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Kerry Comments After Meeting Iraqi Leaders; V.A. Says Patient Neglect Didn't Matter; Search for MH370 Moves; Malaysia Denies MH370 Pilot Suspect; HBO Movie Documents Proposition 8 Case.

Aired June 23, 2014 - 11:30   ET



JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back everyone. @THISHOUR, a new report looking into the Jerry Sandusky's case finds no evidence of political interference by Pennsylvania's governor while he was attorney general. Reuters says the report did say there were inexplicable delays in prosecuting the Penn State assistant coach convicted two years ago of molesting ten boys. Sandusky is serving a prison sentence of 30 to 60 years.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: You might recall the story of the Sudanese woman who was sentenced to death because she refused to renounce her Christian Faith. CNN has learned that she was just released from jail. Ibrahim has been reunited with her husband. She brought home her newborn daughter who was born while she was in jail. Ibrahim was released after the appeals court found the initial judgment against her was faulty.

BERMAN: If Hillary Clinton chooses to run for president, if, she may already have a theme song. You heard that Katie Perry offered to write her a song the day after she met the former secretary of state at a book signing for the book "Hard Choices." Yesterday, the former secretary of state tweeted, "Well, that's not a hard choice. You already did. Keep letting us hear you roar." Referring to Katie Perry's song "Roar." Although I'm a fan of "Firework."

PEREIRA: That's your favorite?

BERMAN: "Firework is my favorite.

PEREIRA: Maybe a mash-up of the two.

BERMAN: I've seen the Katie Perry documentary.

PEREIRA: You have?

BERMAN: That she made by herself, by the way.

PEREIRA: Look at this. This would make me lose my mind. That's a great white shark. It swam right up to a group of fishermen in New Jersey. The shark stuck around for 20 minutes, before taking off with a bag of chum.

BERMAN: This just in to CNN. Secretary of State John Kerry is visiting Iraq right now in Baghdad for meetings with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki and others. Secretary of state speaking a short time ago. We're getting this tape in. Let's listen to what he says about the deteriorating situation on the ground here.


JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: -- urgency. Iraq faces a threat and Iraq's leaders have to meet that threat with the incredible urgency that it demands. The very future if Iraq depends on choices made in the next days and weeks. And the future of Iraq dependents primarily on the ability of Iraq's leaders to come together and take a stand united against ISIL. Not next week, next month, but now.

In each of my meetings today, I stressed that urgency, and I stressed the responsibility of Iraq's leaders to act, whether the meeting with Prime Minister Maliki, with Speaker Nujavi, and others, I emphasized that defending Iraq against ISIL depends largely on their ability, all of them, to form a new government and to do it quickly. It is essential --


BERMAN: Again, secretary of state John Kerry in Baghdad for meetings, meetings with Iraqi leaders as well as members of the opposition party as well.

Interesting trip. Trying to get the Iraqi government to come together and work to get through this.

PEREIRA: That's the big question. Can they work together? Will they be willing to sit down with one another to discuss the future of Iraq?

Also, we've got some breaking news. Shocking new details being revealed @THISHOUR of how patients were being treated at V.A. hospitals around the country.

BERMAN: Here's what's disturbing. The V.A. admits patients were neglected but denies that this mistreatment had any impact on their health.

PEREIRA: Drew Griffin has been following the V.A.

I know you've had a chance to look at this, new revelations are coming from the special counsel investigation. Give us an idea of what you know now.

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN NATIONAL INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: First, Michaela, the Office of Special Counsel, these are the government prosecutors who protect government whistleblowers. So if you are inside the V.A., you want to come forward something with you know is harming patients, this is the agency you go to.

This agency just wrote a letter to the president saying, basically, we don't believe the V.A. Is investigating our cases. We don't believe the V.A. is investigating or coming to the right conclusions when it comes to patient arms -- harms. They detailed 10 different cases where obvious patient harm took place but there was no follow through. In addition, this letter points out there are 50 new allegations from whistleblowers that are being investigated right now. Many of them -- all of them involving allegations of patient harm that are, you know, not quite being investigated by the V.A.

It also talks specifically about one case that I want to bring your attention to. This is a veteran who. For eight years, they knew he had mental illness. He didn't get a psychiatric evaluation for eight years. Eight years. And yet the Office of Medical Inspection inside the V.A. -- the V.A. inspecting itself -- says despite that, we don't think there was any harm done to this veteran.

That is a pattern, according to the Office of Special Counsel, that they just find unbelievable, that routinely suggest that the problems don't affect care. They call it harmless error in many of these cases. It's yet another damning report that makes the report gets worse and worse.

BERMAN: The Office of Special Council seems to be saying the whistleblowers who are coming to us are telling one story, but some of the official governmental investigations themselves not even scratching the surface.

GRIFFIN: What they are doing, John, is they are questioning whether or not the V.A. Really has the ability to investigate itself. And time and time again we've discovered that answer is no. And what they are doing is bringing this to the attention of President Obama, saying maybe there needs to be a little intervention here, at most. I mean, at the least, there needs to be somebody inside the V.A. that we, the whistleblowers, can trust, to truly investigate these problems.

PEREIRA: We'll wait to see what the president -- we know he's following along and is aware of the issues going on in the V.A.

Thanks so much, Drew Griffin. Great reporting. Thank for bringing the latest on this.

We should point out -- turn into tonight, tune into Anderson Cooper at 8:00 p.m. to get more on the ongoing V.A. hospital.

@L: Ahead for us @THISHOUR, first, Hillary Clinton said she was, quote, "dead broke." Now she says she and her former husband are not really like a lot of the truly well off. Interesting how she's spinning her "Hard Choices" to connect with the readers.

PEREIRA: Meanwhile, Vice President Joe Biden is commenting on his wealth, saying he's been, quote, "really, really fortunate."

BERMAN: This is fascinating.



HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: We came out of the White House not only dead broke but in debt. We had no money when we got there, and we struggled to piece together the resources for mortgages for houses, for Chelsea's education.


PEREIRA: Yeah, Hillary Clinton got a lot of flak for that statement that when she and Bill left the White House they were dead broke, what she meant was they were struggling financially.

BERMAN: Now Republicans are slamming her. Critics, Democrats are slamming her, too, for down playing her wealth.

Joining us to talk about this, our political commentators, Sally Kohn and Margaret Hoover.

This time, the British newspaper "The Guardian" asked Mrs. Clinton if she could be a credible champion for income inequality, despite her wealth. Mrs. Clinton said this, quote, "They don't see me as part of the problem because we pay ordinary income tax, unlike a lot of people who are truly well off, not to name names, and we've done it through the dent of hard work."

All right. Sally Kohn, you've written pretty extensively about Hillary Clinton. Not always flattering.

SALLY KOHN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No, nobody is hiring me to be a Hillary Clinton surrogate any time soon.

Let's parse this out. I think that was a sloppy statement. What she was trying to say is personally she at least pays her taxes, unlike a lot of people in this country who dodge their taxes, who only pay capital gains tax, and which is the vast majority of very wealth in this country. That's a problem. She said it poorly. She certainly has enough money to hire a better speaking coach. Separate point, why people don't have a problem with her, it's not her personal wealth. It's her coziness with Wall Street. That's the problem. She's basically in bed with Goldman Sachs. She is the candidate of Wall Street. That's the issue we should be talking about, not her personal financial wealth.

BERMAN: You are the Democrat.


PEREIRA: Did you guys swap notes today?




Additionally, the Clintons -- look, a pro-Clinton super PAC, what she didn't say she's not like Mitt Romney who had $30 million in off shore accounts, a "Bloomberg" reported that the Clintons did use estate tax loopholes to protect their estate. They have amassed their fortunate and trying to use the tax code to protect that for tune. Hillary Clinton is a fiscal conservative. That's what we've learned. She doesn't represent the traditional Democratic base of the party. She may not represent President Obama's coalition that got President Obama elected. We've been talking about if there's a collision that will go ahead and elect another Democratic president. These comments are not helping her.


PEREIRA: I want to play a little sound. Just today, the vice president of our fair nation talked about his own wealth. I want you to listen to this sound and then I have a curious question for you on the back end.


JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Don't hold it against me that I don't own as a single stock or bond. Don't hold that I have no savings account, but I got a great pension and I got a good salary, and --


BIDEN: For real. For real. Sometime we talk about this stuff about struggle. My struggle -- my god, compared to where I grew up and the way people are trying to go through things now. But here's the point I want to make, I've been really, really fortunate.


PEREIRA: So you two are both screaming at the screen as you are watching that. Damage control for the Democrats or somebody who is eyeing 2016 in his own right and trying to separate himself from Hillary Clinton.

KOHN: All political candidates, especially anyone running for president, is going to be rich. And increasingly, when our elections are bought and sold by special interests, you have to cozy up to massively wealthy donors. You are reaching or you are at least hanging in enough with the rich people, like the case with the Clintons, that you are -- by defacto you are swimming in the pool.


The issue is can you have candidates who can connect with -- that's where the whole country is right now. Kudos to Biden. He has done a good job of emphasizing his working class ethic, if he wasn't there financially.

HOOVER: What would be refreshing, there wasn't a Democratic impulse to stigmatize success. That way they don't look like hypocrites.


HOOVER: There is a stigma to success that frankly we should applaud people who have done well by our system, achieved their wealth fairly and not broken the rule and they have improved their own lives. That's the American --


KOHN: Obama is one of the people who has done that very well.

BERMAN: I don't want to leave that discussion acknowledging Vice President Joe Biden. That was a shot directly into the bow of Hillary Clinton there. There's a man involved in politics a long time, now getting in a swipe there.


BERMAN: I know they're friends but --

PEREIRA: Margaret, Sally, good to have you here. Thank you.

BERMAN: Right ocean, wrong spot. The search for flight 370 moves, but will this bring these people and their families any closer to closure?

PEREIRA: And a London newspaper says, the flights pilot is still being considered a suspect but Malaysian authorities say that's flat wrong. We're going to look at it all @THISHOUR.


BERMAN: All right. The search for Malaysia Airlines flight 370 about to shift again. Australian officials are planning to announce a new search area this week.

PEREIRA: Add to that, Malaysian police are denying a report that the pilot of the missing jetliner is the primary suspect.

A whole lot to talk about with our aviation analyst, Mary Schiavo. She a former inspector general of the Department of Transportation.

Good morning to you, Mary. Let's start with the search. We're at, what, day 108 since flight 370 vanished. You the search zone is about to shift. Do you have any reason to believe the new area might be the right one?

MARY SCHIAVO, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: Well, I have reason to hope. Now, the most important announcement was the Australians said they now discredit -- which many, many people have already said this -- but they disc the radar discrepancies. The Australians say that's not likely, so the plain would have traveled further. And this would actually be more in line with the search area that the independent review group said, it's not identical, but at least it's another area to search.

BERMAN: So there's a lot of smoke today surrounding a report out of London. Report saying that the pilot is the sole focus of the investigation. "The Sunday Times" of London said he is the only crew member who made no future obligations they could find and his flight simulator showed he plotted and then deleted those. Malaysian officials deny and confirm things in the past that turn out to be a little shaky. Does this raise any red flags to you?

SCHIAVO: Well, it certainly does. The United States own federal bureau of investigation reviewed those computer files and the simulator and the computer data from the pilots and they found nothing suspicious. No red flags. Ordinarily what you look for is not the absence of plans but you look for nefarious plans. For example, was the fellow facing any criminal indictment, a tax audit, a divorce hearing? No. Ordinarily, that's the kind of thing that would land you for a suspect for suspicious behavior. It's highly, highly suspect, especially since it's coming out of London, not Malaysia, not Australia. I'm very suspicious.

PEREIRA: Further adds to the agony. We've talked about this and you've been very good about bringing this point home, is that it further adds to the agony for these families of the crew and the passengers.

SCHIAVO: It's gotten to the point where it is not even a stretch to say this investigation is clearly not following the international protocols at this point. This really needs to come to an end. They need to get on this search in the newest location in the Southern Indian Ocean, and this speculation is not helping, particularly since, you know, I tend to trust the FBI. They said nothing suspicious.

PEREIRA: Mary Schiavo, we appreciate you. Thanks.

Five years ago, two couples and an unlikely legal team set out on an historic journey, to overturn California's ban on same-sex marriage. HBO was there the whole way. We're going to speak with the director of "The Case Against 8," coming up next. They're right here. So handsome, too, I might add.



PEREIRA: Tonight, HBO's going to premiere its documentary "The Case Against 8." The five-year legal battle that reversed California's voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage. It gives us an inside look at the plaintiffs who found themselves inside a Supreme Court case. Take a look.


JEFF SARILLO (ph), FIGHTS FOR GAY MARRIAGE: Good morning. Thank you all for being here. My name's Jess Sarillo (ph). This is Paul, Chris and Sandy. We're all Americans who simply want to get married, just like everyone else. We believe in our constitution. And that the courts will lead the way to a quality like they have so many times in the past. Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Is this an emotional day for you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sorry, no questions.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That moment broke the ice. It was the first time we were in front of so much media. It was the first time we had to kind of settle into what was going to happen. You know, we have to take the stand today. I've never been as nervous in my life as the first day of trial. Even though we're ready, there was this weight of I can't mess this up. I can't have to represent me and represent my relationship, have to represent so many people out there that are fighting. And, Paul, just don't mess it up.


PEREIRA: Ryan White and Ben Cotner wrote and directed "The Case Against 8."

Gentlemen, this has been a legal battle for several years, a political battle. As we saw in the clip, it's also a personal battle.


Also, another thing we take away from the film is just the breadth of the public relations battle that went on here.

COTNER: Exactly. I think it is an incredibly personal story. It's a personal story for us because we live in California. It's a personal story for these plaintiffs who put their lives out there. They went in a federal courtroom and spoke about some of the harms done to them by laws like Proposition 8. For people to get to know them and understand what that means for California families was a big deal and that was part of what these people were doing, was trying to get that message out to everyone in the country.

PEREIRA: It's one thing to be for it. It's another thing to take a stand for it and be a plaintiff in a case, and it's another thing to be the subject of a documentary that required a lot of the subjects of your film. How did you support them through all of this?

RYAN WHITE, DIRECTOR: We are so grateful to Chris and Sandy and Paul and Jeff for not only putting their lives on the line for gay families but also for participating in our documentary. They didn't know they were signing up for this. They didn't know this was going to be a five-year battle. They definitely did not sign up to be stars a documentary but we're so grateful they did. What we're noticing when we screen the film is people relate to their stories. Chris and Sandy --


PEREIRA: The face of it, right?

WHITE: -- the mother of four boys, you know, even a housewife in Atlanta who might be a Republican who doesn't support marriage equality can relate to their lives. That's what we hope people take away from the film.

BERMAN: We toss away the phrase in the intro as if it means nothing, the voter-approved ban. It was only a few years ago that voters voted one way, and now the tide seems to be moving in a different way. COTNER: Since we started filming five years ago, things have changed

dramatically. There have been a lot of -- many reasons why that is happening. People working across the country to tell these stories and get to know people. So many great lawyers. One of the things I like the most about our film is you have this great legal journey. Some of our biggest fans are lawyers. They get to see these greats go at it and sort of lift back the curtain of what it takes to take a lawsuit to the Supreme Court.

PEREIRA: Parallels other cases we've seen as well.

Ryan, Ben, thank you so much.

Again, tonight on HBO, correct?

COTNER: 9:00 p.m.

PEREIRA: "The Case Against 8."

Thanks so much for joining us at the hour.

COTNER: Thank you.

PEREIRA: That wraps it up for us here. I'm Michaela Pereira. Thank you for joining us.

BERMAN: I'm John Berman.

"LEGAL VIEW" with Ashleigh Banfield starts right now.