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THE SITUATION ROOM
Hillary's Memoir; L.A. Clippers for Sale; Search for Flight 370
Aired May 27, 2014 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: The world gets a first look at communications between satellites and the plane in its final few hours, but if experts are reading it correctly, why hasn't the plane been found?
Risky move. Hillary Clinton attempts to define herself with a new memoir. Is it a brilliant launch of a presidential campaign, or does she risk overexposure?
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BLITZER: We're following the breaking news about the disgraced L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling and the behind-the-scenes efforts now to sell the team before the NBA forces him to.
Sources tell CNN his wife and team co-owner, Shelly Sterling, is accepting bids right now for the team and has already had at least one serious meeting with a high -profile potential buyer, but if she fails to reach a deal, league owners are expected to force the sale when they meet one week from today, all because of the racist remarks made by Donald Sterling.
We're covering all angles as the Clippers face an imminent change of ownership. Let's begin with CNN's Brian Todd. He's working his exclusive sources for us.
You're getting some new information, Brian.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf, sources telling us Shelly Sterling has aggressively been meeting with potential buyers in an effort to sell the L.A. Clippers.
We're told this is moving fast, that it involves some high-stakes players and that the NBA is watching it very closely.
TODD (voice-over): Shelly Sterling will accept offers for the L.A. Clippers this week. A source tells CNN -- quote -- "Things are moving quickly."
Over the weekend, Shelly Sterling met with former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer at her home in Malibu. Ballmer made an aggressive offer. BILL STRICKLAND, MANAGING PARTNER, STEALTH SPORTS: It looks like it's going to happen on a timetable that Adam Silver has pushed for and that the Sterlings may find acceptable.
TODD: Our source says NBA commissioner Adam Silver is aware of Shelly Sterling's dealing with potential buyers and Silver is -- quote -- "very much involved." But the NBA won't comment.
Shelly Sterling's attorney has also stayed silent. The source tells CNN, in addition to Ballmer, Shelly Sterling's interested in potential offers from former Laker great Magic Johnson and his Guggenheim Partners, a group led by former NBA All-Star Grant Hill, California moguls David Geffen and Larry Ellison, and billionaire businessman Patrick Soon-Shiong.
Oprah Winfrey, according to our source, is out of the running. Magic Johnson recently was asked by Anderson Cooper if he was interested in the Clippers.
EARVIN "MAGIC" JOHNSON, FORMER NBA PLAYER: If it comes out and it's for sale and my Guggenheim Partners and I say, OK, we want to look at it and we want to buy it, of course, we will make a run for it.
TODD: Any sale of the Clippers would have to be approved by the NBA's board of governors.
ADAM SILVER, NBA COMMISSIONER: I prefer he sell it than we go through this process.
TODD: But analysts say, if the Sterlings don't sell the team by June 3, the NBA will be forced to vote to remove Donald Sterling as owner, a process which could be messy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think the NBA has to have this, from a perception and a straight P.R. standpoint. It's much cleaner to have acquiescence and a sale. This is almost tantamount to, you can either resign, or we can fire you, but you can no longer work here.
TODD: And a source with knowledge of the negotiations tells CNN there is no scenario in which Donald or Shelly Sterling can retain any equity in the L.A. Clippers. Wolf, it looks to be almost over.
BLITZER: Let's say Steve Ballmer gets the L.A. Clippers. What are the chances he'd move the team from L.A. to Seattle?
TODD: Ballmer has publicly said, Wolf, that he'd like to keep the Clippers in L.A. He told that to "The Wall Street Journal." But with his Microsoft connections, he's very closely tied with Seattle. He tried to keep the Seattle Supersonics there right before they moved to Oklahoma City and became the Thunder. We have tried to contact Steve Ballmer to ask if he would keep the Clippers in L.A. or move them.
We have also tried to contact and ask him about the Shelly Sterling meeting. We have not heard back from Steve Ballmer. BLITZER: If you do, let us know.
TODD: Will do.
BLITZER: Brian Todd, thanks very much.
Let's a little bit dig deeper right now. Our senior legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin, is joining us, along with our CNN anchor Don Lemon and CNN commentator L.Z. Granderson.
L.Z., do you think that after all that's happened to the Clippers, the NBA would actually allow the team to move the Clippers to Seattle?
L.Z. GRANDERSON, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: You know, that really depends upon who the owner is.
I don't see a scenario like that, because the reasons why the team -- the Seattle team left in the first place, I don't see that situation changing, but with that being said, if that expedites the situation, then I can see a scenario in which a team being moved to Seattle will be beneficial.
But, in the likeliness of it, I just don't see it.
BLITZER: I don't see it either, Don, and I will tell you why, because the media market in Seattle is a lot smaller than it is in Los Angeles, and if they are going to go for a billion or a billion-and-a- half, whatever they are going to sell it for, the value of that team is in a huge media market like L.A., not necessarily Seattle.
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Right. If you're going to sell for that much, it's not worth the same there.
And, Wolf, can I talk about what Brian Todd talked about, the people who are interested, and Oprah being out? And I was just looking up their net worth, right, and these are just estimates. Oprah is worth $2.9 billion. You could see where she wouldn't want to give up $1 billion or $1.5 billion.
But when you look at people like Larry Ellison, this is an estimate, $43 billion, $8 billion for one of his partners, $9.9 billion for his other partner, Patrick Soon -- what's his name, Patrick Soon-Shiong.
That's a lot of money. I mean, that's kind of pocket change for them. I can see why Oprah might be out and these other guys may be in. Who knows?
BLITZER: Jeffrey, he makes a good point. The NBA really wants this over with, out of the way. They'd like the team sold as quickly as possible, hopefully by next -- by June 3, a week from today. That's when the board of governors is supposed to meet. If 23 other owners vote to expel him, it's all over.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: It's all over one way or another. This team will not belong to the Donald -- to the Sterlings by June 3. BLITZER: Either one of them?
TOOBIN: Right. Either they will sell or they will be forced to sell. It's interesting.
Something Adam Silver said at his news conference, he said, look, we are a league that is 75 percent African-American players and there's only one African-American owner, Michael Jordan. I think to the extent Adam Silver has any influence on the process, if there's an African-American owner realistically, even if it's Magic Johnson in partnership with Guggenheim, which also owns the L.A. Dodgers baseball team, Silver is going to want to see that.
There would be considerable poetic justice in an African-American owner at least in part taking over the Clippers, given how Sterling lost the team.
BLITZER: Grant Hill is an African-American.
L.Z.,, Grant Hill's got a group apparently he's putting together. I'm told he actually met with Shelly Sterling yesterday. He wants to put together a group to buy the team as well.
GRANDERSON: You know, Wolf, I worked with Grant Hill for a long time. He was actually one of the first NBA players I ever interviewed as a reporter. I like him a lot, but what I don't like is this situation, the scenario that is being painted or this narrative, if you will, of poetic justice by a billionaire black person owning the team and somehow that makes things a little bit better.
I'm more concerns with the victims that were victims of housing discrimination. And "The L.A. Times" is in the process now of investigating to see what exactly -- what exactly the Sterling family did over the course of the decades as landlords.
I see those people, those victims of housing discriminations, as the true victims in all of this story. And the true poetic justice, to me, is us finding those people who were kicked out of their homes and forced to live elsewhere and making sure that they are OK, because they, to me, are the true victims in all of this.
BLITZER: Well, you know, Don...
LEMON: You are absolutely right.
BLITZER: Don, you and I have discussed this very point.
BLITZER: If Donald Sterling wants to salvage at least some of his reputation, I don't know how much of a reputation he has left, you know, if he gets a billion or $2 billion, take hundreds of millions of dollars and give it away to causes like the one L.Z. just spoke about. Maybe, maybe, he could salvage a little bit of his reputation.
LEMON: I think you're right, but how much is it -- can you put a price on an ego? Is an ego worth billions of dollars? I think L.Z. is absolutely right about this, the victims of housing discrimination.
But I have to say, sticking specifically to this particular point where he said such terrible things about Magic Johnson, you know what they say? Karma is a female dog. I won't say the word on your show. I might say it later at 10:00. That would be amazing karma to come back to him if that, indeed, happened, that Magic Johnson ended up owning this team in part.
BLITZER: Don, we will see you later tonight, 10:00 p.m. Eastern. Don Lemon will have much more on this, a whole bunch of other news as well. Jeffrey, L.Z., guys, thanks very much.
Still ahead, it's the raw data passengers' families have been demanding for months, but some are still very disappointed by the newly released details of Flight 370's satellite communications.
Plus, Hillary Clinton reading from her new memoir, but is she opening herself up to new attacks ahead of a possible presidential campaign?
BLITZER: Eighty-two days after Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 disappeared, the satellite company so crucial to the search has now released information that wasn't available to the public before. Are the answers to the plane's fate and the fates of 239 people somewhere in that complex lines of data?
Our aviation correspondent, Rene Marsh, is here. She's got the latest.
What are you learning?
RENE MARSH, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, this is what everything hinges on, 47 pages of satellite data, and tonight we hear from the critics who doubted whether the data and the search zone were correct. The question now, does this convince them?
MARSH (voice-over): This is what raw data looks like, the last digital traces of the missing plane. This is the moment critics and Flight 370 families have been calling for.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The bottom line is, we want to make sure that Inmarsat didn't make any mistakes.
MARSH: The math isn't easy. Lines of numbers show the milliseconds it took signals to go from an Inmarsat ground station, to a satellite, to the plane, and back again.
That determined the plane's distance from the satellite each time it connected, which led to these seven arcs. The plane could have been anywhere along them at the given times, and analysis of these other numbers determined the direction the plane was moving, but just hours after the release, critics are weighing in, saying they need more to determine if Inmarsat got it right.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right now, with what we have, our hands are really tied. We have got the raw data, but we don't have a good explanation of how to interpret all those values.
MARSH: And some passenger families aren't placing much value in the data.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Without no direct evidence, we never believe it.
MARSH: But Inmarsat says the Malaysia government decided what should be released.
RUPERT PEARCE, CEO, INMARSAT: We have absolutely no problem putting our model in the public domain, and that is a decision for the leading country to put out there.
MARSH: Even some of the critics say this data disproves some of the wilder theories, like the belief Flight 370 may have landed at a U.S. military base.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think the Inmarsat data is very accurate in that regard. We knew that before, and this data released today just reinforces that conclusion. It did not go to Diego Garcia.
MARSH: The data isn't perfect. The arcs could be off by about six miles either way. Plus, after losing fuel, the plane could have glided for 23 miles in either direction. Put together, that's a margin of error nearly 60 miles wide.
MARSH: Well, tomorrow, we reach a major turning point. We know the underwater search using Bluefin-21 comes to an end. We do know that there will not be any searching until about August. That's when they hope to switch things over to the private sector using different equipment to search for some debris.
BLITZER: So, at least for the next few months, no search at all.
BLITZER: All right, Rene, thanks for that report.
Let's talk about all these developments with our panel. Peter Goelz is our aviation analyst, the former managing director of the NTSB. Tom Fuentes is our law enforcement analyst, the former assistant director of the FBI, and Tim Farrar is a satellite communications expert.
Tim, what do you make of the data that's been released? Because I know at one point you thought that maybe a final turn could have resulted in some misidentification of the location. What do you make of what we learned today?
TIM FARRAR, SATELLITE COMMUNICATIONS CONSULTANT: Well, I think that the information is useful, as you said before, in validating and disproving some aspects of it, but we don't have everything there.
Inmarsat says, for example, that some of the calibration was done against data from other planes that were flying at the same time. We don't have that calibration data, so it's a bit difficult to go through and validate the model that Inmarsat used.
I think that the data we have now allows people to try and reverse- engineer that model. Whether full validation of that is possible, I think that's going to rely on additional information. But only then can you really look at the search areas, look at the other possible paths, and make some assumptions, which really are more on the avionics side, things like how long the fuel's going to last, what -- depending on what speed you're flying at.
I think we're still in the stage of validating the Inmarsat model, and I think more information's probably needed to do some of that.
BLITZER: Well, it's up to the Malaysians now, Peter, right, to release more information. They have released some raw data. Everyone wanted to see that, but the analysis, the models, the options, that hasn't been released yet.
PETER GOELZ, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: Yes.
No, it hasn't. But I think -- I have spoken to U.S. investigators. They are completely comfortable with the work that's been done. They have brought in outside folks who have looked at the data. They have retested it independently. They have tracked it, as we have seen on other flights that evening. They are comfortable they have got it right. I think the Malaysians will at some point allow checking of it.
But I think this is a good first step and I don't think that there's any connecting of the conspiratorial dots.
BLITZER: Because you heard the Inmarsat CEO, Tom, say he doesn't have a problem. If Malaysia wants to release all the other information, that's fine with Inmarsat. Why don't they release it?
TOM FUENTES, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: No, that's right, Wolf, they should go ahead and release it.
But he also said during the interview that they tested that model. The models that they came up with in this analysis, they tested it against a number of other aircraft and it matched, and so to him and to the other experts that looked at it, it indicates that the model's correct.
FUENTES: That the formulas are correct. BLITZER: Did they fly a Boeing 777 as a test flight on that model where the -- towards the Southern Indian Ocean to see if the pings, the handshakes would have been the same? Do you know if they actually did that?
FUENTES: I don't know that.
BLITZER: Do you know, Peter, if they did that?
GOELZ: No, I know that they tested other flights of 777s that evening and in future evenings to see whether their analysis put the plane where it ended up.
BLITZER: Well, why don't they -- let me ask Tim.
Why don't they do that? Why don't they take a Boeing 777 and fly it on the suspected route of Malaysian Flight 370 just to see if the pings and the handshakes and all the satellite data would have been the same?
FARRAR: Well, I think -- I mean, I should say, first of all, I have a great deal of confidence in the Inmarsat engineers. I know many of them. They are very smart people and they really do know what they are doing, so I'm not saying there's any real doubt that they would have done everything correctly.
I think that people had hoped to do some independent evaluation and that's not fully possible with all this information. But going back to why wouldn't you fly a 777 on this potential route, well, the satellite behaviors, for example, changes during different seasons of the year. It's been said that, you know, they looked at the temperature of the satellite, depending on where the sun angle was. You know, that is not going to be exactly the same today, at the end of May, as it was in March.
The -- I think the best that you can do is really to look back at around that time of the year and see what other planes were doing, where you do know their exact positions, because you have got all the information.
BLITZER: Tim Farrar, thanks very much. Tom Fuentes, Peter Goelz, as usual, thanks to you guys as well.
Just ahead, Hillary Clinton's risky move. Will a new memoir help launch a run for the White House or potentially could it backfire in the hands of her critics? We have some of the first audio excerpts that have just been released.
BLITZER: It can certainly be a brilliant public relations move launching an historic bid for the White House, but Hillary Clinton's new memoir is also a risky move that could wind up as ammunition for her critics and add to what some call Clinton fatigue. Our senior political correspondent, Brianna Keilar, is joining us now with more.
Brianna, we're getting a look at the first audio excerpts now released from the book.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: And we also got another look before, Wolf, around Mother's Day, Hillary Clinton talking about her mother, but this is the first time where she's really gotten into her time at the State Department, the crux of this book, both of these sets of excerpts carefully curated in order to bump interest in book sales.
KEILAR (voice-over): In the audio excerpt released by the publisher, Hillary Clinton narrates the author's note for her upcoming book, what she calls her hard choices.
HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON, FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Perhaps the most famous example from my four years as secretary of state was President Obama's order to send a team of Navy SEALs into a moonless Pakistani night to bring Osama bin Laden to justice. The president's top advisers were divided. The intelligence was compelling, but far from definitive.
KEILAR: Clintons and others pushed for the mission. The rest is history, and it appears one of the chief accomplishments she will point to as she details her time as secretary of state. Not mentioned here, a favorite Republican focus, Benghazi, Libya, where Islamic militants killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans in 2012.
AMY WALTER, THE COOK POLITICAL REPORT: Every day, they are defining her legacy at the State Department. She hasn't had a chance to do that yet. That's what this book is about.
KEILAR: As she did in 2003 for her first memoir, "Living History," there will be interviews, a book tour, and speeches, but is it all too much Hillary Clinton, allowing opponents to pick apart her achievements as she lays them out more than two years before Election Day?
WALTER: It is impossible for her to be under the radar. The only question is, is she the one putting herself above the radar, or is she there because other people have put her there? And it's usually better when you're doing it yourself.
KEILAR: And Clinton is trying to define herself, but for who? She makes clear it's not the inside-the-Beltway navel-gazers, the press among them.
CLINTON: While my views and experiences will surely be scrutinized by followers of Washington's long-running soap opera, who took what side, who opposed whom, who was up and who was down, I didn't write this book for them. KEILAR: In part, it seems, she wrote this book for Americans who might cast a ballot in 2016, delivering them a message of optimism for America's future and dropping this hint about hers.
CLINTON: One thing that has never been a hard choice for me is serving our country. It has been the greatest honor of my life.
KEILAR: And, Wolf, the publisher tells me that the first printing of one million books is already basically sold and that bookstores and retailers have sold another million or have requested another million, and, certainly, I think one of the things that's striking about this author's note is that, if it's reflective of the book, she really doesn't cast a lot of stones. It's pretty cautious.
BLITZER: She's going to make millions and millions of dollars on the book sales and she's already made several million on the speaking, so she's emerging financially in pretty good shape. I should say that.
BLITZER: All right, thanks very much, Brianna Keilar reporting.
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