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Malaysia Transportation Ministry Releases New Report; Why Hillary Hesitates on 2016 Run; Congressional Investigation Calls for Firing of V.A. Director; George W. Bush Bikes with Wounded Warriors

Aired May 1, 2014 - 13:30   ET



WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: We're heading into day 56 in the mystery surrounding Malaysian Airlines flight 370. Today, Malaysia's Transportation Ministry released its preliminary report on the investigation. Here are highlights. It apparently took 17 minutes for anyone to notice flight 370 disappeared from the radar and no explanation for the time lapse. Also -- get this -- four hours elapsed between the time the plane went missing and the start of the search-and-rescue operation. No explanation why. It says officials in Kuala Lumpur contacted Singapore and Hong Kong and Cambodia during that period. It does include one safety recommendation. It calls for real-time tracking of commercial aircraft, which is not required now, when flying over remote areas.

Let's get more on our report from our correspondent, Will Ripley, who is joining us live from Kuala Lumpur.

Will, will this report, although short on details, and it does leave many important questions unanswered, advance the story at all for the families who want answers?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, I think the Malaysian government was releasing this report, Wolf, in hopes to silence critics who have been saying there was a real lack of transparency. But what this report is telling us and more importantly the attachments tell us, which tell us what happened in that four-hour gap, it illustrates there was so much confusion, disorganization in those four hours, when you had Kuala Lumpur thinking MH370 was flying in Cambodian airspace and they didn't have evidence that was happening. They had lost the plane off of radar. That wasted valuable time. You can see as you go through the transcripts here, there were whole chunks of time where every 30 minutes, they would ask, have you heard something yet? How about now? That went on for an hour and half, time that could have been spent possibly deploying planes to search for this aircraft with 239 people that was veering off course heading somewhere, where today the biggest question the families want answered, where is the plane? We still don't have the answer and this shows valuable time was wasted.

BLITZER: Sure does. We'll a lot more coming up throughout the day in "The Situation Room" as well.

Will Ripley reporting. Thank you. Still ahead, many want Hillary Clinton to commit to running in the 2016 presidential race. What's stopping her? Our next guest has potentially an answer or two.


BLITZER: Will she or won't she? Everyone wants to know if Hillary Clinton will run for president in 2016. While many think she's a shoo-in for the Democratic nomination, she has yet to commit to the race. What potentially could be stopping her?

That's the focus of CNN's Political Analyst Maggie Haberman's article in the latest issue of "Politico" magazine. Maggie is joining us from New York.

Maggie, what's the answer? Your article is entitled "What is Hillary Clinton Afraid Of?" What is she afraid of?

MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: We get to the answer very quickly. It is, in large measure, the media. Everyone we spoke to in her circle, and there were dozens of people who know her well, think she is very concerned about dealing with the press. Does not mean that she worried about thin skin or she reads her clips. She actually really is not known for that at all. It is the process and the grind. She has very well documented reasons for disliking the media. This goes back a long way. You saw that in the Dianne Blair papers released recently. You saw that with the Clinton Foundation papers released recently. This goes back to the White House era, the 1992 campaign. But that has never really changed for her. She does not enjoy this. To the extent to which she is trying to figure out what factors would go into running again, not dealing with that is way high up there.

BLITZER: I'm going to play a clip. This is what she said, what, on April 8th, only a few weeks ago.


HILLARY CLINTON, (D), FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: It gives you a sense of being kind of dehumanized, I guess, is part of the experience. You know, you really can't ever feel like you're just having a normal day.


BLITZER: She's referring to the media coverage, if you will. Obviously, she's very, very, sensitive to that, even after all these years in the public eye.

HABERMAN: Even after all these years in the public eye, and even -- this is in large measure because of -- she is going through some of the most positive press she's had in a very, very long time, during the entire time she was at the State Department, and really in the last year and a half. The obvious exception has been Benghazi and what surrounded it. But in terms of the overarching narrative and coverage of her, it has generally some of her most favorable since going back to the White House days, the 1992 campaign. Her aides are very, very aware of that. They refer to that period in the State Department as the golden age and they worry about it coming to an end. And they know with the campaign it could and would. She is very well aware of it, too.

BLITZER: One Clinton campaign veteran told you these words. I'll put it up on the screen because they're sort of brutal. Quote, "Look, she hates you period. That's never going to change."


That's pretty brutal, I must say. I don't understand, Maggie, how anybody could hate you.

HABERMAN: I appreciate that so much. I understand very well how politicians don't like us. As you know very well, we saw with Mitt Romney a nominee who had a similar concern about the media, similar mistrust of the media, similar fear of the media. It might not be as ingrained as Hillary Clinton. Mitt Romney was not as public a figure for as long a time as she had been but he learned it from his father and showed it in 2012. Hillary has not spent a long time over her career courting the press, although, according to everyone who has spent time with her at a meeting, say they find her warm and funny and they see the side of her that her friends talk about that you don't tend to see as much publicly.

BLITZER: Did you get a sense in all the reporting, you did a lot of reporting. This is an excellent article, did you get a bottom sense will she or won't she?

HABERMAN: The bottom line is, her aides say, 50-50, less of a coin toss and more on the favor she runs. But it is, by no means, a sure thing. She herself, it is important to note, for all this running around she is doing, is not acting like a candidate. She will act more like a candidate or we will see when she does her book tour next month.

BLITZER: The article in the new issue "Politico" magazine, "What is Hillary Clinton Afraid Of?" The author, Maggie Haberman.

Maggie, thanks for joining us.

HABERMAN: Thank you.

BLITZER: Up next, the CNN special investigation. A former V.A. doctor details his secret patient and shocking wait times for U.S. military veterans to get an appointment, and for dozens of them, it's too late. Up next, we get answers from the doctor in charge.


BLITZER: A really powerful exclusive investigation last week by CNN exposing the deaths up to 40 U.S. military veterans waiting to enter the hospital, and that has now prompted President Obama to order an investigation.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The moment we heard about the allegations around these 40 individuals who had died in Phoenix, I immediately ordered the secretary of Veterans Affair, General Shinseki, to investigate. We also have an I.G. investigation taking place. And so we take the allegations very seriously.


BLITZER: Three members of Arizona's congressional delegation want the V.A. director in Phoenix fired. CNN has also learned the V.A. Office of Inspector General is on the verge of expanding its entire investigation.

Through all of this, the Phoenix director refused to answer any of our questions, which is why our senior investigative reporter, Drew Griffin, tried to track down the truth from the woman herself. He got a not so welcoming response.



(voice-over): After being stonewalled for two weeks trying to get answers from the Phoenix Veteran's Administration Hospital, it finally came down to this.

(on camera): Director, can you talk to us?


GRIFFIN (voice-over): Surrounded by federal police, that is the V.A.'s director of this Phoenix medical facility, Sharon Helman --


GRIFFIN (on camera): Will she not talk to us?

(voice-over): -- who, on Monday, literally sped from our cameras.

(on camera): Can you please talk to us, Director. Director Helman?

(voice-over): A short time later, a change of heart. The director and her chief of staff decided it was time to answer the allegations that have three Arizona congressmen now calling for her resignation.

As we first reported, multiple sources tell CNN as many as 40 veterans died while they were waiting for medical care at this V.A. facility. Our sources tell us many were placed on a secret list designed by V.A. managers to hide the fact veterans were waiting months to see a doctor.

SHARON HELMAN, DIRECTOR, PHOENIX VETERANS AFFAIRS HOSPITAL: Those are the allegations we asked the Office of Inspector General to review.

GRIFFIN (on camera): But those are the allegations, I assume, you two would know direct knowledge of.

HELMAN: Again, those allegations are ones that the Office of Inspector General are reviewing right now. When we heard about this during the House of Veterans Affairs Committee is the first time we heard of the allegations and why we asked the Office of Inspector General to do a thorough impartial review.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): That is an odd statement considering as early as last fall the V.A.'s Office of Inspector General had already been pursuing allegations of a secret waiting list and veterans dying while waiting to see a doctor. Helman's explanation? Yes, she says, investigators questioned her back in December but she did not know what the questioning was about.

HELMAN: They don't tell us what the allegations are surrounding their investigation. I can just confirm, yes, they were here.

GRIFFIN: Multiple sources inside this hospital tell CNN, under direction of management, a secret electronic waiting list was created and paper evidence of when patients first went to the V.A. seeking care was shredded.

And those sources say Sharon Helman and her medical chief of staff, Dr. Darren Deering, knew about it because it was their plan.

(on camera): So I'm asking you, maybe you directly, sir, did this or did this not happen?

DR. DARREN DEERING, MEDICAL CHIEF OF STAFF, PHOENIX VETERANS AFFAIRS HOSPITAL: I think what we have here, Drew, I think there is some confusion amongst our staff. When we came on as a leadership team in 2012, the practice at that time was that they would schedule new veterans coming in for care way out into the future, sometimes a year or 14 months. What we did is we took those patients scheduled in the future and put them in this national tool, on this EWL, electronic waiting list, so when we had an appointment that came open, so if a veteran called next week and canceled their appointment, we could pull them off this list and get them in that slot. So it actually improved the probability of the veterans getting an appointment sooner. I think there were some folks that did not understand that, and I think that's where these allegations are coming from.

GRIFFIN: When I'm talking to sources inside this hospital who, literally in tears, are telling us that patients have died waiting on these list, those people are confused?

HELMAN: Drew, what we're saying is we implemented the electronic wait list. And any concerns staff have, I share in those same concerns.

GRIFFIN: Have you found cases where veterans are on the waiting list and have died?

DEERING: Yes. And that is -- in the course of health care delivery, we have patients who unfortunately pass away. We have found veterans on the list who have died, but we have not been able to connect their death to the delay in getting their care. GRIFFIN: It seems cut and dry to me. Whatever happened happened, and the people who know what happened are right before me.

HELMAN: I think that's a question for the Office of Inspector General.

DEERING: We have never instructed --


DEERING: -- our staff to create a secret list, to maintain a secret list, to shred a secret list. That has never come from our office.

HELMAN: It has never come from me.

DR. SAN FOOTE, PHYSICIAN: Are you kidding?

GRIFFIN (voice-over): Dr. Sam Foote is the person who first became public on CNN with his accusations. He's a physician, recently retired after 24 years with the Phoenix V.A., who, along with several sources inside the V.A., says there is no confusion, the secret list existed and veterans died.

(on camera): So you're not backing down at all?

FOOTE: No sir.

GRIFFIN: So what they're telling us, false?

FOOTE: I would say so, yes.

GRIFFIN: Dr. Helman, even the president of the United States has spoken out about this particular issue. Three congressmen, this morning, are calling for your head. They want you out of here. Are you leaving?

HELMAN: I'll tell you right now, the Office of Inspector General is here reviewing all of the allegations. And as the leader of this organization, I'm going to continue to provide the best health care that these veterans deserve and earn.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): CNN has learned that the investigation may be expanding not just to veterans who died waiting for care, but veterans who died waiting for return care, follow-up appointments that they could not get.

Drew Griffin, CNN, Phoenix.


BLITZER: That's some report.

Over the last six months, CNN has made multiple requests to interview the V.A. secretary, Shinseki, on the delayed care issued. Our requests have all been denied or ignored. Meanwhile, today, Republican Congressman Tom Runny (ph) is calling on the attorney genera, Eric Holder, to investigate and, quote, "determine appropriate criminal charges."

Former President George W. Bush sets out on a 100-kilometer bike ride which included veterans and takes our own Jake Tapper along. They are pedaling in Texas. Jake Tapper standing by to preview his interview with the former president and break some news.


BLITZER: Former President George W. Bush today welcomes 16 wounded warriors who served in Iraq and Afghanistan to his ranch in Crawford, Texas. They are there for the Warrior 100K, a 100-kilometer bike ride for seriously injured veterans and personnel.

Our chief Washington correspondent, the anchor of "The Lead," Jake Tapper, was also there and still is in Crawford.

Jake, you had a chance, Jake, exclusive interview with the former president of the United States. You made some news, but also helping these injured servicemen and women is something he is passionate about and something you are passionate about.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right. And we talked specifically about how to help those who have scars that are visible but also I asked him about those whose scars are not so apparent.


TAPPER: Some of these scars are visible and some of them are not visible. Some of them are traumatic brain injury, TBI, or post traumatic stress?

GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Yes, that's exactly right. Many of the men who have PTS will tell you that biking has helped them recover. It's -- PTS is an injury, which means it's fixable overtime.

TAPPER: And I noticed you dropped the "D". It's not PTSD any more?

BUSH: I have dropped the "D." And thank you for reminding the viewers of that. "D" stands for disorder, and we don't view and a lot of the experts don't view PTS as a disorder. It's an injury. That's really important for a lot of reasons. It's important to eliminate stigma.


TAPPER: We talked mostly about veterans and veterans' issues. You can see the interview later on "The Lead." But we also talked about other issues as well. One of them, there's some talk about his little brother, Jeb Bush, running for president.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TAPPER: I have a little brother, so I know what it's like to be protective of a little brother.


My little brother, like your little brother, is much bigger than me.

BUSH: Yeah, probably much smarter, as well.


TAPPER: He is probably smarter than me, too.

What advice are you giving him?

BUSH: I have really not talked to Jeb about the presidency. It's hard for people to believe.

TAPPER: I was talking about Marv.

BUSH: Oh, Marv.


My advice is Marv, don't run.


I hope Jeb runs. I think he would be a great president. I have no clue what's on his mind and we will talk when he's ready. I noticed he's moving around the country quite a bit and --

TAPPER: Doing well in polls.

BUSH: Yeah. That's fine. It don't mean anything for him. I can guarantee he's not looking at a poll to decide whether or not he wants to run. It's an internal -- he's checking his core. As he said publicly, I'm thinking about my family. And of course, he knows full well what a run for the presidency can do to a family. He has seen his dad and brother run for president. I hope he runs.

So, hey, Jeb, if you need advice, give me a call.


TAPPER: Of course, we talked about many other topics, Ukraine, the comments by Donald Sterling and, most of all, veterans' issues. You can see the whole interview on "The Lead," at 4:00 eastern, 1:00 p.m. pacific -- Wolf?

BLITZER: He looked pretty good. How does he feel?

TAPPER: He said he feels great. This is the first time he has done this race since he had that heart surgery last year. He says he is in tiptop shape. He led the race. He was in the lead. He seems to be in pretty good shape for a 67-year-old. BLITZER: We will see the full interview 4:00 p.m. on "The Lead."

Jake, excellent work. Thank you very much.

That's it for me. Thanks very much for watching.

NEWSROOM with Pamela Brown starts right now.