Return to Transcripts main page


Details on Baylor Lawsuit Against Sterling; Hillary Clinton, Jeff Bush Test 2016 Election Waters; State Department Issues Disturbing Report on Al Qaeda; Kiev Losing Control of Eastern Ukraine; Nigerian Parents Outraged over Schoolgirls' Disappearances.

Aired April 30, 2014 - 13:30   ET



WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back. I'm Wolf Blitzer, reporting from Washington.

The NBA board of governors expected to vote on the fate of the Los Angeles Clippers, owner Donald Sterling. He's already been banned for life by the commissioner, Adam Silver. Now his fellow owners could force him out, force him to sell the team.

As we've talked about over the last few days, this isn't the first time Sterling has been accused of racial discrimination. Take the case of his former longtime general manager, Elgin Baylor. The NBA Hall of Famer filed a lawsuit in '09 when he was terminated.

His attorney in that case was Carl Douglas. Carl's joining us now from Los Angeles.

Carl, thanks very much for joining us.

Adam Silver pointed out yesterday that Elgin lost that case to Sterling in 2009. What happened there?

CARL DOUGLAS, ATTORNEY FOR ELGIN BAYLOR: Well, that was a case where we alleged race and age discrimination. But because the judge had limited the quality of our proof, we could only go back two years to present evidence of race discrimination. We made a tactical choice to dismiss the race claim right before trial and to proceed only on the age claim. We knew about allegations dating back from the early '80s, Wolf. Allegations that he wanted to have a process by which these poor southern kids were coached by a white coach. We heard about his bringing in women and friends, into the locker rooms, so they could gaze at the beautiful black bodies of his players there. We heard about him having a conversation with a young basketball draftee out of Kansas in the early '80s, saying that the money he was offering Danny Manning was a lot of money for a poor black kid. So these allegations, though they were very rife and we thought relevant, were excluded because they were just too remote in time for our trial that began in 2011.

BLITZER: So what was your reaction to what the commissioner, Adam Silver, did yesterday? I don't know if you've spoken to Elgin about this. You want to share with us what Elgin Baylor's reaction was. DOUGLAS: I'm sure he is smiling in his home with his family enjoying that he has now been vindicated. My reaction was kind of like "The Wizard of Oz." The Wicked Witch of the East is dead. And I feel like one of the Munchkins, ready to hop along in joy down the Yellow Brick Road to Oz. Hopefully, Oz will now be a bright and cheery place since Donald Sterling will no longer be the owner of the team.

BLITZER: You've had legal battles with him. A lot of folks -- he is 81 years old so maybe he's changed, but he has never been shy about getting into legal fights with a whole bunch of people. I remember when he fired Mike Dunleavy as the general manager. Didn't want to pay out what he was owed. Eventually, there was a big legal battle. He wound up paying him, what, about $13 million. But Dunleavy had huge legal bills in the process. This is a guy who doesn't avoid legal battles. Do you expect him to fight any decision by the NBA to force him to sell the team?

DOUGLAS: Well, there's two things to remember, I think, Wolf, about Donald Sterling. One, he has an ego the size of the Grand Canyon. He sits regaled at court side. And at the half court line, with four or five seats so that all of the Staples Center can watch him. And also I think it's important, though, he's a capitalist. He would hire Stefon Fetchette for a minstrel show if he could make a buck off it. I think he is going to take a pragmatic capitalistic view. He's a very, very smart man. He understands the damage that his brand is now suffering. He's 80 years old. And though he is always defiant and though he has never acknowledged, at least over 20 hours of depositions with me, the racist allegations, I suspect, now, since he has been so disgraced, since there has been almost unanimous support for Adam Silver, that he is going to ride off into the sunset, disgraced, but a very wealthy man.

BLITZER: He already is a very wealthy man. Would even be more wealthy once he sells, if he sells. I assume he will, when all the dust settles, the Clippers.

Carl, thanks very much for joining us.

DOUGLAS: Wolf, my pleasure. Please have me again.

BLITZER: We definitely well.

Carl Douglas, helping us from Los Angeles.

Up next, so what's in a name when it comes to politics? Obviously, a lot. Two big names potentially could go head to head in a 2016 presidential race. Our own Gloria Borger standing by. She's going to join us with a closer look at Bush/Clinton and the dynamic.

And there's a frightening new look at growing terror around the world. It's not the usual suspects. You'll find out what the U.S. is now most concerned about. Stand by.


BLITZER: We're following a breaking news story out of California. A 200-acre brushfire. Look at this, in San Bernardino County. Live pictures, courtesy of our affiliate, KTLA. The fire burning in Rancho Cucamonga. Some evacuations are under way. We don't have any final word on how much homes are affected. We have a CNN crew on their way to the fire right now. We'll update you as we get more information. But a California brushfire is forcing serious evacuations right now.

Other news we're following in politic, name recognition can help or hurt. Two well-known names are generating a lot of buzz leading up to the 2016 presidential race. Hillary Clinton, Jeb Bush, they continue to test the waters, make headlines, as they consider whether or not to run.

Our chief political analyst, Gloria Borger, has been doing some in- depth reporting on this Clinton/Bush dynamic.

Gloria, let me share with you a couple of polls. This is a new "ABC News"/"Washington Post" poll. Who would you vote for in 2016? Hillary Clinton, 53 percent; Jeb Bush, 41 percent. Obviously, it's very, very early. She has an impressive lead there at least as of now.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Right, they do. This -- look, they're both well known, Wolf, and that's where the family name, the family dynamic comes in. Because nobody is as well known as Hillary Clinton or Jeb Bush. She's had, you know, a husband who was president. He's had two presidents in the family. So they have --


BLITZER: The brother and the father.

BORGER: Right. They have name recognition. The families, if you look at some polling, the families are well respected.

The flip side of it, Wolf, people look at these two candidates and they say these names have been in American politics for over three decades at the presidential or the cabinet level. And they say enough, what are we doing, why are we having more Clintons and Bushes? You see, look, the families are well regarded, but there is a little bit of fatigue that comes with it. Like, why are we going to go back to the past? Hillary Clinton, people say she's going to have to deal with the fatigue problem less, because she's a woman, she looks different.

BLITZER: Because there seems to be more fatigue for the Bush name than the Clinton name if you believe that poll we just showed.

GORGER: Right. There is, there is. But there's another problem here, Wolf, and that is a lot of people are saying, look, the problem is that they get a head start. They can come right out and announce they're going to win and they can raise a lot of money without lifting a pinky. Take a listen to this.


DAVID FRUM, FORMER BUSH SPEECHWRITER: The thing that they bring to the table that nobody else has is that massive pre-existing ability to raise money.

BORGER: So the system's rigged?

FRUM: If we end up having a presidential race in which one dynasty plays off against another dynasty, you'll say, is this America, or is this the last days of the Roman Republic?


BORGER: People are asking the question, you know, isn't there anybody else in the country? Why do we keep going back to these two families? I would say that not everybody in all these families runs for political office. Obviously, the Bush family has longevity. The Clinton family is more of a boutique. And it started with Bill Clinton when he was governor of Arkansas. But people are saying, OK, enough already. We've seen them. We've seen the families. Let's move on to something else.

BLITZER: She's a lot better known nationally than Jeb Bush is.


BLITZER: He's, obviously, well known in Florida. But nationally, he's got a name that's well known. I don't know if a lot of folks nationally know that much about him.

BORGER: Right, they don't know that much about him. Because he has a Bush name, it's easy to tell the narrative pretty quickly because people will listen to it. It does he have the drag of George W. Bush on him? Yes, he might have the drag of George W. Bush on him.

The interesting thing about Jeb and Hillary is they're not the best politicians in their families. They're not as good at transactional politics. But they're kind of known as the wonks and the nerdy people in their families. They're very policy oriented. But if they ended up running against each other, you might see a very issues oriented race in 2016. Can you imagine that?

BLITZER: Nothing wrong with that. I'd like that.


BLITZER: All right, thanks very much. Good issues-oriented race, as opposed to name calling.

BORGER: Let's not go out on a limb on that, right?


BLITZER: Control slipping away right now. Very different story we're following, in eastern Ukraine. A crisis rages as pro-Russian militants take over more buildings. We're taking a closer look at who is in charge.

And the State Department has just released a brand-new report on the threat from al Qaeda. A very disturbing look on the group's affiliated organizations. Information you need to know.


BLITZER: Al Qaeda's morphing into a more different threat but U.S. officials say it's just as deadly and it's growing in strength.

Our own Elise Labott is digging through a report just released by the State Department assessing the new al Qaeda threat.

What does the report say, Elise?

ELISE LABOTT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is the State Department's Annual Patterns of Global Terrorism Report. We're seeing a couple of trends. Officials like to say that core al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan is on the decline. But what they've also seen is this strengthening of the affiliate groups that are not only growing in strength but al Qaeda can't control them. Look at that al Shabaab attack in the Westgate Mall in Kenya. Al Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula seen now as the most significant threat to the United States.

Officials are also saying in this report that the civil war in Syria now is becoming a magnet for thousands of foreign terrorists. Officials tell me it could be as many as 60 nationalities have traveled to Syria to launch jihad.

Then, Wolf, there are those documents by Snowden and those revelations about NSA, intelligence collecting activities. Officials are saying, look, this has been real damaging to the United States in its efforts to find out what terrorists are up to because now they know how the U.S. is monitoring them and they're finding other ways to communicate.

BLITZER: A very details report just released by the State Department.

Thanks very much, Elise.

Other news we're following including a troubling scene in eastern Ukraine where pro-Russian gunmen and protesters seized more government offices. Here is what it looks like inside one administrative building as mass militants control the empty hallways.

Let's hear from our own Arwa Damon.

Arwa, who is in control and what is happening right now?

ARWA DAMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, this is the scene in front of the main regional administrative building some 24 hours after it was taken over by the pro-Russian camp. Inside the building itself are more armed men in sandbag fighting positions. As for the presence of the authorities, well, there's police inside the building on either side of the road but they most certainly are not under the orders or the control, it seems, at this stage of Kiev, despite the Ukrainian government's statement about a troop build up.

But when you leave these cities and you go along the border, you do get more of a sense that this is a nation readying itself for war.


DAMON (voice-over): Amid eastern Ukraine's fertile farmlands, in a Soviet-era abandoned tractor warehouse, the men are called to attention.


DAMON: They are part of a troop build up that began in March after the speed of Russia's annexation of Crimea caught Kiev by surprise.


DAMON: "There are possibilities it could also happen here at the border with Russia," Lieutenant Colonel Lavedi Polovor (ph), the number two in charge tells us.

These border guards, the first line of defense, deployed from their base in central Ukraine. Half of them are still in training.

Border crossings throughout have been reinforced with massive concrete barricades and sandbags.

A gapping trench snakes through the landscape.

(on camera): In that direction, the trench extends all the way to the sea, about 100 kilometers, or 60 miles. Trenches similar to this one are being dug by Ukrainian authorities all along the border with Russia as they continue to get ready for a war Ukraine hopes it will be able to avoid.

(voice-over): Perched on a hilltop but not visible from the road, a paratrooper unit that also deployed in March.

We spot their men in the field but are not allowed to film.

(on camera): Camouflaged into the landscape is a small unit of Ukrainian paratroopers. And a less than 18-minute drive down the road, one of the barricades set up by the pro-Russian camp.


DAMON (voice-over): The threat from within Ukraine's borders is more immediate and menacing.

As we were out filming, Kiev lost control of yet another government building. The police doing nothing to stop the pro-Russians as they smashed windows and declared themselves the authority.

For the people living along the border it was a boundary in name only. Now potentially, these scenic, tranquil hills could become one of many front lines.


DAMON: Wolf, this remains a region divided. And those who do try to speak up for unity end up finding themselves in trouble. Earlier today, a man tried to stop a woman from burning the Ukrainian flag and failed to do so. He was pushed to the ground and no one came to his assistance. It's clear the situation here is deteriorating rapidly and dangerously -- Wolf?

BLITZER: An awful situation, indeed.

Arwa Damon on the scene for us, as she always is.

In northeast Nigeria, people are understandably outraged. Today, a protest demanding that the government do something to bring home 200 kidnapped schoolgirls. We have a live report from Nigeria. That's next.


BLITZER: In northeast Nigeria, there is still no trace of the girls kidnapped from their school two weeks ago. Militants snatched the teenaged girls from their dormitories and disappeared. People are furious and they are holding a protest today, demanding more be done to bring the girls home. And in a very disturbing development, we're learning the girls may have been sold into forced marriages by now.

Our Vladimir Duthiers has been covering this story.

Vlad, what have you learned about what's going on with the girls right now? What's the latest information?

VLADIMIR DUTHIERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, if you can imagine unimaginable pain and suffering that these parents are going through since learning that 200 of their daughters have been abducted by armed attackers in their government school, in their dormitory, skirted away into an area neighboring between Nigeria, Cameroon and Chad.

What we know now is parents are furious. They have attempted on many occasions to go into this area where it is believed that Boko Haram, the militant Islamist group that is in control of parts of the northeastern part of the country, in this very dense forest area. Parents have attempted to go into the forest armed with machetes, sticks, rocks, whatever they could find on the ground. These militants are armed and dangerous. They have told the parents that if they proceed further into the forest that they will be shot and killed.

The military, for their part, has basically said that they have and are conducting a search and rescue operation. We go to them every single day. We ask for updates. They haven't said a whole lot. They didn't want to give any updates while the operation is ongoing.

On the other hand, parents on the ground, teachers on the ground say they have seen very, very little activity, and they're still waiting and hoping that their daughters will come home -- Wolf?

BLITZER: This Boko Haram, this Islamist militant group, they don't like girls getting an education. They have made that clear. The 200 girls, are they Muslims or are they Christians? DUTHIERS: That's the interesting thing. It's a mix of Muslim and Christian girls. They have attacked mosques and churches. They have attacked schools where they are predominantly Muslim and Christian. There doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason other than they want to implement Sharia Law into Nigeria -- Wolf?

BLITZER: What a story. We'll stay on top of it. Hopefully, they'll find these 200 girls soon.

Vlad, thanks very much

That's it for me. Thanks very much for watching. I will be back 5:00 p.m. eastern, later today, for another special two-hour edition of "The Situation Room." Lots more news coming up. In the meantime, thanks for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer, in Washington.

NEWSROOM with Brooke Baldwin starts right now.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Wolf, thank you so much.

As always, great to be with you. I'm Brooke Baldwin.