistance petition that Yale Galanter spoke with him the day before, counselled him about how he could retrieve the property, and in fact said just don't have -- don't do any violence or don't be rough or something to that effect.

The fact is that Chris Owens, one of the prosecutors, testified in this hearing that he found 10 phone calls between Yale Galanter and O.J. Simpson the day before this incident. We haven't heard from Yale Galanter. We'll hear from him on Friday.

BANFIELD: That's coming up. That's coming up. I'm sure he'll have a lot to say. I just want to point out to the viewers. You watch O.J. Simpson on the stand in the prison jump suit. You have probably been used to seeing him in a suit in the courtroom. That's because there is no jury in this courtroom. This is a bench proceeding.

He is talking to the judge. He needs the judge to agree with him. There is no jury, so it is not prejudicial to be seeing him in a prison jump suit with leg shackles and you probably saw with left and right arm shackles as well. Earlier in the day, we were told his right hand was released so that he could write down what he needed to write down or use his right hand to drink water.

On the stand I can't see as he came back from a brief recess whether they released his right hand again, but that's the way it is, folks. When you are a convict and you go into a courtroom, you don't always get to be treated like the rest of the public. That's the way it is.

You're shackled during your testimony. To you, very quickly, Monica, that whole issue right now that he's talking to the judge, does O.J. Simpson do himself any favors by opening up and getting up on to that witness stand because he can't use charm on a judge. It doesn't work. You use charm on a jury. You don't use charm on a judge.

MONICA LINDSTROM, FORMER PROSECUTOR: Well, Ashleigh, he really has no choice at all. He's talking about conversations he had with his own attorney, and nobody else was around. So if he wants to convince this judge that this is what I said to my attorney and my attorney told me it was OK, or my attorney didn't tell me about a plea agreement or my attorney did or didn't do this or that, he has to take the stand.

And he has to explain why he believes that, what really happened between the two, because there was nobody else there. So he has no choice, but to testify. Is he doing himself a favor? Absolutely because he's the only one that can show the judge and tell the judge this is what happened. Again, he had no choice, he had to do this.

BANFIELD: No matter what. It is fascinating when the juice talks and people do listen, because he has refused to talk so many times before. Not all the time, he's actually spoken under oath in a criminal trial in Florida in 2001 and civil trial when he was dinged with a $33 million judgment for wrongful death, but never spoken in the other two criminal proceedings against him. All right, you two, thank you very much, Monica Lindstrom and Jayne Weintraub for your insight on this.

Up next, I want to switch gears slightly for a moment, some really rocking news. Look, Hollywood may be Hollywood, but when someone with the star power of Angelina Jolie goes public about having a double mastectomy in order to save her life, so that her children can have a mother, it makes big news.

And now we are learning that this actress has gone even further. She's reportedly decided to have her ovaries removed as well. It is a massive decision for any woman, let alone a woman who is in the public eye. I'm going to speak with another woman, not in the public eye, but who has gone through both decisions and said, children, it is all about your children.


BANFIELD: The celestial star power of Angelina Jolie. You're looking at video that was shot of her just after she completed three long months of tests and surgeries and ultimately the complete removal of both of her breasts, a double mastectomy.

And now we are hearing Jolie's powerful pre-emptive strike against a cancer diagnosis is not over yet. Here is what she wrote in her "New York Times" op-ed piece. She said, my doctors estimated that I had an 87 percent risk of breast cancer and a 50 percent risk of ovarian cancer.

I started with the breasts as my risk of breast cancer is higher than my risk of ovarian cancer, and the surgery is more complex. Again, she says started with the breasts. She has also talked about losing her mother to ovarian cancer. So it certainly left the question hanging in the air, would she continue with these surgeries and have her ovaries removed as well. And, today, "People" magazine is reporting that answer is apparently yes. CNN's Elizabeth Cohen, our senior medical correspondent, joins me live now in Atlanta, and also a woman who can relate better than most to what Angelina Jolie is going through, Victoria Flynn.

Victoria, you have gone through this, you have the BRCA gene. You had both your breasts and ovaries removed. So many people want to know when you learn of all of this overwhelming information, is it a no brainer just to make that decision to have both your breasts and ovaries removed or does this take you a very long time of soul searching.

VICTORIA FLYNN, UNDERWENT DOUBLE MASTECTOMY AND OVARY REMOVAL: Well, for me, it was a no brainer, but I think it is important to know that relates to my personal story and because for years prior to that, for 20 or so years prior to me making that decision, I had lived without my mother, who had died when I was 13 years old from breast cancer at the age of 39.

So you live through 20 years or so of your life without your mother, and you almost think there is this time bomb ticking that -- and you ask yourself, am I going to live to 39? When the genetic counselors came to me with this information and my sister as well, and with this -- these risks, the decision was a no brainer.

I was at that point -- I was a mother of two young girls, and the day before I was about to have -- I was going to have a mastectomy and my ovaries removed at the same time, I found out I was pregnant with my third little girl, I had to delay it a little bit. But it was a no brainer.

I had to be here for my children. I had to give myself the best chances, the opportunity to live a long life. And so I, for me, it was a no brainer. But it does -- but I had something like 20 years or so to think about my options.

BANFIELD: Just seeing pictures of your kids. They're just gorgeous, just adorable and gorgeous. I just had to point that out. Listen, the doctors, Victoria, are saying and I want to ask you about this, Elizabeth, as well, the doctors are saying they're expecting an alarming number of women who may now come out in droves for this drastic surgery because there has been so much press coverage of what Jolie did.

And the kind of decision you had to make. You are very careful to say this was great for me, this was right for me. How right is this going to be for a lot of women who get bad news?

FLYNN: Well, they're going to have to talk with their families and figure out what works for them. I was fortunate. I have a very supportive husband, who was very concerned as well. It was funny it was his mother who had a breast cancer scare for herself, before we had met.

But in my late 20s, she had advised me to go to Sloan-Kettering, they had an early intervention program there, and I used to go every six months to get tested and screened for breast cancer because it was pretty obvious that there was a marker somewhere in my family, I had to be on top of it.

So it starts with having a supportive network and sometimes it depends if those people are going to be around you. And I did, I have a supportive friendship in town, a lot -- there is a group called the Nutley thriving survivors where I'm from, they were supportive.

So that kind of allowed me to make the decision easier. I did run up against people who questioned my decision, which I found to be odd, but there are women that are -- that might be questioned and might think about it. But it is a decision you have to make for yourself, you have to talk to your doctors, you have to talk to your family and come to your own conclusion.

BANFIELD: And, Elizabeth, I know you covered so many of these kinds of stories and these kinds of cases and Angelina's case, she's quoted as saying, my chances of developing breast cancer have dropped from 87 percent to under 5 percent. I mean, that is just a remarkable improvement in the numbers. But, Elizabeth, do you -- can anybody expect the same kind of reduction and risk after the ovarian surgery? Is it as dramatic?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Right, so in that "New York Times" piece, Ashleigh, she says that keeping her ovaries, she has a 50 percent chance sometime in her lifetime of developing ovarian cancer. It is not as high as breast cancer, but that's still high.

Imagine being told, you have a 50/50 chance of getting ovarian cancer, that's really high. That's why doctors routinely tell women with this mutation of the breast cancer gene, you know what, finish having your babies and then let's take the ovaries out and let's do it by your 40th birthday. It doesn't bring your risk of ovarian cancer down to zero, because some ovarian tissue may be left, but it brings it down very, very low.

BANFIELD: Well, we wish Angelina Jolie well and Victoria Flynn, it is really good to talk to you. I'm glad you're with us and your kids, like I said, are adorable and really --

FLYNN: Thank you. Thank you for sharing this story.

BANFIELD: Thanks, Victoria. Thank you, Elizabeth. Good to see you both.

As we move along in this program, a 12-year-old boy has been accused of killing his own sister and he's scheduled to go into a courtroom, 12, 12 years old. Police are tight lipped to what led them to the arrest, but perhaps more information is to come. Back after this.


BANFIELD: I'm Ashleigh Banfield live in Phoenix. Due in court this hour, a 12-year-old boy accused of a horrible crime that shook a small town to its very core, a stabbing death of his little sister. Her name, 8-year-old Leila Fowler, stabbed repeatedly at her own home, the family home in Calaveras County, California back on April 27th.

Initially her brother said that police -- said to police a man had broken in while the two were home alone. Well, now, his lawyer says that boy is being arraigned in a juvenile courtroom, this hour, the charge, second degree murder. The court appearance could bring the first look that anyone, even his own lawyer, has had at any evidence that the police have against this young boy, 12 years old.

And coming up next, news just in to CNN, we're getting word that the FBI has uncovered a terror plot, a plot involving yet again Jihad, but this time stolen guns and a teenager who wanted to commit mass murder. The details coming at you next.


BANFIELD: Just in to CNN, the FBI has uncovered a bizarre plot involving Jihad, stolen guns, and money from robberies that were designed to leave not a single witness behind. The 19-year-old Irwin Rios of Fayetteville, North Carolina, allegedly tried to buy a stolen gun to rob people.

The FBI is saying that Rios intended to kill every single witness and then use the money to travel overseas to wage Jihad against American troops, and people that he thought were nonbelievers of Islam. Rios was arrested in a gun buy setup by the FBI.

He pleaded guilty yesterday, but just to the possession of stolen firearm. It remains to be seen how the rest of the allegations will be adjudicated against him. We are back right after this.