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THE SITUATION ROOM
Interview With Mayor Michael Nutter; Interview With Rep. Mike Rogers; Tropical Storm Andrea Forms in Gulf; 157 Times at the White House?
Aired June 5, 2013 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Plus, President Obama's controversial pick to be the next national security adviser at the White House. Is he igniting a new battle with Republicans by naming Ambassador Susan Rice to the post?
Plus, the first lady, Michelle Obama's rare run in with a heckler, and it's all caught on tape. You're going to see the exclusive video right here.
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in the SITUATION ROOM.
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BLITZER: We begin with a massive and sudden building collapse right in the heart of downtown Philadelphia. One woman is confirmed dead. Twelve people have been taken to area hospitals after authorities say a vacant building being demolished collapsed onto a thrift store trapping those inside, some of them for hours.
And you can see the chilling before and after pictures from that scene showing just how severe the damage is. The mayor, Michael Nutter, says an active and dangerous search and rescue effort is still under way to find any remaining victims in the rubble. CNN's Don Lemon is standing by. We're going to him shortly. But first, listen to the mayor, Michael Nutter, speaking out just a little while ago.
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MAYOR MICHAEL NUTTER, PHILADELPHIA: They're doing a spectacular job out here. And they are diligent. They are focused, they are determined. And as I said earlier and I know that you've carried this, if there is anyone else in that structure, in that building, under that rubble, our folks will find them, and they will not stop until they are assured by their own standards that we have completed our job and found anyone who might be there.
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BLITZER: Still a situation that is unfolding. CNN's Don Lemon knows Philadelphia well. He used to live there. He's on the ground just outside that collapsed building for us. All right. Set the scene for us, Don, because we saw the before, we saw the after pictures. And it looks awful. Tell our viewers what we know?
VOICE OF DON LEMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is awful, Wolf. (INAUDIBLE) just a moment, but we're looking at a backhoe, two of them, pulling debris out of that building. The facade of that thrift store is the only thing that's really standing, Wolf. A 130-foot wall at least at least fell onto the thrift store today. We're also hearing from sources that are close to the investigation that at least one person has died, a woman.
The mayor will not comment on that earlier. He said when he was more comfortable with giving us information, he would comment at a press conference. But, it's an unbelievable scene here. Many firefighters, many police officers, many rescue workers on the scene here at this collapsed building.
And earlier, I spoke with a resident of a senior facility who witnessed all of it. His name is Claude Davis. Let's listen to him.
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CLAUDE DAVIS, WITNESS: I was sitting by the union building that's next to us. And I heard this great big crash. And I looked and I've seen the building crumble. Oh, it was painful. Oh, my goodness. And I thought about all them people in there that couldn't get out of there, and I screamed and hollered. I can't say no more.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: And so, Wolf, this gentleman also said that there were people in traffic waiting at the red light here to get through, and they were involved. He said there was a big cloud of smoke that fell on all of it. And as I'm standing here, I am looking at a big dumpster that they have brought in to remove the debris, at least two or three of them, and firefighters lined up down the streets.
One thing in all of this that may have saved the people who are in there is that the fire house, Wolf, is in the same block, literally, feet away from where this collapse happened.
BLITZER: And that Salvation Army thrift shop at the corner, all of these bricks, all of the rubble, basically, fell on that thrift shop, even though it's still standing, it's a disaster, and I just want to be precise. Do officials -- do rescue workers over there still think here may be a person or two trapped underneath that rubble?
LEMON: What they're saying is is that they believe that it could be one person. It could be more. They're not exactly sure. Earlier, they thought it was two people. And then, they had one person pulled out, a woman, and she walked away from the scene, and they were surprised by that, taken to the hospital. So, they're not sure.
What they're doing is they're stopping traffic, they're stopping helicopters in the area because they don't want any vibrations to cause any other collapses. Just to give you an idea, five people were taken to one hospital, the University of Pennsylvania. Five were also taken to Jefferson Hospital, and then three were taken to Hahnemann Hospital. One of those is released. More information, I'm sure, Wolf. We'll get with the mayor when you speak to him in just a moment.
BLITZER: Yes. We're going to speak to the mayor, Don. I want you to hold on just for a moment as well. The mayor, Michael Nutter, is joining us now from the scene. Mr. Mayor, thanks very much. This building was being demolished, I understand. Then all of a sudden, it collapsed. How is this possible? What do we know? How did this happen, mayor?
NUTTER: What we know is we have an active demolition of a building, which happens to be next to the Salvation Army thrift store. The store was actively operating. The building had already been partially demolished some time ago. This was an active demolition site. The building being demolished, of course, was vacant.
We don't have all of the details, but we think it's pretty clear that part of the wall of the building that was being demolished collapsed onto the Salvation Army thrift store. The store was active and open. There were employees and customers. We didn't -- we do not know how many people were actually in the store at that time. So, active search and rescue continues.
We're taking away the debris. We still have an area to be examined. And, we are hopeful that we have actually gotten out everyone who was in the building, but at this moment, we do not know for sure. So, police and fire are still on the scene. Fire rescue operations are still active. This is an active search and rescue operation.
We will not stop until we are certain that anyone who was in the building has been recovered.
BLITZER: And so, is it your assumption that maybe one person, maybe two may still be trapped underneath that rubble? You want to make sure no one is trap, i understand that, but what is the best estimate right now?
NUTTER: Wolf, we're not making any assumptions and we're not going to speculate. What we're going to do is be sure. We're going to do everything we possibly can. Philadelphia fire department and the Pennsylvania task force, these are experts at what they do. We will not stop. And our efforts will not be impeded by anything. We will get the debris out. That's what they call layering.
We'll take layer after layer after layer off of the street and off of the scene until we know for sure that there are no people there. We've had the rescue dogs in for some time. And now, we're doing this layering and taking away this debris so that we can get our personnel back in to the location to then do personal search, but we need to get this debris out of the way.
BLITZER: All right. That's critically important. What can you tell us about the woman who died in this horrible, horrible tragedy?
NUTTER: Wolf, I'm not in a position to talk about that at this moment. Later on, in the evening when we have the full press briefing, we'll try to confirm all of the details that we have. But I'm not in a position right now to comment on that at all.
BLITZER: Who will lead the investigation, Mayor Nutter, into how this could have happened?
NUTTER: Well, there'll be a number of investigations here. Our own building department known as licenses and inspections, they'll have an investigation. The fire department will have an investigation, the fire marshal's office, because of the nature of this collapse and that it was an active demolition site. OSHA is already on the scene and have been engaged with our folks as well.
So, there are multiple agencies, and each one has a role to play. There's a sequencing that takes place for these investigations to make sure that everyone can do their job and do it well. This is, again, an active site, and we need to preserve it so that we can best understand what happened, why it happened, and whether there is any responsibility to be assigned to whoever was doing the job.
BLITZER: Because if we don't learn from this mistake, whatever happened here, we potentially could repeat it down the road. That's why this investigation is so important. Some people, and I know you're pressed for time, some people are suggesting some residents in the neighborhood, that they thought this building was unstable for a while if not weeks. I assume you heard that.
NUTTER: I can't comment on things that are speculative in nature. What I know is that there were no violations that we have any record of on this building. The permits were secured some time back in February. Work may have started some time in either late February or March. We have no violations at the site. And certainly, we'll check to see if any complaints or concerns were expressed.
But at the moment, this was an active demolition site. No violations, no complaints that we're aware of, and all permits were valid.
BLITZER: Mr. Mayor, good luck to you. Good luck to everyone in Philadelphia right now. Let's hope no one is still trapped underneath there. And if a person is that you find, that person quickly and save that person's life. We'll stay in close touch with you. We appreciate you joining us.
NUTTER: Thank you so much. Our efforts will continue. I appreciate it.
BLITZER: You're on top of the scene, as you should be. That's the mayor of Philadelphia, Michael Nutter.
We'll have more on the story coming up later, but there's other news we're following today, including President Obama. He named one of the more controversial members of his administration to a key national security post. It's a move some see as a poke in the eye to Republicans.
And the first lady, Michelle Obama, takes on a heckler, getting right in her face. We have the exclusive video. You'll want to see it.
BLITZER: A big shake-up in the Obama administration today involving the controversial U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice. The president had named her his new national security adviser and nominated Samantha Power to replace Rice at the United Nations, but she comes with a little bit of controversy, herself.
Our national political correspondent, Jim Acosta, is walking in to the SITUATION ROOM to update us on what's going on. These are critically important positions.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Wolf. President Obama had no shortage of options when it came to these two key national security posts, but in the end, he went with two longtime political loyalists who go all the way back to his first presidential campaign no matter the controversy.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED SATES: I am absolutely thrilled that she'll be back at my side, leading my national security team in my second term.
ACOSTA (voice-over): In selecting United Nations ambassador, Susan Rice, to become his next national security adviser, President Obama may have reignited the controversy over the deadly siege at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi. It was Rice who went on the Sunday talk shows with inaccurate administration talking points that blamed the attack on protesters.
SUSAN RICE, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N.: The copycat of the demonstrations against our facility in Cairo, which were prompted, of course, by the video.
ACOSTA: Any comment on Susan Rice and Samantha Power picks? Any comments on Susan Rice and Samantha Power?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know.
ACOSTA: While a number of GOP senators took a pass on the Rice pick, a few notable conservatives who slowed down just enough to talk were livid. Senator Rand Paul told CNN he's still convinced the White House is hiding something.
SEN. RAND PAUL, (R) KENTUCKY: I think because of that repointing or appointing Susan Rice or promoting her is probably not the best way to try to regain authority. And you know, really, by all accounts, I don't think anybody who disputes she misled the nation for several days.
ACOSTA: The Rice pick as assigned, President Obama doesn't mind the fight. Just last month, he brushed off the issue.
OBAMA: The whole issue of talking points, frankly, throughout this process has been a sideshow.
ACOSTA: Former national security spokesman, Tommy Vietor, says Rice's critics are wasting their time.
TOMMY VIETOR, FORMER NATL. SECURITY COUNCIL SPOKESMAN: If you want to talk about talking points ten months later, I think, the case is closed. The documents have been released. Susan did nothing wrong. It's time for these people who are taking political cheap shots to move on.
ACOSTA: Either way, Rice doesn't have to worry. Her appointment does not have to be confirmed by the Senate.
SAMANTHA POWER, U.N. AMBASSADOR NOMINEE: And it would be the honor of a lifetime to fight for American values and interests at the United Nations.
ACOSTA: That's not the case with Samantha Power, the president's pick to replace Rice at the United Nations. Well known for her passion on human rights issues, including the genocide in Rwanda, she's also had some missteps. As an aide to then candidate-Obama in 2008, she called his rival, Hillary Clinton, a monster. Some Jewish groups don't like her comments on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
POWER: Putting some online (ph) might mean alienating domestic constituency of tremendous political and financial import.
ACOSTA: But several Republicans said it's just too early to pass judgment.
SEN. JEFF SESSIONS, (R) ALABAMA: I'm not going to express an opinion.
ACOSTA (on-camera): We should point out Samantha Power later apologized to Clinton and they buried the hatchet. As for her appointment, Arizona senator, John McCain already put out a statement praising the president's pick for the U.N. As for Rice, McCain said he'll make every effort to work with her. So, it sounds like at least in some sections of the Republican Party, they're comfortable.
BLITZER: Yes. It looks like she should have relatively smooth sailing through the foreign relations committee in the Senate floor, but we'll see what happens.
ACOSTA: That's right. Exactly.
BLITZER: Jim Acosta, thanks very much.
And Congressman Mike Rogers, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee is joining us from Capitol Hill right now. Congressman, you have confidence that Susan Rice will be an excellent national security adviser to the president?
REP. MIKE ROGERS, (R) INTELLIGENCE CHAIRMAN: Well, Wolf, I think it's certainly a curious choice. She's a very political lightning rod right now, and that's an odd choice for the one position that is supposed to be as non-political as you can get. So, I hope all of that attention and all that effort isn't distracting to her mission, because it's a critically important one.
It works with Congress, the national security committees, to try to solve big problems, Syria, North Korea, Iran. I mean, the list is pretty extensive. Cyber. All of that has to happen, and that's the one job you just don't want politics to creep into. So, I hope that doesn't happen. I look forward to working with her in that role.
The president has the right to appoint somebody that he wants to be his adviser on national security issues, and I'll work with her in that capacity. But again, I just think it's curious given all of the other distractions with the administration to pick such a high- profile, somebody right in the middle of all that political in- fighting in that position, as I said, was curious, and again, I just hope it's not distracting to her mission.
BLITZER: Your Republican colleague, Jason Chaffetz of Utah, he tweeted earlier that her judgment, in his words, should disqualify her as the national security adviser. The "New York Times" in their story reporting this, the reporter suggested it was, quote, "a defiant gesture to Republicans who harshly criticized Ms. Rice for presenting an erroneous account of the deadly attacks and the American mission in Benghazi, Libya."
So, would you go as far as Jason Chaffetz in saying her presentation that Sunday should disqualify her?
ROGERS: Well, you know, I can't say that. I'm not sure I could raise that level, and I don't know that the "New York Times" is right that the president did it to poke Republicans in the eye. But if both of those positions prove my point, Wolf, this is going to be a political lightning rod.
It's going to have all of this discussion pulling both ways on both parties on a position that should be as non-political as you can get it. That's my concern.
BLITZER: Quickly on Syria before I let you go, the French now suggesting they have hard evidence that gas, poison gas, serine, was used, and if it's true, that would certainly cross what the president has called that red line. Do you have hard evidence that the Syrian regime of President Bashar al-Assad has used serine gas or other poison gas against the rebels?
ROGERS: Listen, you and I think have talked about this before. I have -- I believe, as the chairman of the intelligence committee, reviewing all of the intelligence over the last two years, and that includes all source development from people, from electronics, from forensics, all of that evidence together gives me a high degree of confidence that they have used some small degree of chemical weapons in the past. Now, the French have said it, the British have said it, certainly, folks on the ground there have said it.
That to me, we crossed that line a long time ago. Here's the issue, Wolf, on this. This is deteriorating out of control. You have now Iran using proxy fighters in the country. You have every flavor of terrorist in Syria now that we can imagine from al Qaeda to Hamas to PKK elements, all of those folks operating now in Syria.
That's dangerous, and all of the refugee problems it causes putting pressure on Jordan, the very structure of Lebanon is in doubt now, the southern border of Turkey is under immense pressure with refugees, Israel is under a bit of pressure here. We have to have a solution that regains the confidence of the opposition in the United States and the Arab league in any hope that we might have of having a negotiated peace settlement.
If we don't get that credibility back, Wolf, we're toast. This thing is just going to spiral out of control and we will be passive observers to one of the greatest humanitarian disasters, I think, in recent time.
BLITZER: So, do you want the U.S. to provide arms to the rebels? Do you want the U.S. to engage in a no-fly zone over Syria? What do you want the Obama administration to approve?
ROGERS: What I have called for early on -- we have unique capabilities. So, this doesn't mean 101st airborne or a carrier group involvement.
It means bring those unique capabilities, A, leadership to the Arab league, which by the way, they're asking for on providing certain specific training, intelligence vetting of the opposition forces, intelligence packages, and we can help the Arab league create a safe zone that would include the ability to knock out airplanes and helicopters and scud missiles if they went into this particular safe zone.
We think that's best along the Turkish border, so the north portion of Syria. That makes a lot of sense. It's Arab league driven. We're providing leadership and some unique capabilities. We don't have big boots on the ground. And that would allow at least a push-back on what Assad is getting from the Russians and the Iranians now that's just leading to the wholesale slaughter of civilians in Syria.
BLITZER: And he's getting a lot of support from Hezbollah in Lebanon as well. That coalition is a formidable coalition fighting these rebels. Mr. Chairman, thanks very much for coming in.
ROGERS: Thanks, Wolf.
BLITZER: When we come back, a winner has finally come forward to claim the nearly $591 million record Powerball prize. You're going to find out who it is. That's coming up.
Also, the first lady of the United States, Michelle Obama, as we've rarely seen her, confronting an audience heckler. We have the exclusive video for you. You'll see it. That's coming up in the SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: Let's take a look at some of the other stories we're working on here in the SITUATION ROOM right now. A U.S. army sergeant hoping to avoid a death sentence has entered a guilty plea in the killings of 16 Afghan civilians. Robert Bales allegedly went on a house-to-house rampage in two villages in Afghanistan back in March 2012. The massacre strained already tense U.S.-Afghan relations at the time.
The death toll in Friday's devastating Oklahoma tornadoes has now climbed to 20 people. An official says a child's body was recovered this morning from the Oklahoma River in Oklahoma City. He also says two children and an adult remain missing. One of the tornadoes that struck the area was an EF-5.
That's the most powerful on the scale and measured in as the widest ever in U.S. history. More than 2 1/2 miles wide.
A single winner has come forward to claim the second largest lottery prize in U.S. history. Officials announced that 84-year-old Gloria McKenzie (ph) has claimed the nearly $591 million Powerball jackpot at a news conference today, but she didn't attend.
She passed up a payout spread over 30 years for a somewhat smaller one-time lump sum of just over $370 million. She bought the ticket at a grocery store near Tampa, Florida. Good for her.
Up next, President Obama makes a defiant pick for a top national security post. Is he rewarding loyalty of his controversial U.N. ambassador?
Plus, exclusive video of the first lady, Michelle Obama, confronting a heckler, presenting a blunt choice to the woman who interrupted her speech.
BLITZER: Let's get some more now on the Obama administration shakeup today. The president tapping his controversial ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, to be his new national security adviser. Let's get some expert analysis with our chief White House correspondent, Jessica Yellin, our chief national correspondent, John King, and our chief political correspondent, Candy Crowley, the anchor of State of the Union. All chiefs here.
BLITZER: What does this say, Jessica, about the president of the United States?
JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: He wanted to stick with a team, a foreign policy team he's had a lot of - in his view, success with. This is a vote for loyalty, familiarity, and stability. All of these people -- both of these people, I should say -- have been in the national security meetings that he's been holding over the last four years, so there isn't a change here. They know the policy, and they are people who have been here before he was at the White House. These are people he trusts. CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: But never has so much change been made to kind of get nowhere. You have the secretary of defense, a new secretary of state, a new CIA director, and now a new head of the National Security Council and a new U.N. ambassador, and no one expects anything to change because they're all people who are either not going to be in the inner circle and therefore he's not listening to that much or they have already been in the inner circle.
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And so what do allies worry about? They think the president is too insular to begin with, and now he has this chorus around him who is not going to say, how about thinking outside the box, Mr. President? Or no, Mr. President. That's what some of his friends and people who want to help the White House are saying.
What do some Republicans say? You heard the political argument against Susan Rice. Republicans say she was in the middle of misleading the American people about Benghazi. They're not going to let that go.
Another question to watch is management. National security adviser, Wolf, as you know from your days covering the White House, has to manage all the bureaucracy. Essentially is at the middle of the spokes, all of the information comes in. The national security adviser is supposed to manage it, decide who gets to the president, what gets to the president. A lot of people question whether Susan Rice has the management experience for that.
BLITZER: Samantha Power: is that going to be a controversial nomination?
YELLIN: Well, it could be. On the one hand, there's no -- it's not necessarily going to be. She's not terribly well known to Republicans. On the other hand, she has a long record of writing as a journalist about intervention, about the fierce need in her view for the U.S. to get involved in hot spots around the world, to rescue people in need, which is a position a lot of Republicans don't support. She's said things that make supporters of Israel worry she's not a fierce enough advocate for Israel, which is why the president went out of his way to say she is. And she has been -- there's a long history and record of what she said so they can throw it up if they want to and use this as a battleground to fight over the president's foreign policy.
CROWLEY: I think one of the things with her, it's been intervention for humanitarian purposes, and -- despite whether there's strategic value in it. That's not something -- this is a president hesitant to use force in some places that people have been pushing him to. Remains to be seen whether they would push him on Syria. I judge probably not.
But in response to your question, I thought it was completely interesting that the first person out of the box for the supportive press release was John McCain. I think that's really telling that one of the senior guys and certainly one of the senior voices on the Republican side on -- YELLIN: Syria.
CROWLEY: -- Syria and national security affairs said, I really like Power. We should confirm her.
KING: Not the reason the president picked these two. He likes them, he trusts them. But if Republicans are fighting with them, yet again, they're fighting with two women and fighting, in Susan Rice's case, with an African-American. The White House is not afraid of those contrasts if the Republicans choose to draw them.
BLITZER: All right, listen to this. You were there in the Rose Garden today when the president was there and making the announcements. Tom Donilon leaving, Susan Rice coming from New York to Washington. Samantha Power is going to be going up to New York if she's confirmed by the Senate. And then we heard a little bit of this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: From our tough sanctions on Iran to our unprecedented military and intelligence cooperation with Israel -
OBAMA: -- it's true. From new start with Russia to deeper partnerships with emerging powers like India to stronger ties with the Gulf states, Tom has been instrumental every step of the way.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Then we heard a little baby crying for a few more seconds. What was going on?
YELLIN: That was Samantha Power's 1-year-old daughter, I think it's pronounced Rian. It's an Irish name. Yammering in the front row, and then finally someone carried her away. But it was amusing because you could see Power standing there sort of nervously watching her daughter as a mom does, like ooh, please, don't do that. And then as the person walked her away, she sort of had a sigh of relief.
But it's also a sign of the times, that there's two women who are young enough to have not just little kids, little kids in Powers' case, school-aged kids in Susan Rice's case, who are taking on these very important foreign policy roles is a sea change in our country. And it helps the president, I think. Don't you guys think?
YELLIN: With this woman issue.
BLITZER: Hold on a second.
KING: Better toy stores in New York.
(LAUGHTER AND CROSSTALK) BLITZER: They've got good ones here, too. Speaking about interrupting a president, in this particular case, the first lady. She was heckled last night at a private residence, a fundraiser, and this occurred. Let me show our viewers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHELLE OBAMA: I can take the mike, or I'm leaving. So you all decide.
AUDIENCE: No, no.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I need your husband to sign this.
MICHELLE OBAMA: All right, you guys.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, no, please don't leave. No.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He doesn't understand.
MICHELLE OBAMA: So let me make the point I was making before. We are here for our kids.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: She had been speaking, she was rudely interrupted by a gay rights advocate, a woman who had attended this, and she handled it directly. She said you can --
CROWLEY: This is where (ph) being a mom actually really, really helps. Because it was like, well, ok, either you talk or I talk. But if you're going to talk, I'm leaving. This was classic mom 101 to me, you know. And look, she can do this in a way her husband cannot. He's the president. She's the first lady. Heckling the president comes with a certain amount of, okay, I get it. Heckling the first lady, people hold their first ladies generally in higher esteem, and it comes across ruder when you are doing spouse of. She didn't get elected to anything. The president, big boy, can handle it.
KING: And at a public campaign rally, you might expect it. This is a private fundraiser where you think you're among friends. I think she was legitimately offended, saying okay, wait a minute, I'm here helping you people raise money. I'm in a group of what I think are my friends, and now I have someone yelling in my face. Fine, I'm going to leave.
BLITZER: This administration, this White House has been very supportive of gay rights, same-sex marriage, other gay rights issues as well. For them all of a sudden to be heckled by somebody who wants even more, obviously that hit a sensitive nerve. My bottom line is you don't mess around with the first lady. She's a tough lady.
YELLIN: Or in the Crowley home, apparently.
CROWLEY: That's right. You can talk, I can talk, I'm leaving.
BLITZER: The president will engage you in a little bit of back and forth. He'll be polite.This first lady, she's tough. Thanks very much.
Just ahead, it's the number fueling a controversy. 157. Why was the IRS chief cleared to visit the White House so many times?
Plus, Michael Jackson's daughter Paris hospitalized. Right now, we're learning new details of an apparent suicide attempt.
BLITZER: Michael Jackson's 15-year-old daughter Paris was rushed to the hospital today. A source close to the Jackson family telling CNN she cut one wrist and reportedly called a suicide counseling hotline last night. CNN's Miguel Marquez is in Los Angeles. He's joining us now with the latest. What happened here, Miguel?
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Bottom line is family spokesperson said Paris is a-okay and getting the medical attention she needs. She's going through a difficult time at the moment, and certainly with the loss of her father some years ago and now with the trial she's going through, but she's okay and getting medical attention.
That said, as you said, she apparently called a suicide hotline. It was the 911 operator called by the counselor from that suicide hotline that got them going to her house. Two things were reported: one, that she cut one of her wrists. Also, L.A. County Fire Department says that they responded to a possible overdose.
Now, it is very important to keep in mind this is a 15-year-old girl. Just a few days ago, she released a video on her Paris Jackson World YouTube site, of her putting on makeup. It underscores the fact that she is just 15 years old.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PARIS JACKSON, MICHAEL JACKSON'S DAUGHTER: Hello, people of Facebook, YouTube, watching this. I'm going to be experimenting with makeup. For those who know me and am pretty familiar with me, my eye makeup, and those of you who have not seen me without makeup, well, hello. This is my face.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MARQUEZ: Now, hours before that 911 call went out, she did tweet a couple of things that may or may not indicate her state of mind at the time. One of them was, "I wonder why tears were so salty." And another tweet a short time later, she tweeted out a Beatles song from "Yesterday." "Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away. Now it looks as though they're here to stay." But the underlying message here from the Jackson family attorneys and spokespeople is that she's fine and getting the help she needs right now. Wolf.
BLITZER: She clearly needs some help, and let's hope she is fine. Thanks very much for that, Miguel Marquez, reporting from L.A.
Coming up, conservatives want answers about a former IRS chief's multiple White House visits, as many as 157. We're checking the facts.
Plus, a multimillion dollar marijuana operation. The alleged ringleader, a suburban mother of two.
BLITZER: Coming up, conservatives want answers about a former IRS chief's multiple White House visits, as many as 157. We're checking the facts.
Plus, a multimillion dollar marijuana operation. The alleged ringleader, a suburban mother of two.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BLITZER: And we're just getting into THE SITUATION ROOM right now, the breaking news, the first tropical storm of 2013 hurricane season has now formed in the Gulf of Mexico. The name, Andrea.
Our meteorologist Chad Myers is joining us on the phone. June 1st, the hurricane season officially started. Now we have tropical storm Andrea or maybe it's Andrea. I don't know how we're pronouncing it.
Chad, do you know?
CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, it's Andrea, Wolf. That's right. Five days into the season, our first tropical storm. Hurricane hunters flew through this storm earlier today, found a closed low- pressure system. Enough that in a couple of hours, it will initiate tropical storm Andrea.
Likely going up toward the Florida panhandle and into Georgia, maybe as far east as the mid-Atlantic states with a lot of rainfall. I don't think this is going to have enough time in the Gulf of Mexico to be a really great wind maker or a storm surge maker, but, you know, we could still see 40 or 50-mile-per-hour winds up toward Panama City and Destin, as this eventually gets up -- and, you know, this is very warm water. This water is almost 80 degrees already.
So the potential for it to get much stronger is not quite there yet, but you know, if this was happening a month from now, you'd be worried about a bigger storm system. A lot of rain, a lot of flooding. At least seven to 10 inches of rainfall in some spots and tropical storm Andrea, the first named storm of the season.
BLITZER: And we don't expect Andrea to become a hurricane, do we? MYERS: Well, I don't think so. If it's going to make landfall in 36 hours, that's a very short time to be in the warm water. Even though the water is ready and willing to be a hurricane, we're not going -- we really almost need 48 to 60 hours to get that kind of wind to make that kind of generation. Now the warmer the water, the more heat, the more fuel, the higher the octane of the water, and we are so -- right now although we only have 36 hours, it will get stronger, this is going to be a wind that maybe a flood maker, not so much a damage maker with wind.
BLITZER: We're only a few days into this new hurricane season, Chad. What does it say to you that we're already seeing a tropical storm?
MYERS: It means that that forecast with the Hurricane Center of 13 to 20 named storms will likely come true. A much-above normal season expected. Only a 5 percent chance of a below-normal season expected from the Hurricane Center. It's going to get busy and it's going to get busy fast.
BLITZER: All right, Chad. That means you and I, and all of our staff here at CNN, we're going to be busy as well covering all of these storms.
Thanks very much, Chad Myers, reporting.
There was a fascinating political subtext to this afternoon's funeral for Senator Frank Lautenberg. The 89-year-old New Jersey Democrat who died on Monday. The vice president, Joe Biden, and Hillary Clinton, possible rivals in 2016, they shared one of the front rows.
The former secretary of state looking rested and sporting a new hairstyle, got plenty of attention. There you see her in the middle of the screen. Both she and the vice president spoke during the service.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: But you'd sit with Frank, and you just couldn't help but have a smile on your face, at least one time during the conversation. And as Frank would say, you know, it's not where you sit that counts, it's where you stand.
JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT: He's left you all an incredible legacy. His children, stepchildren, and grandchildren. What an incredible legacy he's left you. Frank once said there's no end to what can be accomplished, if you work like the devil. And my god, did he work like the devil.
Bob Menendez is right. He was tenacious. He worked, he worked. He wanted my advice, should he run again.
But I said, Frank, look, I -- think you'll win again if you run again. I think even Christie will vote for you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: The vice president wearing a skull cap because the service took place in the synagogue in New York City.
Frank Lautenberg was the last remaining survivor, a veteran of World War II to serve in the United States Senate.
The vice president, of course, referring to another possible -- in that last joke, another possible candidate for president in 2016, the New Jersey Republican governor, Chris Christie.
Conservatives want answers about a former IRS chief's multiple White House visits, as many as 157. We're checking the facts. That's next.
BLITZER: White House visitor logs are throwing new fuel on the scandal over IRS targeting of conservative groups. They show the former head of the tax agency cleared to visit the executive mansion over at the White House a staggering number of times.
Our chief congressional correspondent Dana Bash is looking into all of this for us. What are you finding out, Dana?
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, you and I talked last week about this issue, and about the fact that we could answer some questions, but not others, about the whole question of Douglas Shulman visiting the White House. But we wanted to take an even closer look and dig deeper.
BASH (voice-over): In the IRS Tea Party targeting saga, one number has taken on a life of its open. 157.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Former IRS commissioner Douglas Shulman visited the White House -- ready? 157 times.
BASH: Since that was first reported by the conservative "Daily Caller," conservatives are pouncing, saying maybe the White House was involved in IRS Tea Party targeting.
REP. MARSHA BLACKBURN (R), TENNESSEE: You know that there had to be an agenda. 157 visits?
BASH: Let's look at the facts. It is true, Douglas Shulman's name shows up on official White House visitors' logs at least 157 times over three years. That's available to the public online. But that does not mean Shulman was really at the White House 157 times. These logs only track who was cleared to come into the White House complex, not necessarily everyone who enters.
(On camera): White House officials admit their system is flawed because visitors' logs often do not include people who come through these gates all the time like high-ranking cabinet officials. But they do tend to list people who are cleared for meetings who never show up.
(Voice-over): White House officials insist Shulman did not come to every meeting he was cleared for. Often sending deputies instead. But Obama sources cannot answer a key question -- how many times Shulman actually did come. They say no one takes attendance at meetings.
Regardless of the number of actual visits, it does appear Shulman was mostly cleared to attend meetings dealing with Obamacare. The IRS plays a key role in its implementation.
He was on a standing list for biweekly health reform meetings, was cleared in 40 times by Nancy Nancy Ann DeParle, a top Obama health care adviser, 54 times by Sarah Fenn, another Obama aide working on health care.
STEPHANIE CUTTER, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Many of those meetings were for health care implementation. I was in them with him. So there's nothing nefarious going on.
BASH: Shulman himself said as much under oath last week before Congress.
DOUGLAS SHULMAN, FORMER IRS COMMISSIONER: About singling out conservative groups for special scrutiny, well, that's what we're talking about, isn't it? I'm absolutely sure I did not talk to any --
BASH: Still Shulman didn't do himself any favors when asked why he did go.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What would be some of the reasons you might be at the White House?
SHULMAN: The Easter Egg Roll with my kids.
BASH: Now one important thing to remember is that we still do not know who came up with this plan to target Tea Party groups at the IRS. One Capitol Hill source said to me today that they're actually continuing with the investigation as we speak, trying to get the answer to that critical question.
In fact, Wolf, I'm told that a Cincinnati employee was interviewed yesterday, another is going to be interviewed tomorrow. That should be the last in this round. And they're hoping that those interviews will really shed light on how this happened, who came up with it.
BLITZER: We'll soon find out. All right. Dana, thanks very much.
Happening now, a new hope for a 10-year-old girl who could die within weeks without a lung transplant. We have details of a judge's new ruling. First, right here on CNN. Plus, breaking news. A dangerous search through the rubble from the deadly building collapse. We're standing by for a news conference in Philadelphia.
An exclusive video from Michelle Obama's smackdown with a heckler. The first lady's frustration clearly was showing.