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Democrats Help Cochran Win GOP Primary; IRS: WH Lawyer Has Fuzzy Memory; Lebron James to Become Free Agent

Aired June 25, 2014 - 07:30   ET


MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: U.S. officials estimate about 10,000 ISIS fighters are in Iraq and Syria, 90 more U.S. military advisers meanwhile have arrived in Iraq joining 40 already on the ground to assist Iraqi forces against the Sunni extremists.

A Sudanese woman sentenced to death for refusing to renounce Christianity and later freed has now been charged with traveling with falsified document and giving false information. Miriam Ibrahim was at the airport when she was re-arrested Tuesday on her way to the U.S. with her American husband and two children.

Sudanese officials say she presented South Sudanese travel documents despite not being a citizen of that country. Her husband is now being held as an accessory. Officials have summoned U.S. and South Sudanese ambassadors to address this issue.

Western powers are warning Russia about new sanctions after new violence has tested a ceasefire in Ukraine. Fighting overnight near the Russian border and pro-Russian rebels shot down a military helicopter killing nine Ukrainian servicemen, but Russian President Vladimir Putin seems to be taking steps to end the violence by canceling a resolution that allowed him to use force in Ukraine.

Back here at home, it would appear Chicago is George Lucas' kind of town. The "Star Wars" creator announcing he's chosen the windy city as the site for his much anticipated Museum of Art and movie memorabilia. Los Angeles and San Francisco were also vying for it. Lucas plans to have the Museum of Native Arts opening in 2008 and, yes, it will have a scale model of the millennium falcon.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: A married man, I go with the influence of the wife from Chicago.

PEREIRA: You don't think Mayor Rahm Emanuel might have been doing some lobbying for that?

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: It's in the middle of the country, both coasts, equal flights.

PEREIRA: Close to soldier field. In 2018, put it on your calendar.


CUOMO: All right, a lot of politics last night. What does this all mean? One man can tell us. He runs "Inside Politics" on NEW DAY. His name John King and his face to the left of the screen.

JOHN KING, CNN HOST, "INSIDE POLITICS": Mr. Cuomo, welcome back. Hope you had a nice trip south to the World Cup. Kate, Michaela, good morning to you as well. You're right. It's a very busy day to go inside politics.

With me this morning to share their reporting and their insights, Nia- Malika Henderson of "The Washington Post" and CNN's Peter Hamby. Wow, let's just start in a word, wow. In a runoff election, traditionally the base turns out and overall turnout drops.

Instead in Mississippi last night Thad Cochran, the establishment candidate wins, turnout overall goes up. He wins, Peter Hamby, by 6,300 votes. There is no question. We don't have a debate this morning. Thad Cochran is the Republican nominee for Senate in Mississippi beating a Tea Party challenger because African-American Democrats turned out in this primary.

Chris McDaniel, let's listen to Chris McDaniel, a guy who maybe skipped charm school. He lost the race. He's not happy and he lashes out.


CHRIS MCDANIEL (R), SENATE CANDIDATE: There is something a bit strange, there is something a bit unusual about a Republican primary that's decided by liberal Democrats.


KING: He says so much for principle there, but it's a lot about rules. If you don't want Democrats voting in your primary, then go to the state legislature and change the rules. Cochran did nothing wrong here, but --

PETER HAMBY, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: The rules, and they totally, you know, to use a cliche disrupted how Mississippi politics is run in this runoff. You have to give a ton of credit to the Cochran team for what they did in this runoff.

KING: And the outside interest, Congress, other groups came in with a lot of money, expanded the field.

HAMBY: And a lot of people are talking about the Brett Favre ad that the Chamber of Commerce ran. I think all of us were surprised if you talk to Cochran in the week winning up to this. Thought they were still in the game. Got a call with 20 percent in from a source of the chamber who said we're going to win this thing, but you're right about African-American voters.

Look, I think turnout crept up across the board. The Cochran people say that, but look at Hines County right to the west of Jackson, you know, that's a 60 percent African-American county, and Thad increased his vote margin there by 7,000 votes, a great indicator what have happened.

KING: The question is he needed these votes to win.


KING: The question is now he's Republican nominee, overwhelming favorite to keep this Senate seat in Republican hands. What does he do, say thank you and forget or might this be a turning point, an elder statesman Republican senator come back to Washington. Mississippi has the highest percentage of African-American voters in the country.

Look around elsewhere in the state where African-Americans are often left out. Would Thad Cochran comeback and tell his Republican leadership, let's have an open conversation say about voting rights.

HENDERSON: You know possibly so, and that's kind of how he ran this campaign and certainly the way he sounded during his victory speech. This was all Mississippians when he was running ads in African- American newspapers, talked about money that had gone to historically black colleges and universities so perhaps he could do that.

He could have a partner in someone like Rand Paul who has talked about restoring voting rights to felons but possibly, but it doesn't seem like that's where the Republican Party is right now.

HAMBY: Cochran has never been a spotlight seeker but it would be pretty cool.

KING: There's an opportunity here, to just not have this I needed your vote, thank you very much. Forget about it, but to come back to Washington and God for forbid, actual competition and conversation for all voters across the country would be a good thing and let's keep the Mississippi race in mind as we look more broadly last night.

Because the establishment won and Tea Party and other insurgents in the Republican Party got trounced. In the Colorado governor's race, congressional primary in New York and in a big high-profile Senate primary in Oklahoma where the Tea Party organized around the former State House Speaker T.W. Shannon.

James Lankford, a congressman, won that race. He didn't just win, Peter, he won huge. So much so, Ted Cruz and Sarah Palin invested in this race. Talking to Sean Hannity last night on Fox News says if our guys keep losing, should we start a third party? Listen.


SARAH PALIN (R), FORMER GOVERNOR OF ALASKA: If Republicans are going to act like Democrats, then what's the use in getting all gung-ho about getting more Republicans in there, so, yes, if Republicans aren't going to stand strong on our planks and platform, then it does no good to get all enthused about them anymore.


KING: Her guy lost the Republican primary. In Oklahoma, no Democrats voting in that primary. HAMBY: Here are the limitations that have argument and we've heard the third-party talks.

HENDERSON: She's been talking about it for a while.

KING: She talks.

HAMBY: Mostly true. In Oklahoma, the guy who won, James Lankford, is no squish.

KING: Right.

HAMBY: I mean, this guy was a member of House leadership. He voted to increase the debt ceiling in 2013, the main thing that Shannon and Cruz and Lee and Freedom Works and Sarah Palin were hitting him on. He's a Baptist, conservative, probably more conservative than tom Coburn so when you hear an argument like that that he's going to vote like Democrats, I just don't see that.

KING: This morning, Mitch McConnell, the Senate Republican leader who famously said he'd crush the Tea Party this year everywhere has to wake up mad at one guy, Eric Cantor, the former House majority leader. That's really the only high-profile race, the big one, that the Tea Party has won. The establishment's got to be feeling overall pretty happy.

HENDERSON: They have a pretty fantastic record, and you can look at that race in Virginia and sort of blame Eric Cantor for not being present enough in that district, but they have run a pretty masterful campaign the establishment has.

HAMBY: That result looks even worse for Cantor after last night. He is the one outlier, the one guy who didn't run a campaign and not liked at all in his district.

HENDERSON: He didn't do the work. Thad Cochran did.

KING: Let's move on to something else fascinating. We've talked about this before. Republicans in the House are pressing the Obama administration, what happened to the e-mails of the central figure in the IRS investigating trying to crack down allegedly on the Tea Party?

Last night, they called up a White House lawyer who used to work at IRS as a witness and I want you to listen hear to this exchange. Congressman Jason Chaffetz, Republican of Utah, trying to get the witness to name somebody at the agency who might know why the emails went poof.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Anybody in the I.T. arena?

JENNIFER O'CONNOR, FORMER IRS LAWYER: I didn't actually interact directly with people in the I.T. arena. There was somebody whose name was -- I can't even remember his last name. His first name may have been Ben. REP. JASON CHAFFETZ (R), UTAH: A guy named Ben, dude named Ben. Who else?

O'CONNOR: I don't recall.

CHAFFETZ: You were there six months. Had you people around you that would jump at your very presence. What -- who are these people?

O'CONNOR: Nobody ever jumped at my very presence, I can assure you of that.


KING: The contempt you hear from the Republican lawmakers and back from the IRS Commissioner, John Koskiken, not getting anywhere in the fact-finding realm. But there is a lot of contempt here.

HAMBY: And politically speaking, I don't know if they need to, this is like shooting Bambi, anything easier than punching the IRS in the face and also with the e-mail thing I just think it doesn't pass the smell test for a lot of people so you have Chaffetz there who is a showman and likes the spotlight, this is a win for Republicans to keep hammering on this.

HENDERSON: It's very much working for them, and you're right. I mean, how can you believe that the IRS, which makes ordinary folks keep what seven years of records, that somehow they have misplaced, destroyed these -- these e-mails? It is -- it is very surprising.

HAMBY: I'm interested to hearing from ben, the IT bro now.

KING: The committee will issue a subpoena for the dude, Ben, in IT. Peter, Nia, thanks for coming in this morning.

We played yesterday Michelle Obama saying the country is ready, ready now for a woman president. Listen to Elizabeth Conan O'Brien who thinks she's got something in mind. Michelle Obama said she wants Americans to elect a woman president, quote, as soon as possible.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, yes. She says it should happen as soon as possible. Yes, man, so even she's had enough of President Obama.


KING: A little family humor there.

BOLDUAN: That's exactly right. I don't think that's what she meant.

CUOMO: Chance she runs?


CUOMO: Michelle?

BOLDUAN: No. We need to all stop this insanity. She's made it so clear, even her husband said she's not going to run.

CUOMO: Chance she runs?

KING: No. She's going to help build the Barack Obama museum right next to the George Lucas Museum, very, very busy and maybe move to New York and give you guys grief. Thank you so much, John.

Busy night for John King and busy morning for John King. Coming up next on NEW DAY, Michael Jackson remembered. Today marks five years since the king of pop died but his music continues to live on. We know that oh, so well what. More have we learned about the icon since his passing? We'll discuss.

CUOMO: Plus, big news in the NBA. Some of the biggest stars, maybe certainly the biggest, is hitting the open market but others are at well. King James opts out of his contract. What does it mean? How good a chance is it that he winds up with the Knicks? Very good. There's more to this than you may think. We'll take you through it.


BOLDUAN: Welcome back to NEW DAY. NBA star Lebron James will become a free agent on July 1st after four seasons with the Miami Heat. He's exercising his early contract termination option. Basketball fans are in a frenzy everywhere and so are the appetites of pretty much every team in the league, it appears.

What's going to happen? What's Lebron James' next move and will he announce it with such fanfare the past time? Let's hope not. Joining us to discuss, Mike Pesca, "Slate Podcast" host and former NPR sports correspondent. Mike, great to see you.

MIKE PESCA, "SLATE PODCAST": Great to see you.

BOLDUAN: Goes without saying this is a big deal. Why is this such a big deal?

PESCA, SLATE PODCAST": One of those big deals that we knew was going to happen, but like we know the World Cup is going to happen. That's still a big deal. So if Lebron wanted to change teams, he has to opt out, but if he wanted to stay on the Heat and make the Heat better he also has to opt out. There's no way he doesn't opt out.

BOLDUAN: Is there any he stays in Miami?

PESCA: Huge chance.

BOLDUAN: Really?

PESCA: Probably the most logical chance, but would I say the last time when he left Cleveland that caught everyone by surprise and I would caution you to remember what a nightmare that was. Sources say every team in the league including like Real Madrid and places that don't exist, so this time let's maybe calm down.

I don't think the media is going to listen to me. The point is that if he needed to opt out of the Heat because he has to change his contract, he doesn't have to. He could get the maximum money allowed. But that would preclude them from getting other free agents to allow them to win an NBA championship and that's the number one thing.

He needs the team to build more than they have in the last couple of years to add extra talent to especially -- Lebron James can do everything on the basketball court. The one thing he can't do is stop another team's center so they need at least a good defensive big man for someone like Tim Duncan.

PEREIRA: The idea of him going to another team in all the cities around the nation saying we want him, we want him. We should pump the brakes on that. We just pump the brakes on because this is more of a strategic situation.

PESCA: I think it's a logical move. Not only is the best basketball player in the world, he becomes the most important GM in basketball, de facto GM. He'll take meetings with all these teams and will say what are you going to do for me and who are you going to pair me with? Here's my list of I need you to pair me with. If they say, trust me, we'll get a big man. He has relationships with all these guys.

CUOMO: The problem with Cleveland, refused to build the kind of team. Yes, the Heat, they won the championships but don't have the team to do it anymore.

BOLDUAN: Because Chris Bosh is out.

PESCA: No, I think that they keep Chris Bosh. Maybe he can convince Chris Bosh to be the under-the-basket center that he was in Toronto.

CUOMO: You don't think Bosh goes?

PEREIRA: They could keep the big three.

BOLDUAN: Do they all have to take less money?

PESCA: Absolutely.

PEREIRA: Can you get this agreement between all three of us?

PESCA: They would do it. These guys have made so much money in their life.

CUOMO: Who is going to pay up for him?

PESCA: Dwyane Wade could make the maximum money if he does something called opt in which is the weird trick the owners play on. The guy is being selfish if he says pay me what you agreed to pay me and there's a salary cap and Lebron James is extremely underpaid, the most he could get paid is $20 million, definitely worth $40 million, $50 million.

BOLDUAN: Speculation that they are headed back to Cleveland. Lebron James' wife had an interesting Instagram that said home sweet home. The countdown is real. I thought when he left there were pretty hurt feelings among the Cavs fans.

PEREIRA: Isn't the owner kind of problematic?

PESCA: That's a big thing. You know you watch basketball and they say, kids, pay attention to this. Kids, if you have any dreams of being in the corporate board room, pay attention to what Dan Gilbert did, got very frustrated and lashed out and four years later he might want to woo back his prize employee.

CUOMO: They don't have the team. He wants a team that can win.

PESCA: What you'd be looking for the Cavs to do with the number one pick in the draft. If they turn that into established players that's a signal they are going for Lebron or draft a really highly touted player like Wiggins. Other teams would say they traded someone for nothing. May be trading players for cap space to woe Lebron.

BOLDUAN: Other than Miami where could he go?

CUOMO: L.A. Clippers.

PESCA: That's what I'm talking about. They have space, I don't see exactly how he fits. I would say L.A. has absolutely everything. Chris Paul is his best friend. He would love to pair with Ballmer. What a statement it would make. Lebron was making big statements early on.

They have space, I don't see exactly how he fits. I would say L.A. has absolutely everything. Chris Paul is his best friend. He would love to pair with Ballmer. What a statement it would make. Lebron was making big statements early on. It would totally rebrand that team.

The one big negative to that logically, he doesn't want to be in the west. Then you have to go through the Spurs. The east is pretty safe for him. The heat didn't even have the number one seed. They cruised to the finals. So 2 would be smarter to stay in the east.

CUOMO: The only more physically dominating player in the league than Lebron James is on the Spurs, Leonard is the most physically dominant guy in that series.

BOLDUAN: This is so much more complex. I thought he was just requesting to choose weather.

CUOMO: Choose New York, if you want to be in the best play in the best city.

PESCA: You should not use the phrase "taking my talents, too." He needs to come up with a better phrase.

BOLDUAN: Dramatic music, I love it. Where are you taking your talents?

PESCA: To slates the jest, my podcast I talk about lots of things other than sports. BOLDUAN: Thanks so much, Mike. Great to see you. You knew where I was going. Maybe a little zest.

CUOMO: I like the slide of hand. Five years ago, this morning we learn more about Michael Jackson's untimely death and we'll tell what you we've learned in just a second.


PEREIRA: Today music fans around the world pausing to remember an icon, it's hard to believe it's been five years since Michael Jackson was found dead at the age of 50.

From Los Angeles to Spain, fans are planning a vigil in honor for the king of pop. Stephanie Elam is in from L.A. here to remember the king of pop. Hard to believe.

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's one of the things you all remember where you were when you heard Michael Jackson has passed on. Since his death we've learned so many things he kept from us. Take a listen.


ELAM (voice-over): It was supposed to his farewell tour, but Michael Jackson would never perform for his fans again. The entertainer with the iconic moves and unmistakable sound died in 2009 while the "This Is It" concert tour was still in rehearsals. Since his passing, we've learned much more about the pop icon.

First, M.J. sounding like we never heard him before. During the trial of Conrad Murray, Jackson's personal doctor who was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter in the singer's death, audio was played of M.J. speaking, his voice graveled and slurred.

MICHAEL JACKSON: When people leave my show, I want them to say, I've never seen anything like this in my life.

ELAM: Second, shocking details about M.J.'s appearance, revealing his lips were tattooed pink and like his eyebrows tattooed to blend with his wigs. Third, Jackson's addiction to pain killers. For 60 nights he was injected with Propofol, a strong anaesthesia only supposed to be administered in medical settings. The drug deprived of star of sleep two months before his death.

Doctor testified if it were not for the propofol overdose, Jackson could have lived. Before he died his three kids were kept covered up in public.

(on camera): Since his death the children have shown their faces. Paris, Prince and Blanket were here in Hollywood honoring their legendary father in a hand and footprint ceremony outside the Chinese theater.

(voice-over): Prince even embracing his fame, appearing as a guest correspondent for "Entertainment Tonight" in 2013. PRINCE JACKSON: I know how to keep my cool.

ELAM: As one of the most famous men in the world, the king of pop fought to give his children a normal childhood. After all, he gave his to the spotlight.


ELAM: And one of the other topics that a lot of people thought about Michael Jackson as his skin changed color he was bleaching his skin. He had vitaligo, which is a skin condition and wasn't something that he was doing on his own.

PEREIRA: I think a lot of people thought that he was doing it purposely. Steph, great to have you in studio.

ELAM: Nice to be in person and in a normal hour.

PEREIRA: Tonight, Don Lemon will sit down and talk with Dr. Conrad Murray, his first interview since he was released from prison, tonight, 10:00 p.m. Eastern. Tune in, that will be interesting conversation.

CUOMO: Coming up on NEW DAY, long time congressmen coming close to losing their jobs. What will it mean in the battle for the GOP? We'll break it down.