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Republicans Plan To Sue President Obama Over Issue Of Executive Orders; ABC's Diane Sawyer Will Step Aside As "Evening News" Anchor; Ebola "Epidemic Is Out Of Control"; Chew On This: A World Cup Ban?

Aired June 25, 2014 - 16:30   ET


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: She reportedly suggested leaving troops there. Again, without re-litigating who did what whom and when was the bad decision the first made or who made the worst decision, Bush or Obama, let's talk about the president's foreign policy, will this be a problem for her if she runs for president?

ARI FLEISCHER, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Well, sure. Anybody who runs for president is going to get challenged on a domestic and international agenda. And when you look abroad and you see how bad the world has gone to in the Ukraine and with Syria and with Iraq, none of it feels right; none of it feels like anything is working. All of that occurs to the detriment of the secretary of state of the United States who might want to become president.

So sure, it is going to be an issue. If things are peace will around the world it would benefit her. If things are not going well, it is going to be a problem for her.

BERMAN: Even if she tries to create space on issues of Iraq and Syria.

FLEISCHER: Well, come on. Sure. She will create space and she did have different positions. But it's still what you're held to. And as secretary of state, she will be particularly held to it and for example, the Russian reset, that was hers. And things haven't gone so well with Russia.

DONNA BRAZILE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, you know what, John. Nobody is going to look in the rear-view mirror, but Republicans and that's why they constantly lose elections. And Hillary Clinton, if she decides to run and that's a big if, she is going to talk about the future, the future relationships with this country, not just look at what happened, you know, four years ago, two years ago, even under President Obama's term. But her job and her role if she decides to run is to talk about the future. No one votes for anyone based on just, you know, talking about the past. They want to hear what are you going to do for us next time?

BERMAN: I want to look in the rear-view mirror just for a second, Donna, if you will allow me. I'm looking in the rear-view mirror to last night when Thad Cochran won an election in Mississippi, a runoff there against Chris McDaniel. Rush Limbaugh who you may have heard of had some, you know, pretty

provocative explanations for why Thad Cochran won last night. I think we have the sound. Let's listen to that.


RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: I wonder what the campaign slogan was in Mississippi, uncle Toms for Thad.


BERMAN: So obviously, Rush Limbaugh talking about the fact that African-Americans did appear to turn out and vote for Thad Cochran. What do you think of that comment?

BRAZILE: Well first of all, he is an entertainer so I laughed, OK? So that's number one upon.

Number two, I have to tell you. You know, in the past because I have family in Mississippi, my maternal grandmother was from Mississippi. I was there last week. Let me just say this. There are a number of African-Americans and independents and others who support Thad Cochran because he's been a good senator. He's been good on constituent services. He has delivered.

And I can tell you this. Rush Limbaugh needs to understand this. Right after hurricane Katrina, who was down there trying to help people pick up their lives? Who was there to help them get back into their homes? Who was there to help them rebuild their lives? It was Thad Cochran. It was no Rush Limbaugh.

BERMAN: Interesting. You know, it's a point that Dana Bash made and she's been down in the state for the last few days covering this.

Ari, I want to give you the last word on an interesting subject right now. House speaker John Boehner said they are going to sue the president over the issue of executive orders. But President Obama is not the first guy to use executive orders here, in fact, so far he has used less than your boss, President George W. Bush. Do you think this is a good idea?

FLEISCHER: Partially, yes.

Look, I'm a big fan of a vigorous president and strong president. He uses all the powers of his office to get done whatever it is. He can get done within the law and that includes the use of executive orders.

But you can also go too far. The one that bothers me the most is Obamacare where the president has now just unilaterally wave the law, not implemented the law, apply this selectively, or just said it doesn't count anymore. We got to push back extensions or deadlines.

That to me is a very troubling issue. Because the law of the land is the law of the land and the president does have to obey it.

BRAZILE: He's not breaking any law. FLEISCHER: Hold on now. The other one that he did --

BRAZILE: Well, don't lie.

FLEISCHER: And there was make recess appointments, you know. These are congressional prerogatives and the president does not have the power to trump Congress on those issues. So, frankly, a suit is good because it actually draws new definitions for all future presidents to know what the law is.

BRAZILE: You know, there is a reason why Nancy Pelosi didn't waste taxpayer money to rev up the democratic base while George Bush was president and we're talking about torture because presidents have power. They have executive power.

FLEISCHER: Donna, I said that.

BRAZILE: And judiciously and cautiously and this president has used it very cautiously. In fact, he had to go all of the way back to Grover Cleveland in 1885 to 1889 to see a president who has not used a pen.

FLEISCHER: Cautiously? He's turned Obamacare into Swiss cheese.

BRAZILE: They want to sue the president for doing his job while the Republicans in Congress are failing to do their job. They need to get sued. Everyone should vote them out.

BERMAN: Donna Brazile is playing the Grover Cleveland card, Ari. So we will have to leave it there.

Donna Brazile, Ari Fleischer, thank you both so much for joining us. I really appreciate it.

BRAZILE: Thank you.

BERMAN: When we come back, it was once the most coveted job for TV journalists, anchor of an evening newscast. But as Diane Sawyer steps down is the new must-have spot in the mornings?

And later, he's still in the tournament for now, but will the World Cup player accused of biting his opponent be allowed to stay? New details on the investigation against him. That's just ahead.


BERMAN: Welcome back to the money lead.

ABC News is announcing Diane Sawyer will be step aside as anchor of the network's evening newscast "World News." David Muir, the weekend "World News" anchor and co-anchor of 20/20 will replace her starting this fall. But in a really interesting twist, ABC also announced that "Good Morning America" co-host George Stephanopoulos will be the chief anchor on ABC, the main guy in the chair for some of their biggest stories. This is the kind of intricate mass media mix-up that only CNN's Brian Stelter can properly make sense of. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is my last broadcast as the anchorman of the "CBS Evening News."

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you so much for coming along with me on this incredible journey.

STELTER: The "Nightly News" anchor chair has been left before.

DIANE SAWYER, ABC NEWS ANCHOR: Good evening. And it is so good to be here with you here tonight. And we begin --

Diane Sawyer But as Diane Sawyer departs the desk on ABC News, here's my headline.


STELTER: Is it still the most prestigious job in TV news?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Reporting tonight, David Muir.

STELTER: David Muir will get the seat.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Diane is back on Monday.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We'll move on now.

STELTER: But as for the man many wanted it, according to ABC, George Stephanopoulos will stay at "Good Morning America," the network's highly profitable morning show. Sure his desk is more crowded, but Stephanopoulos new title, chief anchor means he's getting part of Sawyer's job. ABC says he'll take over during big breaking news stories and Muir will help out.

So is it a promotion or a pass over? Either way, Stephanopoulos stayed in the morning marks yet another transition in the evolution of the evening. Morrow, Jennings, Gibson and Rather, made way for Couric and Sawyer.

Now, it is not the gender of the anchoring question, it's the time slot.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I tried not to tell myself that it was the best job in broadcasting because I didn't want to make nice too nervous.

STELTER: In the nearly two decades since Matt Lauer took his place on NBC's "Today" show, morning anchor desks have become the new throne of TV news. One more proof of that, well, Lauer just is re-up for a couple of more years at a reported salary of more than $20 million, compared with Sawyer's salary of $12 million.

The top AMA anchors are not just landing a big paycheck, they are landing big introduce, too. The president gave three to the morning shows last week. So for all you aspiring journalists out there, may I suggest adding waking up early to your list of resume skills.


BERMAN: And CNN senior media correspondent and anchor in his own right, Brian Stelter joins me now.

You know, Brian, it is really interesting. And first of all, I should say, I worked at ABC News for a long time. David Muir is a great friend of mine. He earned this job and he will do a tremendous job in the evenings. But it does speak to a big transition in this business and in our country.

STELTER: It does.

BERMAN: Where the news cycles are being started and dictated by what's happening in the a.m.

STELTER: The evening newscast used to be the main course and now it's just part for the buffet. And if I can keep that metaphor going, breakfast is probably even more important now than whatever is on at dinner time. The morning shows set the tone for a television network's day. They also set the news agenda in the way that they didn't 20 years ago. And yes, the money is most important here. I mean, these morning shows are so profitable compared to the evening newscast which are really there are more for prestige.

BERMAN: There is another interesting development here. You mentioned here briefly, you know, in that piece right there, the .evening anchors went from all men to all of a sudden a few years ago, there were two women.

STELTER: Katie Couric and Diane Sawyer.

BERMAN: Now we're back to all men.

STELTER: And it does feel a little bit backward. And I've seen this sentiment online today from people who love Diane Sawyer and love David Muir, but who say this just feels a little disappointing that in 2014 we don't see more diversity at 6:30 p.m.

Now, we've seen a lot of shuffling around in recent years. Scott Pelly has been at CBS for a couple of years. Brian Williams has been there a whole decade. I don't think these jobs are jobs that you sit in for 20, or 30 years anymore. There will be more changes to come at 6:30 as there are all across TV.

BERMAN: Dave is 40. I mean, David Muir can be in that job for a long time.

STELTER: He could.

BERMAN: Let me say this, though. You know, one of the parlor games we play in this business, we are talking about God, the evening news, how long will it be around? Can it possibly survive? When will the networks take that space back? Do you think the time will come?

STELTER: I sure am happy. I've never written one of those stories that say evening news will be dead in x-number of years because all of those stories so far have been proven wrong. I don't see any immediate dangers for the nightly newscast. They still draw a lot of viewers and they still give prestigious to their networks.

But like I said, it's only one part of the buffet now. This was gave ABC came out with app for Apple TV. They want you to get your news on demand as well as live. And you are only going to see more of that, you know. The giant trend on reshaping TV is toward on demand and 6:30 is one tiny piece of that.

BERMAN: Brian Stelter, great to have you here and fascinating stuff. They have leading people into the discussions that we all have here every minute in just about every day.

STELTER: Absolutely.

BERMAN: Coming up for us next, it is a killer virus straight out of a horror movie except honestly worse. Doctors are calling it an epidemic that is out of control, so how are they fighting it without becoming infected themselves.

Plus, North Korea threatening merciless retaliation in the U.S. over a Hollywood comedy, what has the kingdom so mad? Stay with us.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You want to go kill Kim Jong-un?




BERMAN: Welcome back to THE LEAD. In the Buried Lead, if you were unlucky enough to get it, typically you only have a 10 percent chance of surviving. The Ebola virus, one of the nature's most efficient killers is exploding. The relief group, "Doctors Without Borders" says the epidemic is so out of control, they can no longer send teams to new outbreak sites. It's been growing since March with 326 deaths and that's so far.

Our chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, visited the region of the outbreak in Western Africa recently. So Sanjay, you know, what makes this so unprecedented, which is the word that relief workers are using?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: When you talked about Ebola in the past, typically it was relegated to a small village within some particular part of the jungle. But now you take a look at the map and you see just how far this has spread. Where we were in Guinea, I should point out as well, John, the virus was making its way into big cities into the capital of Guinea. That's a city of 2 million people and it has an international airport and that's part of the reason there's been this viral widespread viral sort of load in many countries. There's still a mistrust of many of the medical workers trying to provide care and as a result, people get diagnosed late and may transmit this even more so before they actually get some help.

BERMAN: "Doctors Without Borders" says they're out of resources. You were inside those isolation areas where that group is working in Guinea. Can you describe the scene for us? What was the environment like? Was that the mistrust you were talking about?

GUPTA: That was some of the mistrust, but I will tell you and this is the type of story which, you know, it's very different in some ways being on the ground. First of all, when you talk about Ebola, it's not that it's particularly contagious, but it is highly infectious.

While it doesn't spread easily from person to person, only a small amount can get somebody sick and that's why you see these essentially moon suits that people are wearing. You have to protect every square inch of your skin and that's just very labor intensive and there is a high turnover among the medical staff that works in those settings.

Those suits and some of the resources you see there being used you start to run out of those things after a time. It's a relatively small area where they are taking care of these patients, but they've had to expand those facilities as they've had more and more patients.

BERMAN: It's relatively confined, Sanjay, but at the same time we use words like outbreak and extremely deadly. Can it spread beyond that? Is that something that people in other parts of the world need to worry about?

GUPTA: Here's how I would answer that, John, it's something that we thought about a lot while being over there. My guess is that at some point, you have a virus here that has an incubation period between 2 and 21 days that means after exposure, you cannot have any symptoms and not be sick for up to 21 days.

You can get on an airplane and fly anywhere around the world and it is likely that you will see people show up who may have been exposed to Ebola virus. I think what should provide comfort is that before people start to spread this virus to other people, they are very sick themselves and they are not up walking around and they are not at that time flying.

They are down in bed and they can barely get up and that's why family members and healthcare workers are always the most likely to get the virus, to have the virus spread to them. So I think we'll hear about a case somewhere else around the world, but the idea is that it causes another outbreak somewhere else is unlikely.

BERMAN: It's a situation that does demand attention. Sanjay Gupta, thank you for shining the spotlight on it for us. Appreciate it.

GUPTA: Thanks, John. BERMAN: Coming up for us on THE LEAD, human skin is to Luis Suarez as cookies are to cookie monster. But will the soccer star's snack attack during Tuesday's match sideline him for the rest of the World Cup? That's next.


BERMAN: Welcome back now. The Sports Lead, soccer's governing body, FIFA, is now deciding whether to ban Uruguay's Luis Suarez possibly for the rest of the World Cup. Why? It's after he apparently took a bite out of the defender's shoulder. Suarez has been suspended two times for biting players in the past, but this time he says the guy's shoulder ran into his mouth.

Meantime, here in the United States we are hoping for a more vegan victory. The uber match-up of Team USA against Germany is scheduled for noon tomorrow and Team America's German coach said there will not be any wink-wink deal to get both teams through their group.

CNN's Frederik Pleitgen, a German who roots for American things is in Brazil. Fred, I want to start with the biting incident. Uruguay plays Columbia on Saturday. FIFA has got to make a decision by then on Suarez, don't they?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They certainly will and there are some people who believe that Suarez might be banned. There are others who say they don't believe that would happen. It would hurt the Uruguayans a great deal if he was banned because he is quite frankly by far their best player.

If you look at that video and I was watching the game live as that happened it seems as though there was something strange going on and all of a sudden the Italian player started running to the referee showing his shoulder and the bite marks that he had on the shoulder and it was only when you watched the instant replay and you could think he possibly did this on purpose.

Now knowing his history, though, it is something that doesn't seem to be out of the question and certainly if it does appear to FIFA that he did this on purpose that he may be banned for a few games and maybe for the rest of the tournament -- John

BERMAN: Yes, the history that it's so difficult there, with the history of biting in the past, it may be hard to believe that he did it by mistake. Let's leave bitegate aside and talk about the big matchup tomorrow, noon Eastern Time, the U.S. and Germany, they both advance if they play to a draw but Jurgen Klinsmann says no deal. Do you believe him?

PLEITGEN: I do believe him. Both coaches today, actually said no deal. As you know, Jurgen Klinsmann and the German coach are very good friends and have been for a very long time. There is not going to be a deal. We are going to play all out. There are several reasons to believe them.

First of all, the German side said every time you try and cut a deal like this it doesn't work out anyway and something goes wrong and someone winds up being the loser on all of this and then the two said, they're simply big competitors. They want to win their group and the winner plays against a weaker team of another group.

It doesn't look as though there will be some sort of deal. But certainly if this match ends up in a tie, you will hear a lot of people here in Brazil and all over the world screaming collusion -- John.

BERMAN: That would be convenient for you, Fred, because of course, you are German and in passing are rooting for the German team. Do you acknowledge that has been a mistake?

PLEITGEN: I don't acknowledge that that's been a mistake. I've been telling everybody, listen. I think Germany is going to win tomorrow. I hope Germany will win tomorrow, but I hope the U.S. advances as well. I don't understand what the problem is. We can all have the best of both worlds.

Germany wins and America gets further in the tournament and I don't know when the next time they'll get to face each other, but it would be a good thing for everybody, I have to root for the country that I'm from, but I do believe that everyone in Brazil believes that it's a great thing that the U.S. is doing so well in the World Cup.

The fans are absolutely amazing. They bring great spirit to the World Cup and certainly the U.S. team is one that I can tell you that has impressed all of the big powerhouses here at the World Cup.

BERMAN: Nice job trying to cover your tracks there. Fred Pleitgen in Brazil for us. Thank you so much. We appreciate it. That's it for us on THE LEAD. I'm John Berman in for Jake today. I now turn you over to Wolf Blitzer in "THE SITUATION ROOM."

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: John, thanks very much.