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THE SITUATION ROOM
Stunning Missteps after Plane Disappeared; NBA Owners Meet Privately on Sterling Fallout; Republicans Accuse White House of Cover-up; Former President on Brother's Possible 2016 Run; War Raging Between Military and Al Qaeda in Yemen
Aired May 1, 2014 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN: Jake, thanks very much.
Happening now, shocking details -- the most information yet on Flight 370 contained in a long awaited official report just released by the Malaysian government.
Does it contain clues that could help locate the missing plane?
Major mistakes -- the report also reveals multiple inexplicable delays in efforts to find Flight 370 after it disappeared from radar.
Did wasted minutes wind up costing lives?
Battle brewing -- NBA owners huddle to talk about forcing Donald Sterling to sell the LA Clippers.
Will he fight back in court?
I'm Wolf Blitzer.
You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Critical new details and stunning mistakes revealed in the most comprehensive look yet at the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. The country's transportation ministry has released a preliminary report on the case that's been gripping people around the world for almost eight weeks. And it contains the most information we've seen so far about what happened the night the plane vanished.
Our expert analysts are combing through the report.
They're standing by, along with CNN's Tom Foreman.
But first, let's go to Kuala Lumpur.
Our senior international correspondent, Nic Robertson, has the very latest -- Nic, what does the report reveal?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the most stunning revelation appears to be in the actions taken when the plane went missing between 1:38 a.m. and 6:14 a.m.. For two hours, Malaysian Airlines operations center is misreading its own computer, telling air traffic control that the flight was, in fact, over Cambodia and that they were tracking it and in communications with it. That turned out to be an error lasting over two hours.
There is a full recording of the air traffic control to cockpit voice recording. That's the first time we're hearing that. There's maps of the routes. There's pretty much what we knew. There's a cargo manifest. We knew that. There is a passenger manifest. We knew that. And of course, the interim report adding a few more details.
What it does do, along with the air traffic recordings, is detail the last hours of the flight.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP, COURTESY
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mas 370 is cleared to Beijing via PIBOS. A departure 6,000 feet squawk two one five seven
(END AUDIO CLIP)
ROBERTSON (voice-over): 12:41 a.m., Saturday March 8th -- Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 takes off from Kuala Lumpur for what was supposed to be a six hour flight to Beijing. Two hundred and twenty-seven passengers and 12 crew members are on board the Boeing 777.
For the next 38 minutes, all seems normal. The plane climbs to cruising altitude and is on a direct path to the Chinese capital.
1:19 a.m. -- Kuala Lumpur air traffic control instructs Flight 370 to make contact with Vietnamese controllers. The crew confirms in what would be the final transmission from the cockpit.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Malaysian 370 contact Ho Chi Minh 120 decimal 9, good night.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good night Malaysia 370.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
ROBERTSON: Two minutes later, at 1:21 a.m., the plane's transponder stops responding and Flight 370 disappears from Kuala Lumpur radar.
Seventeen minutes pass before anyone asks about the now missing plane.
At 1:38 a.m., air traffic controllers in Ho Chi Minh City contact their counterparts in Kuala Lumpur, who ask controllers in Singapore, Hong Kong and Phnom Penh if they've heard from Flight 370. None of them have.
Meanwhile, we now know the plane made its mysterious turn, flying over the Malaysian Peninsula, changing altitude, disappearing, at times, from radar, only to re-appear.
Almost four hours pass before Malaysia mounts a search and rescue operation, at 5:30 a.m.. But the plane is still somewhere in the air.
Finally, at 8:11 a.m., nearly two hours after it should have landed in Beijing, a satellite picks up a final transmission from the plane. Then, Malaysia Flight 370 vanishes.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
ROBERTSON: And nothing, nothing, no fragment, nothing of that aircraft, found since. That is the last detail to come -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Nic Robertson with the very, very latest on this preliminary report.
Let's get some more now with CNN aviation analysts, the former NTSB managing director, Peter Goelz, CNN law enforcement analyst, the former FBI assistant director, Tom Fuentes, and CNN's Tom Foreman -- Peter, you've been involved in a lot of these aviation disasters.
What do you make of this report?
Was it more specific, less specific, than you anticipated?
PETER GOELZ, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: Well, it should have been issued about six weeks ago. The investigation went far too long without a factual report. There should be no analysis in it and there isn't any. That's going to come when we have more facts. But I think the report was basic. It should have been issued a long time ago.
BLITZER: Bare bones. There was nothing in the report -- I went through the whole thing -- that gives us a clue at all -- correct me if I'm wrong, Tom -- about who was responsible for this disappearance of this plane, whether an individual or individuals or some sort of catastrophic mechanical failure.
TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: No, I agree. And I don't think they're hiding anything. They don't have a clue yet exactly what happened to that plane.
BLITZER: They have suspicions, though. They have, clearly, some -- some indication of what they believe, based on the evidence they've collected. They don't necessarily have to share it. And they certainly didn't in this report.
FUENTES: That's right. I mean they didn't want too add to the speculation, which there's been plenty of. So the report is bare bones, just the facts. And that's about all we expected from the beginning.
It's just, as Peter said, it should have been a month-and-a-half ago.
BLITZER: Tom Foreman, they did release maps in the various appendices that came out.
What about those maps?
What did we learn from them?
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'll tell you what we most learned, Wolf, from those maps, where they started looking, where they thought this was, is nowhere near where they're looking now. Remember, when this took off, they put their focus very much up in here. If you look at all that chatter over those four hours and hours afterward, it was all about the plane is somehow here.
But the other maps show that this is the Inmarsat data. And it would suggest that by the time they reached that point, as Nic said, of saying this is basically an emergency, we're looking for it, a rescue operation, the plane could have been already down here. This is a very, very huge distance.
And we also know one more thing from those maps, Wolf. This is not all created equal down here. They have different tracking here on the paths it may have taken. I'm actually spreading it out a little wider than it actually is, just so you can see it. And they've assigned values down here to this search zone. There are three key ones down here. The northern most one is the one that they're giving the greatest probability to, but the other ones also have to be included.
So it's more information, Wolf, but the biggest thing is, this is what they believe in now. It is absolutely not what they believed in or looked for back when the event happened for some critical days -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Yes, Peter, you know, when I read this report and looked at the various information, a lot of it seemed to be guesswork, if you will, because even if they were off by a few knots in terms of how fast the plane was going, at what altitude, that could dramatically change the eventual location when it ran out of gas.
GOELZ: Absolutely. I mean the challenging part of this investigation and this search going forward is how wide an area they have to go. They've made some basic suppositions. They might be off just a little. If they're off just a little, that plane is going to be very difficult to find. It spreads out over a vast amount of ocean bottom.
BLITZER: All right, guys, I want all of you to stand by.
We have more to assess, more reporting to do.
Up next, stunning missteps by Malaysia in the minutes and hours after the plane disappeared.
Did they make a bad situation even worse?
And other news we're following -- this -- will Donald Sterling go to court to try to keep hold of the LA Clippers?
NBA owners, they've been discussing options today. We'll have details, straight ahead.
That's coming up in THE SITUATION ROOM, as well.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's not true? UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, of course not.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But the tape speaks for itself.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sir, (INAUDIBLE)?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Malaysia's new report of the disappearance of Flight 370 reveals some potentially critical missteps in the minutes and hours immediately after the plane disappeared almost two months ago.
CNN's Brian Todd is working this part of the story for us -- so, Brian, what went wrong?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the report focuses on two potentially disastrous lapses in communication. Those gaps cost valuable time. And if things had been handled differently in those moments, we may have had many more answers by now in this case.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Flight 370, (INAUDIBLE) level.
TODD (voice-over): The newly released report raises the central question to the mystery -- how could Malaysian officials lose track of this plane?
Two critical moments are under scrutiny.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good night Malaysia 370.
TODD: First, a 17 minute gap from when Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 disappeared, to when Vietnamese air traffic control told the Kuala Lumpur tower it had made no contact with the plane.
MARK WEISS, FORMER AIRLINE PILOT: In 17 minutes, you would certainly think somebody would have called. That flight -- remember, that flight was a scheduled flight. It goes there every day.
TODD: After that first warning from the Vietnamese, the Malaysians and the Vietnamese exchanged several questions on the plane's whereabouts.
RICHARD QUEST, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Classic confusion that happens in these situations. A says to B, have you seen the plane?
B says to D, oh, where's that plane?
D says back to A, I thought you saw it.
TODD: The second big question raised by this report, why did it take four hours for the Malaysians to launch a rescue operation from the time they knew it went missing?
Was this the biggest mistake by Malaysian authorities?
WEISS: Four hours -- it is an absurd amount of time before you start to launch a search operation. I mean that's ridiculous. I mean this is -- you've got a commercial airliner that's lost.
TODD: But Analyst Jeff Wise says it would be tough to justify a costly rescue operation that soon when so little was known. Wise says in that period, Malaysian officials had to make as many calls as they could. That takes time. And, Wise says, it may not have made a difference anyway.
JEFF WISE, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: Even if they had done it very, very quickly, by the time they'd gotten in the air, the plane was already gone. It was way ahead of anybody that could have chased after them.
TODD: Another reason that an early rescue launch may not have made a difference: the plane had made an unexpected change of direction without any known reason to divert. A mystery that continues to this day -- Wolf.
BLITZER: A huge mystery. And of course Brian, the other aspect of this report that's generating so much interest, the recommendation for what's called live streaming data from commercial aircraft. They want it. Tell us -- tell us about that.
TODD: That's right, Wolf. And we've been looking at this almost from the day this plane disappeared. In this report, the Malaysians ask international authorities to look at the real-time tracking of commercial planes. That's a system where the airlines' operators on the ground can see information like air speed, altitude and location in real time. It's transmitted off satellites.
The technology is there. It's been used. But the airlines for the most part have been reluctant to install it, mainly because they want to save money.
BLITZER: Brian Todd, thanks very much.
Let's bring back our aviation analyst, the former NTSB managing director, Peter Goelz, and our law enforcement analyst, the former FBI assistant director, Tom Fuentes.
Peter, what about that last point that Brian just made, saving money? In this day and age, you would think live streaming, when you can live stream almost anything, would be imperative with an airliner that costs about $250 million, manufactured by Boeing, has 239 people on board. You would think whatever it costs, that's money well-spent.
PETER GOELZ, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: It is well-spent. And the thing that's frustrating is that the French equivalent of the NTSB made exactly the same recommendation to ICAO following the crash of Air France 447. And the reality is, you would only need to require this streaming over what they call ETOPS aircraft, extended range. Those aircraft that are flying over ocean or -- open ocean. That would cut back on what they call the clogs in the data stream. You only need it periodically, once every five seconds. You just need a hint of where that plane is.
BLITZER: One key lesson, hopefully, they will learn from this disaster. How much of a red flag, Tom, is it that, if you read this report, and we all did, the lack of any Malaysian military activity once that plane disappears from radar?
TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: I think it's clear, Wolf, that they just cannot imagine that they're in any kind of danger for their military to be on any -- even a regular alert compared to other countries. It just would not expect a hijacking, a terrorist act. They don't expect another country to invade them or attack by air. And it shows.
So the civil aviation authority, even when the plane goes missing, even later, you know, the military seeing an unidentified blip on their radar, no red flags, no real emergency on their part, because who's going to attack Malaysia, in their mind?
BLITZER: It's interesting. The "Wall Street Journal" now reporting, Peter, that next week, aviation experts are being called to Australia, to Canberra, to go ahead and review all of the military radar data, other information, to go back, in effect, to the beginning, see what information they have and make sure it's correct, it's accurate; in other words, start afresh and do a complete review.
GOELZ: Well, that's something we discussed here, Wolf, a number of weeks ago. It's the right thing to do. They need to get a set of fresh eyes. It's nothing, you know, untoward toward the original team, but let's get new guys in there that says are we going to come up with the same solution?
BLITZER: Sometimes a fresh pair of eyes can really help a situation. When you were at the FBI investigating, you brought in some outside experts. Sometimes that could turn around a case.
FUENTES: It could be. But the mystery here is how old is their radar? If you bring in all these great experts used to looking at state-of-the-art equipment in other countries, and you look at the Malaysian countries with be this could be like 1960s black-and-white television. The greatest minds and the greatest eyes in the world can't add resolution to a screen that's not there.
BLITZER: In Europe, bottom-line assessment, this lengthy report with all the indexes, all the statistics and all the maps that were released, they should have done it a long time ago. But it's better it's out now. But they still have a lot more information. If you were a family member of one of the passengers on board that plane, you want more information.
GOELZ: I'd want to see a report like this once every ten days. BLITZER: Complete with -- even more information?
GOELZ: Absolutely. I'd want to know who the new team was going to be. What are they looking at? Just start to develop some trust.
BLITZER: It's hard to believe, even after -- if an individual or individuals, Tom, were involved after almost 60 days, there's been no one claiming responsibility, no one claiming credit. No suicide note, nothing along those lines. In addition to no found wreckage.
FUENTES: An intensive investigation, all these days later has not identified any of those kind of threats as being, you know, one being more possible than the other. They really don't know, and they still don't know.
BLITZER: That's why this is such a huge, huge, almost unprecedented mystery. Guys, thanks very much for that.
Coming up, other big news we're following this hour. NBA owners are huddling on a private conference call in the aftermath of Donald Sterling's explosive racist rant. Why they could now have a big legal fight on their hands at the same time.
Plus, former president George W. Bush reveals to our own Jake Tapper whether he thinks his brother, Jeb Bush, should run for president. That and a lot more, coming up right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: We'll get back to our coverage of the new missing Flight 370 developments in a few moments. But first, there's another major story we're monitoring here in THE SITUATION ROOM. And that's the fallout over Clippers owner Donald Sterling's explosive racist rant. NBA owners, they've been huddling on a private conference call today, and they could be gearing up for a huge legal fight.
Our national correspondent, Suzanne Malveaux, has been working the details for us. What's the very latest, Suzanne?
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, what we know is probably about one-third of the NBA ownership is scheduled to be on this private call. All the NBA would CNN is that the call would not be over by 5 p.m. That was about 35 minutes ago.
We're told that Sterling is not going to be on this call, that the NBA commissioner needs 23 of those 30 owners to force Sterling to sell the Clippers franchise. Now, this would be the first step in this multistage process.
MALVEAUX (voice-over): The fate of the disgraced Don Sterling and the ownership of the L.A. Clippers is now in the hands of the elite club of millionaire and billionaire NBA owners. Ten of those owners on the owners' advisory and finance committee, holding a conference call to discuss the next steps in the saga, as the NBA prepares for a possible fight over the Clippers team. Sterling has not said how he will proceed.
DANNY CEVALLOS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I think it's going to be an epic drawn-out battle. Sterling is known as litigious. He's going to fight all of the NBA's actions here.
MALVEAUX: The most significant action the NBA can take is to use a special provision in its constitution, to argue that Sterling is a detriment to the league.
CEVALLOS: Ultimately, they are using a provision that allows ouster that's traditionally used for a team that's in economic trouble, failing to make payroll, something like that.
In this case, the only thing Sterling has done has been revealed that he has bigoted thoughts, and is that enough for him to be punished?
MALVEAUX: Some attorneys think so, because Sterling is already damaged goods.
JOEY JACKSON, HLN LEGAL ANALYST: No one will play for him. He's lost the support of his employees, and by virtue of that, they're not going to play. And no one would manage for him, and no one would sponsor the team. So they'll be in financial trouble if he stays.
MALVEAUX: The NBA has their own rules. But there is no morals clause for the NBA to forcibly take away Sterling's team, which means the league could be sued by Sterling.
JACKSON: He has a lot of basis to sue. And I'll be clear about that. Certainly, you know, you can't -- this is America. You can't just strip someone of their team that could be valued, you know, to about a billion dollars. So, sure, he could say it's an antitrust violation.
CEVALLOS: The biggest arrow in Sterling's quiver has to be the sheer leverage that he can bring by tying up this case in court.
MALVEAUX: There's also no precedent for punishing an owner for making private racist remarks, which could give the other owners pause about what other bad behavior could cost them their teams.
MALVEAUX: And the owners need to formally notify Sterling of their intentions, give him five days to respond, ten days to determine how this vote will be conducted.
Now, the NBA commissioner, Adam Silver, said that he didn't poll the owners, but at least 20 have made public statements supporting this turnover. Our CNN sports team, they've reached out to all 29 teams. We've got three on-the-record votes to strip Sterling of the Clippers. That is the Atlanta Hawks, Orlando Magic and the Chicago Bulls.
BLITZER: We'll see what happens. All right. Thanks very much, Suzanne.
Let's dig a little bit deeper. Right now joining us, Rachel Nichols. She's the host of "UNGUARDED WITH RACHEL NICHOLS." Also joining us, Don Lemon.
Rachel, this first meeting is very preliminary. Suzanne pointed out only nine of the owners really participating with Adam Silver and others on this call that apparently is still ongoing right now.
I can't imagine, just me personally, but I'm anxious to hear what you think, any of these owners eventually voting to allow Sterling to keep the team. But go ahead and weigh in.
RACHEL NICHOLS, HOST, "UNGUARDED WITH RACHEL NICHOLS": Yes, I mean, make a comparison to the political process. This is like something in Congress, getting it out of committee. And as we know, it's a lot easier to do that than to get the approval of the full vote on the floor.
So this is getting it out of committee. They certainly expect to do that. And then, as Suzanne mentioned, Sterling has five days to respond. And this is where it's going to kind of get interesting, because he may be talking to some of his fellow owners, guys that he's known for decades at this point, trying to sway some people the other way.
As you point out, Wolf, in the court of public opinion, there's no question. Fans, players, they want the owners of these teams to vote to oust Sterling.
There have been some significant legal questions raised in the past couple days. Looking at the NBA constitution for the first time -- just two days ago it was released publicly -- some of the language in there isn't as strong as you might like.
One of -- one of the items that they think they can get Sterling on, it talks about willfully trying to circumvent the NBA and the way that it operates. Well, was he willfully trying to do that, if he was having a conversation in his own home? That's going to be a little bit of an argumentative point.
Then there's the idea of him undermining the NBA in general. That's where losing sponsors comes in. The NBA is going to be able to show that and a possible player boycott, they can show that as well.
But there's some ground there. And as we mentioned, Sterling is very litigious. So if he decides, you know what, I am going to file a lawsuit, even though a lot of the legal experts feel that if they do get this three-quarters vote he can actually win the lawsuit.
If he files the lawsuit, here's what a lot of the lawsuit is going to be. Hey, here's everything I know about some of these other owners and their bad behavior. Entered on to the record. Is it really any worse than mine? It's a direct comparison.
BLITZER: All right. Go ahead.
NICHOLS: There's a lot of owners that might not want that.
BLITZER: Don, go ahead. DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: No, no. Because guess what, Rachel, you didn't catch it on tape. You didn't hear it on tape. He can -- that's hearsay. Well, this guy did that, this guy did that. That's the ultimate projection and finger pointing. I think -- and you know this, he is ultimately concerned about his reputation and his legacy.
That's why he has adds in the "Los Angeles Times," according to agents and people who live out there, almost every single day talking about how charitable he is because he is concerned about his legacy and how he looks in the public eye. If he has any wits about him, if he is concerned about legacy at all here's what he would do.
NICHOLS: That is such a big if.
LEMON: He would say, look, I screwed up. I messed up. My -- even if he wants to say it was taken out of context --
NICHOLS: But, Don, he won't say that.
LEMON: Fine. Here's what -- here's I'm going to do, I'm going to step down as the owner of the team and, therefore, you see that I -- you know, I have remorse about what I did. Yes, he's probably not going to do that but according to Suzanne, at least unofficially, 20 owners are saying, you know what, this guy has to go. They're pretty close to that 23. So it doesn't really matter at this point what Donald Sterling is going to say or going to do.
BLITZER: Well, here's my -- here's my opinion. And I'll share it with you guys and I'll share it with our viewers.
Rachel, I'll let you respond to this.
If he really is interested in his legacy, he's 80 years old now.
BLITZER: He's not in his 40s when he was suing the NBA. And he was really -- he's 80 years old right now.
BLITZER: If he's really interested in saying, you know what, I screwed up, a made a huge mistake, first of all, I apologize.
BLITZER: Second of all, I'm going to spend the rest of my life working to fix this. Third of all I'm worth almost $2 billion and if he sells the Clippers he could get a billion dollars for the Clippers. I am going to give to various causes to promote racial harmony in our country, $100 million, or $200 million, because that is so important, that's what I want to do.
He really wants to deal with his legacy, he can do something like that.
LEMON: If I was in the same room with you, Wolf, I would high-five you. You're exactly right.
NICHOLS: I'm not sure -- I'm not sure any of us wants to play what is Donald Sterling really feeling and thinking for a thousand because I just don't think any of us are going to be able to answer that question. But my guess from watching him over the years is that what he thinks about his legacy is less important than staying the owner of the Clippers.
NICHOLS: He loves being the owner of the Clippers, he loves being courtside. And if he thinks, and the people around him, the sycophants, the people that he confides, have convinced him that he has a case.
NICHOLS: And that he can keep this team, history says he is going to try to do that. Now he might not win. He might not succeed. He may, however, at least make an attempt and try to draw this out, which is really one of the NBA's nightmares.
LEMON: But Rachel -- this is what I want to know, Rachel and Wolf. That vote, and I think the vote, it's a secret. It's not public, right? But will we know how the other team owners voted? Because you heard what Mark Cuban said, he's like, I don't know, this sets a really odd precedent. He's kind of on the fence. People say one thing publicly and then they do other things in private.
BLITZER: He made that comment about a slippery slope before Adam Silver made his announcement.
BLITZER: After Adam Silver made his announcement, he expressed 100 percent support for what Adam Silver did to ban this guy for life.
NICHOLS: But --
BLITZER: Publicly. He made that announcement. And he also said -- and remember, Adam Silver also said we want to get this guy, we want to force him to sell the team. And so if --
NICHOLS: But that --
BLITZER: Even if he said that earlier. Go ahead. Wrap it up.
NICHOLS: Yes. But Don makes a good point. And these statements of support as Suzanne mentioned, there's 20 statements of support. They don't say what the support is exactly for. And when CNN Sports pressed all of those teams and said, OK, but does that mean that you are going to vote to oust Donald Sterling, only three teams confirmed yes.
NICHOLS: So it's just going to be interesting over the next few days to see how this plays out.
NICHOLS: This is a developing story. This is not a done deal. And we just have to see.
BLITZER: Yes, but -- I wouldn't, Rachel, read too much in the silence coming from the owners right now because the NBA has asked, at least for the time being, all of the owners, please, not too many public comments right now. We've got important work to do over the next two or three weeks. Then there will be plenty of opportunity for public comments from these owners. So I wouldn't read too much into that right now.
Adam Silver is running a very, very tight ship over there at the NBA.
LEMON: Yes, he is.
BLITZER: And he's doing an excellent job.
All right, guys, we'll continue this conversation. Don't go too far away.
When we come back, there's other news we're following. The former president of the United States, George W. Bush, reveals to our own Jake Tapper whether he thinks his younger brother, Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor, should run for president.
And a brand new report reveals shocking new details in the disappearance of Flight 370. Could it help investigators in their search for the plane?
All that and a lot more, coming up.
BLITZER: We'll get back to our coverage of the new developments in the search for Flight 370 in a few moments but first here in Washington, the White House under fire, accused by Republicans of a cover-up over some documents that have just surfaced.
Our senior White House correspondent Jim Acosta is working this story for us. He's joining us now with the latest information.
What's going on, Jim?
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the White House insists these e-mails were not about Benghazi but by not turning them over sooner, administration officials have reignited a controversy that has the White House on defense once again.
ACOSTA (voice-over): New e-mails revealed this week by the conservative group Judicial Watch have sparked Republican charges once again of a White House cover-up over what happened in the deadly attack at the U.S. mission in Benghazi in 2012.
REP. DARRELL ISSA (R), OVERSIGHT CHAIRMAN: It is disturbing and, perhaps, criminal, that these documents -- that documents like these were hidden by the Obama administration from Congress and the public alike.
ACOSTA: Republicans point to this e-mail, used to prep then U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice.
SUSAN RICE, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N.: The best information that we have available --
ACOSTA: Who said in a round of Sunday talk show interviews that the killings stemmed from protests, touched off by an Islamic video.
The e-mail from top White House national security spokesman Ben Rhodes urges Rice to underscore that these protests are rooted in an Internet video and not a broader failure of policy. The White House says the Rhodes e-mail was about the demonstrations, not Benghazi. That's critical because the White House had said it was the intelligence community that had prepped Rice on Benghazi, not political advisers.
(On camera): That e-mail was not provided.
JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Had you read the e-mail, Jim?
ACOSTA: I have it in front of me.
CARNEY: The talking points that Ambassador Rice is -- again produced by the intelligence community for members of Congress and in the interest of having everybody use the same information used by the administration and Ambassador Rice on those Sunday shows were divulged.
ACOSTA (voice-over): Noting the president's own promise of full disclosure --
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have provided every bit information that we have. And we will continue to provide information.
ACOSTA: Republicans say the White House just didn't want to admit Benghazi was the result of terrorism.