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AMERICAN MORNING

Special Prosecutor Investigating Leak of CIA Operative's Name May Announce Findings of Grand Jury Investigation; Search for New Supreme Court Nominee

Aired October 28, 2005 - 08:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


MILES O'BRIEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: CNN breaking news for you this morning. The president's top political adviser apparently dodging an indictment, but still under the microscope. There still could be some indictments in the case later today. We're live with the latest.
Meantime, the president facing a supreme challenge again. After a Miers mess, what's next?

And big oil companies raking in the dough, as you pay big time at the pump. Is it highway robbery or just smart business? A look at that on this AMERICAN MORNING.

ANNOUNCER: From the CNN broadcast center in New York, this is AMERICAN MORNING with Soledad O'Brien and Miles O'Brien.

O'BRIEN: Good morning to you.

It is Friday, and it's going to be a busy day.

ZAIN VERJEE, CNN ANCHOR: It is. It is a very important day for the White House, bracing itself for potentially catastrophic decisions. We're learning some information, but we're waiting for Patrick Fitzgerald to come out and give it to us definitively.

O'BRIEN: In the meantime, the dribs and the drabs come out. And just to clarify our reporting on this, President Bush's top political strategist, Karl Rove, apparently will not receive an indictment today in the CIA leak case.

But the White House can't really breath a sigh of relief on a couple of counts. "Scooter" Libby, who is the chief of staff for the vice president, has been told he could be charged. And, also, the investigation will continue.

AMERICAN MORNING'S Bob Franken outside the federal courthouse in Washington -- Bob, slowly but surely, it is becoming clearer.

BOB FRANKEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Certainly slowly. And Patrick Fitzgerald, who is the special prosecutor, will speed the pace up a little bit. He's expected at the courthouse within the hour. He will be getting together with his grand jury, the last day of their scheduled session. They're supposed to government out of existence today. We're expecting a news conference with Fitzgerald before the day is through. We are told by a number of sources that Karl Rove, as you just pointed out, the president's chief political adviser and deputy chief of staff at the White House, will not be indicted today, but lawyers have been told, we're told by a number of sources, that the investigation into his activities will continue, an investigation into statements that he has made before the grand jury about his conversations with reporters in the times leading up to the public disclosure of Valerie Plame as a CIA operative. Valerie Plame the wife of Joe Wilson, a harsh administration critic.

We have also been told by a number of sources that Irving "Scooter" Libby, Lewis Libby, who is the vice president's chief of staff, has been told that there is a strong possibility he will be indicted. Libby identified in testimony as somebody who had also talked to reporters. There is a belief that his testimony before the grand jury might contain some inconsistencies. That could lead to some charges of an alleged cover-up, one of those types of charges.

There's also the possibility of conspiracy charges.

The question also comes up, if this investigation continues, which grand jury would be used? This grand jury's term had already been extended. It's not at all unprecedented that a new grand jury would take up the investigation if it's continuing.

One other point. As Karl Rove left his home this morning, he said to the reporters assembled there, "I'm going to have a great Friday and a fantastic weekend. Hope you do, too."

Certainly an optimistic statement from Karl Rove, and now we might have an explanation why he seems to be in a good mood this morning -- Miles.

O'BRIEN: Bob Franken watching it for us.

Thank you -- Zain.

VERJEE: Miles, at the White House, on edge already over the CIA leak case, President Bush says he's going to act fast to pick a Supreme Court nominee to replace Harriet Miers. And it's clear his next choice will be influenced by what derailed the Miers' nomination.

Dana Bash is live for us at the White House -- Dana, how soon will he make this decision?

DANA BASH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we understand that it could be very soon, maybe even in the next couple of days, at least, perhaps, by Monday. But we're told that the president really hasn't made a final decision yet. But when it comes to Harriet Miers, the White House admits there are a lot of lessons that they can learn and apply to the next nominee.

(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Harriet Ellen Miers. BASH (voice-over): On day one, the White House had Miers' talking points ready to go. The problem is they were talking up the wrong points.

SCOTT MCCLELLAN, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Senator Harry Reid said -- made some very positive comments about Harriet Miers.

BASH: Reid, of course, is a Democrat. He and others suggested...

MCCLELLAN: The president should consider someone that is not a judge.

BASH: Taking that bait, admits one senior Bush aide, was their first huge miscalculation. They underestimated conservative grassroots hunger for a proven commodity to replace abortion rights supporter Sandra Day O'Connor.

BUSH: I know her heart.

BASH: "Trust me" didn't work. Conservative senators were as bewildered as the activists.

SEN. SAM BROWNBACK (R), KANSAS: We were left to try to gather little pieces and shreds of evidence and do almost a "CSI" type of operation.

BASH: One top Republican close to the administration blames a White House "cocky" from a smooth John Roberts confirmation. Others say outside advisers who would have raised red flags were clued in too late. Then efforts in damage control caused more damage. A White House call in search of support from conservative leader James Dobson unmasked what looked like a wink and a nod campaign on abortion.

DR. JAMES DOBSON, CONSERVATIVE RADIO SHOW HOST: What did Karl Rove say to me? Harriet Miers is an evangelical Christian from a very conservative church which is almost universally pro-life.

BASH: Even the president pushed the personal.

BUSH: Part of Harriet Miers' life is her religion.

BASH: That backfired among Republicans looking for her resume, not religion. So they summoned Texas colleagues to talk up Miers' legal experience.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I can vouch for her ability to analyze and to strategize.

BASH: Aides now admit it was probably too late.

JAMES BAKER, FORMER TEXAS SUPREME COURT JUSTICE: It's been a chaotic process.

BASH: The Republican Judiciary chairman slammed Miers for sending a questionnaire without sufficient answers. And almost every courtesy call to a key senator seemed to make it worse. Reviews range from unimpressive to disastrous, leaving conservatives amazed at how the president got this one so wrong.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

BASH: And, Zain, there is a very small group of advisers that helps the president pick his nominee. Two of those advisers are Karl Rove, his top political aide, and the vice president's chief of staff, "Scooter" Libby. They have been involved in this from the get go. This morning they are both here at the White House. Karl Rove just arrived and "Scooter" Libby, we are told, did attend this morning's regular senior staff meeting.

We'll see what happens as the day goes on with him.

VERJEE: We will.

At the White House for us this morning, CNN's Dana Bash.

Well, I'd beta go to Carol Costello now for the headlines -- Carol.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Oh, that was so wrong.

VERJEE: Pretty bad.

COSTELLO: It was. But it was a pretty good pun.

VERJEE: It took me a while to come up with that.

COSTELLO: Yes, well, it was clever.

VERJEE: I'm not that clever.

COSTELLO: She's talking about tropical storm Beta. Beta is gaining strength this morning and could reach hurricane intensity. Forecasters say it could make landfall today in Central America and could bring as much as 20 inches of rain.

We get the latest from Bonnie Schneider in just a moment.

New developments in the investigation into the death of Pamela Vitale. The mother of the teenaged suspect has now been arrested. Esther Fielding is being held on $500,000 bail in Martinez, California. Her son, Scott Dyleski, was arraigned yesterday, but the hearing was delayed until November 9th after his attorney withdrew from the case.

The victim, Pam Vitale, the wife of defense attorney Daniel Horowitz, was found dead in her home on October 15th.

You are paying record prices at the pump. You know that. Oil companies are raking in record profits. Maybe you don't know that. Exxon Mobil is showing third quarter earnings of nearly $10 billion. It also became the first company to post quarterly sales over $100 billion. Other companies reported large earnings this week, prompting lawmakers to call on companies to help their customers, maybe by reducing prices or even by creating an emergency reserve.

Mars, get ready for your close-up. Sky watchers across the globe will get a spectacular view of the Red Planet this weekend. Mars will swing within 43.1 million miles of Earth on Saturday. That's the closest it will come to Earth until 2018. Scientists say the planet will appear as a bright yellow light high above the horizon. So break out your telescopes.

And guess what? It's almost time to fall back. That's right, you are going to get one extra hour of sleep this weekend because it's daylight savings time. On Sunday night, you get to set your clocks back one hour. But, of course, that means that it gets darker faster and that winter is almost here.

Let's talk more about Beta now, though, with Bonnie Schneider -- good morning.

BONNIE SCHNEIDER, ATS METEOROLOGIST: Well, you know, Carol, you get that sunshine earlier in the morning. That's a good thing.

COSTELLO: True. For us, yes.

SCHNEIDER: That's true.

(WEATHER REPORT)

O'BRIEN: Bonnie Schneider, thank you very much.

SCHNEIDER: Sure.

VERJEE: An extra hour of sleep soon.

O'BRIEN: Yes, I'll take it. I'll take it.

VERJEE: You need it.

O'BRIEN: I'll take every moment I can get.

VERJEE: Oh, you need it.

O'BRIEN: Absolutely. I do.

VERJEE: Coming up, Harriet Miers is out, so who should pick the -- who should the president pick now for the Supreme Court? We're going to ask Senator Orrin Hatch.

O'BRIEN: Plus, an emotional trip through New Orleans' Lower Ninth Ward. We'll ride along with dozens of residents getting their first look at what is left of their homes.

VERJEE: And later, taking care of your future retirement needs and an aging parent at the same time. Advice for America's growing sandwich generation.

That's ahead here on AMERICAN MORNING.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: A stunning turn of events in Washington yesterday. Boy, lots is going on in Washington, to say the least.

Harriet Miers is out. Karl Rove apparently not going to be facing indictment, at least just yet. Lots to keep track of. Senator Orrin Hatch, Republican of Utah, joining us from Capitol Hill.

We're going to talk about Harriet Miers with him.

Senator, did Harriet Miers get treated poorly?

SEN. ORRIN HATCH (R-UT), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Well, I think so. You know, she's a person of great ability and capacity and decency. You know, she was rated one of the 100 top women lawyers in the country. I wonder how many of her critics were in the other 99? I don't think you'll find any of them there.

But, you know, she was not known. And you can't blame conservatives for being upset because they just didn't know her and they really counted on this president to maybe getting the court back to where it should be, and that is deciding cases based upon the law and not based upon their predilections.

O'BRIEN: Well, it was a bit -- I mean one way to interpret this, the way the right came out after her, it became a bit of a kangaroo court. And it kind of circumvented the role that you and your fellow senators cherish so much.

HATCH: Well, I was -- I thought some of it got really out of hand. But, you know, I can't blame conservatives inside the beltway for being upset because they wanted somebody who they knew, who they knew would probably do a good job on the court. They didn't know Harriet Miers very well and I think -- but I still think it was somewhat unfair. And, frankly, you know, I understand their position, but I also think they did in a very competent, good quality, intelligent lawyer who was rated one of the 100 top lawyers in the country and one of the top 50 women lawyers in the country. That's, you know, I don't think there are many lawyers in this country that could match her experience.

O'BRIEN: Should she have gotten a hearing? And let me ask you this. You had a chance to have some private conversations with her. Do you think she would have acquitted herself well before the Senate committee?

HATCH: I have no doubt that she would have. I don't, you know, after Roberts, it's hard for anybody to reach that standard. But the fact of the matter is I think she would have done just fine. But, you know, she decided, for reasons that I think are pretty apparent, that, number one, I think she's so loyal to the president she felt that this nomination was hurting her president and that was one reason. And, number two, she knows how serious these privileged documents ought to be treated and that they couldn't give them up. And that would be a constant wine and moan and groan, you know, until this ended. And we even had a couple of Republicans asking for privileged documents. I've spent 29 years trying to establish those are -- that there are separated powers in this country and that there are privileges that each branch of government has that you really don't disclose to the other branches of government.

O'BRIEN: So do you think she made the right decision in bowing out?

HATCH: Well, I can't make that decision for her. And I can see it was her decision and she feels it was the right decision. I chatted with her afterward and she felt just perfectly calm about it, thought it was the right thing, it was the right thing for the president, the right thing for the Republican Party. And she felt, in the end, it would be the right thing for the court, because there are -- there's a plethora of really outstanding jurists out there.

But one of the things I liked about her is that she was not a pre-existing jurist. In other words, she could bring a lot of experience from the regular world into the Supreme Court. You know, the rest of them are all -- all came from the -- from judgeships.

O'BRIEN: The judicial monastery, as they call it.

HATCH: That's right.

O'BRIEN: Let's put this into a broader perspective here.

We had Ann Coulter on here just a few moments ago. I just want to share with you a brief clip from her.

(AUDIO GAP)

O'BRIEN: The cat's got her tongue.

Basically what she was saying, by the -- she was talking about how historic this was and how this is unprecedented.

I think we have it now.

Go ahead, Ann.

(AUDIO GAP)

O'BRIEN: All right, we're 0 for 2 on Ann Coulter.

And our apologies to her and you, Senator.

The bottom line is the historic nature of this happening on the right flank, the base, the very base of the president, put that into some political perspective for us.

HATCH: Well, you know, I love Ann Coulter. She's very bitey. I love to read her articles even though sometimes I disagree with her. She's very smart. But, you know what she was saying is, is that the base of the party, basically, threw Harriet Miers overboard.

Well, if you're talking about the base of the party inside the beltway, I think that's probably true. But I think if you looked at the polls out there, the American people and the conservatives out there in the rest of the country were willing to give Harriet Miers a chance and willing to rely on the president, who knew her better than anybody else, and who, of course, realizes that one of the reasons his father has been so criticized has been because of Supreme Court nominations. And he didn't want to go through that.

So I had a feeling that he had picked Harriet Miers because he could count on her being a very, very solid conservative on the court.

O'BRIEN: All right, time expiring.

But a final thought here.

Do you think he will pick a very conservative jurist on this next go around?

HATCH: Well, I don't know that very is the right word. But he's certainly going to pick a conservative. The Democrats aren't going to like it. They're already screaming that he should pick a moderate so they can accept whoever it is. But, man, 22 of them voted against Judge Roberts. I mean, it shows that, at least with 22 of them, and I think a lot more probably felt the same way, there is no pick by this president that they can support.

If you can't support Roberts, who in the world can you support?

O'BRIEN: Orrin Hatch, Republican senator of Utah, thanks for your time, as always.

HATCH: You bet.

O'BRIEN: Zain.

VERJEE: Miles, coming up, the debate over mammograms. A new study may put to rest whether they really work.

That's next on AMERICAN MORNING.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VERJEE: A new study shows how breast cancer treatments are saving lives.

Dr. Rache Simmons, a breast surgeon at New York Presbyterian Hospital, joins us now.

Thank you so much for being with us.

DR. RACHE SIMMONS, NEW YORK-PRESBYTERIAN HOSPITAL: Thank you.

VERJEE: It's a pleasure to have you here.

A study was published in this week's "New England Journal of Medicine" and it found that mammograms are responsible for lowering breast cancer mortality rates by about 15 percent compared to treatments like chemo and hormone therapies.

So when combined with screening and treatments, lower mortality rates by about 30 percent.

Explain to our audience the significance of these findings.

SIMMONS: We've known for the past few decades that breast cancer mortality has been decreasing. What was not clear was how much mammograms played in that role versus the new drug therapies, chemotherapy and Tamoxifen.

So that this study actually teased out how much was the contribution from mammography screening and how much from the drug therapies. And of significance, it showed that mammography screening decreases mortality in and of itself by 15 percent.

VERJEE: What about women who are thinking they should maybe go for a mammogram? I mean when should they do it?

SIMMONS: The recommendations of the American Cancer Society are to start annual mammograms at age 40. So there are some women that have a family history of very young relatives that we would start earlier. But for the average woman, at age 40, mammograms once a year.

VERJEE: And how would you know the best ones to get?

SIMMONS: There is a recent study that shows that digital mammograms may be better, especially in young women. And that's because of the density of the breast tissue. So, really, digital mammography is recommended currently for young women.

VERJEE: Should they get a digital mammography as well as an ultrasound? I was talking to some people this morning that said that they do that.

SIMMONS: Ultrasound is a different kind of test. Ultrasound is looking with a sound wave, not an x-ray. And that is recommended as a screening test for some women, high risk women that are young. It's not routinely recommended as a screening test. It's very useful as a diagnostic test if you feel or see something on mammography.

VERJEE: If you find a lump in your breast, what should a woman do?

SIMMONS: We'll, the first thing you'd do is you'd see your physician. And your physician would, depending upon your age, either order a mammogram and/or an ultrasound. And with that information, then you can decide if a biopsy is appropriate.

VERJEE: What type of biopsy is appropriate or is best?

SIMMONS: Traditionally, women would always go to the operating room to have a surgical biopsy.

VERJEE: Right. SIMMONS: But today, the technology allows us to do what's called a needle core biopsy. And what we do is introduce a small needle into the breast lump and take out strips of breast tissue. And that's been shown to be equally diagnostic as a surgical biopsy.

So since 80 to 85 percent of all breast biopsies do turn out to be benign, it saves a lot of women a trip to the operating room.

VERJEE: Now, besides mammograms, the American Cancer Society recommends that women try and reduce their individual risk by avoiding obesity, they say, and weight gain; increasing exercise; avoiding hormone replacement therapy.

Does any of this help?

SIMMONS: All of those may have a minor impact upon decreasing your risk. So at this point in time for the average woman, we can't make a substantial difference in decreasing her risk. That's why screening is so important to be able to find breast cancer early and therefore improve her survival.

VERJEE: Dr. Rache Simmons, thank you so much.

SIMMONS: Thank you.

VERJEE: It's a pleasure having you.

SIMMONS: Thank you.

VERJEE: Lovely to see u.

Thank you.

O'BRIEN: Still to come, the sandwich generation. If it's, I'm a sandwich, it's probably a ham sandwich. But how do you plan for your own retirement while taking care of kids and an aging parent?

That's ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Ah, there's a smell in the air over Central Park in Manhattan today. And I know what you're thinking. No, it's not that smell.

VERJEE: What could it be?

O'BRIEN: It's a lovely smell. There's a sweet smell.

COSTELLO: It is. A sweet smell of syrup. I mean a lot of people -- so many people smelled it, they were like calling the police at all hours of the night saying what is this smell? It smelled exactly like maple syrup. Some police officers, though, thought it smelled like hazelnut coffee.

So, of course, we're all confused by that. O'BRIEN: Of course, they were having a donut at the time, to is seemed appropriate.

COSTELLO: I never dis police officers on the air.

We love you guys.

Anyway, viewers have been writing in, because they have several theories as to why there might be the smell of syrup over Manhattan this morning.

This is from Grace in Wisconsin: "It smells like syrup in Wisconsin, as well. I figure that since mars is so close to the Earth that Mars must be made up of syrup and we can smell it."

O'BRIEN: Hmmm. That would explain the rusty color, wouldn't it?

COSTELLO: Right.

O'BRIEN: Yes.

COSTELLO: "Sally in Newfoundland says anti-freeze smells sweet like maple syrup. Any problems with perhaps a manufacturer of this product?" Not that we know of, Sally.

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