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Obama Sending 300 Military Advisers to Iraq; IRS Commissioner Unapologetic for Missing E-mails; Another Donald Sterling Rant Recorded; VP Biden in Guatemala; Bowe Bergdahl's Path Back to Normalcy

Aired June 20, 2014 - 11:00   ET


MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN CO-ANCHOR: I can't defend you. I cannot defend you on that one. You are on your own, my friend.

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: John Berman, oh, my gosh.

Jason, you heard that.

John, what's wrong with you? This is John Berman's coffee. I'm taking it away.


JOHN BERMAN, CNN CO-ANCHOR: Some of the comments I got on Facebook, one of them said that I sounded like the white Don Lemon.

CARROLL: No comment. No comment.

LEMON: If you are going off on people and you're too liberal and too conservative, then, yes, you are the white -- because I'm too liberal and too conservative now.

PEREIRA: Where do you stand on the issue of soccer?

LEMON: Jason's not going to open his mouth. I know that.

CARROLL: I'm with John. All these people I think need to back off and we should all be embracing each other and rallying behind this sport.

PEREIRA: Don't touch me.

LEMON: Yeah. I agree. It's a lot of -- oh, don't touch me. I love you. Don't touch me. Thank you, Diana Ross -- I mean, Michaela Pereira.

Have a great weekend, John and Michaela also Jason. See you guys later.

That's it for me. I'm Don Lemon.

Berman and Michaela -- there they are -- starts right now.

BERMAN: Islamic militants target your wallet, the crisis in Iraq causing a nasty spike in gas prices.

PEREIRA: Fascinating details about what daily life is like for Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, can military doctors undo what the Taliban did during five years of captivity?

BERMAN: Not again, new recordings of Donald Sterling, the banished and brash billionaire lashing out at doctors who proclaimed him mentally unfit.

Hi there, everyone. I'm John Berman.

PEREIRA: Happy Friday, everyone. I'm Michaela Pereira. It's 11:00 a.m. in the East, 8:00 a.m., bright and early, out West, those stories and so much more, right now, @THISHOUR.

If you think the crisis that's ongoing in Iraq doesn't directly affect you, you should think again, because the more territory Islamic militants capture, the more you may be starting to see the pump prices rising, pardon me.

BERMAN: We're already seeing them starting to go up, and experts say prices could jump up another five to 10 cents a gallon over the next two weeks.

We've got our chief business correspondent, my co-host on "EARLY START," my other work wife, Christine Romans, here with us.

Also joining us our military analyst, retired Lieutenant Colonel Rick Francona. We're not married. We're just dating. He's also the former military liaison officer to the U.S. embassy in Baghdad.

Christine, I want to start with you here. Break down the numbers for us, gas prices now and what we can expect in the next few weeks.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: No question, no question the U.S. is producing more of its own energy, but the backdrop for the entire assumption about oil prices and energy in the world has been that Iraq was going to keep producing more too, and Iraq is in turmoil, no question.

I mean, look at how the ISIS advance has cut off the northern oil region. This is already a major pipeline, you guys, that was shut down earlier this year. You've got a major refinery that's in the hands of these terrorists, and you've got concerns about what happens here in Baghdad.

Now the country's oil official tells us this part of the country, the southernmost, oil-rich, exporting part, is safe, but you have assumptions that there could be 8 million barrels coming out of this country, and right now it's 3.3 million, and they're defending it, frankly defending it.

What does that have to do with oil prices? Everything. Oil prices have been rising all year, and just this month, they are up almost four percent almost entirely on the unrest in Iraq. And when you oil prices rising, of course, you have gas prices rising. Last year, you guys, $3.60 is what you paid last June for a gallon of gas in this country. By May, this spring, you were already paying more than that.

Today, you are paying $3.68. That's the most expensive June for gas in six years. And the assumption, maybe $3.86 by the end of summer is this unrest continues.

So, look, Iraq matters for so many reasons -- for our investment in the country, for the lives being lost there, for sectarian violence that's changing the way of life for everyone, but when you look at what's happening in the oil markets, if that continues to get worse, it's something that could hurt global growth if it isn't stopped.


PEREIRA: All right, Christine Romans, excellent explanation for us.

Rick Francona is here. We want to lean on his expertise. We know that President Obama is sending in some 300 military advisers to Iraq.

Let's actually first play some sound about what the president said about the mission.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: American forces will not be returning to combat in Iraq, but we will help Iraqis as they take the fight to terrorists who threaten the Iraqi people, the region, and American interests as well.


PEREIRA: So American interests, the oil refineries? Is that linking back to what Christine was telling us --

RICK FRANCONA, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: The oil refineries the terrorists have taken really only supplies domestic oil for Iraq, their gasoline, but if they get any further south, they are going to threaten the primary oil-producing area in the country.

And although Saudi Arabia can generally make up short-term losses, they can't make up 2.5 million barrels a day.

BERMAN: It's hard to imagine them getting to the south, though. You are talking around Basra. You're talking the deeply Shiite region there. It would seem very difficult for them to get down there.

Rick, I want to ask about the 300 U.S. military advisers heading over there now. How easy will it be for them to interface with the Iraqi forces? How do you arrive on the ground and all the sudden start talking to the majors and captains who are running the Iraqi troops?

FRANCONA: Not as hard as you would think, because all of these officers are going to have experience in Iraq. Remember, we were there for almost a decade. A lot of these officers have interfaced with Iraqis before. They have served with these Iraqi forces. They trained these Iraqi forces. So they are going to bring those officers back.

I had a conversation with people last night with the people at Pentagon, and they tell me their initial goal is to get several dozen in them and get them into the Iraqi headquarters and assess just how bad off the military has become in the last three years since we've been there and see if it can be fixed and what it's going to take.

And the problem will be is, if it's really bad, what do we do then? Is the 300 -- are the 300 going to be enough? Is advice going to be enough, or are we going to have to go another step and then we get into the what the president was warning about yesterday, mission creep?

PEREIRA: Mission creep, and that's what you've talked about here us. Rick Francona, thanks for taking our questions, lending your expertise, and also putting up with some of our shenanigans, @THISHOUR.

We appreciate also, a big thanks to Christine Romans.

BERMAN: Thanks, Rick.

Another big story we're following right now, @THISHOUR. There's a hearing on Capitol Hill about the IRS scandal. A House committee looking for answers on how two years of Lois Lerner's e-mails -- she ran the IRS division in charge of tax-exempt status -- how these e- mails disappeared.

The IRS says they were lost after Lerner's hard drive crashed and even expert measures to try to retrieve some of them have failed.

So, IRS commissioner, the new IRS commissioner, John Koskinen, was unapologetic about these computer crashes and a two-month long delay in telling congress about this problem.


JOHN KOSKINEN, IRS COMMISSIONER: We are committed to continuing to working cooperatively and transparently with you, this committee, and we will continue to provide you with updates.

This concludes my testimony. I'd be happy to take your questions.

REP. DAVE CAMP (R), MICHIGAN: Well, thank you. What I didn't hear in that was an apology to this committee.

KOSKINEN: I don't think an apology is owed. There -- not a single e- mail has been lost since the start of this investigation. Every e-mail has been preserved that we have.


BERMAN: An interesting way to kick off a hearing.

Our chief congressional correspondent Dana Bash has been watching this and, Dana, this was contentious from the get-go.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It really was. As soon as the IRS commissioner answered that question that way, it was very clear that he wanted to signal to these Republicans that he's not going to take their really what has become attacks laying down.

I want to play you another example of that that just happened a short while ago with Paul Ryan who people know. He's a well-known Republican, was the vice-presidential candidate but here on Capitol Hill much more of a policy wonk than a partisan attack dog on things like this.

Not in this situation. Watch what happened.


REP. PAUL RYAN (R), WISCONSIN: This is being misleading again.

This is a pattern of abuse, a pattern of behavior, that is not giving us any confidence that this agency is being impartial.

I don't believe you. This isn't credible.

KOSKINEN: I have a long career. That's the first time anybody has said they do not believe me. I'm actually --

RYAN: I don't believe you.

KOSKINEN: That's fine. We can have a disagreement. I'm willing to stand on our record.


BASH: Now for a member of Congress to say to a witness, who at the beginning of this hearing raised his hand is under oath, that he doesn't believe him is a serious charge.

It's not just political. It's potentially criminal. So that just gives you a sense of how intense this hearing is.

Now, as I said, the IRS commissioner is not taking this lightly. He is hitting back. He is saying that they did everything that they could to try to get these e-mails back, but the issue is that the hard drive, where Lois Lerner's e-mails -- two years of her e-mails from the exact period that Congress is investigating, whether tea party groups and the like were unfairly targeted -- those are gone.

We don't know how many, but what the IRS commissioner said was that the hard drive was destroyed, it was recycled and probably not able to get it back.

And I should also say that the Democrats are also being incredibly partisan saying that he's being badgered, that it's an inquisition, one even saying that no matter what he said Republicans would say it's a conspiracy and the only thing missing is Oliver Stone.

PEREIRA: Oh, well, Dana, thanks so much for that. You know that CNN will be watching it.

I wonder though -- one has to -- just from a look away, if you are doing your taxes and you owe some money, if you say the hard drive crashed in your computer, you think that's going to fly?

BERMAN: The IRS wouldn't like that answer.

PEREIRA: Methinks not.

All right, we're going to take a short break. Ahead @THISHOUR, Donald Sterling going all Donald Sterling on doctors' e-mails -- or voicemails, rather. Can't blame a sneaky girlfriend for the latest rant, though. We'll explain.

BERMAN: And then the president trying to bring his children up like ordinary kids, is that even possible? We'll tell you what he asked one of his daughters to do.


PEREIRA: All right. @THISHOUR, you know that old, sage advice, when you are angry or upset, you should take a deep breath, count to ten before you speak? It might be a good idea for Donald Sterling.

BERMAN: Indeed.

The racist comments that are about to cost him his NBA team might have been recorded without his knowledge, but the rants that he left on doctors' voicemail, he can't blame anyone but himself for that.


DONALD STERLING, NBA OWNER (voice-over): What a horrible woman you are, all you did was go to the Beverly Hills hotel and drink liquor. You're nothing but a fraud and a liar and a cheat, and I'm going to see that you lose your license and I'm suing you for conspiracy.

I'm not incompetent, you're (bleep) incompetent, you stupid (bleep) doctor. I'm going to get you fired from UCLA because you're nothing but a tramp.


BERMAN: Those are not kind words. That was Donald Sterling going off on the doctors who said he was mentally unfit.

Lawyers for Shelly Sterling say those message show why attorneys and witnesses need protection from Mr. Sterling as the battle continues.

PEREIRA: However, the judge denied that request.

I want to bring in Stephanie Elam. She's following the story, of course, in Los Angeles. Haven't talk to you on-air for a little bit. Good to have you back.

Boy, the hits keep on coming in this saga going on here. The judge essentially telling both sides cool your jets. It's getting a little too heated from both sides.

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Oh, it's definitely getting heated, and you know, the whole reason why they are in court is because Shelly Sterling wants to sell the team to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. Steve Ballmer's camp wants to make sure that Shelly has the right to sell the team in the first place. So that's why we're going through all of this.

Now we know that Donald Sterling can go ahead and call witnesses, do whatever he wants to and leave these voice mails. The problem is, and what he probably doesn't realize, he knew he was recorded this time, but the thing is those are now admissible in court and that's why we've now heard them. This could go on to affect what we see on July 7th when they go to probate court.

BERMAN: Indeed and what people are discussing right now is Donald Sterling mentally fit or not? And it seems like these recordings could be evidence that are somewhat persuasive one way or the other.

ELAM: I would say so. You are leaving these messages out there for people to hear. He's also called Shelly Sterling's lawyer, Pierce O'Donnell, there was an exchange there. Pierce O'Donnell, in court documents, I went through all 61 pages yesterday, saying that he called him a bleeping a-hole. I won't say the whole thing, but that is what he is saying. He is saying he felt threatened. And they are saying that this is ridiculous, Donald Sterling's lawyer, he was not threatening is life in any sort of way. But obviously, this testimony is putting out there, is this something you do if you are of sound mind when you have so much at stake.

PEREIRA: So, Steph, I'm really curious, aside from his lawyer, because we do hear his lawyer speaking for him, backing him up, aside from that, who is left in his camp? Does he have anybody giving him any sound advice? Are people fleeing? Is he supported? What's going on there?

ELAM: This is interesting, because I have heard reports that he doesn't really have a lot of people around him. There are just a couple people around him who listen to what he is saying and support whatever he wants to do. It would seem that while he has these lawyers here, there's no one really there, right there with him in a moment to say, Mr. Sterling, maybe you shouldn't make that call right now, or Mr. Sterling, maybe we should handle it this way or that way. You would think by now he would know that recordings live on and on and on forever and yet he's left a couple more.

So he needs, it would seem, more guidance here. Also, there is other people watching what happens here. The NBA is very interested in how this is all playing out as well. If this does not get resolved, if this team is not sold, then we could see them step back up to the plate in September, and say you know what? We're going to force the sale and go ahead and renew this process with the owners to get Donald Sterling out of our lives.

BERMAN: Unless he's doing it on purpose or he doesn't care. Those are the two possibilities. PEREIRA: All of that has yet to happen. It is good to know because

you know what? That lady right there, that Stephanie Elam, she would back you up. She would give you advice, she would advise you, she would counsel you. She would be the one to talk you off your World Cup rant.

BERMAN: Stephanie Elam is bleeping awesome. As Stephanie Elam would say.

ELAM: I heard the World Cup rant.

PEREIRA: You're so good, you should come visit us next week, don't you think? Don't you think?

ELAM: I think, you know what? I'm going to do that. I'll see you Tuesday.

PEREIRA: All right, thanks Steph.

BERMAN: Ahead for us @THISHOUR, we're going to talk about a growing crisis at the U.S. border. Thousands of children, they made the dangerous journey north form central America only to find themselves in conditions that are a lot of people think are deplorable.

PEREIRA: Critics say terror detainees are being treated better than these children. Could that change after today? We will tell you why.


PEREIRA: @THIS HOUR, Vice President Joe Biden is in Guatemala, talking about how to keep thousands of children from that nation as well as El Salvador and Honduras from streaming to the United States.

BERMAN: Also @THISHOUR homeland security officials are in Texas to see how the U.S. can better deal with what has been called a humanitarian crisis that is on the border with Mexico. Our Ed Lavandera in Dallas right now. And Ed we've had critics on this show saying that the accommodations at the border for these kids from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala who are crossing the border, the conditions are tantamount to government-sponsored child abuse. So how are officials now saying they are going to deal with this?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN COMMENTATOR: Scrambling. There are efforts to open up three military bases around the country to make room for these families and kids that are being held. But that's just a stop gap measure. As many -- Tens of thousands of these unaccompanied minors are expected to make their way, and continue to make their way, into the United States throughout the rest of year. That number could reach as high as 80 to 90,000 this year. This is an effort that is just beginning to try to get it under control. You can kind of get a sense of how difficult that is, because there isn't the infrastructure along the southern border to handle those kind of numbers.

PEREIRA: That's a really good point. You can deal with the people that are there. You can try to stem the tide, but then you also have to have a conversation, I guess, and even deal with the home nations where these people are coming from. Are they sending a message to these home nations? Or sending a message to these people, these immigrants themselves?

LAVANDERA: We're hearing that a lot from U.S. officials, that's one of reasons why Vice President Joe Biden is in central America today, is that a lot of times what creates these movements is misinformation on the ground in central America. People who hear that there might be changes in laws and that this is a good time to get as far north as they can to take advantage of these things.

But U.S. officials, the Obama administration trying to send the signal that because you make it here does not get you any kind of amnesty, but whether or not that message is making it down to the ground in central America might be another story. That is one of the reasons why Joe Biden is down there, to make that point, don't make the journey, protect yourself. It's a dangerous road, and you might just get sent right back.

BERMAN: And it's a hard message to send when you have officials in some of these governments, like Honduras, saying to some of these immigrants don't come back. It's a shocking problem right now with no easy answers but we know you are covering it.

Thank for being with us. Ed Levandera in Texas for us, a state dealing, hands on, with this problem right now.

PEREIRA: Ahead @THIS HOUR, interesting look here, a day in the life of sergeant Bowe Bergdahl. Keeping it simple may very well be the secret to the difficult integration process.

BERMAN: We have some fascinating new details about how he's being reintegrated right now. One soccer fan went to Brazil in a really unusual way.

PEREIRA: What's so unusual about it?

BERMAN: The kind that takes you two years to get there.

PEREIRA: Maybe he wanted to go slowly.

BERMAN: We'll tell you about that next.


BERMAN: We are getting fascinating new details about Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl. It has now been one week since the 28-year-old came home. He landed in San Antonio to begin the really hard work of readjusting to ordinary life after almost five years in Taliban captivity.

PEREIRA: Imagine that for a second. Five years of captivity and then so-called normal life. We do know Bergdahl being treated at Brooke Army Medical Center.

Our Martin Savidge joins us now, he has details about what daily life is like now for this controversial former POW. Great to see you Martin. What are you learning? MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to both of you.

Routine is the keyword to be looking for here. We talk about reintegration as if hundreds of people have been through it. Bowe Bergdahl is only the 7th person to go through the program at Brooke Army Medical Center. He's the first young soldier, the others before him were all DOD employees or contractors.

Let's take a look at the list of what makes up and quote, normal day for Sergeant Bergdahl. It starts off with a regular schedule. That's important. He eats, sleeps, and does everything on a regular schedule. Doesn't get up in the middle of the night, didn't do anything out of the ordinary. He shares the floor that he's on with other patients. It's a typical hospital room. It is nothing special. He also interacts thought with a very limited number of people.