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Divers Find Cabin Crammed With Bodies; Boehner Mocks Own Party On Immigration; GM's Profits Plunge; Life Animated

Aired April 25, 2014 - 16:30   ET


JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Of course, you're not supposed to put on your life vest until you're out in the air. The same advice is given I think, I believe, on airplanes. Do we know if the passengers -- I'm sorry, you're not supposed to inflate them, do we know if passengers were advised to inflate their jackets by the life crew?

KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): We know that there wasn't one big order telling them to put on their life vests. You may recall that there was an overhead announcement telling passengers to stay where they are. Given that, what we understand what's happening aboard the ship is that teachers and some of the crew members were handing out the life vests to kids who were in their own rooms. They just didn't know what to do. This give us a picture into how chaotic it all was.

You're right. The vests did not help these people escape. In many cases, it made it much worse. That's what the rescue team is telling us, but given how chaotic it was, it really does give us a picture into those frightening moments aboard that vessel.

TAPPER: It's a heart breaking and terrifying story. Kyung Lah in Jindo, South Korea, thank you so much.

Coming up on THE LEAD, John Boehner goes old school or maybe high school when he talks about some of his fellow Republicans mocking the best form of motivation? Our political panel coming up next.


TAPPER: Breaking news into CNN, do you remember this guy?

Charming moment from the career of Congressman Michael Grimm, the lawmaker from Staten Island who was caught on camera threatening to throw a reporter off a balcony and break him, quote, "in half like a boy." That was from back in January. Mr. Grimm is back in the news today because the Republican is now expected to face charges as soon as next week over some allegedly shady business dealings.

CNN justice reporter, Evan Perez, is breaking the story for us. Evan, this was part of a two-year investigation. What exactly are these new allegations against Grimm?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE REPORTER: The FBI has been looking into Grimm for a couple of years now. Everything related to his campaign in 2010 to some of his past business dealings. We're told by sources that as soon as next week they are expected to bring charges related to a business that he owned in Manhattan, a restaurant called Healthalicious.

And whether or not he told the truth when he was asked about it by federal investigators. Now, a lot of moving parts have been going on with this. Two of his former fundraisers have already faced charges in this case so we expect that this is a lot more is yet to come on this -- Jake.

TAPPER: So this is focus on the 2010 campaign donors, tell me about that.

PEREZ: Well, you know, the FBI was asking some questions because at least one of his donors allegedly structured some of the donations to Grimm's campaign. She was reimbursing some people who were providing donations to him and she's now facing charges. She's a former girlfriend of his. By the way, we have a statement from Grimm's attorney and I can read that to you now.

It says, "Congressman Grimm asserts his innocence of any wrongdoing. When the dust settles, he will be vindicated. Until then, he will continue to serve his constituents with the same dedication and tenacity that has characterized his lifetime of public service as a member of Congress, Marine Corps combat veteran and decorated FBI special agent."

TAPPER: All right, Evan Perez, thank you so much. We appreciate it.

In other political news, he is a man who has made it clear many, many times that like Rosy Greer he is not afraid to cry. But this time House Speaker John Boehner wasn't really shedding tears when he opened up to a group of supporters in his home state of Ohio about what he actually thinks is one of the things holding up immigration reform. His fellow Republicans.


REPRESENTATIVE JOHN BOEHNER (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: The appetite amongst my colleagues for doing this is not real good. This guy is back here with the camera. But here's the attitude. Don't make me do this. This is too hard. You should hear them.


TAPPER: And while the speaker of the House stopped short of pulling out the world's tiniest violin, it was not actually music to his fellow Republicans' ears. Let's bring in CNN's chief congressional correspondent, Dana Bash and Yahoo! News White House correspondent, Olivier Knox.

Dana, Boehner's office says you only tease the ones you love. But this is not the first time he's done that little skit.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: No. And I can say this now because I got permission not to break any confidentiality that I have heard him say and I've seen him say this kind of thing, do the whiny thing many times and off the record settings. I know from other Republicans that he has done this in many, many meetings, said to Republican lawmakers' faces, you're too, you know, use your word, I'm sure he'll use a more colorful world than I can on television.

So this is not new. What is interesting, of course, is that he's doing it in public and that he is doing it in public. It's one thing to tell me and other reporter off the record. It's another thing to say it in private meetings. A whole different story to do it in public. You might ask why real quick.

People who are close to him say this is part of the problem when he goes home he doesn't go home that much. He's comfortable and with all of his people. He looks around and maybe says things that maybe he wouldn't otherwise say.

TAPPER: Right. And it's not a hot mic moment. He signified that he knew somebody was filming him, Olivier.

OLIVIER KNOX, CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, YAHOO! NEWS: Yes, that is one of the best parts of this video is he looks at the camera and very deliberately goes into this, into the whiny House Republican act. You know, initially when I heard the story I thought, you know, John Boehner knows better than to think that there is any such thing as a local interview anymore. He is too smart to know that -- to think this will be totally off the record. The fun part is that he saw the camera and played to it.

BASH: And just one more thing, you know, he has been, to use the term I think John Boehner would like, showing a little bit more leg on issues with him and a conservative party. I mean, he has been really more and more vocal about trashing the groups who, by the way, are not happy about this, and about saying that he believes that some of the conservatives out there have been hurting progress on big issues that are tough for the Republican Party, like immigration. So this is just another step.

KNOX: But I will buy you an inexpensive imported macro brew if you can find me a legitimately undecided House Republican who says, now that's it. Now I'm not going to support this.

TAPPER: Right. It probably won't have any effect on the actual legislation.

BASH: It won't have an effect on the legislation, but one thing it might do is stir up more discussion, even though this is not news to any Republican lawmaker at all, the fact that he's done it in public may put pressure on the rusted right who don't him necessarily to be speaker next time around if Republicans take control to be more aggressive about that.

TAPPER: Let's turn to another Republican in the news, Jeb Bush. There's been a lot of talk about him. Our own Gloria Borger talked to Neil Bush, Jeb and George W's brother who had this to say about whether or not Jeb should run for president.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) NEIL BUSH, BROTHER OF JEB BUSH: We're all watching Jeb over in the corner saying, what's your response to that? But it's not going to affect Jeb's decision. If you ask dad, he'd say yes.


BUSH: Yes. He would say yes.

BORGER: Have you asked him?

BUSH: I've heard him answer that question.


TAPPER: So interesting, obviously referring to Barbara Bush saying some not encouraging comments last year on the "Today" show about whether or not Jeb should run, do you think that George H.W. Bush pushing Jeb could have an effect?

BASH: You know, probably not. Because the fact that his father wants him to run is probably maybe news to us, but probably not news to Jeb Bush.

TAPPER: Right. Of course.

BASH: But by all accounts, when it comes to family and family matters and his family making decisions, the most important is his wife, who doesn't like the spotlight, who doesn't like politics and was a reluctant first lady of Florida and would be even more of a first lady. That's the primary focus when it comes to family concern. A big one.

KNOX: Yes, I think he's going to look at his prospects, the fundamentals, how the economy is doing. At a recent event at his father's library, he came out strong on immigration reform. I think he's going to take a much closer stock of the reality of the political situation and not necessarily let either of his parents make.

TAPPER: Olivier Knox and Dana Bash, thank you.

GM recalls that came a decade late for too many customers. Now they are paying for it literally. Can the car company bounce back?

And lots of families have bonded over Disney classics. Don't tell me you didn't cry watching Lion King, but we'll tell you how the mouses gave two parents a way to break through to their autistic son. Stay with us.


TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. The Money Lead now. It's cool when James Bond takes a lotus sports car under water like he did in 1977 in "The Spy Who Loved Me." The only car taking a plunge these days are GM's and they are on dry land. The automaker made a scant $125 million in the first quarter of this year. That's down from $865 million during this same period last year. You can blame that massive recall of nearly 7 million cars, which that has forced GM to spend $1.3 billion to fix flaws, the defective ignition switch in some models. It led to the recall of 2.6 million cars and could get worse for the company rather than get better.

Joining me now is the host and editor of "Marketplace," which is celebrating its 25th year. Congratulations on that, Kai Ryssdal. Kye, this is a mammoth number of cars, 7 million profits wiped out and now there's an SEC investigation looking into what GM knew and how they knew it. How bad could this get?

KAI RYSSDAL, HOST AND SENIOR EDITOR, "MARKETPLACE": It's going to get really bad. Mary Barra is not going to lose her job but there are five investigations into this company over that old questions of what she knew and when she knew it. She's been at GM for a long time. She was in engineering. So you have to figure. There's some things that she was aware of. The fact is that this is not in the short term going to cost her job. This is going to be with them for a while. It's an extraordinary number of cars. It's a serious issue, 13 people at least are dead. This is going to be with GM for a long time.

TAPPER: When she was testing on Capitol Hill, Senator Barbara Boxer from your home state of California brought up the infamous Ford Pinto with 27 people died in car fires in the '70s. Here's what she said.


SENATOR BARBARA BOXER (D), CALIFORNIA: Ford decided it was I cheaper for them to pay off the families of the dead than to fix the problem that would have cost them $11 a car. Did you make that kind of calculation over at GM in this situation?

MARY BARRA, CEO, GM: I did not.


TAPPER: I did not. I did not, she said. And when pressed on it, she said that they were looking into it. The Pinto looms large any time there's any one of these recalls because there was that smoking gun. The memo indicating it would be cheaper to keep the Pinto as it was and let people die and pay the families $200,000 or whatever than it would be to firm up the rear of the Pinto. Do you think that still goes on? Do they still do these cost benefit analysis?

RYSSDAL: I can't believe that something abhorrent as that goes on. We had a Pinto. I know about this stuff. But here's the deal, car companies have to factor this in. The way I like to think about it is you know how banks are required to keep reserves from bad loans? For things that are going to happen that they know are going to happen.

It's entirely possible. Likely? I don't know. The car companies and consumer product companies are going to say, let's put these reserves aside and plan for it. Planning for it is actively different than doing something proactive. TAPPER: Ford bounced back to a degree. Toyota bounced back to a degree from their recalls. How difficult is it, though, when a car company has their reputation tarnished?

RYSSDAL: GM has come through, as we all know, a really unstable time. It was the bankruptcy, the bailout and all of those things and that's a tough thing for a car company to bounce back from. I think Mary Barra and GM are going to be fine in the long run. But people will talk about this for a long time.

TAPPER: And there are allegedly dead bodies here as well. Kai Ryssdal from "Marketplace," thank you so much. Thanks for coming in. Congratulations on the 25th year.

In other money news, it is a vote that could revolutionize college athletics. Football players at Northwestern University cast their ballots a few hours ago on whether the form the nation's first college player union. It can only happen if a majority of players vote for it and it's not a guarantee given that even the team's quarterback has come out strongly against the unionizing.

Doing so would pave the way for players to demand long-term medical care and maybe even payment outside of school scholarships and stipends. Football season may role around before we actually know the outcome of the vote. That's because the National Relations Labor Board wants to review Northwestern's appeal of a ruling that said players are employees of the university.

Coming up on THE LEAD, a father and son bond over movies like the "Jungle Book" and Dumbo and they are doing so goes way beyond the level of the characters. We have an aspiring story. Stay with us.


TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD, our Buried Lead now. April is National Autism Awareness Month and also happens to be a month when Disney has two films in theaters, "Puppets Most Wanted" and "Bears." Disney's offerings in autism awareness would appear to be two totally different subjects except perhaps in the case of a remarkable young man. His journey is captured in a new book and it's a fascinating, aspiring and deeply moving new story.


TAPPER (voice-over): The characters and songs are indelibly linked to childhood fantasies. But for at least one family, Disney has made a real way to communicate with their autistic son.

RON SUSKIND, AUTHOR, "LIFE ANIMATED": He developed an inner voice, an inner conversation about how he felt and moved forward.

TAPPER: Ron Suskind is the author of "Life Animated." His son, Owen, now 23, grew up watching movies like "The Lion King." Of course, cartoons are not a certified solution or even a recommended one for most children with autism, but Owen Disney animations provided a way for his family to decode his thoughts and most importantly for him to share them.

SUSKIND: He started to repeat this gibberish. We thought it was juice. So we wanted to give him more juice and we had an epiphany. He said, just your voice. That's what you're saying and Owen looked right at us. It's the first time he really looked at me in about a year and he said just your voice. Just your voice.

TAPPER: Doctors attributed the "Little Mermaid" break through to a simple repetition of sounds. But they felt strongly that he was showing real signs of connection. They kept the Disney theme going strong, this time with "Aladdin."

SUSKIND: I spoke to him from hiding under his bed spread and held up the parrot and said, how does it feel to be you, to be Owen? And Owen responded not good and I have no friends and I can't understand what people say and I'm lonely.

TAPPER: Working hard and with the help of doctors, Owen harnessed Disney's social lessons, making friends with the "Jungle Book." And overcoming adversity with "Dumbo".

SUSKIND: It's all a matter of linkages, coming from the source of his passion and moving out to the parts of traditional learning that come from that and they are attached to it.

TAPPER: Owen's connection went beyond the screen. He could barely right his name at age 11, but did these sketches. They are of his favorites, the sidekicks.

SUSKIND: Some are goofy, some are wise, some are resourceful.

TAPPER: And you in all of them, Owen sees himself.

SUSKIND: Owen draws as a sidekick. He won't have himself redrawn, but every day he searches, he says, for his inner hero and that's really a beautiful idea.

TAPPER: He's at a special education college acting as president of the Disney Club. And that's where he met his girlfriend.

SUSKIND: Of course, every Disney movie, most of them end with a kiss --


TAPPER: We're proud of you, Owen. That's it for THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. I now turn you over to Wolf Blitzer. He is next door in THE SITUATION ROOM. Have a great weekend.