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Senator Howard Baker Dies; Emails Suggest Lerner Pushed Audit of Senator; Jesse Jackson Reflects on "The Sixties"; Will Team USA Advance in World Cup?
Aired June 26, 2014 - 13:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back. I'm Wolf Blitzer, reporting from Washington.
This just coming into CNN. Senator Howard Baker, a long-time legend in the Senate, has passed away at the age of 88. Mitch McConnell, the Senate Republican leader, just issuing a statement: "It is with great sadness that I announce the passing of one of the Senate's most towering figures, Senator Howard Baker. The Senate sends its sincere condolences to the family of Senator Baker."
A lot of us remember Senator Baker. Many years after leaving the Senate, he was the White House chief of staff to Ronald Reagan. Had a distinguished career. He was the vice chair of the Senate Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities, also known as the Watergate Committee.
Gloria Borger is here. Ron Brownstein is here.
Gloria, let's get some thoughts on Howard Baker. He was a legendary towering figure in Washington.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: He was one of the great leaders of the United States Senate. I had the opportunity to cover him when he was in the Senate. I also covered his presidential campaign in 1980, which lasted about five minutes. But he was one of those Senators who could walk across the aisle, could cut deals, was respected on both sides of the aisle. He was -- some called him the great conciliator. Today, that would be taken as something negative, but back when he was leading the Senate, it was a very positive thing. He also went on to become our ambassador to Japan and serve in a distinguished way. So a great man from Tennessee and a great career.
BLITZER: And, Ron, some of us who are old enough remember the Watergate hearings. He was the vice chairman of those hearings. He uttered those famous words. Remember, there's a Republican president, Richard Nixon, in the White House. He's a Republican leader in the Senate. He said, "What did the president know and when did he know it"? Historic words eventually leading to the forced resignation of President Nixon.
RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: For a figure who was slight in stature, he was towering, that adjective is well deserved. He was one of our last links where the Senate saw itself as a place to mediate differences in society. His role in the Watergate committee ensuring that it would be a truly bipartisan investigation, helped prevent Watergate from tearing apart the country. He continued that kind of role both in the Senate and as chief of staff to Ronald Reagan. In all these cases, he helped the Senate and the Congress do what it has done for history, which is find a bridge between the differing points of view in the country. It's a vision in the Senate that's almost completely gone.
BLITZER: I think you're right. Howard Baker, former Senator, passing away. Our deepest condolences to his entire family.
Let's take a quick break and get back to some other political news right after this.
BLITZER: A new twist in the saga involving the IRS. House Republicans say emails suggest the former IRS official, Lois Lerner, who ran the IRS division in charge of tax-exempt status, pushed to audit a Republican Senator. The GOP's Chuck Grassley was invited to speak at a seminar. Lerner found out organizers were offering to pay for his wife to attend.
Let's discuss. Our CNN panel is joining us. Ron Brownstein is joining us from L.A. Gloria Borger, our chief political analyst, is here with me in New York.
What do you make of this new evidence, so-called political targeting?
BORGER: My question is, didn't she have something better to do, Wolf? Either this was malice, it was pettiness, it was bureaucratic, or it was incompetence. If there was some kind of a technical violation in the invitation itself, and by the way, Grassley never ended up attending this. I was scratching my head saying, wait a minute, this is the head of the IRS. There are a lot of big issues out there. People don't understand the laws as they apply to them or to nonprofits. She's out there sending emails saying maybe we ought to investigate Senator Grassley. There's something wrong here.
BLITZER: Some of her supports, Ron, are suggesting she wasn't say investigate Senator Grassley, investigate the organization that was inviting Grassley and also inviting his wife to come along on a free trip, raising questions whether the organization was violating tax- exempt status.
BROWNSTEIN: And emails released are ambiguous on that point, which is an important one because there's a big difference. Either way -- I basically agree with Gloria that it suggests an itchy trigger figure. But there's a big difference. The underlying issue of whether groups with nonprofit status are improperly extending their reach in the political system is a legitimate issue and one that had kind of slowed down the momentum of this investigation as it had been explored. Now I think as we have talked about the investigation has momentum again and we're likely to see continuing efforts by Republicans to keep this in the headlines through November. BORGER: But the larger point is also that the law itself, Ron, is so
ambiguous that even the director and people who worked for her disagree about how to interpret it, which raises questions about the IRS itself and whether they didn't understand their own policy or whether their policies need to be revised and made less ambiguous.
BLITZER: Here's the question, Ron.
BLITZER: We were talking about Watergate. Will there be enough pressure, enough evidence to justify a special council, an FBI investigation, if you will? A special select committee in Congress to investigate, or will this be left in the usual channels, which are becoming very partisan?
BROWNSTEIN: I think the administration based on previous experience, particularly in the Clinton years, will resist a special council unless it becomes absolutely impossible to do otherwise. Whether Congress feels pressure to do something more than what they have done so far is a much more open question. As I said, this had really kind of substantially receded. These latest revelations, particularly the questions about whether the emails were improperly withheld and information about the lost emails was improperly withheld has given it new momentum. There could be more pressure on that front. But a special council is something the administration will resist until it has no more fingernails left to hang on.
BORGER: And the question of the lost emails, again, it goes back to whether this is incompetence or whether it's venal or whether the government itself is a bureaucracy whose I.T. systems are not keeping up with where they need to be. And this again goes to the question of, when you want to enlarge the role of government in our lives, the government has to be effective and efficient. And this just goes to the point of, even if it's not venal, it lost all these emails, and how can that occur in this day in age.
BLITZER: Guys, we'll leave it on that note and continue to watch what's going on.
The commissioner will be joining me in "The Situation Room" later today. We have important questions for him. So that interview will be coming up at 5:00 p.m. eastern later today on in "The Situation Room."
Also tonight, CNN's original series "The Sixties" looks back at the civil rights struggle. After the break, I'll speak live with Jesse Jackson about his role in the movement and how television helped expose the brutality of Jim Crow law.
BLITZER: On "This Day in History, June 26th, 1963, President Kennedy spoke in West Berlin, Germany, underlying support after the Berlin Wall telling the crowd in German, "I am a Berliner." Tonight, an image of pride, but back home, a decade that changed
America also had its brutal side. Tonight, the series "The Sixties" looks at the civil rights movement. Its lasting victories and sacrifices, certainly have endured.
Another iconic photo. The balcony of a hotel in 1968, frantic people gesturing towards the sound of gunfire as the slain Dr. Martin Luther King Jr lies at their feet. Among them, Reverend Jesse Jackson, who joins us now from Chicago.
Reverend Jackson, always good to have you with us.
Those images and the viewers will see them once again tonight in this special documentary, how did the impact of tv in those days impact the whole civil rights movement that was certainly taking place and follow?
REV. JESSE JACKSON, PRESIDENT, RAINBOW/PUSH COALITION: It made public the pain and the rejection. The most difficult part of segregation was not physical pain. It was isolation. One could not use a public library. Blacks had to sit behind. We could not -- so those walls came down and 1964 and then the right to vote for change, everything. Blacks could not. 18-year-olds could not vote. You couldn't vote on college campuses. All that change coming out of the '60s.
BLITZER: So much progress has been made. There's an African-American who is president of the United States right now. But I think everyone acknowledges, and I'm sure you do as well, a lot more work has to be done. If there's one thing that needs to be done, what is it?
JACKSON: Well, let me say, it's not only that president Barack Obama is in the White House, but president Clinton from Arkansas and president Bush from Odessa, Texas. We freed white and black. You would not have had big Alabama LSU game or the teams in the south. All changed for everybody, the north and south. And enforce the Voting Rights Act and addressed the fact that the 11 southern states have gone confederate again, and of the McDaniel variety. One-fourth poverty, and reject Medicaid money. A state like Mississippi rejects Medicaid money for the poorest people in America. So now we must now move toward the beauty of the -- of this Thad Cochran campaign. And we must live together. If we live together, we can share America's resources together.
BLITZER: You and I spoke yesterday on the phone. I know you have strong views. The fact that Thad Cochran, the Republican incumbent Senator in Mississippi, reaching out to African-American voters in Mississippi, mostly Democrats, to secure this primary victory. What's the bottom line here? What's your message from what happened?
JACKSON: The bottom line, if it were a white primary and blacks couldn't vote, it would have been an outcome. And when there is a reach-out, I mean, what made Bill Clinton so strong coming out of Arkansas, he reached out. I mean, his opposition had more white votes. He had more white, black and brown. So a multicultural rainbow coalition is America's future. And I would hope that those southern states that are affected with poverty and deprivation would not reject Medicaid money and the poor. It's the morally correct thing to do.
BLITZER: Reverend Jesse Jackson, the president of Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, as always, thanks very much for joining us.
JACKSON: Thank you, sir.
BLITZER: "The Sixties," it was a decade that shaped America. Perhaps its most important contribution, as we just mentioned, the civil rights movement, what emerged from that. Tonight, CNN's documentary series, "The Sixties" looks at the movement, the long march to freedom. That's tonight, 9:00 p.m. eastern right here on CNN.
Still ahead, the future of Iraq.
But let's go to Brooke Baldwin. She is watching what's happening. There has been a decision made in a very important match.
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Here we go. We're going to take it a little early.
Wolf Blitzer, thank you so much.
I'm Brooke Baldwin.
It is soccer all the way here on CNN. Watching the reaction here in the United States and all the way to Rio and the world over. We're waiting. We're in these final key moments. I've just gotten word as we're watching USA play Germany. And we're watching Portugal play Ghana. The latest we have is a couple minutes, three minutes were added to the match, the Portugal-Ghana match. We're waiting to know definitively, and whether or not the U.S. advances even though we're down 1-0 in Brazil.
Take a look at everyone we're about to talk to as we have this story covered, from Rachel Nichols in New York. We have George Howell in Chicago's Grant Park. We have Richard Roth under the Manhattan Bridge overpass, and Zain Asher standing by in New Jersey at the Red Bull Arena, talking to some players there.
So Richard Roth, my soccer fan, let me begin with you.
Everyone biting their nails. Hoping -- we have now officially advanced in the World Cup moving on to the knockout stage, which is huge, Richard. Take it away.
RICHARD ROTH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The team advances anyway.
What do you think of the win? We're advancing in the World Cup next round.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm too drunk. I'm too drunk.
ROTH: What do you think?
All right. Obviously overcome by emotion or liquor, whichever came first.
The crowd really passionate, but as it came down to the final minutes, didn't matter, because Portugal and Ghana battling it out and Portugal needed a ton of goals. The crowd really worn at the en end. It looked like the U.S. would be tying this game, but it didn't happen. That's the story under the Manhattan Bridge. Lots of true passion.
What did you think of the match?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We played well. We played well. We didn't win, but we're going to go in the next round and we'll play well in the next round.
ROTH: The next match is Tuesday. Either against Belgium, Algeria. What do you think -- or Russia.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're easier sides than Germany. Germany is a strong side. We did well. OK, we lost, but 1-0, we held our own. We'll be OK in the next round. I believe we'll get on to the next round after that.
ROTH: Thank you very much.
So the United States advances, even though there was a loss to Germany.
Back to you -- Brooke?
BALDWIN: Richard, keep grabbing fans. We want to keep this energy and momentum going there in Manhattan and beyond.
I'll give you a beat just to do that as we now officially can say, breaking news here on CNN. We can report that the U.S. is advancing into the next stage of the World Cup, leaving the group stage entering the knockout stage, even though the U.S. just lost to Germany 1-0, because Portugal just beat Ghana, we get to move along.
George Howell, let me scoot over to you in Chicago. Packed house in Grant Park. Take it away.
GEORGE HOWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Take a look out there. You see some 20 to 25,000 people, Brooke. They all came out here to watch the game. People who came in from all over. Imagine there are a couple of Ferris Buellers in there, as well. A lot of excitement and anticipation about this game. You watch as people got very anxious toward the end. But, you know, obviously the U.S. Advances. People walk away from Grant Park today happy with the results.
Kyle and I were talking just a few minutes ago about the game.
What do you think?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, I'm very pleased with the result. I would love to have a win, but, hey, we're through to 16, USA all the way. I'm happy.
HOWELL: What was the feeling when Germany scored that goal? I mean, I heard the crowd. What was it like for you?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a little disheartening. But, you know, a lot of time left in the game. Didn't mean we were out of it. So, you know, we kept fighting and did what we had to do. And we're going through.
HOWELL: Real quick, a lot of optimism out here. Your expectations about moving forward. What do you think?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: USA all the way.
HOWELL: I expected that. Thank you, sir. I appreciate it.
Good time out here in Chicago. A lot of people turned out. And I think people just looking ahead, you know, at the next game -- Brooke?
BALDWIN: George, thank you so much. We keep your pick yourself terse up in Chicago.
And back to Richard Roth.
Richard, I see you. I see you motioning to the camera and three guys with Team USA jerseys. Bet they're feeling pretty good.
Richard, can you hear me? I know it's loud.
ROTH: Right now, here under the Manhattan Bridge with supporters of the United States team following this loss, but a win in a way, because they advance.
All right. Your thoughts on the match in advancing.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're just so excited to be here. This is bigger than a moment.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: USA! We're going to advance and keep going. We believe! We believe!
ROTH: What do you believe?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We believe we're getting involved. We're in it. Everyone is excited. Everyone is going for it.
ROTH: Does the USA have a realistic chance of getting into the semi finals or possibly winning the cup?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, yeah.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Anything is possible.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Klinsmann doesn't just think we're underdogs. He believes we're here to stay. And so are we. We're not happy to be here. We want to get everybody involved. ROTH: Who do you want to face, Russia, Belgium or Algeria?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Belgium. We want Belgium.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Belgium.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We want Belgium.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you want to be the best, we want to beat the best. Bring on Belgium.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We want Belgium. We want Belgium.
ROTH: Weren't you supposed to be at work today?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No work today.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This takes priority.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This takes priority.
ROTH: Klinsmann, the USA coach, failed to get out, you would be tearing him apart, right?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not exactly. We're just proud of our guys and happy to move on.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're proud of Beckerman.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our favorite player. He can't wait.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Dempsey, what a game. Even though we lost, we advance and that's all that matters. We advance!
ROTH: Do you think there is more passion in the U.S. about the World Cup. Does it fade away after this?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is no longer a moment, it's a movement. And people are getting behind U.S. soccer. Here to stay.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: USA! USA, baby! Here to stay.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is here to stay. It is here to stay, baby. USA all the way.
ROTH: Maybe we'll find some German supporters.
What do you think of the victory by advancing? Even though you lost?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know what, I'm really happy with the performance that USA did. We played the number-one team in the world. Pretty much Germany. So I think they're an amazing team, and I'm really happy for them. We're playing probably the best soccer right now in a while that we have.
ROTH: Did you like the match?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
ROTH: All right. Thank you very much.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's got a soccer ball.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're ready to play now.
ROTH: Yeah, and maybe millions of others.
That's the scene under the Manhattan Bridge.
Back to you -- Brooke?
BALDWIN: Richard, thank you so much.
So just absolutely electric. It doesn't matter if you have been a soccer fan or not. I tell you, the bug has bit. This is contagious, seeing the excitement, as that one guy said who was clearly working and watching this match, it is not just a moment, it is a movement.
But how exactly does this work? If you're not in the weeds on the World Cup, are you scratching your head and wondering, how is it that despite this U.S. loss, the U.S. is still advancing?
Rachel Nichols, I'm going to bring you in, in Manhattan.
You're our go-to sports gal here. Please explain to me why we are advancing now into the knockout round.
RACHEL NICHOLS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we're all used to the playoffs, right? You know, it's a tiered system. You win, you win a series, a game, you go on to the next round. The World Cup starts with a round robin. So you play all the teams in your group. We're in group G in the United States. You play all the teams in the group and they take the two best teams from that group and they move them on to the next round.
And then starting in the next round, it's called the knockout stage. And then it works just like we're all used to. You win, you stay in. You lose, you go home. So that's the territory the United States is entering.
But they weren't there yesterday. And they performed so well in the early stages of the group round robin that they earned the right today to have the advantage of, hey, losing and still moving forward. And that's what they did.