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Ukraine: Seven Soldiers Killed In Ambush; Secrets Revealed In Jackie Kennedy Letters

Aired May 13, 2014 - 16:30   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Welcome back to THE LEAD. In the Sports Lead today, if one thing was clear from the exclusive interview that LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling gave to our own Anderson Cooper, besides that fact that somebody needs to define apology for Donald Sterling, is that he really, really doesn't really care for Magic Johnson.

The NBA legend name-checked on the now-infamous tape with Sterling's alleged mistress on which Sterling asked her to stop bringing black people to his games - Sterling did not back away from his criticism of Magic when he talked to Anderson.


DONALD STERLING, LA CLIPPERS OWNER: Big Magic Johnson. What has he done?

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Well, he's a business person.

STERLING: He's got AIDS. Did he do any business? I'd like -- did he help anyone in south L.A.?

COOPER: Well, I think he has HIV. He doesn't actually have full-blown AIDS, but -

STERLING: What kind of a guy goes to every city and has sex with every girl, then he catches HIV? Is that something that we want to respect and tell our kids about? I think he should be ashamed of himself.


TAPPER: Someone should. Anderson went out to get reaction from Magic himself today. He joins us now live. Anderson, how did Magic Johnson react to Sterling essentially doubling down on his hate for him?

COOPER: Yes. You know, it was obviously shocking. I think a lot of people were stunned by what he said. I certainly was. And I actually even hesitated to reach out to Magic Johnson because some (INAUDIBLE) are kind of - to actually have to even respond to for Magic Johnson, it just seems beneath Magic Johnson.

Anyway, I did reach out to him. He and I sat down together just moments ago. I want to show you some of what he said. Basically, he takes the high road. I mean, that's what Magic Johnson does. He could not have been any more gracious about all of this and kind of taking it in stride. But let's play what he said.


MAGIC JOHNSON, FORMER NBA PLAYER: My whole life is dedicated to urban America. So I just wish he knew the facts when he's talking. But he's a man who's upset, and he's reaching. He's reaching. He's trying to find something he can grab on to to help him save his team.

And it's not going to happen. It's not going to happen. The board of governors now have to do their job. Adam Silver, our commissioner of the NBA did a wonderful job of banning him for life. Now the board of governors got to do their job.

And again, I'm going to pray for the man. Because even if I see him today, I'm going to say hello to Donald and his wife as well. I'm not a guy who holds grudges and all that. Yes, am I upset? Of course. But at the same time, I'm a God-fearing man. I'm going to pray for him and hope that things work out for him.


COOPER: You know, Donald Sterling also in my interview that aired last night made all sorts of allegations that Magic Johnson had called him up, had told him to remain silent, don't say anything in a bid to try to steal the L.A. Clippers away from him. Magic sets all of that to rest and addresses all of that directly tonight. Basically setting the record straight on what really happened, who called whom and said what.

But it's obviously -- Magic Johnson, the last thing he wants to do is be caught in this, to be kind of dragged into this drama between Donald Sterling and his alleged mistress.

TAPPER: If there were a PR class, you could give lessons. But this is the improper response when you sit down for an interview. This is the exact perfect response. But I have to ask you, just as a sports fan, did you ask him if Magic is trying to buy the Clippers?

COOPER: Um, I hope you're not referring to me as a sports fan because, you know -- as I hope you know, I know nothing about sports. I'm probably the last person who should have done this interview with Magic Johnson.

But yes, I absolutely asked him about that. He's actually -- the response is very funny. It's actually quite long, so I don't want to try to summarize it because I'm not going to get it right. But he talks about his interest in basketball, in a basketball team. He talks about whether or not he wants to buy the Clippers, how long that process might take and some other teams he might very well be interested in buying.

TAPPER: Anderson Cooper, thanks for sharing a sneak peak of your interview with Magic Johnson. Be sure to tune in tonight at 8 p.m. Eastern, 5 p.m. Pacific for the full interview. It was great last night; it's going to be great tonight.

There were times when Donald Sterling expressed contrition, even teared up during his sit-down with Anderson last night. But whether it was for his racial comments or for misjudging his alleged mistress, that was difficult to discern. Let's hear some more of Donald Sterling's ostensible apology with Mr. Cooper.


STERLING: I think you have more of a plantation mentality than I do. You know - and I think you're more of a racist than I am.

COOPER: How is that?

STERLING: Because I'm not a racist and I've never been a racist and I never will be.


TAPPER: Ah, the classic "I know what you are, but what am I?" defense. But at least when it came to his remarks to his alleged mistress on that tape, Sterling did take some responsibility.


STERLING: I don't know why the girl had me say those things.

COOPER: You're saying you were set up?

STERLING: Well, yes. I was baited. I mean, that's not the way I talk.


TAPPER: OK, responsibility might be the wrong word. But he did call his words on the tape terrible and ugly, and said he didn't really believe them. But after giving an interview like that one, is there anything short of getting locked in an elevator with Solange Knowles that could win Donald Sterling any part of the public opinion back?

Let's bring in public relations specialist Howard Bragman. He's the vice chairman and founder of We should also note that Howard represents Magic Johnson's wife and son and knows Magic Johnson.

Howard, good to see you, as always. If Sterling would listen to you, and it's not clear that he listened to any PR professionals, but if he would listen to you, what would you have advised him to do before this interview and now in the aftermath?

HOWARD BRAGMAN, FOUNDER, REPUTATION.COM: You know, I have a saying that serves me very well with my clients. That is, silence is golden, duct tape is silver. Shut up. Okay? Nobody wants to hear from you. It's not going to change the outcome. Nobody is going to be sympathetic, and with all due respect to my friend Anderson Cooper, who got a great get, I just would've had him not say a thing. It can't do anything but exactly what it did, which is exacerbate the situation.

TAPPER: What about now? What if he called you now and said, OK, can you help me clean this up?

BRAGMAN: Yes. I would put out a statement and say, "I apologize 2,000 percent for everything I said. I own it. I'm giving $10 million to build a youth center in south center Los Angeles. I will relinquish ownership of the Clippers, and thank you for your support through the years and you won't hear me again." People will applaud.

TAPPER: Are public apologies in general a good idea for figures caught in situations like this? I can't even imagine what you can say when you spew such hate.

BRAGMAN: When you apologize, you have to understand, even if in your heart you feel you're 50 percent wrong, you have to take 100 percent responsibility. And -- because the goal of an apology is to move forward and to get beyond it. And so he blew it on every level.

But having met Mr. Sterling numerous times, what you have to understand is this. There are certain celebrities who you sit across the table and you talk to and are on the same wavelength. You know, how was lunch, it's really hot out.

Donald Sterling is not one of those guys. He lives in Donald-land. He's very insulated. He goes from his Beverly Hills mansion in his limousine to the office building that he owns, to a few choice restaurants where they treat him like a king. He doesn't live in the real world, and in his mind people say it's senility. I mean, I've spent time for the last 25 years. It's the same guy for the last 25 years. He lives in Donald land.

TAPPER: You know Magic Johnson well, Howard. Sterling seems to be seething about Magic, for whatever reason. What would you advise a client when they're about to do an interview, and you know that the client is going to be asked about someone he loathes. What should he have said?

BRAGMAN: He should have said, Magic Johnson does amazing work, and I'm sorry for any reference to him and I appreciate all of his contributions to basketball. Magic Johnson could run for mayor of L.A. and probably win. He's beloved here. He's respected. He's respected for his integrity, he's respected for what he's done in the urban community in Los Angeles. And this is the last guy to pick on and one of the stupidest things you could do.

TAPPER: I've got this theory about leadership I call the Jar Jar Binx theory of leadership, which is, some people succeed so much that they reach the stratosphere where there is no one around them that can say, you know what? Don't put that Jamaican frog in your movie, it's really going to ruin the whole franchise. Or don't bring that attractive biographer who's in love with you to Afghanistan, it's a bad idea. Don't do this interview with Anderson Cooper. If you do, be completely repentent. Is Donald Sterling one of these people that has no one around him that can say, shut up?

BRAGMAN: Absolutely. And even if they said shut up, he wouldn't listen. He thinks he's smarter than everyone else.

Someone called me a couple of weeks ago who's very close to Donald and said, "Donald really needs your help. I want you to sit down with him." And I said I don't want to. I said number one, he's not going to listen. Number two, he's beyond salvation and number three, I'm going to advise him to shut up. And I don't expect any of those things to work with talking to him. I've got enough in my plate right now that you don't need a client who's going to listen.

TAPPER: Well, if I ever get in trouble, Howard, I'm calling you, and you can tell me to shut up. Howard Bragman, thank you so much.

BRAGMAN: Thanks, Jake.

TAPPER: When we come back, six men killed in an ambush that is being called a terror attack as the violence escalates in Ukraine. Is Vladimir Putin behind it? Is Russia?

And later, her personal agony being married to a womanizer. For the first time, Jackie Kennedy's deepest thoughts on the subject are revealed. What she said about her own ambitions and her fears about her husband's wandering eye.


TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. In our "World Lead," assassination attempt, burning buildings, blood in the streets. It is not quite been open warfare in Eastern Ukraine, but for months we've teetered on the edge of it. There is however a war of facts raging in all these chaos.

This weekend, two regions of Eastern Ukraine voted to leave Ukraine and declare independence. The separatists say it was a landslide, 90 percent voting for independence from Kiev's government. Kiev calls that a farce and a new CNN poll shows that more than half of Ukrainians in general want to stay out aligned with the west. Not with Russia. Two-thirds of Ukrainians also want to see Moscow face more sanctions, according to our poll. Meanwhile, the chaos and the violence continues.

And Geoffrey Pyatt, the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine joins me now. Mr. Ambassador, thanks for joining us. Today, six Ukrainian soldiers were reportedly killed in what Kiev is calling a terrorist attack. Do we have any evidence that Russia, Putin are behind if not specifically this terrorist attack, the violence in general?

GEOFFFREY PYATT, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO UKRAINE: Well, Jake, we have evidence that Russia is behind a lot of these separatists groups. We are very concerned about the continued violence, the escalation and tactics. What we've seen of this attack was it involves very heavy weapons including RPGs and other things. We hope very much that Russia will join the United States, the European partners and try to get everybody focused on de-escalating the situation and getting this under a diplomatic track.

TAPPER: Your opposition in Ukraine would argue that it's the Ukrainians that are engaging in a lot of violence. One separatist leader in Eastern Ukraine was shot today in an apparent assassination attempt. Dozens of others have been killed in Odessa a week and a half ago, most of them pro-Russian separatists as they were trying to escape from a burning trade union building. What's your response to the kind of violence that is hurting the pro-Russian forces?

PYATT: Well, there's been too much violence on both sides, which is why we're putting a lot of energy into this national dialogue process and the OSCE road map and the government of Ukraine's diplomatic road map. This is going to begin tomorrow here in Kiev with about 100 political leaders from across the spectrum talking about what the government is proposing and helping everybody to focus on moving Ukraine forward in a political way and setting the stage for what we think is going to be a critically important presidential election on May 25th.

TAPPER: Some European analysts say that Putin doesn't actually need to invade Ukraine anymore. He basically has control of Crimea and because of the separatist actions and this referendum, he basically controls parts of Eastern Ukraine and has made the whole of Ukraine ungovernable. Is that true, has Putin already won?

PYATT: No, I don't think so, Jake, because over the long term we are convinced first of all that Russia should want to have a stable relationship with a prosperous and politically stable Ukraine. Moreover, the sanctions which have been imposed on Russia as a result of its invasion of Crimea and now the aggression in Eastern Ukraine are taking a toll, if these actions continue, there will be additional costs.

TAPPER: Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt, thank you so much.

PYATT: Good talking to you.

TAPPER: In another world news, let's go back to third grade for a second and talk about how we found out in 1492 Columbus sailed an ocean blue to a new world. And now more 500 years later, an underwater explorer named Barry Clifford says he's found the of Columbus' flagship, the Santa Maria under 10 to 15 feet off the coast of Haiti.

A canon from the 15th Century found at the site is the smoking gun, he says. If true, it would be one of the biggest archaeological discoveries in history. The Mount Everest of shipwrecks as Clifford puts it and yes, since I can hear many of you typing on Twitter already, trying to get the joke out there. I'll save you the time, they found the Santa Maria before they found the Malaysian plane.

Turning now to the Buried Lead, letters that have never seen the light of day from Jackie Kennedy until today. She was as strong and private as she was adored and idolized. We're getting a look at her private thoughts and venting sessions, everything from JFK's appetite for other women to her own feud with God after that fateful night in Texas. CNN's Tom Foreman has more of us.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I perhaps you could tell me some of the issues that are important in this campaign.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Jackie Bovie was only 21 and on a trip to Ireland when she met the man who would become part adviser and part pen pal. The 73-year-old Irish priest, Joseph Leonard. From the start, she wrote about her most intimate thoughts. For example, a New York stockbroker she was dating. So terribly much in love for the first time and I want to get married. It's the deepest, happiest feeling in the world. That relationship ended.

But when she met the young and ambitious John Kennedy, she wrote about that, too. He's like my father in a lot of way. Loves to chase and is bored with the conquest and needs proof that he's still attractive so flirts with other women and after she married, new address, please note. The Kennedy family compound. There are 33 letters in all to be auctioned off. The auction house will only say they are selling them from a private source.

They are letters to Father Leonard from 1950 to 1964, 130 pages about religion, I terribly want to be a good Catholic now and I know it's all because of you, about living the high-life. Maybe I'm just dazzled and picture myself in a glittering world of crowned heads and men of destiny and not just a little sad housewife. If you're lonely, it could be a hell.

And when the president was gunned down in Dallas, she wrote, I think God must have taken Jack to show the world how lost we would be without him. God will have a bit of explaining to do to me if I ever see him. Although, she added, I have to think there is a God or I have no hope of finding Jack again.

Father Leonard died in 1964 and most of all the letters reveal a deep affection between the young woman and the aging priest. So much so that even though they met only twice in life, on paper they appear still and forever friends.


FOREMAN: This is the sort of thing really, Jake, that excites not only historians but people. This rare, rare look that you get into this very unusual relationship. Met the man twice in person and yet this long correspondence, all these details, these thoughts that we never knew about, it's a treasure trove.

TAPPER: It's really a confession that she was doing with a priest.

FOREMAN: In so many ways and yet she also noted one of the things that she liked about him, you are not like the priests I have known.

TAPPER: Thank you so much. Incredible story. Make sure to follow me on Twitter @jaketapper. That's it for THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. "THE SITUATION ROOM" with Wolf Blitzer is up next. The latest on that deadly virus and the 20 people that have already been exposed to it right after this quick break.