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Hot Air Balloon Crashes in Virginia; Witnesses Sees Balloon Engulfed in Big Flames; New Audio of Sterling Explaining Rant; Growing Scandal in Veterans Administration; Hot Air Balloon Getting on Fire in the Air over Virginia; Discussion of Monica Lewinsky's Reappearance in Public Discourse; More Storms Coming for United States; NFL Is About to Decide Whether to Draft the First Openly Gay Player

Aired May 10, 2014 - 06:00   ET



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Possible mass casualty incident. Roads in the area reported multiple hot air balloons have crashed.


VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking overnight, a hot air balloon carrying three people catches fire -- look at this. And then crashes. The race to find it and any possible survivors.

ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: The Clippers have a new CEO this morning. But will he be able to wade through the ownership battle now that Shelly Sterling is claiming half the team is hers?

BLACKWELL: And a new e-mail obtained by CNN reveals just how deep the V.A. scandal goes and the extreme efforts clerks took to cook the books.

Your NEW DAY SATURDAY starts now.

CABRERA: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to the weekend. I'm Ana Cabrera in for Christi Paul this morning.

BLACKWELL: It's good to have you.

CABRERA: Good to be here.

BLACKWELL: Good morning. I'm Victor Blackwell. It's 6:00 here on the East Coast, 3:00 at West. This is NEW DAY SATURDAY.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.

BLACKWELL: The breaking news this morning developing overnight, right now, police are desperately searching, at this moment, for three people who are missing after a hot air balloon hit power lines, then it burst into flames.

CABRERA: Let's get you caught up on what we know this morning. This happened just before 8:00 last night when authorities say a hot air balloon participating in the Mid-Atlantic Balloon Festival near Richmond, Virginia, drifted into power lines causing the basket to burst into flames.

BLACKWELL: Look at these pictures. I mean, these pictures are unbelievable. Cell phone pictures from the scene. The balloon then continued to fly. The gondola, which is the basket there, engulfed in flames. One witnesses reported hearing two people screaming as they leapt away from that burning basket.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We could hear them screaming, please, dear god, sweet Jesus, we are going to die, oh my god, please help us, please help us.


CABRERA: Terrifying moments. We'll hear more from another witness in just a moment. But first let's go to CNN's Erin McPike. She is there in Caroline County, Virginia, in the area where authorities are now searching for those missing people.

Erin, what is the scene like there this morning?

ERIN MCPIKE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Ana and Victor, we've seen about 10 Virginia State Troopers go down this road, into the search area behind me. As you can see it's a very densely wooded area. And the search has been going on in total darkness and is continuing this morning.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Possible mass casualty incident, reported multiple hot air balloons have crashed into power lines and the balloons are now on fire.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do have visual of the airborne hot air balloons, appears to be still smoking, still pretty high there.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We've got a report that the basket has come off. So we're trying to find that right now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Advise all units, the airborne balloons aren't the issue. We need to locate the basket.

MCPIKE: Search and rescue crews comb the wooded area around Doswell, Virginia, 25 miles north of Richmond for wreckage, after a hot air balloon with three people on board hit a power line and then caught on fire.

Witnesses described seeing debris fall from the sky.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And also, and my boyfriend, you know, came running out. And he's like oh my god, look up at the sky. He's like -- he's like the balloon was on fire. And all we've seen was this stuff like falling from the sky. The basket, the balloon, everything was on fire. MCPIKE: The balloon had taken off with two others. Those landed safely. But when the third balloon was on approach to land, it burst into flames.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There were witnesses tell us they heard two explosions from the hot air balloon. And at one point, the gondola and the balloon separated. And then the balloon took off at a rapid pace.

MCPIKE: And that's when witnesses say the two passengers in the balloon basket jumped out.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And you could hear them screaming, please, dear god, sweet Jesus, help us. We are going die. Oh my god, please help us, please help us.


MCPIKE: Virginia State Police will hold a press conference around this area at 8:00 a.m. Eastern. And as soon as we get more information about that, we'll bring it to you -- Ana and Victor.

BLACKWELL: All right, Erin McPike for us there in Caroline County, Virginia, thank you.

Now remember, this was a festival and there were people who were there watching, watching all of this horror unfold. Some of them actually heard the passengers screaming for help.

CABRERA: Can you imagine? Lynn Schultz was one of those who saw this accident unfold. She and her husband are joining us on the phone right now.

Lynn, tell us what you saw. Lynn, are you still there with us?


CABRERA: Can you describe what you saw in those moments?

SCHULTZ: I saw the Support Our Troops balloon lower behind the Farm Bureau Building, and then it came back up. And it was on fire on the left side and then there was a big fire and the fire dwindled down some and the balloon kept floating up and then the fire sort of circled around the bottom and then debris started falling off. And I was shooting film with my camera and I caught pictures of that and I got a few shots of that and it was floating further and further out, away into the distance.

And at one point, there was no fire, then you'd see a little bit. I didn't see any people or anything, the distance was too great for that.

BLACKWELL: You weren't close enough to hear what some people heard, the screaming and the cries for help?

SCHULTZ: We were sitting in the takeoff field. BLACKWELL: OK. OK. So you were some distance from it.

SCHULTZ: Yes, we were right down there and we were shooting them up closing over there, and filling the balloons up, and things like that because it was a beautiful event, you know, early on.

CABRERA: Right. There are about 20 different balloons that were part of this festival. I understand that --

SCHULTZ: Right. I remember seeing, yes, like five -- yes, there was close to, like, 13 to 15. And the last set that was going to go up, they didn't go up. And at that point, you didn't quite know what was going on, you know, as a spectator on the field.

CABRERA: I imagine it was really scary. We know that this balloon was actually descending at the time that this fire happened, at the time it hit the power lines. It was heading to the landing field. You were there, you said, where all these balloons were taking off. How far is it apart from the takeoff to landing, do you know?

SCHULTZ: It's not far. Gosh, less than I would say a quarter mile. Not that far. They just went up, you know, really high, and floated some, and then came back down. But because of the train and one building that was a little far back, you couldn't really see the landing area from where the takeoff field was.

BLACKWELL: We know search crews are searching for the balloon, the basket and the three people, the pilot and two passengers. But, Lynn, we're looking at these pictures some time after this happened. Tell us what you were feeling as you were watching this realtime.

SCHULTZ: My heart was in my stomach because all I kept thinking is this is not good. This is not good.

CABRERA: Did you see people leaping from that basket of the balloon?

SCHULTZ: I'm sorry, again?

CABRERA: Did you see the people who other witnesses said left from the basket of the balloon?

SCHULTZ: No, I did not see that. And I probably would not have been able to see that because of the distance at that point.

BLACKWELL: What was all the reaction? Give us a sense of what was happening there, the crowd you were there.

SCHULTZ: It was very calm.


SCHULTZ: I did not see any -- anyone getting out of control, upset. Maybe, I don't think a lot of people either realized what was going on if they weren't looking in that direction. You know, because it wasn't like it was right over us, because like I said, there were other ones that were getting ready to go up and they were probably focusing on that. And there was other people that was up with the live music.

You know, I didn't even really notice anybody. There was a few and most of those were balloon crew teams. Now they were definitely watching.


CABRERA: Wow. Lynn Schultz, thank you so much for sharing that account with us, what you saw, what you heard, we know it was scary, and of course the ongoing investigation this morning. Focused on finding those missing people and the missing balloon.

We'll have much more this hour on this balloon accident. But up next, we're going to be talking live with our aviation experts and what are the regulations when it comes to flying hot air balloons. What is the first step investigators will take to figure out what went wrong.

BLACKWELL: Plus a lot of developments in the Donald Sterling story. You've been following this with us for a couple of weeks now. The Clippers took the court last night with a new CEO at the helm. And new audio reportedly of Donald Sterling explaining why he went on that racist rant, coming up.


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.

BLACKWELL: All right. More now on the breaking news that we've been discussing this morning happening. It's happening right now in Virginia.

The search for three people missing after this hot air balloon burst into flames, then crashed. We've got pictures from people who were there on the scene, cell phone pictures. This incident happened in Virginia last night after the balloon drifted into power lines.

CABRERA: Witnesses say they saw people actually jump from the balloon's basket. But those people and the balloon have not yet been found.

BLACKWELL: So let's talk about this with CNN's safety analyst David Soucie, the author of "Why Planes Crash." We'll talk about planes in a moment.

But first, David, how fast might this balloon have been traveling upon descent?

DAVID SOUCIE, CNN SAFETY ANALYST: Well, at this point, the airplane -- the airplane, the balloon, I'm sorry, was heading down to land. There's been two others that landed prior to it in a safe environment. What happens with these balloons at the very last second, you can have the wind, you can have wind change, there are shifts in the air. So as you're coming down, it's hard to anticipate what you might be dropping into.

So as the balloon drops, there's currents from underneath that drifted it over into the wires that were right there at the high tension power lines right near the landing area.

CABRERA: How much control does a pilot of one of those hot air balloons actually have?

SOUCIE: Surprisingly, quite a lot. As the balloon goes through the sections where these drifts that I was talking about, they go in multiple directions. And not just all one way like we feel the air on the ground. So as they go -- how they control the direction is by reaching these different layers and understanding where those layers are taking them so they understand where those are.

But the dangerous thing, the most tragic thing is that these layers can shift without notice. And I -- looks here that that's what happened in this case.

BLACKWELL: You know, I wonder, this happened because this balloon went into some power lines. Was it just a bad choice to have the landing area near a spot that would even have power lines?

SOUCIE: That's a very good question. And tragically, this is not uncommon. In 2012, there's an accident in Carlton. In 2013, the Santa Fe Balloon Festival down there had a very similar accident over power lines. In this festival environment, you have a festival environment. You have very, very hazardous materials on board those balloons. Remember, this is powered by gas, natural gas and -- excuse me, propane, and that propane is designed to put massive amounts of heat into that balloon to control the up and the down of the balloon.

So it's a -- it's a deadly combination, if you don't take extreme care about these power lines. And the power lines sometimes are not seen by even the planners. Sometimes they don't think about these things ahead of time. It's an atrophy of vigilance for this -- in this party or -- you know, festival type environment.

CABRERA: Why do you think it's taking them so long to find the missing balloon and these people who are in it?

SOUCIE: Well, what happens when there's an explosion on the balloon is the hot air from the explosion goes up inside the balloon. And as you can see in these pictures, it's not the balloon itself that's on fire, it's the basket and it's the propane inside that basket.


SOUCIE: So the heat, this a massive amount of heat, it's captured by the balloons, it was carried up very high into the air. And as I mentioned, those drafts, drifts that happened in the air can take the balloon miles and miles away from the intended landing spot before it finally -- the basket burns itself away and plummets to the ground.

BLACKWELL: So let's extend this conversation. I want to talk about another topic. And I want to bring in Les Abend, CNN aviation analyst.

Les, good morning to you. It's about this drone and commercial airliner near collision happened near Tallahassee about 2300 feet up. We understand it happened back in March.

Les, explain to me the threat that these drones pose to these commercial airlines.

LES ABEND, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: Well, at this point, drones are in its infancy as far as the FAA regulations are concerned. So, you know, things aren't as well defined as they should be as far as air space is concerned. I'm certain that the airliner was doing exactly what it was supposed to beginning -- at the initial part of its approach. So, I mean, it's definitely a threat.

This has been a topic of conversation for not only commercial airlines, but for general aviation type airplane. So this is something the FAA is looking into very closely.

CABRERA: What would be considered the safe space for a drone to fly?

ABEND: Well, it's certainly, you know, a drone has got to be like any other -- any airplane, any controlled airplane with contact with air traffic control has got to be operating within those guidelines and within those rules. So, you know, as far as altitude, should be out of approach type airspace. And, you know, other -- if it is in that air space, then --

BLACKWELL: All right, we're having a technical issue there. But our thanks to Les Abend and David Soucie, as we discuss those two aviation issues we've been speaking about. MH-370 with them, and we'll talk about that later in the show.

CABRERA: We have new developments in that as well coming up.

BLACKWELL: Certainly do. Good to talk to them about these two incidents.

Also the scandal, big developments in this overnight. Swirling around the L.A. Clippers as they hit the court last night for game three of the playoff series.

CABRERA: And that's because another audio tape, another one has surfaced. This time of the team's owner and in this one a voice that is supposedly Donald Sterling explains why he went on that racist rant. The explanation is not sitting too well with some. That's next.


CABRERA: The Los Angeles Clippers, they have been valiantly fighting through all of the distractions about the team over the past week. They just could not defeat the Oklahoma City Thunder last night.

BLACKWELL: Yes. As Clippers co-owner Shelly Sterling was at Staple Center for game three of the second round playoff series, and the Clippers now trail in the series, two games to one.

CABRERA: Off the court, the Clippers have a new CEO, not a new owner, this is a new CEO. The NBA appointed former Time Warner chairman Richard Parsons to the interim post. Time Warner is the parent company of CNN.

Now Parsons told CNN, quote, "This is actually large and important issue not just for the Clippers or the NBA but for the country in some ways. All eyes are on this and how we work through it is important.

BLACKWELL: And the Donald Sterling scandal, as you know, has taken yet another turn with the release of a new audio recording.

CNN's Brian Todd is following the story.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Ana and Victor, these recordings sound like something out of a frat house conversation. A man purported to be Donald Sterling is trying to link racist comments with sexual conquest. And as you might imagine, these are fairly bizarre ramblings.


TODD (voice-over): He says he wasn't full of hate but was full of testosterone.

DONALD STERLING, L.A. CLIPPERS OWNER: I'm talking to a girl. I'm trying to have sex with her. I'm trying to play with her. What can -- you know, if you were trying to have sex with a girl and you're talking to her privately, you don't think anybody is there, you may say anything in the world. What difference does it make?

TODD: RadarOnline which released the recordings says this is Donald Sterling explaining why he made those racist comments to V. Stiviano. CNN cannot independently verify that the voice is Sterling's and we don't know who he's speaking to.

STERLING: I have a girl here who has black kids and is partly black, I think, myself. I love the girl and so she's telling me you're wrong. I know I'm wrong. What I said was wrong but I never thought the private conversation would go anywhere out to the public. I didn't want her to bring anybody to my game because I was jealous.

TODD: V. Stiviano has denied leaking the racist comments from Sterling to the media, has said she did not have physical relationship with him. We couldn't get comment from the NBA or anyone representing Sterling to this latest audio release.

Sterling's estranged wife Shelly is facing her own backlash against her plan to keep her 50 percent ownership of the L.A. Clippers. Doc Rivers, the team's coach, said if Shelly Sterling remains part owner --

DOC RIVERS, L.A. CLIPPERS COACH: I think it would be very difficult. I guarantee you every person wouldn't be on board with that. Whether I would or not, I'm not going to say. But I just know that that would be a very difficult situation for everybody.

TODD: Shelly Sterling's attorney responded in an e-mail to CNN, stressing her ownership would be passive, that someone else would control the Clippers. And we also find it improbable that players and coaches under contracts for millions of dollars a year would boycott their teams because of concerns that a 79-year-old woman would rock the boat.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver insists the league only wants to force Donald Sterling out as owner but one sports attorney says that may change.

BRADLEY SHEAR, SPORTS ATTORNEY: It sounds like at this point things just keep getting worse. The Sterling name appears that it may be too toxic for the NBA.


TODD: Shelly Sterling's attorney says if Donald Sterling is forced out as owner and she retains her stake in the Clippers, she is not going to let Donald Sterling have any involvement with the management of the team. But a person close to Shelly Sterling's camp tells me she wants to continue going to the games -- Ana and Victor.

CABRERA: All right, Brian Todd. Thanks so much.

Up next, more on our breaking news. Right now investigators on the scene of a balloon accident still searching for three people.

BLACKWELL: Yes, they were in the basket. Look at this. The burning basket here of this balloon that hit a power line, then caught fire.

CNN's Erin McPike is live at the search area with more this morning -- Erin.

MCPIKE: Victor, Virginia State Police will hold a press conference at 8:00 a.m. to discuss the search. More on that after the break.


CABRERA: Bottom of the hour, welcome back, everyone. I'm Ana Cabrera, in for Christi Paul.

BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell. Here are five things you need to know for your NEW DAY.

Up first is the breaking news this morning. A hot air balloon that hit a power line and burst into flames in Virginia. Rescue crews right now are searching for the pilot, the two passengers and any sign of the balloon or the basket, they haven't found those yet. Witnesses say they saw people falling or jumping out of the burning balloon. We're going to have much more on this story in just a moment.

Number two, House Democrats are divided about joining a new committee created by majority Republicans who investigate the deadly 2012 Benghazi terror attack. Democrats argue it's a political ploy to keep the controversy in play during a midterm election year. Now, Republicans say the committee is a serious effort to get at the truth about the armed assault on the U.S. diplomatic compound.

CABRERA: Number three, another veterans' clinic is under fire for allegedly trying to cover up appointment delays for sick veterans. An (NO AUDIO) in Wyoming has been placed on leave after encouraging schedulers to game the system. This was in an email, and trying to hide that some veterans were forced to wait longer than 14 days for an appointment. The Secretary Eric Shinsaki has now ordered an investigation by the Inspector General.

To Nigeria now and a team of U.S. experts is in the country now to assist in the mission to rescue the hundreds of schoolgirls kidnapped by the terror group, Boko Haram. A new report by U.S. intelligence says that they may have been split up at this point and transported into the neighboring country.

Today in her Mother's Day address, first lady Michelle Obama focusing her remarks on these abducted girls.

BLACKWELL: And number five now. At least seven people were killed in clashes between pro-Russian separatists and Ukrainian troops. This is happening in the eastern Ukrainian city of Mariupol. 39 others have been injured. And meanwhile, Russian President, Vladimir Putin, he took part in victory day celebrations in Crimea. It was his first visit to the region since Russia annexed it from Ukraine.

CABRERA: Taking you back to our top story this morning, that tragic balloon crash in Virginia. The search is on right now. The search crews are combing what's said as a dense area, a forested area trying to find any sign of the balloon's pilot and the passengers.

BLACKWELL: Erin McPike is live in Caroline County, Virginia where this happened. Tell us about where this search stands now, Erin.

ERIN MCPIKE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Victor and Ana, what we know from Virginia State police so far is that this hot air balloon came in contact with a live utility line, which then sparked a fire and these authorities say and from eyewitness accounts, we know that the pilot of the hot air balloon tried to regain control. But eyewitnesses say that the two passengers on board tried to jump out. Now, some of these eyewitnesses' accounts sound truly horrific. Here is how one woman described what she saw.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, we heard like a loud bang. And we thought it was just like a fireworks. Something like that. And then we remembered the balloon festival. And I said to my boyfriend, you know, came (ph) out. And he's like oh, my good. Look at the sky. The balloon is on fire. And all we seen was just stuff like falling from the sky, the basket, the balloon, everything was on fire. And I said please, God tell me that there's not anybody in there. I don't want to, you know, know that somebody is hurt. And all of a sudden, we just started seeing stuff falling from the sky.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And you don't know what you saw falling?


(END VIDEO CLIP) MICPIKE: And we have seen about ten Virginia State troopers go down this road into the search area behind me. As you can see, it's very densely wooded. The search has been going on overnight in total darkness. It's continuing this morning. And Virginia state police will have a press conference at 8:00 this morning to discuss more of this search. Victor and Ana.

BLACKWELL: Just heartbreaking.

CABRERA: Erin McPike, thanks so much for that update. Let's bring in CNN meteorologist Jennifer Gray now for more on the weather conditions when this accident happened. Jennifer, we understand it wasn't necessarily stormy, but winds could have played a factor here.

JENNIFER GRAY, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yeah. We had storms approaching. And that's what's key all the observations were looking. Right now, the winds were pretty light, but all the information we are getting is out of Richmond. We don't have information from where the actual site was, which is about 20 to 25 miles to the north. So, all we are looking at right now, just Richmond observations. But if you look at the radar, there were some showers approaching. We didn't have some storms in the area. This is yesterday at 7:30. And you can see this little storm starting to bubble up just on the north side of Richmond. A lot of times you can get what you call a gust front. And that's a very strong gust of wind ahead of an approaching storm. And so, while winds were sustained at, say seven to 12 miles per hour, you could have had a gust of anywhere from 25 to even 30 miles per hour. And so, when you look into that, it could have played a factor. Of course, winds look like they died down right around 8:00. Right now, investigators aren't saying that weather played a roll. Of course, guys, we have to look into this a lot more when that press conference happens. New that will give us some more information.

CABRERA: Just an hour and a half away now.

BLACKWELL: Yeah, scheduled to happen at 8:00 eastern. Jennifer, great, thank you. And we understand that weather did hamper the search of it. But as we understand from Jennifer, probably didn't hurt the balloon itself.

So, this veteran's scheduling scandal from the VA appears to be growing. First, it was Phoenix, then San Antonio. Well, now a veterans' clinic in Wyoming is under fire for allegedly trying to cover up appointment delays.

CABRERA: Up next, why a former employee speaking out after being told to "gain the system."


CABRERA: This morning, another veterans' hospital is under fire for trying to cook the books. For six months, CNN's Drew Griffin has been following an alleged cover up by VA hospitals to try and hide the fact that sick veterans were waiting months for medical treatment.

BLACKWELL: So, this all started in Phoenix, Arizona where as many as 40 veterans died after being placed on a secret waiting list to hide long delays. But now the focus is on the V.A. clinic in Wyoming. After an employee there encouraged others to manipulate records. This is from an e-mail obtained by CNN - that employee here writes, "Yes, it is gaming the system a bit, but you have to know the rules of the game you are playing. And when we exceed the 14tday measure, the front office gets very upset, which doesn't help us.

CABRERA: Now, in an exclusive interview with CNN, a former scheduler, the whistleblower about this email, says she, too, was told to manipulate the system.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We were being told to game the system. Because it may - we were sat down by our supervisor in the conference room, he opened up his laptop and he showed us exactly how to schedule so it looked like it's within that 14-day period. And so, it was all verbal when I was down there. And then we keep track of the schedulers who are complying and doing - getting 100 percent of that 14-day and those of us that were not doing it.


CABRERA: VA Secretary Eric Shinseki says the employee behind that e- mail has been placed on administrative leave.

BLACKWELL: Now, the claims are not just in Phoenix, not just there in other parts of the country in Wyoming, but also in San Antonio. CNN's Drew Griffin has more.

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Victor and Ana, this story, this lash of investigations at the VA just continues to grow. This time, we are reporting from Texas where an entirely new investigation is under way.


GRIFFIN: San Antonio, Texas, is the latest location where investigators from the VA's office of the Inspector General are on the ground, trying to determine if managers of this sprawling VA hospital were trying to hide the fact veterans had been waiting months to get care and if any veteran's died as a result. The allegations come from this clerk who works in the hospital's medical administrative services and is speaking publicly for the first time. Brian Turner says his job is to help veterans secure appointments. He says he was told to fudge the numbers. He was to meet the VA's own national time line goal for setting appointments. That goal, no more than 14 days from what a veteran wants an appointment. Called the designer (INAUDIBLE). The problem, he says, the appointment deadlines cannot be met. So he says he was instructed to simply schedule the appointment months and months in advance while making a note that this is the veteran's desired date.

BRIAN TURNER: What they are saying and what we are been instructed was that the -- they are not saying fudge, there's no secret wait list, but they have done is come at and just say, zero out that date. Report the following day if someone has a wait period that is longer than 14 days. The standard is one to 14 days within the time line of a desired date.

GRIFFIN: Yeah, regardless of when the appointment ....

TURNER: Doesn't matter when.

GRIFFIN: Took place.

TURNER: Correct.

GRIFFIN: So, it could be three months and it looks like 14 days.

TURNER: Look, it could be three months and look like no days. It looked like they had scheduled the appointment ...

GRIFFIN: So, fudging the books is my -- that's my --

TURNER: I would call it that, you could call it that, the VA doesn't call it that, they call it zeroing out.

GRIFFIN: Zeroing out.

In a statement, to CNN, the VA's office public affairs office says Turner's allegations were investigated. But that based on our internal fact finding, conducted April 25-28 we found the claims by this employee were not substantiated. But Turner questions just how much fact finding went on. He says no one asked him about his allegations. And in fact, he says, when he began e-mailing his concerns to other staff members, he was told to stop it.

TURNER: They set me up the very next day.

GRIFFIN: The very next day.

TURNER: The very next morning, I was called into an office and told not to e-mail another person.

GRIFFIN: Turner, an Army veteran himself has asked for whistleblower protection and became a witness in an investigation now being conducted by the VA's office of inspector general. The investigation focusing on delayed care, alleged falsification of records and possible medical harm to veterans of the San Antonio, Texas, VA hospital.


GRIFFIN: And Victor and Ana, while those investigators continue their work here in San Antonio, next week, we are expecting Secretary Shinsaki to appear on Capitol Hill before the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee trying to answer at least some of these many, many allegations. Victor? Ana?

BLACKWELL: I'll be watching that. Drew Griffin from San Antonio, thank you.

CABRERA: And so many questions, especially when you look at how widespread it is that we are uncovering.


CABRERA: And number one, who is the person who maybe mandating this new policy, of sorts.

BLACKWELL: It's coming from somewhere.


BLACKWELL: I'm sure Drew Griffin and this committee will definitely find out.

You know, something else we are finding out, from Monica Lewinsky, years of amusement, hostility, indifference from some people. The wide span of reactions to the essay pained by Monica Lewinsky in this month's edition of "Vanity Fair" magazine.

CABRERA: Our next guest says many people's reaction's based more on their than anything else.


CABRERA: After more than a decade of silence, Monica Lewinsky shot back into the spotlight this week. She's writing an essay for this month "Vanity Fair."

BLACKWELL: And she details just how difficult life has been being remembered as that woman.

CABRERA: But while a certain generation vividly recalls the scandal and subsequent investigation, some Millennial are asking, who is Monica?

BLACKWELL: So, let's talk about this. We have got Jason Johnson, he is the HLN political contributor and professor of politics at Hiram College. Also with us, Danny Fund, a student at Georgetown University. Good to have both of you with us. I want to start with Jason. So, you said, Jason that only two students in your class, the class you teach, of course, really knew about Monica Lewinsky's history. How it is possible that only two of them knew?

JASON JOHNSON, PROFESSOR OF POLITICS, HIRAM COLLEGE: I was shocked. I was shocked. I was talking about the Clinton scandal and Tony Blair. And, you know, only two students knew oh, that's that lady who had an affair with the president. But they didn't know anything about Ken Starr, they didn't know anything about the investigations. And when I said, you know, she's been references by Eminem, and Nicki Minaj and Beyonce, you know, none of them have ever really Wikipediaed her before. So, I found a lot of my millennial students. They didn't really know much about Monica Lewinsky and they didn't care.

CABRERA: Well, so Danny, let's bring you into that discussion since you are a college student. Discussion of this article that's about to come out, came up this week, were people talking about it on campus? Do people care about who Monica Lewinsky is? DANNY FUND, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY STUDENT: They were talking about it. I don't know that they care too much now and I certainly don't think they care too much about how it will affect Hillary Clinton's chances in this next presidential cycle. I don't think a lot of my peers really remember how influential that scandal was in helping Mrs. Clinton get her, you know, as a representative from New York in the Senate. And I think that's the biggest gap in their memory.

BLACKWELL: So, Here is my question for you, Jason. Do you think there's a way that Republicans, not in 2014, but, of course, moving toward 2016 and the potential run of Hillary Clinton for the White House, they will be able to shift this narrative of Monica Lewinsky into a tool to use against Hillary?

JOHNSON: I don't think it's all that likely for a couple of reasons. Number one, there have been so many juicier scandals since Monica Lewinsky. There's gay sex scandals. There's straight sex scandals. You know those are much more interesting, certainly, to younger people, much more recent. But also because the most seminal memory that I experience with a lot of my students is 9/11. They were first graders when 911 happened. That's something that Republicans can talk about if they want to have conversations about security or national foreign policy. But Hillary Clinton is just this really famous lady who was married to a former president who is now going to be running for president again. Republicans can't do much with Monica Lewinsky in order to sort of taint Hillary Clinton in any way or even Bill Clinton going into the White House. There are other issues that most Millennial are concerned with.

CABRERA: And Danny, obviously, let's talk a little bit about culture and your generation. There are so many scandals in politics these days oftentimes, a scandal involving sex. Are you, as a generation, becoming somewhat, I guess, resistant to this? Does it even really matter that much anymore, the president sleeps and has an affair with somebody?

FUND: Yeah, I mean I think that definitely still matters. It's definitely worthy of gossip. The question I was curious about was, does it matter enough for people my age to fork over $12 to get past the "Vanity Fair" table. And I think as far as that question goes, the answer is definitely no, unfortunately.

CABRERA: No? There's not even that curiosity?

FUND: No. They'll -- the reactions on Twitter will suffice for a lot of people of my age.

BLACKWELL: There are a lot of questions, Jason, about if this was published now to possibly set up or start a narrative against Secretary Clinton. Why do you think we are hearing about this now from Monica Lewinsky?

JOHNSON: Well, I don't - I don't know that she ever really stopped. I mean she's had books, she's had documentaries. I think that Monica Lewinsky is a 40-year-old woman who is realizing now, she's just accepted who she is. And every couple of years, she's going to have to write about this, she's going to have to talk about this. I think, you know, when Lynne Cheney and other people suggested oh, this is a plan for Hillary Clinton or something else like that. Just because Monica talked about it in 2014 doesn't mean she won't be asked in 2016. So, it's not like let's get her off the hook. I think this is just a way for her to sort of remain prominent. She really can't do anything else professionally, as she says in the article. So, you know, this is her opportunity to continue 15 minutes of fame for 15 years.

CABRERA: And what is her persona now, villain or victim, do you think?

JOHNSON: I think it's a mixture. I talked to a lot of my women colleagues who say, look, she's victimized by society's view of women. But she was 23 years old. And she knew that she was sleeping with a married man. So, a lot of people don't really forgive her for that. But her loss of career is a bit of a problem.

BLACKWELL: Jason, Naomi Wolf spoke exclusively to Michael Smerconish last night, that interview airs here at 9:00 this morning. And she's convinced that this was a carefully orchestrated essay by the GOP, what do you think?

JOHNSON: I think that's crazy. I mean that blows that vast right wing conspiracy that Hillary Clinton talked about, you know, 15 years ago with Ken Starr and some of these other people. Look, if this is the GOP's master plan to knock Hillary off her game, they might as well just concede the White House right now or just focus on Benghazi. Because I don't see how this changes anyone's opinion. If you are a generation X-er like me, you remember this story and you already have your opinion of Hillary Clinton. If you are a baby boomer, you already either think that Hillary Clinton and the Clintons are bad people or you think she's a victim. And if you a Millennial, you probably don't care. I don't see how the GOP gets any mileage out of this. It didn't exist. Why don't they just keep focusing on Benghazi or something?


CABRERA: We are going to talk about that coming up as well. Jason Johnson, Danny Fund, thank you so much for joining us. We appreciate it.

JOHNSON: Thank you.

FUND: Thank you.

CABRERA: At the top of the hour, we are working to get more details now on our breaking news. A hot air balloon hit the power line and bursts into flames.

BLACKWELL: Right now, at this moment, we have got investigators. They are searching for three people who are on board. We are going to have a live report from the search scene.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BLACKWELL: Three rounds down, four more to go today in the NFL draft. But one big question remains, will a team draft Michael Sam? An openly gay player?

CABRERA: Joe Carter has more on this morning. Let's talk about NFL draft numero uno.

JOE CARTER, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, here is the thing, guys. Obviously, we get very pumped for rounds one, rounds two. It's very rare that when we head into the final day of the NFL draft, which is round four, five, six and seven that people even pay attention at all. I mean let's - a new vest of inches and a certain player, maybe your family or somebody. It's like, OK, we'll read the headlines tomorrow, we'll find out what happened. But this year, Michael Sam really I think surpasses those sports headlines. He really is that player that everybody wants to know where he's going to go next. Of course, he's the all American from Missouri who came out in February. And he's, of course, has been drawing tons of support on social media and from several players who've been applauding his decision to reveal his sexuality. I really like what retired wide receiver Donte Stallworth said. That if a team can't handle the media scrutiny of drafting a gay player, that team is already a loser on the field. But here's the thing. There's a big knock on him here that scouts say that it's not his lifestyle, it's really his football skills they are concerned about. Because at the combine, he underperformed, he was slow on the 40-yard dash. As a matter of fact, there were several defense attack ran faster than him. He was weak in the bench press. And so, GMs and scouts have said that he may not be selected at all today. That he may actually become an undrafted free agent.

But, there's always that chance that he could go in the final last picks of today's drafts. And we're in the sixth-seven draft. All right, so we know that Johnny Manziel was drafted on Thursday night, of course, 22 pick overall. And Cleveland fans now have something to cheer about. Because listen, they haven't had anything to cheer about for a while. They had 20 different starting quarterbacks of the last 15 years, but now they have got Johnny football who might just turn it upside down. The Browns, we already know, are feeling the impact of Johnny football. They sold more than 1500 season tickets in 12 hours after drafting Johnny Manziel in the first round. Season ticket plans range from 190 to nearly $3,000. But despite the increased demand, the team says that they are not going to raise ticket prices.

CABRERA: They just want to fill those seats.

CARTER: And they will. Johnny Manziel providing a lot of excitement for ground...

BLACKWELL: All right, Joe Carter. Thank you.

CABRERA: And thank you for starting your morning with us.

BLACKWELL: Next hour of your "NEW DAY" starts now.