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PIERS MORGAN LIVE
Extreme Weather Across the U.S.; Ricin Developments; Boston Strong
Aired May 30, 2013 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PIERS MORGAN, HOST: This is PIERS MORGAN LIVE. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. Tonight, breaking news. Live from Tornado Alley, we've got more exclusive video of a large twister forming right now in Oklahoma.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just stop anywhere right here. It's coming straight at us. Look at this shot, dude. Look at that mesocyclone.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Got to get my camera, bro.
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MORGAN: A spectacular wildfire north of Los Angeles. We'll have more of that later in the show.
And breaking news on the ricin case. The FBI says it made an arrest and they're searching for another letter, this one addressed to the CIA. I'll ask former New York top cop Bill Bratton how dangerous is all this.
Also, "Law & Disorder." On the docket tonight, what could be a turning point in the $40 billion Michael Jackson death trial.
And break in the news. You've heard the headlines. Now my guests sign off on Attorney General Eric Holder. Should he stay or should he go? And are we making maybe too much of some of these controversies?
Also tonight, Boston's favorite sons, James Taylor and Donnie Wahlberg at tonight's star-studded concert for the Boston marathon victims.
Lot to get to tonight but I'll begin with our breaking weather news. Tornado Alley is at risk again tonight. Joining me now is CNN's Chad Myers in Oklahoma, also WABC-TV meteorologist Amy Freeze and storm chaser Jeff Piotrowski.
Let me start with you, Chad Myers. Chad, a busy day again for the tornadoes. What is happening right now?
CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: That's right. We behind me have now a new tornado warning. Now you have to understand that we're on a special kind of signal here. We're going to have a small little delay, maybe three or four second delay, so this is going to go back and forth between you and me. But right behind me there was a tornado forming not three or four minutes ago. The funnel tried to get to the ground but it didn't quite get it.
We are near Paul's Valley, Oklahoma. If you are in the Paul's Valley area, you need to take cover right now because that funnel could come to the ground.
Something else I think you should see, Piers, is that there are cars and trucks on I-35 right here driving right straight into this storm. They don't really know that this storm is ahead. They just saw that lightning flash, clearly, but they don't understand that there's a tornado warning right in front of them.
Now there are apps that you can buy for your cell phones, for your smartphones, that will tell you that you are driving into something like this because your smartphone knows where you are. The smartphone knows where the tornado warnings are. They put those two things together and all of a sudden you can be a much safer driver with those apps, those mobile apps for your smartphones showing you the potential for what's happening today.
Not only are these storms potentially tornadic, but according to the National Weather Service in Norman, there are tennis ball sized hailstones, Piers, falling out of that storm. And those cars are driving straight in it -- Piers.
MORGAN: Extraordinary stuff.
Jeff Piotrowski, you're in Tulsa, I think, north of Oklahoma City. Tell me what you're seeing there, Jeff.
JEFF PIOTROWSKI, STORM CHASER: Well, I tell you what, Piers, early this afternoon we had thunderstorms with tornadoes and tornado warnings from just northeast of Oklahoma City. We've tried -- a couple of tornadic storms between (INAUDIBLE), we got film about six very small tornadoes, no damage. The storms just off Oklahoma City are producing tornadoes as well. Very large cell. Did have a report earlier, about an hour ago, hail about 3 1/2 to 4 inches diameter south of Oklahoma City.
And we now have a tornado warning with tornado reported on the ground east of Tulsa. If you look at the live feed now, got a severe thunderstorm in Tulsa metro right now, with golf ball size hail with a tornado warning in effect for a tornado east of (INAUDIBLE), tracking toward northwest (INAUDIBLE) confirmed tornado on the ground.
MORGAN: Jeff Piotrowski, thank you very much indeed.
Let me go to Amy Freeze now, who's with me here in New York outside.
While I was walking around earlier, Amy, it was unbelievably hot, like in the 90s, yet a few days ago it was pretty chilly. What is going on with the East Coast weather?
AMY FREEZE, METEOROLOGIST, WABC-TV: Just four days ago we were talking about wind chills. And now tonight here we are post-sunset and temperatures are muggy, still in the mid-80s. What we've got is our first heat wave of the season. Today, Philadelphia was hotter than Boston and New York City, and New York City was hotter than Houston, Dallas, Miami. We were hotter than the south today and it's because of the jet stream's position right now, allowing for this flow of unseasonably hot and very humid air. This is the first of three days and it could be our first official heat wave of the season here on the East Coast.
MORGAN: Right. And it's incredibly early. We're also seeing some wildfires in Los Angeles. Obviously the tornadoes down near Oklahoma again. This extraordinary weather in New York. Is this as extraordinary as it seems to me, Amy, or not?
FREEZE: Well, of course we've got these major extremes and the transition during spring typically produces this type of extreme weather. But what's happening especially tonight in the south is the low level jet is just firing up creating a lot of wind so the nocturnal tornado threat especially for Tornado Alley, where Jeff Piotrowskiis, is extreme tonight and of course, night tornadoes are the most deadly.
As for what's happening on the West Coast, as soon as we get the heat going, of course, it's fire season and those winds also create a lot of spreading quickly. Not to mention the flooding issues that we've had over the last couple of days, Piers. The water has just been extreme, falling at four to five inches in less than an hour's time. That's some real extreme weather.
And of course, all of this -- happening in populated areas where people have their cameras ready and were capturing it all on film.
MORGAN: Let's go back to Chad Myers quickly.
Chad, are we heading towards a particularly extreme summer, do you think?
MYERS: We're heading to a particularly extreme hurricane season, according to the Hurricane Center, 13 to 20 named storms, almost double possibly the number of hurricanes, and double possibly the number of major hurricanes. So yes, obviously if that's part of summer. But we can't tell you whether it's going to be hotter or colder yet. The 90-day forecast does say an above normal season in the east but a slightly below normal season in the west. That's just the way the jet stream goes.
We're going to have to see if the hurricane season shapes up like they're forecasting because it could be a very long summer for the people along the coast -- Piers.
MORGAN: Well, Chad Myers, and Amy Freeze and Jeff Piotrowski, thank you all very much indeed.
I want to turn now to breaking news on ricin letters. The FBI has announced they are searching for a fifth ricin tainted letter that was addressed to the CIA.
And CNN's Deborah Feyerick is here with the latest. Deb, try and explain to me exactly what we know because there seem to have been a flurry of reports in the last few hours about a number of ricin letters. Are the FBI in the belief that it's all the same person?
DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, there are two separate cases, actually, both involving ricin letters. The one in which they're searching for a fifth letter, that is a ricin case that originates out of Spokane, Washington, and last week authorities arrested a man by the name of Matthew Ryan Buquet. It's believed that he sent five letters, including one to the CIA, and that's the letter that they're searching for now.
This latest case that we're talking about, the one that's been in the news today, the one where letters were sent to New York City's mayor Michael Bloomberg and the president also, in that case, we are being told by a source who is involved in the investigation that they are questioning an individual. What we don't know is whether that individual is connected to sending the envelopes or whether it's somebody who knows something about who may have sent the envelopes.
So right now that is breaking, that is developing right now in terms of somebody who they are questioning in terms of this latest ricin case. What we can tell you is that all three letters were postmarked from the same city, Shreveport, Louisiana. We know that at least two, the one sent to the mayor and his gun control group, were written by the same person because they contain the same threat.
The writer says, quote, "You will have to kill me and my family before you get my guns. Anyone wants to come to my house will be shot in the face. The right to bear arms is my constitutional God-given right and I will exercise that right to the day I die."
And Piers, the person then goes on one step farther and this is even more scary, referring to the ricin tainted envelopes, he says, what's in this letter is nothing compared to what I've got planned for you. So authorities are really taking this case extremely, extremely seriously, not only because of the presence of traces of ricin but also because of this additional threat.
MORGAN: But just to clarify, Deb, the FBI don't believe these two sets of ricin letters could be linked in some way.
FEYERICK: It doesn't appear. Right now the two cases are being handled separately. The one on the West Coast, in Spokane, Washington, and the one on the East Coast. President Obama, sort of the link in this because he receives letters from both people who were sending these letters.
MORGAN: Deb Feyerick, thank you very much indeed.
Bill Bratton is a man who knows all about this kind of security threat. He's the former New York City Police commissioner who's also top cop in Boston and L.A. And he joins me now.
Bill Bratton, thanks for joining me again. What do you make of this latest ricin letter attack on the president and on Mayor Bloomberg?
BILL BRATTON, FORMER NEW YORK CITY POLICE COMMISSIONER: Well, it's intended I think to attract publicity which it certainly is, intended to potentially intimidate but quite clearly the president and the mayor are not going to be intimidated by it.
It is -- ricin is probably one of the worst ways to try and kill somebody. So I don't see it as a real threat in the sense of an actual capability to kill. But rather to intimidate and attract publicity.
MORGAN: The worrying trend is that a lot of these things, making ricin, making the kind of bomb that we saw in Boston at the marathon, guns now, can all be done through the Internet. How worried would you be if you were running the FBI or an organization like that now or even a city police force, how worrying is it that it's so easy now to make guns, bombs, poison?
BRATTON: Well, that is the concern. The Internet, the social media, if you will, has changed the complexity of what law enforcement has to deal with relative to potential threats. Al Qaeda, for example, has sought through their sources to inspire people to make ricin. It's fairly easy to make. And to put it on doorknobs and car handles. That's a very ineffective way of trying to effectively use it. But in any event, people I'm sure that are watching these newscasts are going to go rushing to their computers, look it up and see that there's instructions on how to make it.
It just makes it much more complex for law enforcement because the potential for wannabes to go out and imitate is so significant. And undoubtedly there'll be some wannabes that will seek to be -- if you will, that will be inspired by the events of the last two days, all the news coverage first with Mayor Bloomberg and now with the president.
MORGAN: We know that the Tsarnaev brothers, the Boston bombers, they had relied apparently for information on how to build this pressure cooker bomb on an al Qaeda backed magazine called "Inspire." That has a new issue coming out in which they laud these two brothers as heroes and encourage readers in the U.S. to follow their example.
What can be done about that? What can you do about such blatant, emblazon incitement to violence in a publication?
BRATTON: Really nothing. I just received a copy of it on my BlackBerry that just prior to the newscast. That so anybody can get access to it. Even if you try to block it, they will find ways to get around that blockage. That's the world we're living in.
I'm attending a law enforcement conference here in Dallas, Texas, with major city chiefs and the National Executive Institute, and we have just spent the last two days getting all types of presentations on the latest forms of cyber threats and terrorist types of activities. We've got presentations by Ed Davis, police commissioner in Boston.
We've talked extensively about the bombings up in Boston. And it is the world we live in today and it's one that police say are attempting to stay ahead of the curve rather than be behind the curve.
MORGAN: What did you think of this extraordinary story of the Florida man who was killed by the FBI agent while being questioned about his relationship with the Boston bomber, Tamerlan Tsarnaev? His name was Ibragim Todashev, 27, from Chechnya. Original the reports were that he'd been armed and had attacked the FBI agent. Now it would appear that he wasn't armed and his father has been showing pictures of his son with multiple gunshot wounds and so on.
Would you be worried about this? Would you think this needs a police investigation?
BRATTON: It's having a very comprehensive investigation conducted by both the FBI and the Massachusetts State Police that there's an old adage in policing, the first story is never the correct story. The first story that I heard was that these three law enforcement agents were interrogating this young man in his home or his residence and that he pulled a knife on them.
I've come to understand that there's never been any statement by the police to that effect, that it was something that was basically created by the media, that there was a knife involved. So there's some confusion about even the source of the story relative to the young man was armed with a knife.
Something that's not been really discussed is that the young man was a -- one of these rage fighters, one of these people that gets into a cage and literally just fights with no limits on how they can attack their opponent. So he was somebody that physically could be very overpowering.
My understanding of some of what went on in that room was after a period of time of questioning, that at least the initial story was that he did assault the law enforcement officers. As to actually what transpired in the room will be the subject of an extensive and lengthy investigation.
MORGAN: Bill Bratton, thank you for joining me.
BRATTON: Pleasure to be with you.
MORGAN: When we come back, Boston strong. The concert to help heal a city. I'll talk to Boston's own James Taylor and Donnie Wahlberg who are performing right now.
MORGAN: Forty-five days since the Boston marathon bombings, tonight the city is proving itself truly Boston strong with a benefit concert for One Fund Boston. Aerosmith, Carole King, Jimmy Bucket, and Jason Olden, just some of the big headliners.
Boston's own New Kids on the Block, who are in the middle of a major tour right now, are also performing tonight, and joining me now is one of the band's star, Donnie Wahlberg.
Donnie, how are you?
DONNIE WAHLBERG, NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK: Hey, Piers. Great. Great. Really, really excited to be here with you and to be here tonight in Boston for this amazing event. I'm just so excited.
MORGAN: Where were you when you heard about the Boston marathon bombings and what was your first reaction?
WAHLBERG: I was on set on my TV series "Blue Bloods" in New York and was surrounded by New Yorkers. Our entire crew are pretty much mostly New Yorkers, and having been through 9/11, they immediately started coming to me one after the other saying you should step away from set because something's happened in Boston.
And my initial reaction was well, you know, what could it be, you know? I didn't probably take it that seriously, but the looks on their faces told me that it probably was pretty serious, and I immediately thought about my band mate, Joe McIntyre, who was running in the marathon and just the night before we had joked that he would probably finish around four hours and 10 minutes.
Him and I had a little personal bet that he said he'd make it under four hours, I said just after four hours. And I looked at my watch and realized it was probably about 4:10 so I was immediately hoping I was wrong on the wager and that he was safe. And I found him and then started checking on other family members, and still didn't really understand the magnitude until later in the day.
And just how severe it was and what exactly had happened. And I think like every Bostonian and every American and every decent thinking person on the face of the earth, I was immediately just thrown into shock and started to think, you know, what can I do to help.
MORGAN: And Donnie, when you discovered that the perpetrators of this atrocity were two young brothers who had been living in Boston for quite a long time and had suddenly committed this outrage, what was your view of that?
WAHLBERG: Well, it's frightening. Obviously to think that somebody could be so close, you know, and be plotting something so horrible. But you know, it's tough, you know. I mean, you know, when 9/11 happened, I think immediately after 9/11 this is sort of what some of our worst fears probably were, is that these things would start to happen a lot, and fortunately, they didn't.
This has been a tough one to handle, Piers. You know I grew up and walked those very streets where these bombs went off thousands of times in my life. I went to high school moments from there. I took theater class in the old South Church right there. I mean, this is so close to home. It is home for all of us Bostonians. And hopefully, you know, the people who are here to protect us will take this as a serious wake-up call and keep us protected.
MORGAN: Boston has proved itself to be extremely strong and resilient as a result of this, and tonight's concert really encapsulates that. It's a huge event. Many people saying it's the most historic night in Boston music history. You have incredible lineup, Aerosmith, detoured from Singapore. You guys are on. A great cast list, James Taylor, who I'm about to talk to.
How do you feel about being able to put on such an amazing show in your own city for your own people?
WAHLBERG: It's a wonderful feeling, Piers. But you know, in all sincerity, this night is about the victims and their families. And it's about honoring the city, the first responders, and raising a lot of money for the One Fund. We want to put on a great show, lift the spirits of the city which are already lifted. I mean, you can see outside, just walking over here to do this interview with you, everybody's been amazing and they're so ready to have a great time and to celebrate the pride of this great city. It will take a lot more than what happened on the day of the marathon to keep this city down.
MORGAN: Well said, Donnie. Great to talk to you. And best of luck tonight. It sounds like a cracking night of entertainment and you're doing a great job for your city and the people there.
WAHLBERG: Thank you, Piers. And thank you for all your support through this. You've been really great in honoring our city as well. So thank you.
MORGAN: I want to bring in Boston's own, James Taylor, who performed at the memorial service in memory of the murdered MIT police officer, Sean Collier. And tonight he's back to help headline a Boston Strong show. James Taylor joins me with his wife, Kim Taylor.
Welcome to you both.
KIM TAYLOR, WIFE OF JOHN TAYLOR: Thank you, Piers.
JAMES TAYLOR, SINGER: Thanks, Piers.
MORGAN: I just spoke to Donnie Wahlberg. It sounds like an incredibly exciting atmosphere down there. But for both of you, for Donnie and for you, James, you're from Boston. It's your home city. It's been through a terrible wounding experience, but this whole concept of Boston strong is really alive and kicking with your show tonight. Tell me about how you feel.
J. TAYLOR: I think that's right. You know, it's been traumatic. It's a shock. You know, people feel as though -- people feel bad about what happened and they want to respond. People want to -- there's no way we can make it not to have happened, but you know, we want people -- I think people all over Boston want to show their concern and try to make whatever effort they can to pull together and to try to feel better about the city again.
MORGAN: You've obviously come into contact with victims along the way here. How are you finding that direct contact with these victims? What do you say to them to try and make their lives a little better?
J. TAYLOR: Well, there's nothing -- there's no real way to adequately respond or to minister or -- you know, I don't even think we can really understand entirely what's happened. The only thing you can do is just in the moment and at the point of contact, you know, try to offer -- just offer support and friendship.
MORGAN: A lot of money has been raised by the concert and indeed, since the Boston marathon with various funds and appeals. You as a couple have donated $50,000. What do you think from all you've gleaned about the way the money should be spent is going to be the most effective way of using this large amount of cash?
K. TAYLOR: I hope the people in charge of the concert who have been in direct contact with the families will have a sense of what -- how they need it the most and what's the most effective way to distribute it.
For me, it's a new definition of the kind of courage and the first responders, the civilians. I know we think of a saint in our culture as someone, kind of an extreme definition like Mother Theresa. It's very hard to emulate that I think for people with kids and lives, but to me, it's a kind of saintly behavior that we've seen.
And the people that have rolled up their sleeves and gotten down and dirty and helped these victims and the victims themselves, it's really a remarkable thing. And I know we feel really privileged to have met the victims, some of the victims.
MORGAN: And James, finally for you, what does it mean to you to be a Bostonian?
J. TAYLOR: Well, I was born here. My father met my mother here.
K. TAYLOR: He worked at Mass General.
J. TAYLOR: Right. My dad was at Mass General just across the way here. Kim has worked with the Boston Symphony for 30 years now. A long time.
K. TAYLOR: Thirty years.
J. TAYLOR: An unmentionable period of time. But it -- but, you know, we just -- we feel, we feel very connected here. We feel -- we're proud of Boston. It's funny, you know, Boston is such an inclusive place, it's so -- it's so open and welcoming, you know, its puritan beginnings notwithstanding, and it's -- it really, this is so wrong, what's happened, it's so un-Boston, really. So we just feel a strong connection with the place and a sense of pride in all things Boston.
MORGAN: Well, I wish you all the very best tonight with what sounds like a terrific show. Great that you're doing it. And to you, James and Kim, thank you both for taking the time to join me.
K. TAYLOR: Thank you, Piers.
J. TAYLOR: Thanks a lot. MORGAN: And we've got some late-breaking news on the ricin investigation. A source with knowledge of the investigation says a person is currently being interviewed by law enforcement in Texas in connection with the probe into the letters sent to President Obama and Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the Mayors Against Illegal Guns group. We'll bring you all the latest on that as we get them tonight.
Coming up, the mother of seven behind bars in Mexico tonight. Will she be charged with drug smuggling? That's on the docket in tonight's "Law & Disorder."
MORGAN: Welcome back to PIERS MORGAN LIVE.
Searching for the smoking gun in the Jackson family lawsuit against concert promoter AEG Live. Today jurors were shown e-mails from company executives worried about Michael Jackson's health as he prepared for a comeback tour just before his death.
That's on the docket of "Law & Disorder" with my legal eagles, attorneys Tom Mesereau and Gloria Allred. I should point out that Tom Mesereau is on the plaintiff's witness list in the AEG trial.
Welcome back to both of you.
Tom, let me start with you. As you obviously have got great knowledge of this case. Key day today in many ways because Paul Gongaware, the CEO of AEG, gave his deposition, I think he's still giving it, and basically refused to answer any real questions of significance. What was going on?
THOMAS A. MESEREAU JR., CRIMINAL DEFENSE LAWYER: Well, my understanding is that Brian Panitch, the lawyer for Katherine Jackson and Michael's children, who incidentally I recommended to Katherine as the best lawyer in the country to handle this case, he's been going over e-mails with Mr. Gongaware and I'm told that Mr. Gongaware is professing not to remember exactly why he did the mail or what he meant, answering very often I don't recall, I don't recall, I don't recall.
And the information I'm getting, because I'm not allowed in the courtroom because I'm a witness, is that he's not looking very truthful and looking very evasive. And if that's true, it's going to really hurt the defendants as they try and prove to the jury that they never assumed responsibility for Michael Jackson's welfare or his doctor.
MORGAN: I mean, Gloria, this is the key part of the case, really, because if it can be proven based on these pretty damning e-mails that AEG not only were aware of what was going on with Michael Jackson but were paying vast amounts of money, $150,000 to Conrad Murray, the doctor, who was there when he died, if that can be proven, that is the case done and dusted.
Is it any defense to say you don't recall sending an e-mail when there's a copy of the e-mail sitting in court?
GLORIA ALLRED, ATTORNEY: Well, it's a problem, Piers, because when a witness continues to say, says over and over, I don't recall, as apparently this witness has, then it starts to give the impression of untruthfulness to the jury and, in fact, it's reported that the jury began to laugh when this witness continued to say, I don't recall, and when the jury begins to laugh at the witness, it should be a cause for concern by the defense that perhaps the jury's thinking this witness is just not credible.
MORGAN: Let's move on to another case that a lot of Americans are concerned about, I think, which is the one of Yanira Maldonado. She is this mother of seven on her way back from a family funeral in Mexico when she was arrested, and she's facing these charges of having 12 pounds of marijuana under her bus seat.
Tom, what do you make of this case?
MESEREAU: Well, I think it's a tragedy for this family and I think the heat is going to be so intense on the Mexican government that she'll be released at some point. You have Mexican public officials saying they think she was set up. You have very conservative, very experienced law enforcement veterans in America saying they think she was set up.
She has no history of any criminal behavior at all. She sounds very credible. How would she get 12 pounds under her seat and attach those 12 pounds with metal hooks without somebody seeing it, and I also am informed that the police officers who detained her have given conflicting stories on where they found the marijuana. One says it was all under one seat and another says it was under different seats.
So I think you put this together, I think she's going to be released at some point and I hope it's very soon.
MORGAN: Gloria, I mean, you can never, you know, be the judge and jury here sitting where I am. And I can look at her and say this looks like a complete stitch-up to me but you don't know that for sure. If this was your client, though, what would you be doing now to try and put the maximum type of pressure on to the Mexican authorities to get her out of there?
ALLRED: Well, I would do just exactly what was done today and CNN in fact have seen what I'm going to call the smoking video. That's the video of her getting on to the bus where reportedly she only had her purse, two blankets and two bottles of water, and her defense attorney is arguing, and that's what I would have argued, that there's no way that this five-inch-high, 20-inch wide package of marijuana could have fit into her purse. So that I think is the key in this case and I think it's a good argument that she should be released.
MORGAN: Well, we shall find out possibly as soon as tomorrow.
Gloria and Tom, as always, thank you so much for joining me on "Law & Disorder" tonight. I'll see you both soon. Coming next, breaking the news on the big stories of the day from ricin to the White House controversies to the president's popularity, which may surprise you, the latest polls when we go behind the headlines.
MORGAN: Now it's time for breaking the news. It's when we break down all the big stories making headlines tonight. Joining me is Marc Lamont Hill, professor at Columbia University and the host of HuffPost Live. Also CNN political contributor and Republican consultant, Margaret Hoover.
Welcome to you both.
MARC LAMONT HILL, HOST, HUFFPOST LIVE: Good to see you.
MARGARET HOOVER, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Glad to be here.
MORGAN: A veritable dream team tonight. Let's start, talking of dream teams, with this tangle, this mess that President Obama has got into particularly with Eric Holder, his attorney general. What is interesting about this is that I had Jay Carney on recently and we were talking about these three scandals, the IRS, the Benghazi scandal, and the fact that the Attorney General's Office were targeting journalists at Associated Press. Now we know FOX News as well.
This is what Jay Carney said to me at the time.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: Did you ever think you'd have to deal with three scandals like this at the same time?
JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECURITY: I dismiss the premise, the idea that these were scandals. One is a total concoction by Republicans on the first hand, you know, and the other, I mean, depends on the IRS issue, absolutely. Inappropriate behavior, wrong activity by personnel by the IRS, and action needs to be taken, is being taken and will be taken.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: The obvious question, Margaret Hoover, are they scandals?
HOOVER: Yes. They're scandals. All three of them are scandals. They all rank, as Jay Carney spun it accurately, he also reflected what the American people are saying. American people are saying they're less concerned about Benghazi, they're deeply concerned about the IRS scandal and they're increasingly concerned about what's happening with the A.P. reporters but then more so even --
MORGAN: Now, now -- HOOVER: -- though they've had spread more broadly to FOX.
MORGAN: Right. Now here's what I would say to you. I agree with what you've just said. I think they are all fairly scandalous. However, the American public doesn't agree with it. A Quinnipiac University poll, May 22nd and 28th, what is a higher priority for President Obama, dealing with the economy or investigating these controversies, 73 percent would prefer him to focus on the economy.
HOOVER: But that same poll --
MORGAN: How scandalized can they be if that's what they want him to do?
HOOVER: OK. So the same poll -- just to your point, same poll says 76 percent of Americans think that a special prosecutor should be appointed in the IRS case so clearly they care about it. But to your larger point, I think the American people are smart. They are able to distinguish between their approval rating of the president and, by the way, there is no clear connection between the president and the IRS scandal right now.
HILL: That's the point.
HOOVER: So there's -- and so -- and by the way, Ronald Reagan was called the Teflon president. Why? Because none of the scandals affecting the administration --
MORGAN: Yes, but -- but, Margaret --
HOOVER: No, there is a -- Americans are --
MORGAN: Let me come to -- turn to Marc, because here's what's interesting again. Another poll, a CNN Poll of Polls, how is Obama handling his job as president, approve, 49 percent, disapprove, 42 percent. This has actually gone up.
MORGAN: So, I mean, despite all these scandals, and I do believe all of them in their own way have been pretty scandalous. And we can debate that.
HILL: They are scandals, yes.
MORGAN: Why is he getting more popular through this period rather than less?
HILL: Because the American people know that even if there are scandals, they're not presidential scandals, they have nothing to do with him. Number one. And number two, it's also a referendum on how they feel with the Republican Party have dealt with these scandals. And I'm going to use air quotes. In other words, they see Benghazi as an issue that needs to be investigated but they also see the way the right-wing has attempted to convince us that this is the scandal of all scandals that's connected to President Obama.
They look at the IRS scandal and they say OK, well, this is a problem that's clearly bad actions have taken place here but the president was not sitting in the White House figuring out how to take down the Tea Party through taxation.
HOOVER: Or they're willing to reserve judgment until there's further evidence. Is it right? And so that's the point.
HOOVER: But you're going -- I mean, to suggest that these are scandals and it's wishful thinking that this is only Republicans trying to bring down the president is also casting the American people in a too dumb of --
MORGAN: No, no, you didn't hear me. I agree with you. I think they are scandalous. And I think it's completely unacceptable for the president and the White House to basically say hey, nothing to do with us, guys. Three big bombshells have erupted, you know. You have the assassination of an ambassador in Benghazi and other Americans. You've had the targeting of right-wing Tea Partiers by the IRS, and you've got the targeting of the press now in two different places, A.P. and FOX News.
All of them, I think, come down to a culture at the White House. Can he really, the president, stand back and Jay Carney and these guys and say, none of these are scandals, nothing to do with us, our fingerprints aren't on this? It sounds kind of Nixonian.
HILL: Oh, I was waiting -- I was waiting how long it's going to take.
HOOVER: It didn't take long.
HILL: Oh my gosh.
HOOVER: Didn't take long.
HILL: This is a tricky game. Every time people mention Nixon with Obama with regards to these --
MORGAN: Even Nixon didn't do what Holder's done.
HOOVER: People are -- MORGAN: Even Nixon didn't seek to go after a journalist like Rosen at FOX News and try and get all these background details, his e-mail, his family's e-mails.
HILL: But you're complaining (INAUDIBLE). Holder is not a sitting president, OK? So again Obama --
MORGAN: He works for the administration.
HILL: Well, not exactly. The State Department doesn't exactly work -- the Department of Justice doesn't exactly work that way. Ostensibly operates independently of the president and of course we know there's connections there. But let's not overstate those connections. The president --
MORGAN: But if you say, of course, we know there are connections and everyone does know there are connections, how far can you stretch the line of credibility? Let me ask you this, Margaret, where literally, the president can say I had nothing to do with any of these scandals.
HOOVER: Until you can prove, and look, again, Americans are smart and they're willing to reserve judgment. Bill Clinton had very high approval ratings in terms of his performance as president, even though the American people felt that morally, he was --
HILL: A scumbag. Use the technical term.
HOOVER: (INAUDIBLE). Ronald Reagan, again, the Teflon president. Why? Even though all the Iran contra stuff was breaking in his second term, he was considered this happy lawyer. People liked him personally. People are able to separate how they feel about someone personally. And until there's a clear connection between the Oval Office and the Justice Department --
MORGAN: Should Eric Holder --
MORGAN: Should Eric Holder resign?
HOOVER: I think you need an independent -- I think you need an independent people --
HILL: I say yes. There is no doubt about it. Eric Holder should resign.
MORGAN: I think for what he's done with Rosen at FOX News, I think that is completely unacceptable. He has personally authorized them going after him. I don't think that's acceptable behavior by the attorney general. And I actually -- I actually quite like Eric Holder.
HILL: I love Eric Holder but --
MORGAN: I think he's a smart guy. I think he's crossed the line. HILL: Absolutely. It's also the perception of impropriety. Particularly when you talk about the legal rams. So even if we could make a compelling and persuasive argument that he did nothing wrong in those cases, the entire American public is uncomfortable, they're skeptical, they're wary. The buck needs to stop somewhere. And I think it has to be Eric Holder.
MORGAN: Let's have a little break, calm down slightly. Let's come back and talk ricin and guns.
HOOVER: Ha. A little break and calm down.
MORGAN: Back now with Marc Lamont Hill and Margaret Hoover with breaking the news. So before we get to ricin and guns, just checking a few tweets about Richard Nixon and what he tried as president. And it was a piece, actually, by James Goodale who was one of the chief counsels for the "New York Times" in the Pentagon paper scandal. But he failed in the effort. The grand jury disbanded after 17 months.
And as he pointed out, Nixon and Holder, Nixon failed in his effort to treat Sheehan as a co-conspirator. Nixon therefore couldn't (INAUDIBLE) the president that reporters can treated as criminals, Holder has. And for that reason, he should resign. I think that's a really interesting perspective from somebody who was right in the thick of the Pentagon papers scandal.
So let's move on. Let's turn to ricin and guns. What I think is interesting about this is you've got various rights. But focusing on the one involving letters to Mayor Bloomberg and the president in which the author of the letters, which was spite with ricin, "You had to kill me and my family before you get my guns. Anyone who wants to come to my house will be shot in the face. The right to bear arms is my constitutional God-given right. And I will exercise that right until the day I die." Also in this letter, "It's nothing compared to what I've got planned for you."
Margaret Hoover, I mean --
It's now a God-given right.
HOOVER: It is in this country.
MORGAN: Let's discuss that.
HILL: Yes, it is.
HOOVER: In this country, as you know, as you -- as you have been --
MORGAN: A God-given right?
HOOVER: It is a --
MORGAN: How about a constitutional right?
HOOVER: Well, and -- yes, it is a constitutional right. It's a constitutional right.
MORGAN: Is it a God-given right?
HOOVER: You know, here's the deal, Piers.
MORGAN: Yes or no?
HOOVER: This -- no, it is not a God-given right. This guy is a (INAUDIBLE). He's committing a felony, worst kind in that. He's sending ricin to Mayor Bloomberg and to the president.
HOOVER: He doesn't represent the majority of responsible gun owners.
MORGAN: But here (INAUDIBLE). And I'm sure that's true. But what is also true is the likes of Alex Jones, a guy that has screamed to me when he came on the show, a lot of these more extreme gun rights lobbyists, and I would actually put Wayne LaPierre from the NRA in that category.
They are whipping the rhetoric in such an extreme level -- Obama is going to grab your guns, defend yourselves, arm yourselves, record gun sales after Sandy Hook and so on. Is it surprising that you're getting some people now flipping and doing this kind of thing?
HOOVER: You've always --
MORGAN: Doesn't surprise me.
HOOVER: Look, I think you'll always have crazies. By the way, they were saying Obama is going to take your guns before Sandy Hook, before any of this happened. I mean that has always been --
MORGAN: But their rhetoric is getting angrier, Marc?
HILL: The rhetoric is definitely getting angrier. But again, like Margaret, I will caution us from allowing this one crazy person to become a representative case of people who advocate Second Amendment or people who advocate gun owners.
MORGAN: No, I wasn't -- I was --
HILL: No, I know you're not. But --
HOOVER: Responsible gun owners.
MORGAN: I was curious about his link -- you know, some -- not just constitutional right but a God-given right? HILL: Well, there are a lot of people who believe that these are natural rights and these inalienable constitutional rights are given to us because we are endowed them by our Creator. I mean that's part of the document as well. And so it's not --
MORGAN: Is that right? I mean --
MORGAN: Give me an education of the Constitution here. I always believe the Constitution was a legally-framed document drawn up by the founding fathers who were then some senators of their day. Now I'm being told this is a God-given right to have an AR-15 machine gun.
HOOVER: You're taking it crazy seriously.
HILL: No, that's a leap.
HOOVER: You're taking it crazy seriously.
MORGAN: Is it a leap? You're trying to argue to me it may be a God- given right.
HILL: You went from gun to AR-15.
MORGAN: No, no, no. I'm just --
HILL: There's a space in the middle where you can say gun ownership is a reasonable constitutional right. It's a right of all citizens to have.
MORGAN: What's to that to me? Was this line about it being a God- given right? I had --
HILL: To own guns. To own a gun.
MORGAN: Even from the more extreme gun right people I've heard.
HOOVER: No, no, he may -- he may be --
MORGAN: The only right -- their right to have an AR-15 came from God.
HOOVER: It's entirely possible he's conflating the "Declaration of Independence."
HILL: He is.
HOOVER: And a God-given right to pursue life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
HILL: That's exactly what he's doing.
HOOVER: With the Constitution. That's what's going on here. He's also a nut, so -- I mean, we shouldn't give him too much credence.
MORGAN: Is he a nut, though, being driven, whoever this person is, by nutty rhetoric from extremists?
HOOVER: Well --
HOOVER: Yes. Of course.
HILL: They're taking our guns narrative that has emerged over the last -- really it's not just 10 years or five years, really last 40 years. And whenever there's a Democrat in office or anyone who gives any resistance to the Second Amendment in their mind, you hear this, they're taking our guns, the country could turn into tyranny and we need to be able to defend ourselves from it.
MORGAN: Do you think -- let me ask you, Marc. Do you think that the gun debate will ever change in a way that the drink driving debate changed in the '70s, the civil rights that may change from the '60s onwards? Do you think it's one of those things that in the end it will change?
HILL: I think it could, but the difference between that and say civil rights or that and these other issues is big money. There's so much money big invested in protecting the gun lobby even if they don't represent the majority of American people.
HOOVER: It's not just big money, Marc. You and I both know that there's a culture in the United States, a gun-owning culture, and it's a difference between rural and urban, coastal and --
MORGAN: But there is a racist culture. There was a drink driving culture.
HOOVER: Yes. I'm not sure --
HILL: But that's not fair. That's not fair.
HOOVER: Gun-owning --
HILL: A gun owner is not likely to --
MORGAN: I'm not saying they are. I'm not saying they are. What I'm talking about is a cultural situation in America that is one position that could change.
HOOVER: Yes, but this is -- this is not --
MORGAN: This, to me, putting the rights to bear arms over the rights of a child's life is one way. HOOVER: When our country -- when our country fought the revolution from the country that you're from, the imperative, the part of it that made it distinct was that they were able to do it with their own militias because they had their own guns. It is fundamental to the American --
HILL: But it's also anachronistic, right? I mean, come one, right -- we couldn't resist the American government --
HILL: -- with our shotguns right now.
MORGAN: Guys, sadly we have to leave it which we reassure you, Margaret, the British --
HILL: Who knows.
MORGAN: The British are not coming for your guns. All right? Trust me.
HOOVER: You are.
HILL: It's exactly what you're doing.
HOOVER: It's exactly what you're doing.
MORGAN: I don't want your guns. I'm don't want to die from gun shock, that's all. That's it.
HOOVER: Piers Morgan, and that's --
HILL: Good thing we have to be with you, right?
HOOVER: That's actually what it is.
MORGAN: Margaret and Marc, come back. I've enjoyed that.
HOOVER: Thank you.
MORGAN: We'll be right back with tonight's extreme weather after a short break.
MORGAN: We got more breaking -- weather news. A tornado has just touched down near Tulsa, Oklahoma, in the suburb of Broken Arrow.
Tom Sater is in the Severe Weather Center for us with more -- Tom.
TOM SATER, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Piers, it's been an active day. In fact for the most part, we've had 15 preliminary reports of tornadoes and the strongest seems to be number 15. East and southeast of Tulsa, in the suburb of Tulsa, is the town of Broken Arrow. Tulsa has its streets layered, First Street, Second Street, Third Street, all the way to the reports of damage now around 91st to 93rd Street. This is most likely the largest of the day. We do have reports that it is extremely dangerous tornado, a multi-vortex tornado, which means there is more than one possible tornado circulating around the larger one. Eastern Tulsa County, Wagner County and also Cherokee County to the east as it moves east. We're awaiting word from officials there of confirmed damage and/or injuries, but this is the largest of the day.
MORGAN: Tom, thanks for the update. CNN will of course bring you all the latest information throughout the night on any tornado action. That's all for us tonight. Anderson Cooper starts right now.