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George W. Bush Has Heart Surgery; Bill Clinton in Africa; News Empires Changing Hands

Aired August 6, 2013 - 17:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, he may have been one of the most physically fit occupants of the oval office, but in a major surprise today, the former President George W. Bush undergoes heart surgery for a blocked artery. Were there warning signs? I'll ask the former Vice President Dick Cheney's long time cardiologist.

Americans evacuated from Yemen after deadly drone strikes on al Qaeda militants with intelligence intercepts sparking growing concern about an al Qaeda terror attack. I'll speak to the former director of both the CIA and the NSA, General Michael Hayden.

And Bill Clinton survived a sex scandal while he was in the White House. Does he have any advice from the New York mayoral candidate, Anthony Weiner? We're going to hear from the former president of the United States.

I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in the SITUATION ROOM.



BLITZER: During his year in the white house and the year since, George W. Bush was always the picture of health, always very, very active, but the former president today underwent heart surgery in a Dallas hospital. A stent was placed in an artery after a routine check-up revealed a blockage.

The former president spokesman released a statement saying the procedure was performed successfully without complication and that the former president is in high spirits, eager to resume his normal schedule. CNNs Tom Foreman is joining us. He's got the latest details -- Tom.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, for all of the other news breaking in Washington today, this really caught many people far off guard, the news that the former president, in fact, had a heart health scare.


FOREMAN (voice-over): In office and out, George W. Bush has been regarded by many as the most fit president ever. He took up mountain biking at the suggestion of his doctors and even though he's had cuts and bruises along the way, he's been pedaling ever since. He now hosts an annual ride honoring wounded soldiers covering 60 miles at a stretch through the Texas countryside.

GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: For me, it's one of the most uplifting experiences I've had in my adult life, probably my whole life.

FOREMAN: And it's not just cycling. The former president has enjoyed running, swimming, golfing, weight lifting and hard labor on his ranch. His annual physicals while in office found him in excellent health with, quote, "no history of hypertension or diabetes and with low to very low coronary artery disease risk."

BUSH: Thank you so much for inviting our rowdy friends to my hanging.

FOREMAN: During the unveiling of his presidential portrait in May last year, he seemed healthy and happy as President Obama jokingly saluted the fitness-minded White House Mr. Bush left behind.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Plus, you also have left me a really good TV sports package.

FOREMAN: And yet at his physical this week in Dallas, doctors found a blockage in an artery and today inserted a stent, a small, balloon- like device that is threaded into the narrow passage and expanded to push the blockage aside, leaving a mesh tube behind to keep the artery clear. Modern presidents have generally maintained some sort of physical fitness during and after their terms.

Nixon bold forward golf, Carter jogged, Reagan rode horses, Clinton ran, too. President Obama plays basketball and just a few years back, the first President Bush jumped from an airplane.


FOREMAN (on-camera): To put it simply, this is what we've come to expect from our modern chief executives and with a little bit of luck after this procedure, if everything goes right, former President Bush will be back to his active lifestyle in the not distant future -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Let's hope for the best, obviously. Thanks, Tom. Thanks very much.

Let's go a little bit more information right now from Dr. Jonathan Reiner. He's a cardiologist with the George Washington University Medical Faculty Associates and directs the cardiac catheterization laboratory at GW Hospital right here in the nation's capital. And with us, long-time patient, the former vice president, Dick Cheney, has a new book that's coming out soon entitled "Heart." Is that right?

DR. JONATHAN REINER, CARDIOLOGIST, GW MEDICAL FACULTY ASSOCS.: That's right. BLITZER: All right. Let's talk a little bit about the former President Bush. He was always very active, jogging, all sorts of biking and everything. This comes as a major surprise for someone who's his age, don't you think?

REINER: Well, yes and no. Coronary artery disease has really been the most important disease in the United States every year with the exception of one year since 1900. It afflicts more Americans and kills more Americans than any other disease in the United States. So, it's really not a surprise that --

BLITZER: He had no family history and his most recent checkups all showed -- at least the annual physical when he was in the White House, he had low to very low coronary artery disease risk.

REINER: Yes, again, you know, we don't know exactly the exact parameters of all his risk factors. His level of fitness really only tells us, you know, one piece of the puzzle. Other important issues like his cholesterol, his blood pressure, you know, his glucose, these are other, you know, indicators.

BLITZER: You brought an example of what he had to endure today, the stent put into his artery. Explain the procedure that he had to undergo.

REINER: Sure. So, this is a coronary stent, a model of one magnified about ten times. Think of a stent as basically a metallic scaffold, which is print down on to a balloon, onto a very small balloon that can fit inside an artery that's just a few millimeters in diameter and (INAUDIBLE) on to a balloon and when we maneuver a balloon into an area of blockage and expand the balloon, the stent scaffolding, the sort of metallic cage expands and is embedded in the wall of the artery. And this serves to butchers (ph) the wall, keep it open, and you know, relieve any blockage that was present before the procedure.

BLITZER: And you go in either through the arm or through the leg, is that right?

REINER: Right. You know, traditionally it's been done through the leg. More and more we do this through the arm.

BLITZER: Which is better?

REINER: We do almost all of our procedures from the arm. It's a procedure that's been done in Europe for many years. It's only now cashing on in the United States. There's much less bleeding with it. Patients can get up right away. In our place, many patients go home the same day after coronary stenting.

BLITZER: If he wouldn't have had this procedure, what potentially could have happened?

REINER: Well, it's hard to know. You know, we don't know the details of his anatomy. We don't know exactly what they found at angiography. You know, in general, we treat patients either to prevent a heart attack from occurring or to treat a heart attack or to prevent symptoms. And you know, to be fair to the physicians caring for the president, we don't really have any kind of granular data to help us understand exactly why they did it.

BLITZER: How long do those stents last in somebody's artery?

REINER: Hopefully forever.

BLITZER: You don't have to go and change them every 10 or 20 years or anything like that?

REINER: You know, with the modern stent, again, we don't know the specific type of stent that the president received. But for most patients, these stents will last forever and very few of them will re- narrow.

BLITZER: Is pressure, stress, a factor that could lead to heart disease? Because presidents, as you well know and you've worked with the former vice president, they're always under enormous pressure.

REINER: I think there's a difference between a job that has a lot of pressure and a job that has a lot of responsibility. And it's always amazing to me when I speak to folks who really had jobs that most people would think a highly pressurized, how really -- how much they enjoy their jobs.

And you know, flip side of that is folks who you would think have jobs without a lot of responsibility can really feel very pressurized, you know, if they have a boss that's yelling at them or they really hate their jobs. So, I'm not sure responsibility goes hand in hand with stress.

BLITZER: The former vice president, he has major heart disease, as you well know better than anyone. How's he doing? First of all, I saw him on TV not that long ago. He seems to be doing fine.

REINER: He's terrific. I think he was fishing today. He's really enjoying his life and really doing very, very well.

BLITZER: Because at one point he was walking around literally with the machine to keep his heart going. And now, he doesn't need that anymore. He had the heart transplant and he's doing just fine?

REINER: That's right.

BLITZER: And his book you've written with him, what's that about?

REINER: It's really the story of heart disease. It's basically the story of the greatest success in American medicine that seen through a patient who has seen every single medical advance that medicine has created in the last 35 years. So, it's really the story of heart disease seen through one very extraordinary patient.

BLITZER: That would be Dick Cheney. And obviously, he had a much more serious heart issue than the former president, George W. Bush. Appreciate very much, Dr. Reiner, for your coming in.

REINER: My pleasure.

BLITZER: Up next, an urgent airlift of Americans from Yemen as U.S. drones target al Qaeda militants there. I'll discuss the terror threat with the former CIA and NSA director, General Michael Hayden. He's here in the SITUATION ROOM.

And Bill Clinton's own sex scandal almost cost him the White House. Does he have any advice for the would-be mayor of New York, Anthony Weiner?


BLITZER: The state department today ordered dozens of Americans to get out of Yemen immediately, and the air force then whisked them away to safety. That came as a pair of U.S. drone strikes killed four al Qaeda militants. Yemen is at the center of the growing worries right now but a possible terror attack leading the United States issued a global alert and closing down 19 diplomatic posts for the rest of this week.

Behind that concern, a message from al Qaeda's leader to a top ally in Yemen, ordering him to take action. Let's bring in our Pentagon correspondent, Chris Lawrence. He's got the very latest. What is the very latest, Chris?

CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, that message is clearly telling U.S. officials that the terror group's leaders have identified al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula as the branch best equipped to attack American targets overseas.


LAWRENCE (voice-over): If you think of al Qaeda as a company, the intercepted communication between its leaders is a revelation. Its core al Qaeda's Ayman al-Zawahiri recognizing his best chance of launching a successful attack lay with an affiliate, Nasir al-Wahishi, a trusted manager with a proven track record.

In 2008, Wahishi helped orchestrate a complex attack on the U.S. embassy in Sanaa (ph), involving car bombs, snipers and RPGs. Yemen became an almost perfect breeding ground for al Qaeda, and it's easy to see why. Its unemployment rate is nearly 40 percent with huge patches of rural ungoverned land.

DANYA GREENFIELD, YEMEN EXPERT, ATLANTIC COUNCIL: In much of this territory, there are no police stations for hundreds of miles around.

LAWRENCE: Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula was responsible for the underwear bomb that nearly exploded on an American jet over Detroit. And a dispatch bombs onboard cargo plane bound for the U.S. And sources tell CNN, three to four Yemeni AQAP fighters were involved in the Benghazi attack last year.

The Obama administration expanded the drone program in Yemen. In 2011, drones strikes killed radial American cleric, Anwar al-Awlaki. The next year, it was Fahd al-Quso, an alleged conspirator in the USS Cole attack. And last month, Said al-Shihri, a former Guantanamo Bay detainee who returned to al Qaeda. Even after Tuesday's latest drone strike, the fourth and tenth days, there are far fewer strikes this year compared to 2012.

GREENFIELD: The administration would say that the number of attacks is falling because they have, in fact, gotten at some of the top tier leadership. I think what we're seeing this week calls that into question. It's hard to assess --


LAWRENCE (on-camera): Right now, there are fewer than 100 troops still on the ground in Yemen. They are split between the marines helping to protect the embassy in Sanaa and then special operations forces down south near (INAUDIBLE) were training the Yemeni forces on counterterrorism -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. Chris, thanks very much. Chris Lawrence over at the Pentagon.

So, how serious is the terror threat and why Yemen? Joining us now, retired general, Michael Hayden. He's both the former director of the CIA and the NSA. He's now a principal at the Chertoff Group of Global Security Advisory Firm based here in Washington. General, thanks very much for coming in.


BLITZER: These most recent drone strikes in Yemen, do you think they're directly related to this latest threat that the U.S. detected coming from Ayman al-Zawahiri to a top al Qaeda leader in Yemen?

HAYDEN: It's hard to tell from the outside, Wolf. There could be lots of reasons. At this point, we've had a campaign in Yemen against senior al Qaeda and the Arabian Peninsula leadership. This could be part of that campaign. But you get a certain sense of increased urgency going on now as well. So it could, indeed, be directly related to trying to stop this plot before it gets out of the block.

BLITZER: And the increased urgency, the sense you're getting, is based on what?

HAYDEN: Well, we've got a body of intelligence, not just one off reporter, one alleged communication between the leadership. But it's clear to me now that there is a very powerful body of intelligence that goes back several weeks that focuses on al Qaeda and the Arabian Peninsula and very likely an attack in the Arabian Peninsula, Yemen, or elsewhere in the immediate --

BLITZER: An attack, let's say, on the U.S. embassy?

HAYDEN: We've been careful to say against western interests, but clearly, we're the number one enemy for al Qaeda and the Arabian Peninsula. We're that way nocturnally (ph) for them. And right now, operationally, given what we're doing and your question about drone strikes, we're also the number one target in that regard, too. BLITZER: When the U.S. sends in a military plane to get all Americans basically out of Yemen as quickly as possible, what does that say to you?

HAYDEN: It tells me we've lost our ability to protect our citizens while in the country. So, even that a draw down in the embassy. We've got an increase threat. And therefore, the decision is made get Americans out of harm's way. I don't think anyone can argue with that.

BLITZER: And you can't rely on the host country to protect Americans there, because that's normally what you do.

HAYDEN: You do. But the Yemeni government is weak. It's fractionalized. There are a lot of elements that have not quite settled after the civil war, although, there has been some progress that's been made. Frankly, it's a very wise decision, just get Americans out of harm's way.

BLITZER: Al Qaeda supposedly had been ripped apart. There were affiliates in Arabian Peninsula, in the Maghreb, in Iraq or Syria or elsewhere. But now, apparently, if you believe this report that the leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, the guy who took over for Bin Laden, can control al Qaeda and the Arabian Peninsula, give them an order, you got to do this, what does that say?

HAYDEN: Well, first of all, let's not jump too far down the path in terms of making conclusions. It's clear that al Qaeda main and that's been badly decimated --

BLITZER: Al Qaeda main meaning the Bin Laden --

HAYDEN: Exactly. Badly decimated. But the closest affiliate to it at all times has been the one in the Arabian Peninsula. So, if they're going to give direct orders to anyone, it would be AQAP.

BLITZER: Does he still have that kind of clout, that ability, Ayman al-Zawahiri, the leader of al Qaeda? Supposedly, he's somewhere along the border, let's say between Afghanistan and Pakistan hiding out. Is that your assumption?

HAYDEN: Yes, it is. But then again, I thought Bin Laden was in a cave, and he ends up being in a midsize Pakistani city in Abbottabad. What we're seeing here, though, Wolf, and this is quite interesting is Zawahiri is becoming more visible. He's making videotapes. He's making audiotapes. He's kind of moving into that number one role that was vacated with the death of Bin Laden.

BLITZER: How do you explain that?

HAYDEN: Well, I mean, al Qaeda is still in business. It's been decimated, certainly, al Qaeda prime along the Afghan and Pakistan border. But now, their ability to conduct a major attack is still much reduced, and that's the product of work over the past dozen years. But the areas from which al Qaeda could conduct an attack, they've actually increased. Yemen, Somalia, Libya, Iraq, Syria, Algeria, Mali, all these places now have an al Qaeda presence. Less capable than the enemy we faced in 2001 and more dispersed.

BLITZER: It's like they franchised these operations in all these places

HAYDEN: Exactly.

BLITZER: Now, within a matter of a few days over the past couple or three weeks, there were major prison breaks. More than a thousand prisoners at Abu Ghraib in Baghdad, in Benghazi, in Pakistan, elsewhere. Are these just coincidental or is there a coordinated al Qaeda effort under way right now to get a lot of these terrorists out of these prisons?

HAYDEN: I'm comfortable that it's coincidental with regard to this current threat plotting. I don't --

BLITZER: Coincidental with the current threat --


HAYDEN: To one another, I'm not so sure that it's pure coincidence. This is an attempt by al Qaeda in each of these places, perhaps, they don't have to synchronize it, but they have common objectives and have been given common instructions to do the best they can, to get as many of their cohorts out of prison in order to strengthen their ranks.

And unfortunately, Wolf, these are al Qaeda pros that have been broken out of prison. And so, we're going to see, not today, not in not in this attack, that over the medium and long-term, a stronger enemy with which we have to deal.

BLITZER: Well, it's clear that the Iraqi government couldn't control Abu Ghraib, the famous prison there. Hundreds of prisoners are released or in Benghazi, the Libyan government couldn't -- 1,200 prisoners escape from a major prison in Benghazi. In Pakistan, the same thing happens. What's wrong with this government?

HAYDEN: Well, all of them are weak, all right? The Pakistani government is weak. The Libyan government is practically non- existent. And so, what you've got is al Qaeda taking advantage of ungoverned areas, a tactic they've used for the existence of the organization. And unfortunately, Wolf, after the Arab awakening, we've got a lot more ungoverned areas out there. So, I'm afraid, although we're safer than we were, although the dangers of that iconic mass casualty attack are much reduced, we're not out of the woods yet.

BLITZER: And al Qaeda is building a huge presence in Syria right now as well. Let me ask you about Edward Snowden. He's now, as you know, walking around free man in Russia. He was in China. Do you believe, as the former CIA director, the former head of the National Security Agency, that the Russians and/or the Chinese already have everything that he stole from the NSA? HAYDEN: I don't know that he brought with him everything he stole from the NSA. My belief, the way I put it, Wolf, is I would lose all respect for the Chinese ministry of state security and for Russia's FSB if they have not already taken control of the information that he brought with them to those two locations.

BLITZER: So, if he had a laptop or two or three laptops or a cell phone or smartphone or an iPad, whatever he had, everything on those devices have already been -- you assume the Russians and the Chinese?

HAYDEN: And that's the operative word. I would make the assumption that those two services are dedicated and talented enough that they would put their mind to this purpose and they would harvest what it was he brought with him.

BLITZER: So, the U.S. government has to assume the same thing. They just assume all that information is lost.

HAYDEN: I'm afraid we have to assume that these adversaries -- not enemies, that these adversaries have the opportunity to look deeply into the secrets of American --

BLITZER: And they can take this information from a laptop without Snowden even knowing.

HAYDEN: Of course. Of course.

BLITZER: Within a minute or two.

HAYDEN: Well, it probably would take longer --

BLITZER: How long would it take?

HAYDEN: Well, it depends on the trade trap (ph) that they would use, how much access they would have, how much energy they put on it. What are the local circumstances? Where was he staying? Could they get to the room next? Things of that nature, Wolf. But again, I'll rest on the assumption I'd lose all respect for those two services if they hadn't done this.

BLITZER: General Hayden, thanks very much for coming in.

HAYDEN: Thank you.

BLITZER: Coming up, Senator John McCain, he's in Egypt right now. He's using a word they still aren't saying over at the White House and we're looking into the question why.

Also, a possible reason for a tragedy. A zoo expert explains why a loose snake may have strangled two small boys in their sleep. Stay with us. You're in the SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: Ever since Egypt's military ousted President Mohamed Morsi last month, the Obama administration has avoided calling it a coup. But Senator John McCain certainly has no problem with that word.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R) ARIZONA: The circumstances of the former government's president's removal were a coup. And we have said that we cannot expect Egypt or any other country to abide by its laws if we do not abide by ours in the United States.


BLITZER: At President Obama's request, Senators McCain and his GOP colleague, Lindsey Graham, they are both in Cairo right now meeting with leaders there. And they are speaking out. Let's go live to CNNs Reza Sayah. He's in the Egyptian capital for us, has been for a while. Reza, you had a chance to speak with the senators. What did they say?

REZA SAYAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, they came here to deliver a clear message, and of course, some of those messages that they delivered were controversial. First off, the senators restating the position of the U.S. congress that this was, indeed, a coup, what happened last month, the overthrow of Mr. Morsi.

Of course, that's not going to sit well with supporters of this military-backed interim government. But their overarching message was a positive one. They said they don't want to dwell on the future. They don't want to dwell on the past. They want to look to the future and they want to support Egypt, but the only way they can support Egypt if this is a viable, peaceful, genuine democracy.

And they said the only way that's going to happen if these two sides in this conflict stop fighting and the violence that hammer out some sort of political solution that includes the Muslim Brotherhood. We talked to Senator McCain about the prospects of that happening.


MCCAIN: We made it very clear to General Asisi that we are here not to negotiate but to urge a reconciliation, a dialogue followed by free and fair elections. Now, General Asisi said to us that he was committed to that process. And so, we are, I think, guardedly optimistic that he wants the same thing, but guardedly only.


SAYAH: So, the message from Senator McCain is clear. He wants these two sides to reconcile, to sit down and talk and end the fighting, but if you heard him correctly, he said he's guardedly optimistic, Wolf, and that suggests that he has doubts that these two sides in this conflict are going to heed his message.

BLITZER: Well, the Muslim Brotherhood, Rexa, they would have to agree to it as well. And there's no indication, at least based on what I can tell, that they're willing to reconcile with the military and the new political leadership in Cairo. SAYAH: Yes. Wolf, this type of diplomacy happens behind closed doors. It's very difficult to figure out what these two senators accomplished and this a classic standoff here in Egypt where you have these two sides digging in and you can easily see how each side views any concession made to the other side as defeat.

So, the key moving forward is what's going to give? Is either side going to back down in hopes that there's going to be some reconciliation to avoid what has been a very, very violent conflict? Wolf.

BLITZER: Reza Sayah in Cairo for us, thank you.

Even though Senator McCain is calling what happened in Egypt a coup, they still are not using that word over at the Obama White House. Let's go there. Our chief White House correspondent, Jessica Yellin, has been looking into this. Jessica, they sent McCain and Lindsey Graham to Cairo to deal with the new leadership there. Does the White House feel pressure to change its position on calling this a coup?

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, according to the White House officials I'm talking to and administration officials, no, they don't. McCain and Graham, those two senators, called it a coup from the start. So the administration simply is not surprised that they did it again. And sources tell me those two senators are not pressuring administration officials to follow their lead, and there's no growing chorus calling for the president to do so.

So, then why is it that the administration has avoided calling it a coup in general? Well, doing that could alienate the administration from Egypt's military leadership and from the millions who have supported them in the streets. And also by law, if it's a coup, the U.S. would have to cut off U.S. aid to Egypt, more than $1.3 billion annually. That is spent in the U.S. and could have ripple effects in our economy, not to mention destabilizing shocks across Egypt and the Middle East.

Now, there have been exceptions. The U.S. called the power shift in Honduras a coup and continued aid, but that's a very different example and not in the searing spotlight the way Egypt is.

BLITZER: Yes, and senator -- Secretary of State John Kerry the other day while he was in Pakistan said what the military did was restore democracy -- I'm paraphrasing a bit -- in Egypt. Clearly very different than a coup.

I know you're in Phoenix right now. The president just delivered a speech there on housing. What was the headline?

YELLIN: He outlined a plan to wind down the mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which you'll recall needed a massive government bailout five years ago. And those two mortgage giants back most homeowners in this nation.

Now this plan is long in coming since the president's plans to help struggling homeowners and help revive the housing market fell very short his first years in office. But now that the market is coming back, he can start looking at these kinds of proposals.

From here, Wolf, he is headed to "The Tonight Show" with Jay Leno, where we expect that he could take questions on who knows, diplomatic security, Benghazi, Egypt, maybe even how he celebrated his birthday this past weekend, Wolf.

BLITZER: I suspect all those questions could come up. All right, thanks very much, Jessica Yellin, traveling with the president.

Up next, an update on a horrifying, rather bizarre story we told you about. Two boys strangled to death in an apartment by a giant snake.

And we also have new details on that rough landing, that nose gear collapse at New York's LaGuardia Airport. What federal investigators are now saying.


BLITZER: Here's a quick look at some of the other top stories coming into THE SITUATION ROOM right now. At least 30 people are dead, 100 wounded after a series of bombings across Baghdad today. Police say at least six neighborhoods were hit, and of the most explosions took place in Shiite areas. July was the deadliest month in Iraq since the sectarian violence that sparked the U.S. troop surge of 2007. More than a thousand Iraqis died in terror attacks in July alone.

Authorities say a 25th person has died from injuries suffered during last May's tornado outbreak in Moore, Oklahoma. A 90-year-old woman who suffered what doctors call blunt-force trauma to the head passed away on Thursday.

It turns out the captain of the Southwest Airlines jet that had its nose wheel collapse was attempting only his second landing at the city's LaGuardia Airport. An update today from the National Transportation Safety Board also says both pilots were experienced, and there were no mechanical malfunctions on the plane. Instead of touching down on its main landing gear, the plane came in nose-wheel first.

New developments in the deaths of two Canadian boys killed by a loose python. CTV reporting authorities have opened a criminal investigation after concluding the snake was being kept in the upstairs apartment where the boys were, not in the reptile store downstairs. The boys, ages four and six, were sleeping when the snake strangled them.


SGT. ALAIN TREMBLAY, ROYAL CANADIAN MOUNTED POLICE (via translator): The snake apparently slithered through a hole in the ceiling, allowing it to escape into the ventilation shaft. And once the snake was at the height of the living room, apparently a pipe broke and the snake fell into the living room.


BLITZER: In the same news conference, the boy's uncle described their last day which included a trip to a friend's farm.


DAVE ROSE, BOYS' UNCLE: The two families, Jean-Claude's family, went to Jean-Claude's family farm. There they played with llamas and goats and horses. They played with dogs and cats in the hay loft.


BLITZER: In CNN NEWSROOM earlier today with Brooke Baldwin, an expert from a U.S. zoo said that visit to the farm may -- may be an important clue.


TOM STALF, PRESIDENT & CEO, COLUMBUS ZOO: The boys were playing with farm animals and llamas and different animals, and it is possible that as the snake was meandering through the house, if the boys didn't wash, snakes have an incredible sense of smell. With their Jacobson's organ, they use their tongue. It's possible the snake was heading towards the boys because they smelled like prey.


BLITZER: Police say they now have the python in their possession.

Just ahead, the former president Bill Clinton making his ninth visit to Africa where he's trying to make a real difference. He's also speaking exclusively with CNN about one of the biggest regrets of his presidency.

And an Internet tycoon buys one of the nation's legendary newspapers. It's but the latest turnover in a struggling industry. How will it impact the news you read?


BLITZER: Now to a CNN exclusive. The former president Bill Clinton is on the latest of a series of visits to Africa where the Clinton Family Foundation is active in several initiatives, has done very important work in saving lots of lives.

He sat down with CNN's Nima Elbagir in Rwanda. That's the scene of one of his biggest regrets, failing to act back in 1994 when he was in the White House when it came to the genocide that unfolded there.


NINA ELBAGIR, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You have spoken about the enduring impact that you said, not intervening at the right time, as you put it, has had on you. How much has that informed your engagement with the continent? BILL CLINTON, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: I'll never forget, I went to a little village outside Kigali where the government was giving land to people only if they agreed to live next door to someone of the opposite ethnic group. And I saw these two women holding hands. One woman had lost her husband, her brother, her sister-in-law. And the woman she was holding hands with, her husband was one of the relatively few people in prison awaiting trial under the war crimes tribunal. They had decided to make the future together.

And there's countless stories like this. I wanted to be a part of that. I wanted to be a part of - people who were willing to basically wake up every morning and imagine a future radically different from their past and then live it. That's a precious commodity, and I thought we ought to maximize it.

ELBAGIR: And this is your ninth trip to Africa?

CLINTON: Since I left office.

ELBAGIR: What keeps you coming back?

CLINTON: I like it. I like the people, I like this enduring sense of roots, community, obligation to family, obligation to village, obligation to nation. I like all these bright young people that believe they can make a huge difference. Just give me a little thing, and I will move the world.


BLITZER: Nima Elbagir also asked the former president about the New York City mayoral race where Anthony Weiner is now caught up in another sexting scandal.


ELBAGIR: I appreciate it's awkward because you have a personal connection to both Anthony Weiner and his wife, Huma Abedin, in fact you officiated their wedding. Has this been difficult for you to watch?

CLINTON: Well, not because it was a political campaign, because neither Hillary nor I was ever involved in the political campaign. And they understood that from the beginning. There are too many people running for mayor who have been my supporters, who supported her for senator, her for president, one was once her campaign manager, Mr. de Blasio.

But there are literally five people in that race, including one of the Republican candidates, Mr. Catsimatidis, who are personal friends of ours. So we are 100 miles from that race and everyone understands that we're not going to be involved as long as our personal friends and people to whom we feel obligations are involved. So the feelings I have are all personal and since they are, I shouldn't talk about them.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BLITZER: All right. Let's bring in our chief political analyst Gloria Borger.

Measured words from the former president as always. What did you think?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: I think he was telling the truth. I think this is about Bill and Hillary Clinton and their friends and their supporters, people who have supported them in the past. As he mentioned, Bill De Blasio, who is running against Anthony Weiner, ran Hillary Clinton's Senate campaign.

So from the very outset, as you know, Wolf, they haven't endorsed anybody in this race and they put it out there that they've got a lot of friends who are running against Anthony Weiner, so as he put it, they are a hundred miles from this race, they will remain a hundred miles from this race and I think we have to take him at his word. As for his personal feelings, just like Chuck Schumer, he's keeping them to himself.

BLITZER: How important is a Bill Clinton endorsement nowadays?

BORGER: I think a Bill Clinton endorsement of anybody in the Democratic Party is huge. I mean, just ask President Barack Obama how much Bill Clinton helped him at the Democratic National Convention. When you talk to people over at the campaign committees, they will tell you that Bill Clinton is one of the most popular people out on the campaign trail. I'm sure he's going to be a lot in 2014.

Wolf, his popularity right now is at 66 percent. When he left office, it was 57 percent. That's high but 66 percent is in the stratosphere. Any politician would like to have that number.

BLITZER: And very quickly you've got some news the former president reaching out to another former president who's had a heart issue?

BORGER: That's right. I mean, as you were talking about at the beginning of the show, George W. Bush had a stent put in yesterday. And President Bill Clinton from Africa reached out to him. As you know, Bill had a couple of heart episodes, had quadruple bypass himself in 2010. So he reached out. The two men have not connected, according to Mark Preston, our political director, but as soon as they do, Mark Preston will be right on top of it.

BLITZER: Good for you. All right, thanks very much, Gloria.

Coming up, how a huge change here in Washington may affect the news you see and hear no matter where you live. Stand by.

And right at the top of the hour, a man who recently spoke with CNN now facing criminal charges for the September 11th attack in Benghazi.


BLITZER: Here in Washington, the founder Jeff Bezos is buying "The Washington Post." But no matter where you live, the news you hear or read every day may be changing soon.

Our national political correspondent Jim Acosta has been looking into the huge implications of these sweeping changes in ownership.

Jim, what are you finding out?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: The changes are coming fast, Wolf. You might think by looking at today's front page of the "Washington Post" that people in this city have an exaggerated sense of self-importance. But the sale of this newspaper not only signals the end of an era for Washington but also potentially a sea change in how every American receives the news.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You, Richard Milhous Nixon --

ACOSTA (voice-over): Watergate brought down a president.

ROBERT REDFORD, ACTOR, "ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN": Got to get something on paper.


ACOSTA: But it made a newspaper. A triumph not just for reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein but also for the family that owned the "Washington Post" led by its publisher Kathryn Graham. Now that legacy and the future of one of the world's most important newspapers rest in the hands of one billionaire. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. A stunning $250 million deal that gives an all-new meaning to the term --


ACOSTA: "The Post" now follows other major newspapers. "Wall Street Journal" bought by conservative media titan Rupert Murdoch, and the "Boston Globe" purchased by Red Sox owner John Henry to be snatched up by the super wealthy. And perhaps the "Chicago Tribune" and "L.A. Times" which could land in the portfolio of libertarian billionaires Charles and David Koch.

LUCY DALGLISH, JOURNALISM DEAN, UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND: I think what people are forgetting when we're talking about billionaires taking over the media, that's not exactly new.

ACOSTA: William Randolph Hurst of the Hurst newspaper empire came from a family that made its fortune in mining. The classic film "Citizen Kane," loosely based on Hurst's life story, noted how wealth affords the luxury of failure.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I did lose a million dollars last year. I expect to lose a million dollars this year. I expect to lose a million dollars next year. Do you know, Mr. Thatcher, the rate of a million dollars a year? I'll have to close this place in 60 years. ACOSTA: Something Bezos has in common. He revolutionized retail shopping online, remaking the selling of news is next.

DALGLISH: Bezos can spend an enormous amount of money on the "Washington Post" without really taking too much of a dent in his own private fortune. So he has the leeway to make major experiments.

DONALD GRAHAM, WASHINGTON POST CHAIRMAN: Everybody knows that newspapers have to change.

ACOSTA: "The Post's" chairman Donald Graham insists the paper's commitment to journalism won't change.

GRAHAM: We will -- we will become a place that does its traditional job, maintains its traditional values, but tries things and I hope a lot of them will succeed.

ACOSTA: A sentiment echoed by Bezos in a letter to "Post" employees that reads, "The values of the Post do not need changing. The paper's duty will remain to its readers and not to the private interests of its owners. We will continue to follow the truth wherever it leads."

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Most newspapers today are terribly undernourished in terms of funding. There's been an unwillingness to invest in investigative reporters, for example. Foreign bureaus have been closed down and they need to be re-opened. And a private owner with the kind of wealth that Jeff has -- Jeff Bezos has can really make a huge difference.

ACOSTA: CNN political contributor David Gergen who once worked for the Nixon White House and came to know Catherine Graham and legendary executive editor Ben Bradley says Bezos can afford to make mistakes. But the stakes are still high.

GERGEN: Had it not been for Ben and for Kaye, there would have been no Woodward and Bernstein. And maybe the Watergate story would have turned out very differently. Who knows for sure?

ACOSTA: After the downfall of a president, it's just not Washington without "The Post."


ACOSTA: "Washington Post" newspaper will no longer be a publicly traded company. It is now a privately held firm controlled by Bezos. The "Post" management will remain in place for sometime but how long depends on Jeff Bezos -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Anxious to see the changes that are about -- I read the paper every day. We'll see what happens.

Thanks very much.

Ahead, the first criminal charges related to the deadly attack that killed a United States ambassador in Benghazi nearly a year ago.

Plus, the latest on the manhunt for a suspected killer who may have the victim's children with him.