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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER

Hitting The Road And Spending Dough; Scammers Circle After Tragedy; Did Holder Mislead Congress?; The Bluths Are Back!; Celtics Number One Fan?

Aired May 24, 2013 - 16:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: In our "Money Lead" today, new CNN polling shows that while there are signs that the economy is picking up, Americans are waiting for the proof in their wallet. Sixty-seven percent of Americans say that economic conditions are poor, 33 percent think things are going well.

One pocketbook test is Memorial Day weekend, which means packing up the car and hitting the road for a long weekend and for the AAA it means time to bust out the crystal ball. AAA released their travel forecast for this weekend, nearly 35 million Americans will travel at least 50 miles with 89 percent of us traveling by car.

We'll spend around $659 and apparently 62 percent of us are OK with a lot of that money being thrown into the gas tank. Let's break down the numbers with the CEO and president of AAA, Robert Darbelnet. Mr. Darbelnet, thanks for being here.

ROBERT DARBELNET, PRESIDENT AND CEO, AAA: Happy to join you.

TAPPER: First of all, how do you figure out how many people are going to travel and how much money they're going to spend? Where do those numbers come from?

DARBELNET: Well, we use a combination of inputs. One of them is the overall economic situation, what we're seeing in terms of economic indicators, and then we survey people relative to their intentions for the weekend, how far they're going to go, how much they're going to spend. What mode of transportation they're going to use. It's a series of different inputs that allow us to formulate the forecast.

TAPPER: You know, the number of people traveling, you anticipate, will be down slightly about 1 percent from last year. Why?

DARBELNET: Well, the decline is principally driven by a reduction in the number of people who are going to travel by air. We actually anticipate there will be a slight increase, about a quarter percent, in the number of people who go by car. But air travelers will be down about 8 percent.

And that is in part a function of the economy if you think about the impact of the end of the payroll tax holiday, if you think about the impact of the sequester, think about our up-and-down economy, that affects how people feel about what they're going to do and how much they're going to spend. But additionally and more specifically related to air travel, air fares are up about 10 percent and through our survey work we saw that there was a lot of fee fatigue with travelers tired of paying fees for bags, parking, internet access on planes, fees for changing their travel reservations, and the list goes on.

So the cost of air travel is a significant factor I think in people's choices for auto travel versus air. Then there is the hassle of the airport, the cattle call for airport security, taking your shoes off, your liquids in a separate plastic bag and all of those things contribute to making it more convenient to travel by car and less expensive.

TAPPER: CNN has a poll out today on how Americans feel about the economy. According to this poll for May 17th and 18th, in December, 26 percent of Americans thought economic conditions were good. That number has gone up. In March it was 31 percent and now it's 33 percent. So people are slightly more confident about the economy since December. Is this tracking the same data that you have at AAA?

DARBELNET: I think that's consistent. Again, if you think about the context of Memorial Day this year and Memorial Day last year, there really isn't a significant difference in the number of overall travelers. What's more obvious is the sharper decline as it relates to air. Again, if you think about the increase in the cost of air travel and the hassle factor, I think that explains why more people are opting for cars rather than airplanes.

TAPPER: All right, Robert Darbelnet of AAA, thank you so much.

It doesn't get much lower than this. Usually when disaster strikes as it did in Moore, Oklahoma, you can be sure that the scammers will follow. Trying to take advantage of your desire to do good and take away whatever the tornado didn't steal from the victims. One of these brilliant con artists was disflagged when a robo call claiming to be from the Red Cross called the local Red Cross.

Erin McPike is live in Oklahoma City with more on the warning from the feds. But first, Erin, what can you tell us about how the community is doing? How are they rebounding?

ERIN MCPIKE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, I'm actually at an elementary school in Oklahoma City where there is a press conference going on right now with officials from Moore public schools. And the principal of Plaza Towers Elementary School, that the school that was levelled on Monday. Amy Simpson is the principal's name. She was just inside and spoke for a long time about what it was like on Monday to be in school when a tornado went through.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AMY SIMPSON, PRINCIPAL, PLAZA TOWERS ELEMENTARY SCHOOL: I did not feel the walls moving at first, but you feel things trickling down on you from the ceiling and then it gets -- those things become chunks of things. And at that point in the bathroom, people were quiet. People were screaming and at that point, I believe that's the only time that I yelled and I said in God's name, go away.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MCPIKE: Obviously, Jake, very emotional, very tough day, even tough for her to describe it today, but the emotions running high as they are makes people in this area so much more vulnerable and so much easier to be preyed on.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MCPIKE (voice-over): Some are here. More are coming. Oklahoma Inspector Julie Bays says scam artists show up in the wake of every disaster.

JULIE BAYS, PUBLIC PROTECTION CHIEF, OKLAHOMA ATTORNEY GENERAL'S OFFICE: The problem is a lot of times these victims are vulnerable and they are in shock and so they are easily taken advantage of.

MCPIKE: As if victims haven't lost enough looters are coming in to grab more.

ROBERT GUIDRY, MOORE, OKLAHOMA RESIDENT: There is copper wiring and copper that goes to your air conditioning units. That sells real, real high, three, three-fifty a pound. Some of that and you get rich pretty quick.

MCPIKE: Local police have already started making arrests.

SGT. JEREMY LEWIS, MOORE, OKLAHOMA POLICE: The last I checked we've had 10 to 20 arrests for various things throughout the -- actual event. That will probably start to increase. The area was just opened up today so today is the first day that we don't have check points at every entrance.

MCPIKE (on camera): There are persistent rumors about price gouging in the area. Police say they fielded calls that businesses in the area are charging up to $40 for a case of water. They say those are just rumors, but there are also complaints about hotels and gas stations charging much more than usual in this area, too. With all of the potential scams, what is your biggest concern?

LEWIS: Contractors, contractors that aren't legit contractors, contractors that are here just to rip people off as quick as they can and get out of town.

MCPIKE (voice-over): Officials are warning victims to stay away from unfamiliar people offering to clean up debris or repair their roof with payment up front.

LEWIS: We tried to warn residents of vehicles, you know, with magnets on them obviously out of state vehicles, anyone asking for money up front. Wanting to do, you know, all of the repairs really quickly. We just don't want anyone signing contracts right now. Let some of it soak in. Don't make any rush decisions.

(END VIDEOTAPE) MCPIKE: Now the other warning is that for people who want to donate to the victims, they need to be aware that they should stay away from suspicious solicitations about fake charities -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Erin McPike in Oklahoma. Amazingly emotional moment there with Amy Simpson, the principal of Plaza Towers Elementary School. Thanks, Erin McPike, for that report.

Coming up in the "Politics Lead," who ordered the deep dive into the phone records of reporters? We're now learning the leak investigation went to the highest levels of the Justice Department. More on that when THE LEAD continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. Now it's time for the "Politics Lead." Just how much did Attorney General Eric Holder know about the investigation into Fox News correspondent James Rosen? Well, this is what he told Congress last week.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ERIC HOLDER, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: With regard to the potential prosecution of the press for the disclosure of material that is not something that I've ever been involved in and heard of. The focus should be on those people who break their oaths and put the American people at risk not reporters who gather this information.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: The key word there is the prosecution of journalists not the surveilling of journalists. In just the past hour, a Justice Department official told CNN's Joe Johns that Attorney General Holder was involved in the decision to apply for a search warrant for Rosen's e-mails and phone records.

Joining me now to talk about this, the president of the Center for American Progress, Neera Tanden, Washington correspondent for the "New Yorker" and CNN contributor, Ryan Lizza, and Ramesh Ponnuru, senior editor for "National Review, "Bloomberg View" columnist and an AEI visiting fellow, and also my former next door neighbor, a long time ago. He was very loud, a lot of loud, conservative parties over there.

Let's talk about this. Ryan, you have some news today about this warrant to surveil the phone messages of James Rosen.

RYAN LIZZA, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, so the Justice Department didn't want this search warrant to become public and so they fought this in the courts. The argument that they made to a federal judge is we have to make this. We can't tell James Rosen or the public about this search warrant because we may have to go back in and surveil this e- mail account.

If we find evidence of a larger criminal conspiracy between Rosen and his State Department source, remember at that point they believed they were involved in conspiracy to commit espionage they argued to the federal court we have to continue to monitor that e-mail account. That argument prevailed.

TAPPER: That they were going to keep it secret.

LIZZA: And they did indeed and the judge ordered that they could keep that secret. Two magistrates said you've got to tell Rosen about this even if it's still later. They appealed it and the higher court based on that argument that we may have to go back and surviel his e-mail over a longer period of time won the day and they were allowed to keep it secret.

TAPPER: A lot of conservatives saying that Holder lied in his testimony before Congress, but Holder is a lawyer and he is a smart lawyer. Whether you like him or his politics, he didn't say the surveilling of journalists. He said the prosecution of journalists and they have not prosecuted James Rosen.

RAMESH PONNURU, SENIOR EDITOR, "NATIONAL REVIEW": Well, attorneys general are usually lawyers and they are usually very good about technically avoiding perjury and I think that is exactly what's happened here. Let's also keep in mind that the president just yesterday said he was going to put Attorney General Holder in charge of reviewing the administration's policies on the free press. And given that he apparently signed off, that the Justice Department is saying that he signed off.

TAPPER: Yes.

PONNURU: On these tactics, you have to wonder how much confidence you should have in that review.

TAPPER: Neera?

NEERA TANDEN, PRESIDENT, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: Look, I think the president was right yesterday and we shouldn't be, you know, we shouldn't be chilling the speech of reporters. We shouldn't have over investigation. The challenge here is that over the last two, three years it's been conservatives who have attacked this White House for leaks of national security.

Just during the election there were attacks for allegedly leaking information. So there is a balance here. That balance should be in favor of protecting the first amendment. We should get to the bottom of what happened here. I don't think anybody should be spied upon, whether from Fox or CNN or MSNBC, but I think we should get to the bottom of this before we allege perjury or otherwise.

TAPPER: I think one of the issues is that in their leak investigations the prosecutors seemed to be just going to the reporter and trying to figure out who gave the information to the reporter who is not bound by any law that he is not going to disclose secrets instead of doing a leak investigation within the offices of the government. That is a true fishing expedition. The White House talks about the Benghazi fishing expedition. These are prosecutorial fishing expeditions and they do have a chilling effect on journalism. LIZZA: They do. Everyone in this town can find an example of doing what James Rosen did in this case, that is trying to get someone to tell them a secret. I don't necessarily know when I'm talking to a government official if what I am trying to get out of them is classified. But I do what I can to get the information.

That's what is so crazy about this case is that in the search warrant the FBI agent told the judge that we need this information because we think this guy James Rosen is a criminal conspiring with a government official to release classified information.

PONNURU: And it is such a broad search for information as well so let's say you are, somebody is working in the government or a whistle blower somewhere else and you are in contact with the journalist you have to worry is this information, the fact of our contact going to appear to somebody that you had no idea it was being disclosed to.

TAPPER: Neera, you have the last word.

TANDEN: Look, they should obviously be going after the government leakers first and foremost. There are questions of if he knowingly went after this information like if he was trying to get classified information and knew about it but obviously the government should be investigating reporters last no first.

TAPPER: So we agree journalists are awesome. All right, Neera, Ramesh and Ryan, thank you so much.

TANDEN: I'm the lone voice against.

TAPPER: I appreciate you all being here. Thank you so much. We'll have you on again soon. Check out Ryan's reporting on newyorker.com.

Coming up next, arrested development a classic show most people have never heard of. It died a premature TV death, but now it's streaming back to life on Netflix and that is our "Pop Lead" and it's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. Now it's time for our "Pop Culture Lead." The cult classic show "Arrested Development" returns this weekend. In tone and tenor, the story of the dysfunctional Bluth family may have been ahead of its time, but it was also decidedly ahead of its time in terms of how we watch the show.

Back then on Network TV, on Fox, but starting this weekend not on broadcast TV or cable but on a whole new content provider, one that did not exist when the show debuted or even when it was canceled on streaming Netflix. We'll see if the site gags, cut a ways and all the twisted Bluthness works better in this brave new world.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TAPPER (voice-over): The final countdown is upon us. At 12:01 a.m. Pacific Time, this Sunday morning, "Arrested Development" returns exclusively on Netflix. If you're having a premiere party, remember your corn baller and settle in because all 15 episodes will be available at once for your binging pleasure.

MEETA AGRAWAL, ASSISTANT MANAGING EDITOR, "ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY": This Netflix model of releasing shows just really changes the entire business of how a show is promoted. Once it all comes out on Sunday, you'll have to see kind of a fan led promotion. It is going to have to be grass roots from the people who have been watching it.

TAPPER: A lot has changed in the seven years since Fox canceled the series starting with TV itself.

AGRAWAL: This is just the beginning of what is to come. Pretty soon you're not going to as a viewer really notice is this coming from a channel or a, you know, a Netflix?

TAPPER: Back then YouTube was only a year old when the Bluths were bounced. When season one debuted in 2003, one of the biggest family sitcoms on the old fashioned tube was "Everybody Loves Raymond."

Let's just say Lucille Bluth is no Marie Barone. "Arrested Development" became a critical hit winning six Emmys and a Golden Globe. but network viewers at the time declared it too edgy, too cool for school.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There were blue hand prints on them?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

PORTIA DE ROSSI, ACTESS: Netflix was like a perfect partner for "Arrested Development." For any show that's a little bit cutting edge, creative, they were there in support of us but they didn't feel like that heavy network presence.

TAPPER: Maybe it was ahead of its time in terms of taste and tact. After all, when it went off the air, DVD sales for the show picked up. DVRs filled up and "Arrested" re-runs became some of the most popular shows to stream, which is why Netflix is gambling on the Bluths to win big.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can't tell you how many health codes you're violating right now.

TAPPER: Netflix has launched a gorilla marketing campaign behind the show, when famous Bluth frozen banana stands are popping up in Los Angeles and New York for the season four premiere. The Yankees tweeted this photo from their stadium and the ensemble cast, of course, is just as psyched as their fans.

JESSICA WALTER, ACTRESS: It's as if seven years never went by, which is nice when you're my age.

JASON BATEMAN, ACTOR: We all would have done it a long time ago and we'll do it all more in the future if they'll have us.

TAPPER: But in this edgier new zeitgeist can "Arrested" stand out like it did before? Can the cast reclaim the endearing despicableness of the first three seasons? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So it's embezzlement, bribery, and conspiracy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And a whole lot of love.

TAPPER: Netflix sure hopes so. Otherwise, stockholders may be stealing the series' famous catch phrase.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I've made a huge mistake.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TAPPER: So the only question left, should we hammer through all the episodes at once, binging, or take it slow? Well, show creator, Mitch Herowitz, first said have at all of them but then changed his mind and you have until Sunday to decide.

I was so much older then. I'm younger than that now. He was born Robert Zimmerman in Duluth, Minnesota. Then he became Bob Dylan then he went electric. Then he was Christian. Then he was Jewish again. And along the way we all became tangled up in blue following perhaps the most important singer/song writer of his generation.

Today we at THE LEAD are wishing a very happy 72nd birthday to Mr. Bob Dylan. Skinny kids with messy hair and acoustic guitars are still standing in front of their bedroom mirrors imitating the master.

Meanwhile, Bobby D., he is still strumming. He released "The Tempest," his 59th album last year. Here he is at the Newport Folk Festival in 1964 playing "Mr. Tambourine Man."

Coming up, is Pope Francis a Boston Celtics fan? He just might be. We'll tell you why. Our "Sports Lead" is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: In our "Sports Lead," next season's NBA champions will be the Boston Celtics, at least they will, if the pope has anything to say about it. A Celtics minority owner tried to win over the pope on Wednesday giving Francis a personalized Celtics jersey when he visited the Vatican. No name just his title the pope number one. This photo was posted to the Celtics' Instagram account as the most catholic city in the U.S. Boston is probably a natural fit for Francis.

Hashtag you're it, earlier we asked you to tweet us your Memorial Day messages. When we needed you, you paid the highest price. Thank you yesterday, today, tomorrow. Sergeant First Class Eric J. Blake, 1971 to 2012, you are not forgotten, brother. R.I.P., you are sorely missed and thanks. From Sonny J., my child sleeps safely in her bed every night because you stand the wall. To those who gave all, thank you.

Make sure to follow me on Twitter @jaketapper, that's all one word and also @theleadcnn and check out our show page at cnn.com/thelead for video blogs and extras. That's it for THE LEAD today. I'm Jake Tapper. I hope you have a meaningful Memorial Day weekend and I turn you over to Wolf Blitzer who is right next door in "THE SITUATION ROOM."