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STARTING POINT WITH SOLEDAD O'BRIEN

Threat Of Tornadoes; Off The Record, Off The Table; Paterno Family Lawsuit; Chaos At Costco; Michael Jackson Bombshell; Deadly Collision In Upstate New York; Calls For An Investigation; Michele Bachmann Lawsuit; Christie's Diet; Tiger Wants To Move Past Sergio Spat; Blackhawks Win OT Thriller; Long Ball On Display In Baltimore; Funeral For Kentucky Officer Killed; Benefits Behind Bars; Adam Levine: I Don't Hate America!

Aired May 30, 2013 - 07:30   ET

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


INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: It's all that heat that's expected to stay with us over the next several days that's banking up that cold against that cold dry air.

So today the severe weather threat pushing a little bit farther to the east looking at the storm stretching from Iowa all the way down through Texas and again, the biggest area of concern today is right west of Oklahoma City so unfortunately, we're going to be watching as those storms pop up.

The other threat other than the rain no, isolated tornadoes will be threat for flooding, a lot of activity early hours currently right now. We'll monitor that.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Wow. What a week it's been. All right, Indra, thank you.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Moving on now to other news, the Michael Jackson civil death trial, we'll get to that in a second. Meanwhile, Attorney General Eric Holder's plans to meet with the media to discuss how to handle investigation into white house leaks hit a major snag. Major news organizations including that Associated Press, the "New York Times," and "Huffington Post" say they will not take part if the meetings are off the record.

The Justice Department says they're off the record to encourage a full exchange of ideas. Holder is under fire for two cases involving secret subpoenas for searches of journalist phone records and other information as well if they're believed to be in involved in reports about leaked classified information.

ROMANS: The family of the late Penn State Coach Joe Paterno plans to sue the NCAA over university sanctions due to the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal. Former coaches and faculty members will be party to this lawsuit, which is expected to be filed today. It should be noted Penn State says it will not be party to any suit against the NCAA filed by the Paternos.

The sheriff's department in Virginia standing by the use of deadly force by two of its deputies at a Costco Store. Employees called police after a woman contractor who was serving pizza slices started acting strangely when she refused to put down a knife she was holding, they tased her, but she kept coming at them, they say. At least four shots were fired then. The woman 38-year-old Scott died. One of the deputies was treated for injuries that may have come from a ricocheting bullet.

BERMAN: Now the Michael Jackson trial. Stunning new piece of evidence could now help determine the outcome of the Jackson family's wrongful death suit against concert promoter AEG Live. It's an e-mail from AEG Live's co-chairman warning that Michael Jackson's personal physician had to get the king of pop in shape to perform on stage.

And in a CNN exclusive, we will show you Paul Gongaware's response when questioned by the Jackson family's attorney.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BERMAN (voice-over): A potential bombshell t in the trial against AEG, the concert promoter managing Michael Jackson's "This Is It" comeback tour. AEG has long contended that they did not hire Dr. Conrad Murray, the physician convicted of administering the lethal dose of the anesthetic to Jackson.

Instead, AEG has maintained that it was the king of pop that hired Murray. But in an e-mail the Jackson family attorneys are calling the smoking gun co-CEO of AEG Live Paul Gongaware, allegedly pressured Murray into having Jackson ready for rehearsals despite his ailing health.

Gongaware writes, quote, "We want to remind Murray that it is AEG, not MJ, who is paying his salary. We want to remind him what is expected of him." Gongaware says he doesn't recall the message.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't remember this e-mail.

BERMAN: CNN has exclusively obtained Gongaware's videotaped deposition that was shown to the jury.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Based on the assumption that AEG is your company and MJ is Michael Jackson, do you have an understanding of what that means?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I don't understand it because we weren't paying his salary.

UNIDENTIFIED MAEL: So why would you write that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have no idea.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Then let's go on to the next sentence. When you say his salary, who are you talking about?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know.

BERMAN: CNN digital reporter Alan Duke has been in the courtroom since the beginning of the trial. ALAN DUKE, CNN DIGITAL REPORTER: To watch Paul Gongaware try to dance around it and explain this e-mail was very interesting in court. At times today there was laughter because of his -- the perception of his evasiveness.

BERMAN: The Jackson family is suing AEG stating they negligently hired and supervised Murray who is serving time for involuntary manslaughter. If AEG is found liable it could cost the company billions of dollars.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BERMAN: So Paul Gongaware has worked some pretty big names during his long career including Elvis Presley and Led Zeppelin. He is currently managing the "Rolling Stones," The North American Tour. In his testimony, Gongaware said that Rick James was the only artist he ever knew was using drugs on tour, interesting side note there.

Let's bring in former Jackson family attorney, Debra Opri. Debra is joining us from Los Angeles right now. Debra, that was pretty remarkable testimony we saw in that deposition from Paul Gongaware. Tell me your immediate reaction to seeing that.

DEBRA OPRI, FORMER JACKSON FAMILY ATTORNEY: My immediate reaction is he's on the hook. He's co-chairman and he negotiated a contract for the price, and he basically is dancing of I don't recall and I don't know. As a litigation attorney, my favorite use of the discovery is a videotaped deposition because he got hooked a long time ago and he was merely in court trying to dance around his statements from quite a while ago.

BERMAN: Our reporter Alan Duke in the courtroom there said there were laughs actually when that was being played in front of a jury. That can't be a good sign.

OPRI: Yes. Well, videotaped depositions are very strong, powerful discovery tools in a courtroom because it basically makes a fool of the person on the witness stand. And they're usually used to challenge what they're saying on the stand.

So this was embarrassing for them, the co-chairman, and that taken into consideration his statements as to the contract and I don't recall and the amount, I just negotiated and I don't recall. In my opinion, he made a fool of himself and I think this was the sealing piece of testimony for the Jackson family who I've said from day one are going to win big in this case.

BERMAN: And that e-mail, you believe it is the smoking gun of the family, clearly thinks it is?

OPRI: That's one of the smoking guns. Just sit, stay tuned.

BERMAN: All right, I also want to is you about the courtroom itself, the courtroom dynamics because Michael Jackson family members, allowed two in there every day. His mother has been there every day. Janet Jackson was in there yesterday. What impact do you think that has on the jury?

OPRI: Well, the judge must have determined early on that the impact of the family members would be severe against AEG and that's why there was a limitation to my understanding of only two Jackson family members per day. So, of course, it's going to be very powerful but in my opinion, I've said this, too, just the presence of Katherine Jackson and she's a plaintiff is going to be enough in my opinion.

She's the mother, the grandmother, and I just think her being there every day is so telling for the jury. But that taken into consideration with the other evidence and the testimony is going to be fantastic for the Jackson family.

BERMAN: If this case is the slam dunk you think it is, and I'm not sure you're totally impartial on this case, but if it is the slam dunk is, who what should AEG be trying to do right now? Should they be trying to settle? Could they settle it if they wanted to?

OPRI: Well, first off, I don't think it's a slam dunk, per se. You have a lot more witnesses and testimony. It's only the plaintiff's case. I'm not really impartial because when I do this -- these interviews I try to be a litigation attorney. But I do know the Jackson family and I did have conversations during that preparation for the tour and I can tell you, AEG is not going to leave this trial looking good.

BERMAN: It could be a very, very expensive for them.

OPRI: Yes.

BERMAN: All right, Debra Opri, thank you so much for joining us. Really appreciate it.

ROMANS: All right, ahead on STARTING POINT, all eyes on New Jersey Governor Chris Christie's shrinking waistline. What's he doing to keep the pounds off after his weight loss surgery? We have a look at his new diet.

BERMAN: Then you have to look at this. Breaking records from the top of the world. We just have this amazing video of a base jumper leaping off of Mt. Everest.

ROMANS: And Adam Levine getting his own wake-up call. The star of "The Voice" caught on a hot mike saying he hates this country. What he's saying now, coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: Some of the top stories making headlines today. Seven people traveling in a minivan in upstate New York were killed when a tractor trailer crashed into it. It happened at a two-lane road near Syracuse. Police say the trailer portion somehow disconnected and hit the minivan coming from the opposite direction just ripping it apart. One person inside the van survived. Two people in the truck also not injured. ROMANS: A Florida Islamic group is now calling for an independent investigation following reports that Ibrahim Todashev was unarmed when he was fatally shot by an FBI agent. Todashev was a friend of the Boston marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev. Todashev was shot and killed last week in Orlando after allegedly attacking the agent during questioning. The FBI conducting an internal investigation.

BERMAN: A May 2014 trial date has been set for Minnesota Representative Michele Bachmann. A civil suit claims that Bachmann stole and misused a e-mail distribution list from an Iowa home schooling group during her failed 2012 presidential campaign. The plaintiffs say they suffered emotional distress and loss of business opportunities after the Bachmann campaign sent two unapproved e-mails to the Iowa Christian Home Educators Network.

In today's "A.M. House Call," New Jersey Governor Chris Christie revealing some of his eating habits as he tries to slim down. In an interview in "People" magazine, Christie says he often skips breakfast these days since having weight loss surgery in February because he doesn't feel hungry.

Christie says he also doesn't drink coffee or diet soda. He says he's never needed caffeine. That's not me. He also says he prefers milk instead. He is also not a fan of vegetables although there are exceptions. He is OK with green beans, lettuce, and cucumbers. The cucumber caucus is quite happy.

ROMANS: Yes, he needs more vegetables in his diet.

BERMAN: That's your expert assessment.

ROMANS: That's my expert, you know, arm chair quarterback assessment. Governor Christie is getting more fit, but New Jersey's cities are nowhere to be found on the latest list of the 50 fittest U.S. cities. According to the American College of Sports Medicine Denver comes out at number five. San Francisco is number four. Portland, Oregon, is number three. Washington, D.C. is a runner-up. The fittest city, the twin cities, Minneapolis, St. Paul came out on top for a third year in a row.

BERMAN: Congratulations to them.

Tiger Woods gearing up to defend his title this weekend at the Memorial Tournament, but all everyone wants to talk about there is his ongoing spat with Sergio Garcia.

ROMANS: And Andy Scholes joins us now with more in the "Bleacher Report." Good morning.

ANDY SCHOLES, "BLEACHER REPORT": Good morning, guys. Well, Tiger spoke publicly yesterday for the first time since Sergio made that racially insensitive remark last week in England and he says he expects this controversy to end whether he speaks with Sergio or not. War of words between these two started back at the Players Championship when they were paired together in the third round. It became more heated last week when Sergio made a fried chicken comment when referring to spending time with Tiger. Sergio who is not playing in the Memorial has since apologized publicly and to Tiger's agent for the remark. While Tiger said he's done talking about Sergio, yesterday, he did speak about dealing with racial issues during his career.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TIGER WOODS, PROFESSIONAL GOLFER: I live it. It's happened to my entire life and it's happened to my entire career. So that doesn't surprise me. It exists all around the world, not just in the sport of golf. It exists everywhere.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHOLES: Tiger tees off today at 1:16 Eastern in round one at the Memorial.

The NHL playoffs last night, it was a winner-take all between the Blackhawks and Red Wings in game seven of the Western Conference semifinals. Two minutes to go in the third, Nicolas Jarbelson scores. Chicago thinks they have taken the lead, but the goal was waved off because of penalties behind the play. We go to overtime.

In the extra period, Brent Zebra, his shot wins it for the Blackhawks. They become the 21st team to rally from a 3-1 deficit to win a series. Second time in NHL history the final four teams remaining in the playoffs are the four most recent Stanley Cup Champions.

Long ball is on display last night in Baltimore. National's third baseman Ryan Zimmerman only had three home runs coming into this game, but by the end of the night he would have double that. Zimmerman homered in his first three at-bats.

Usually a three-home run game for one player would lead to a victory but the Orioles Chris Davis hit two himself and he leads the majors with 19 home runs this year. Baltimore will go on to win the slugfest, 9-6.

One of the top stories in the line up (ph)section on bleacherreport.com right now features the amazing juggling of a golf ball you will ever see. This is Romaine Bechu and his tricks are ridiculous. Check this out. The video of him juggling, it goes on for more than 4 minutes.

Now, he names all of these moves, guys. This one right here called the spiny shake. I have no idea how you would figure out how to do these tricks. Bechu may be the best golf juggler in the world. His best finish in pro tournament just 49th and he is currently ranked 1550th in the world. He might spend too much time on the juggling.

BERMAN: Too much time on the spiny shake for sure, Andy. If things don't work out on him on golf, he could join the circus. He'll be number one ranked there instead of, you know, 1559th. Ahead on STARTING POINT, Adam Levine not feeling the love, the pop star under fire for unpatriotic comments he made on "The Voice." So was this a misunderstanding or does the singer has some serious explaining to do? You're watching STARTING POINT.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: Welcome back, everyone. Checking some of the top stories right now, the police officer killed in what a state trooper called in an obvious ambush will be laid to rest today. Kentucky Officer Jason Ellis was shot and killed over the weekend. It's not clear if he was the intended target. Before the funeral today, police will hold a news conference and may announce a reward in this case.

ROMANS: It apparently pays to be behind bars in New Jersey. An audit shows the state sent nearly $24 million in unemployment welfare, pension and other benefits to 20,000 people who were ineligible because they were in prison. Nearly half the money went to inmates receiving jobless benefits, despite a state law requiring them to be available for work. Obviously you are not available for work if you are incarcerated. Governor Chris Christie's administration blames a lack of oversight at the State Department of Labor.

BERMAN: So he's got moves like Jagger, I'm told, but Maroon 5 front man Adam Levine could not escape controversy of a comment made during an episode of "The Voice" that really had some people now questioning his patriotism. It's a kind of a developing controversy. Pamela Brown has more.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You have to be careful when your mike is hot, right? Adam Levine is pledging his allegiance to his country today after coming under fire for saying some unpatriotic words. The singer's candid comments came after a shocking elimination on NBC's "The Voice," when America voted off one of his mentees.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED: America saved Amber Carrington, moves on to the top six.

BROWN (voice-over): Being kicked off a singing competition like NBC's "The Voice" is tough for the talented contestants, but this time it was the coach who seemed to take the eliminations hardest. After realizing he would lose at least one of his team members, Adam Levine made this off the cuff comment during the live broadcast.

ADAM LEVINE: I hate this country.

BROWN: Immediately setting off a firestorm of angry tweets. I think I hate Maroon Five just as much as Adam Levine hates America said one. And another read Adam Levine just said I hate this country on TV. Not a smart move, dude. Not smart at all. Levine quickly turned to Twitter himself to apologize.

KYLE ANDERSON, STAFF WRITER, "ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY": People were calling for him to be fired from the show and deported, which I don't think is a possible thing. He tweeted in response the dictionary definitions of joke and misunderstanding. He was very cheeky about it.

BROWN: Like the Maroon Five front man, many viewers were shocked when one-time front-runner Judith Hill was booted from the competition. "The Voice" made Hill a standout, but she had come close to stardom prior to the show. She was hired as a backup singer for Michael Jackson, but the tour was canceled when Jackson died in 2009.

Many of the remaining contestants are country singers raising the question of who is watching, who is voting?

ANDERSON: When you get these people that are more geared toward country music, I think that tends to be more of a -- a safer option, a more kind of comfortable option for a lot of people than someone who is more of a pop voice or an R & B voice.

BROWN: After "American Idol," singers, Chris Daughtry and Jennifer Hudson went on to have very successful careers despite not winning.

(on camera): It shows that talent doesn't always come out on top of these shows.

ANDERSON: Completely. It's almost never the case actually where the most talented person ends up being the victor.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BROWN: And CNN obtained a statement from Levine, explaining his controversial remark. It reads like this, "I obviously love my country very much and my comments were made purely out of frustration." He goes on to say he was invested in seeing artists succeed and his comments were based on my personal dissatisfactions with the results.

BERMAN: Ask any politician though, you have to be careful.

BROWN: You have to be careful.

ROMANS: The mike is always hot. Thanks, Pam.

BERMAN: Thanks, Pamela. Appreciate it. Ahead on STARTING POINT, it is confirmed, two threatening letters mailed to New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, they were laced with the poison ricin. The search for who sent them straight ahead.

ROMANS: And a Connecticut woman comes face to face with a 200-pound black bear in her backyard, why she decided to kick it instead of running for cover.

BERMAN: Interesting choice. All right and then an incredible video of a daredevil, free falling four miles in 60 seconds off Mt. Everest. You're watching STARTING POINT.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BERMAN: Our STARTING POINT this morning, dangerous tornadoes and hail to the west with a sweltering heat wave to the east. We are tracking severe weather that's taking hold across the country. What you can expect where you live, coming up.

ROMANS: Then for the first time, we're hearing from the American mother being held in a Mexican jail on drug smuggling charges. What she's begging authorities to believe.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm innocent. That I'm innocent and I'm a good mom.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: We have her full, heart-breaking plea.

BERMAN: Plus, hero mom, meet the mother who fended off this giant black bear, saving her daughter, her dog and herself.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I kicked it! I kicked it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: I kicked it. Apparently it works.

ROMANS: And a new record, heart-stopping heights. You cannot miss this incredible video of a base jumper, leaping off the face of Mt. Everest, yes, I'm afraid of heights.

BERMAN: Wow, amazing pictures. Good morning, everyone. I'm John Berman.

ROMANS: And I'm Christine Romans. It's Thursday, May 30th. Welcome to STARTING POINT.

BERMAN: We begin with what is really a turning out to be a turbulent and relentless spring across the country. If you weren't dodging hail and thunderstorms last night, you may be today. If you're in the northeast, it will feel like the middle of summer. Meteorologist Indra Petersons is following all of that for us. Good morning, Indra.

PETERSONS: Unbelievable week. I mean, storms have hit the country so hard this weekend. Unfortunately, it looked like there are still more on the way.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PETERSONS (voice-over): Storms raged from Texas all the way to England and had nearly half of the country in the danger zone and in Texas, dangerous hail and fierce winds cause many to worry.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look at this hail. We're going to have broken windows.

PETERSONS: This video shot in Corinth, Texas. Look at the hail bouncing off of the ground. The Diamondbacks and Rangers game postponed Wednesday night when heavy rain and lightning moved in very quickly.