Return to Transcripts main page

AMERICAN MORNING

Michael Jackson's Doctor Becomes Sole Focus of Death Investigation; Obama Invites Professor, Officer to Beer Summit; Will Blue Dogs' Health Care Deal Stick?; Madoff's Wife Sued for $45 million; Texting at the Wheel; Kid Driving NYC Subway Train?; Tornado Warning in Texas; Napolitano on Homegrown Terrorism; Obama's Former Doc on Health Plan

Aired July 30, 2009 - 06:00   ET

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


JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: And a very good Thursday morning to you. Here we are on the Most News in the Morning starting off a brand new day. It's the second to last day of July. What happened to the month of July?

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: I don't know. What happened to summer?

ROBERTS: It's not a question we'll be following this morning, but it's just a question we're asking this morning. It's the 30th of July. Only one more day left for the month. I'm John Roberts. Good morning to you.

COSTELLO: I'm Carol Costello in for Kiran. We're following several developing stories this morning and we'll break them down for you in the next 15 minutes.

New revelations again about Michael Jackson's personal doctor, Conrad Murray. Authorities telling CNN he is the sole focus of their criminal investigation. And we're hearing for the first time what was actually going on inside Jackson's house the day he died.

ROBERTS: Call it cold beer diplomacy. In just a few hours, President Obama will bring Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. and the police officer who arrested him, Sergeant James Crowley, to the White House for a happy hour. But will a few beers really be enough to end a bitter controversy around this case? Inside from our Ed Henry straight ahead.

COSTELLO: And is it deal or no deal for health care on the Hill. The Senate says no go before the summer break. House Blue Dogs may have struck a deal, but will the plan fly with their liberal colleagues. Congressman Earl Pomeroy will be joining us in just a little bit. Let's go.

ROBERTS: We begin this morning, though, with new developments into the investigation of Michael Jackson's death. We are getting the clearest indication yet that Jackson's personal physician, Dr. Conrad Murray, is the sole target of the criminal investigation. We're also learning that Dr. Murray was drowning in debt and we're getting the first account of the frantic moments inside the Jackson house on the day he died. CNN's Randi Kaye is following it all for us this morning.

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John, Carol, a federal law enforcement telling us now that "Dr. Murray is the only one they're looking at."

Now we know that other doctors' records have been subpoenaed, but clearly now with three search warrants now served on Dr. Conrad Murray's property, he has become the central focus. Remember his lawyer told us that they were searching those properties looking for evidence in the offense of manslaughter.

Dr. Murray's lawyers' office told me they don't think an arrest is imminent because they haven't seen any proof or even a final autopsy report. Also, Murray's loan from the bank for his country club home in Las Vegas was $1.56 million. Well, it turns out that he failed to make his payment of just over $15,000 last January and has been racking up debt every since.

I called his attorney about this. A spokeswoman confirmed he is facing the threat of foreclosure and told me, "He was to be paid $150,000 a month by Michael Jackson." He was not paid by AEG. That's the tour promoter or Jackson for the two months he worked for them, so he is low on money. Meanwhile, if Dr. Murray fails to pay up by mid August, he could lose his house.

And we have some insight to report about Jackson's final morning at his home. His personal chef is talking. Kai Chase told CNN Dr. Murray usually came down to get Michael Jackson his breakfast around 10:00 a.m. to get him something to eat or drink. But on June 25th, the day Michael Jackson dies, the doctor did not come downstairs until noon.

Now the chef says that at that point, Dr. Murray came running halfway down the stairs that actually lead to the kitchen in the house screaming, hurry, get Prince, get security. She said the house became chaotic. Security guards were rushing around. The housekeepers were screaming and that Michael Jackson's daughter, Paris, was screaming, Daddy, Daddy. The chefs said everyone gathered in a circle and they all prayed at that point.

And finally, we've learned that this Jackson case is actually not the first time Dr. Murray has had a brush with the law. He was charged in a domestic abuse case in Arizona back in 1994. Deputies apparently responded to a domestic abuse call. We've confirmed Dr. Murray was arrested for "domestic violence disorderly conduct." We're told by Tucson police and the county attorney that his girlfriend had accused him of having an affair and apparently threw something at him and then Dr. Murray allegedly pushed her down. He was acquitted about five months later. John, Carol, back to you from Los Angeles.

ROBERTS: Randi Kaye reporting for us this morning. Randi, thanks so much.

Meantime, Joe Jackson is speaking publicly about Michael's long- rumored love child. In a News 1 television interview, Jackson's father said he believes 25-year-old Omer Bhatti is Michael's son. Now CNN has not been able to confirm this and Bhatti himself is on record denying that Michael Jackson is his biological father. That said, here's what Joe Jackson said in an interview.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Michael may have had another child. Omar is his name. He was sitting right there next to Rebbie and everyone is trying to connect some dots. Do you know that was Michael's other son?

JOE JACKSON, MICHAEL JACKSON'S FATHER: Yes, I knew he had another son. Yes, I did.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And he looks like a Jackson.

JACKSON: Oh, yes. He looks like a Jackson. He acts like a Jackson. He can dance like a Jackson.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: And Bhatti is denying all of this. CNN was trying to contact Omer Bhatti. We'll let you know if we get an answer.

COSTELLO: We sure will.

Also brand new this morning, a story that's raising eyebrows across the country. A Boston police officer is apologizing for a racially charged letter in which he called Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates "jungle monkey" four times. Thirty-six-year-old Justin Barrett was reacting to a "Boston Globe" column about Gates's arrest when he wrote the reporter and then he copied friends in the National Guard. He said in part, "If I was the officer Gates verbally assaulted like a banana-eating jungle monkey, I would have sprayed him in the face with OC," or pepper spray.

Barrett is now suspended from the police force. The commissioner and mayor want him to be fired. But late last night, Barrett and his attorney spoke to our affiliate WCVB and tried to backtrack.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JUSTIN BARRETTT, BOSTON POLICE DEPARTMENT: I am sorry that I wrote that. I'm sorry that my family has to deal with this selfish motivation and feelings that I had. I regret that I used such words as -- I have so many friends -- every type of culture and race you can name. And I'm not a racist.

PETER MARANO, BARRETT'S ATTORNEY: Justin Barrett didn't call Henry Gates a jungle monkey to malign him racially. He stated his behavior was like that of one, and it was a characterization of the actions of that man.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSTELLO: There's a fine line, John. ROBERTS: Paying that guy?

COSTELLO: I know. I would not want my attorney -- well, I don't know -- how can you? There's no defense. I mean, why hire a lawyer?

ROBERTS: And...

COSTELLO: And for what?

ROBERTS: And that one at that.

COSTELLO: We want to know what you think this morning. We welcome your comments, in fact. Call our show hotline, 877-MY-AMFIX, and sound off about this.

ROBERTS: Meantime, we are just hours away from President Obama welcoming Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. and the police officer who arrested him, Sergeant James Crowley to the White House. The men will gather around a picnic table, pop a few beers and talk about the scandal that truly blew up when the president addressed it on national television last week.

Ed Henry is at the White House for us this morning. Ed, the president has said he hopes that this is a teaching moment. What's he hoping to accomplish here?

ED HENRY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, good morning, John. It really is about the setting, the substance, and the suds, I guess for this beer summit. You mentioned the setting is going to be the picnic table. That's out on the South Lawn of the White House. The president purchased that. We also got a swing set for his daughters.

Previously, we've seen him sitting out there with his secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, talking diplomacy. Obviously, they previously had their own differences back in the campaign, so maybe he thinks this setting will bring some people together.

I think it's very clear when you talk to the president's top aide that on the substance, what the president hopes from this summit, if you will, is to try to turn the temperature down on a situation that obviously got pretty hot over the last couple of weeks. Specifically as you noted, the president saying to us last week in the White House briefing room, he wants this to be a teachable moment.

It's very clear from his initial comments at that news conference that caused some controversy that the president nonetheless believes that a lot of people around the country and around the world, can learn from the fact that African-Americans and Latinos in this country have suffered from racial profiling over the years and something needs to be done about that. But by the same token, given the controversy of his original remarks, where it didn't appear that the president was necessarily giving the Cambridge police a fair shake, I think it's fair to say that he wants people as well to know that the police need to be listened to, cooperated with. And he obviously wants to hear from Sergeant Crowley as well. So, this is a real opportunity for the president to try to turn the temperature down on something that got pretty hot in recent weeks, John.

ROBERTS: All right. We're looking forward to see what comes out of that.

Meantime, Ed, this always happens in Washington. Carol, you know about this too. Everything is under the microscope, even the type of beer that they'll be drinking. And now there's controversy over that. What are they talking about here, Ed?

HENRY: Well, Sergeant Crowley apparently wants a Blue Moon. Professor Gates wants a Red Stripe. And the president is going to drink Bud Light. That's what he had at the baseball all-star game, you remember in St. Louis. Very politically correct in St. Louis, of course, where its made.

But now a Democratic Congressman from Massachusetts, Richie Neal, has written the president a letter saying he wants him to serve Sam Adams. That it's not only local to Massachusetts but that it's American run and that Budweiser, of course, is now owned by a foreign company.

So I think maybe, though, the president can use this as a teachable moment as well and say, you just don't drink American beer. You can reach across the pond as well, I suppose.

COSTELLO: It's a detente. Beer detente.

ROBERTS: You know, Ed Cohen (ph), who's producing this hour of the program, he's from Massachusetts as well. We're talking about the same thing this morning. Why aren't they drinking Sam Adams?

Ed, thanks so much. We'll talk to you a little bit later on this morning.

HENRY: Thank you.

COSTELLO: Other stories new this morning. Key Republican senators say a bipartisan deal on health care reform likely will not happen until after the August recess. It's not something the president wanted to hear. He was hoping the so-called "gang of six" senators could jump start the stall of health care overhaul, and the House conservative Blue Dog Democrats struck a deal with the leadership that could clear a way for a vote by the full House after that August break.

ROBERTS: The two hotels that were bombed in Indonesia have reopened and a terrorist group now is claiming responsibility for the attacks. A blog posting says American businessmen of the Jakarta Ritz-Carlton and Marriott hotels were the targets. The group claims to be the Indonesian arm of al Qaeda.

We don't know if the message is authentic. The attacks killed nine people, injured more than 50 others.

COSTELLO: Some U.S. troops in Iraq may be going home early. Defense Secretary Robert Gates on his way back from a visit to that country, says the security situation is better than expected. He says that the 5,000 troops could leave ahead of schedule. Right now, the plan is for most combat forces to stay in Iraq until elections in January.

ROBERTS: All right. Now the video that you just got to see before you head off to work. Check this out.

It's police dash cam video from Plain City, Utah. Just looks like your typical run-of-the-mill car chase, right?

Well, it's just about now is where it starts to get interesting as the car pulls off the road here and is headed for sanctuary somewhere. Just follow along. Typical car chase -- meandering through the streets. But then, look at this -- oh, yes, that's a 7- year-old boy. Seven years old who is behind the wheel of the car.

COSTELLO: Oh...

ROBERTS: They guess the...

COSTELLO: The police officer cannot run that boy.

ROBERTS: Oh, of course not. They run like jackrabbits when they're seven years old.

Cops and the kid's dad eventually did catch up with the little guy. He says he swiped the car to avoid going to church.

Guess who's going to be going to church every day of his life until he's 18. No one was hurt, no charges were filed. It's not your typical scene where the perpetrator jumps out of the car, is it?

COSTELLO: Oh, my goodness. Oh, I'm still laughing from that.

Anyway, House Democrats, let's talk about them. They start a compromise in health care moving forward. We'll talk to Blue Dog Democratic Congressman Earl Pomeroy next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: Is it a breakthrough or breakdown in the House on the health care bill? Conservative Democrats, the so-called Blue Dogs, took down their roadblock after striking a deal over some of the most contentious issues. But now the liberal wing of the party is up in arms claiming that conservatives have hijacked health care. One liberal called the deal outrageous.

Joining us now from Washington is one of the Blue Dogs, Congressman Earl Pomeroy of North Dakota. Congressman, it's good to see. Are you ready to vote for this bill?

REP. EARL POMEROY (D), NORTH DAKOTA: Well the bill made some progress in negotiations this week. It's not going -- we see I think a positive vote out of the Energy and Commerce Committee, and which means each of the committees jurisdictions in the House will have passed the health care bill out and then we'll take it out and work with our districts over the August recess period. People get a chance to give us input in terms of what they like about the bill before we vote in September.

ROBERTS: So you think it's really important to hear from your constituents on this before you put it to a vote?

POMEROY: That's exactly right. The key Blue Dog demand was that we not hold a House vote until we had a chance to discuss it at length with our constituents back in our districts. And we're very pleased the speaker acceded to that -- that request.

ROBERTS: OK. There's these three really big changes, I guess, that allowed the Blue Dogs to at least issue some sort of support for this bill, if not vote for it outright.

One is it lowers the costs of the bill by $100 billion over 10 years. It brings the total cost below $1 trillion. It exempts small businesses with payrolls less than $500,000 from requirement to provide health insurance. And in terms of the public plan, it's not going to use Medicare schedules for payments. It will negotiate rates comparable to private plans.

What does that going to mean for people who buy health insurance now?

POMEROY: Well, I think it's going to mean that -- you know, the thrust of this bill is that American families will always know they can buy health insurance for their family. Right now, that's not the case. It's a very important part of the reform and the changes made in the negotiations this week, I believe, mean that the newly competitive insurance marketplace is going to be fair and is going to work well under the long term with efforts to keep these out-of- control-costs under control in ways that are responsible. We're basically trying to preserve what works and change what doesn't. And I think the negotiations advance the ball that way.

ROBERTS: So, conservative Democrats are becoming a little more comfortable with this as a result of the deal. Liberal Democrats...

POMEROY: Yes, but...

ROBERTS: Sorry, go ahead.

POMEROY: Well, John, there's a split decision.

ROBERTS: Yes.

POMEROY: You know, of the seven Blue Dogs on the committee, four are going to support, three not. Rather than think of this as a breakthrough, I look at it as three yards and a cloud of dust. It made a little progress. The bill will come out of committee, but there's a lot of work on both sides all across the caucus to make sure that the majority members are comfortable with it. Hopefully we'll get some minority ones as well.

ROBERTS: It looks like there's going to have to be a lot more work now because liberals are decrying this deal that was made between Mike Ross and Henry Waxman. Lynn Woolsey, Democratic California say, "I think they have no idea how many people are against it. They can't possibly be taking us seriously if they're going to bring this forward." So, have you created a new split in the Democratic Party because of this deal?

POMEROY: You know, Democrats don't all think alike. They come from very different parts of the country. They have strong views. And you poll the bill one way and you offend some. Poll it another way, you offend others. That's why the speaker of the House has a very challenging job as we try to pull this together.

But I'll tell you something. Democrats are united in trying to improve our health care system. We want to make sure families have the insurance to be able to get the coverage their family needs -- you know, more unites us than divides us. But we've got -- we've got some differences to iron out as we go forward.

ROBERTS: Congressman, some critics are wondering just how much of the Blue Dog opposition is driven by special interests. 2008, we should point out, you were the number three recipient in the House of money from the health insurance industry, tenth in Congress from the health care industry overall. What do you say to people in your own party who charge that this is all driven by special interests on your part?

POMEROY: Well, you know, that's a charge made by people who kind of object to how you're trying to improve the bill. I'm the only former insurance commissioner in Congress, so I've spent a good deal of time in my earlier years working with how the insurance system works, how we make things better for American consumers, and that's the role I'm trying to play as health reform moves forward in the House.

ROBERTS: All right. Congressman Earl Pomeroy, it's good to talk to you. And we hope to get back to you after the August recess and see where your constituents are on all this. We appreciate you being with us this morning. Thanks.

POMEROY: Thank you, John.

ROBERTS: All right.

Carol?

COSTELLO: Oh, John, you know, later today, the president will hold a sort of -- well, it's a beer summit. Sergeant Crowley will be there. Professor Gates will be there. And the president is hoping this will be a teachable moment. And perhaps the best part in all of this, the most effective tool the president will be using is beer. We'll explain.

It's 18 minutes past the hour. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COSTELLO: Christine Romans is "Minding Your Business" this morning. And a little Madoff news today.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: The Madoff news just keeps coming. A court-appointed trustee is actually suing Ruth Madoff for $45 million more. Remember, Ruth Madoff has not been charged with a crime but she is the wife of the Ponzi schemer, Bernie Madoff.

She has been left by authorities with $2.5 million. That's what she's been allowed to keep. But she's already given up -- let's see -- the Palm Beach estate, the Montauk estate, the Park Avenue penthouse, the yachts, the cars, the fur coats, the whole bit.

She's forfeited $80 million, allowed to keep $2.5 million. Now the court-appointed trustee says we want to go after another $45 million. They can reach back six years before this arrest, before this scam was found and look at where she was transferring money, even down to paying her black Amex (ph). I think it was a black Amex (ph), you know, the really fancy one. So they're trying to reach back there and see if there's any more money that they can get her.

Her attorney calls this whole thing perplexing. He says, you know, she's already forfeited almost all this money. And she has not been charged with anything.

Ruth already forfeited to the U.S. attorney's office almost all of the assets named in this complaint. The trustees action is wrong as a matter of law and fairness. So they're fighting back. But clearly, I mean, she's living a very different standard of living than she was.

ROBERTS: Kind of like they have to give back all the things they bought with the money they rob from the bank?

ROMANS: Yes. Basically, yes. And there's $2.5 million left and it sounds like maybe they're going to try to go after that. And then the kind of future money that she could make, but I don't know how she's going to make any money other than Social Security going forward.

Now, meanwhile, there was a courthouse interview with Bernie Madoff in North Carolina where he's sitting in the federal pen. This is an attorney for the victims of Madoff who sat down for 4 1/2 hours with Mr. Madoff. This is what he says Bernie is doing now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOSEPH COTCHETT, LAWYER FOR MADOFF'S VICTIMS: He exercises, he walks around the track. He spends a lot of time reading and he's got a job. He's in the -- the sign factory if you want to call it that where he paints sign and clerks to make sure that signs get painted. It's a long way from Wall Street.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: And that's Joseph Cotchett, the attorney for the victims of Madoff, speaking to Campbell Brown last night. So now he's painting signs. Or clerks for painting signs.

COSTELLO: Why would Bernie Madoff talk to these people? I'm just curious.

ROMANS: Well, I think that they sat down. This is a group, a couple of attorneys who went in there who got him to sit down for 4 1/2 hours just to tell the story. Just to tell the story because they were going to continue to pursue the rest of his family, I think. So he wanted to sit down and tell the story about how he did it.

And he said it began in the '90s. And this guy says that it was not sophisticated at all. It was not sophisticated and Bernie all along the way thought, oh boy, they got me now. Every time he sat down with the SEC, he thought, wow, they got me now. And then it just kept going.

ROBERTS: Well, amazing. You've got a "Romans' Numeral" for us this hour?

ROMANS: I do. And speaking of rich people and their money -- you know, who doesn't love the subject?

Four hundred -- and this has to do with a clemency program at the IRS. The IRS is going after wealthy tax dodgers, people with a lot of money who put their money in offshore accounts. They have until September 23rd, this tax dodgers do, they have until September 23rd to declare their income that they have sitting offshore. And the IRS says 400 people just last week came forward. That's four times as many as all last year. So apparently, there's people out there a little nervous they're going to be treated like Mr. Madoff.

ROBERTS: All right. Christine, "Minding Your Business" this morning, thanks so much.

Well, we talk about the dangers of texting while you're driving. There was a study out the other day that showed it dramatically increases your risk of getting into an accident.

Well, our Jason Carroll puts it actually to the test. He takes a wheel in a high-tech simulator and starts texting while driving. Wait until you see the results of what he's doing.

COSTELLO: And he can't drive without texting.

ROBERTS: Oh.

Twenty-five minutes after the hour. Check, please.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning. Happy hour is coming to the White House tonight. At least President Obama hopes that it's going to be happy when Henry Louis Gates Jr. and the officer who arrested him, Sergeant James Crowley, meet for a beer.

COSTELLO: Yes. He hopes it won't be like in that cartoon. Do we have Michael (INAUDIBLE) cartoon? It tastes great, less filling. There it is.

He hopes it won't be like that. Anyway, it is no accident the president is serving beer at his learning moment shindig tonight. First, as he said in the past, he never turns down a beer. And second, beer is quite the political fool, frothy way, to level the playing field. Really?

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COSTELLO (voice-over): It's a strategy that's spawned more than a few clever headlines like this one in the "Huffington Post." "Obama Names Thursday 'Drink a beer with Someone Who Arrested You Day'" or this one in "Politics Daily," "Beer and Loathing at the White House."

It's tough to say if Mr. Obama's beer diplomacy will heal the wounds, but some say at the very least his choice of beverage will level the playing field between president, professor and police officer. It's a tried and true political tactic.

SARAH PALIN, FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR: Let's commit ourselves, just everyday American people, Joe six-pack.

COSTELLO: Who can forget that? Supporters say Sarah Palin is a master at appealing to the common sense average Joe, and she used the six-pack to do it.

During the Democratic primary, Hillary Clinton tried something harder but mostly stuck with beer. And Barack Obama played to the beer-drinking crowd too, enjoying a few brews on the campaign trail.

Perhaps the only misstep in the president's latest beer diplomacy strategy is not inviting all parties to his White House shindig as in the woman who called 911 to report there was someone breaking in to Professor Gates's house. This is her lawyer.

WENDY MURPHY, LUCIA WHALEN'S ATTORNEY: So, the three highly trained guys who reacted badly are getting together tomorrow for a beer at the White House. And that's a good thing. But the one person whose actions have been exemplary will be at work tomorrow here in Cambridge.

I don't know, maybe it's a guy thing. She doesn't like beer anyway.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COSTELLO: You just can't make everyone happy. You can't.

But on the subject of beer, leveling the playing field, you wouldn't want to say to someone, hey, let's go have a glass of wine together. You say, let's throw back a beer.

ROBERTS: Well, you would -- there are some parts of New England where you might do that -- Martha's Vineyard, Chardonnay.

How does George Bush described it? That's how he described it, not how --

COSTELLO: You're in so much trouble.

ROBERTS: Not how I described them. I've been to the vineyard many times. I have many friends on the vineyard.

COSTELLO: I think that made it worse.

ROBERTS: There you go.

Half past the hour. Checking our top stories now. Federal law enforcement officials telling CNN that Michael Jackson's live-in doctor, Conrad Murray, is "the only one that they're looking at in their criminal investigation into the singer's death. And Jackson's personal chef is recounting the frantic moments inside the house on the day that Jackson died. She says that Jackson's children and the staff gathered in a circle to pray as he was rushed to the hospital.

COSTELLO: A slow, but steady rise in gas prices. AAA reporting the national average for unleaded regular is now $2.52 a galloon. That's just slightly higher (OFF-MIKE) straight daily increase. The average price of gas has gone up 5 cents in the past week.

ROBERTS: That brings back, you know, this brings back memories, rather, of a plane in the Hudson River. A bird strike forced an American Airlines plane to make an emergency landing in St. Louis yesterday. The pilot noticed the bird flying into the engine as the plane took off. They landed a few minutes later. Everyone onboard, thankfully, was safe.

The laws against texting and driving could become as common as seat belt laws. A new bill in the Senate would require states to ban the habit or risk losing federal highway money. This week, we learned drivers are 23 times more likely to crash when they are texting.

But we're going to do more than just tell you it's dangerous. Our Jason Carroll now here to show you how dangerous it is.

This is fascinating thing that you did. You went into a simulator and...

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. You know, the...

ROBERTS: ... got a BlackBerry and...

CARROLL: Did not do well. Surprisingly. Did not do very well when it came down to it.

But here's what happened. For the last 10 years, researchers at the University of Utah have actually been studying the effects of driving while using cell phones. Bottom line -- whether texting or talking hands free, you are increasing your chances of crashing. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CARROLL (voice-over): Five New York high school students killed, the driver texting before the accident. This bus driver caught on tape texting just before his crash.

Despite all the warnings...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I see a lot of people texting while they're driving.

CARROLL: Despite the risks, drivers say it is still common.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Texting, I think, is distracting. I try to keep away from that.

CARROLL: Professor David Strayer says maybe drivers would try more if they knew what he learned with this driving simulator here at the University of Utah.

PROF. DAVID STRAYER, UNIVERSITY OF UTAH: Text messaging is a level of impairment that exceeds what we see with someone who is driving while they're drunk.

CARROLL (on camera): Exceeds it.

STRAYER: Yes.

CARROLL (voice-over): Driving while texting more dangerous than driving drunk?

Strayer's researchers found the driver with an alcohol level .08, legally drunk in most states, is four times more likely to crash, while texting are crashes eight times more likely.

STRAYER: You should be, frankly, quite alarmed if you see someone texting as they're driving next to you.

CARROLL: This simulator may look like an elaborate video game, but there's science here. It records brain activity and more.

STRAYER: This is an eye-tracker that we use.

CARROLL: For our purposes, a simple test.

(on camera): 65 is OK in the state of Utah.

(voice-over): Strayer put me in the simulator.

STRAYER: Compose and send an e-mail or text message, and...

CARROLL: A few insults from CNN colleagues.

(on camera): Well, Alina Cho has sent me a text message, sent one saying, "You're the dumbest person I know."

One of our senior producers, "You can't even type when you're standing on two feet."

Who can drive with these kinds of insults?

(voice-over): I couldn't. Several near collisions.

A study released by Virginia Tech Transportation Institute using real drivers found a truck driver's risk of accident 23 times higher while text messaging. The risk of using a cell phone hands-free, only slightly higher. But Strayer says hands-free is still dangerous.

STRAYER: For people look but don't see important information.

CARROLL: Five states prohibit drivers from talking on hand-held cell phones, 14 ban drivers from text messaging. Now some senators have proposed a federal law requiring all states to ban texting while driving.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Texting while driving is even more dangerous than driving drunk.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CARROLL: Well, the proposed legislation also says states that do not ban texting or e-mailing while driving risk losing federal highway funds.

You know, when talking to the professor there, I asked him what he thinks is going to take. He says it's going to be more like a grassroots effort, much like the way that MADD got started, Mothers Against Drunk Driving. You know, those people getting together after seeing so many accidents, coming forward and pressuring lawmakers to make a change.

ROBERTS: Did you ever crash?

CARROLL: I never did crash. I came close to several crashes several times especially after the insulting e-mails from my colleagues there, but...

COSTELLO: You know, I wanted to ask you. Before you took the simulator thing, did you think texting while driving affected your driving that much?

CARROLL: You know, that's interesting, I did not. I thought I could do it. You know, I thought I was confident enough. You know, I am a good driver. I got a 98 on my driver's test in California. I thought I was a good driver. I thought I could do it. But once you're there and you see how very easily you can become distracted.

ROBERTS: I like the person who wrote that you're the dumbest person that they know.

CARROLL: Yes, thanks, Alina.

ROBERTS: Spelled D-U-M-E-S-T.

CARROLL: That's Alina Cho for you.

ROBERTS: Just saying.

Jason, thanks so much.

Do you get guilty of texting behind the wheel or you're scared of other drivers that do it? Tell us some of your stories. Go to our blog at cnn.com/amfix.

COSTELLO: Well, here's some more scary driving stories. This kid in New York who was driving the train. We have pictures and we're going to talk to the guy who took the pictures of this little guy driving a train full of people through New York.

It's 35 minutes past the hour.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning.

A quick check of the stories coming up on our "AM Rundown" right now.

Extreme weather on the radar at the moment. Storms and serious heat across the country. Rob Marciano is going to tell us where things will be bad today.

Plus, America's homegrown terror threat. We go one-on-one with Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. The risk and what's being done to keep us safe. We should point out that that's going to be tomorrow morning.

And an unlikely critic of President Obama's health care plan -- the president's former personal physician. You'll hear what worries him about the plan - Carol.

COSTELLO: New Yorkers will tell you they've seen some pretty strange things underground on the subway. Take our next guest, for example. This past weekend, he saw a child 8 or 9 years old in the train operator's cab and said it appears she was teaching the boy how to run the train. Jules Cattie snapped the picture with his cell phone before getting on that train. He joins us now.

The story is so unbelievable.

JULES CATTIE, SAW CHILD IN SUBWAY OPERATOR'S CAB: Even in New York, it's shocking.

COSTELLO: And you said you snapped the picture because you didn't think anybody would believe you?

CATTIE: Yes, you know, in New York, people say crazy things all the time and you tell friends and people say, well, that couldn't happen. Well, this actually happened.

COSTELLO: OK. So, you're sitting on the train. And when does this first come to your attention that a child might be in the driver's seat of this subway train?

CATTIE: You know, I left work. I was going home to watch a U.S. soccer game. And I heard someone kind of yelling instruction. But it didn't sound like a co-worker -- a co-worker like training an MTA employee. It was somewhat like a mother and a child or something, like the tone was just kind of like that.

COSTELLO: So what was she saying to the boy?

CATTIE: You know, the words I heard were, you know, green, go, and yellow, slow down, and things like that. And it -- you know, it was kind of -- I thought the MTA has to have better instructed people than this if they don't know that green means go.

COSTELLO: And at this time, the train was actually moving.

CATTIE: Yes, yes.

COSTELLO: So, he was doing a pretty good job.

CATTIE: It's unreal, so, I don't -- you know, I don't know. It was going and then we eventually -- the train stopped at Union Square and the train was delayed a little bit and all of a sudden a young boy came out, popped the door open and announced why the train was delayed.

COSTELLO: The little boy popped out and said why the train was delayed?

CATTIE: Yes.

COSTELLO: The same kid that was driving the train.

CATTIE: Well, at this point, I didn't know that. But he popped out and made the announcement. And, you know, everybody -- you know, on the train kind of nervously looked around and giggled like did that really just happen. So it was kind of shocking and then he went back in. At that point, I went up to the cab to kind of, you know, investigate and see what was going on.

COSTELLO: OK. So you went up to the cab to investigate. And what did they tell you?

CATTIE: I didn't say anything. I looked -- you know, the window is kind of fogged out or greyed out. And so I leaned up. And at that point, I saw the kid -- I saw, you know, the small individual and the larger individual standing at the controls, which kind of shocked me. So, you know, I got out my camera because I didn't think this was safe. I didn't know if it was against the rules. I didn't know if it was illegal, but I just thought it was kind of shocking. So I put the camera -- you know, pressed it up against the window. You can see my pictures in the reflection, but I held it up. And at that point, somebody in there said, you know, he has a camera. And I snapped it, and I got, you know...

COSTELLO: So, as all of this was happening, I mean, certainly in your mind, because we've had some pretty terrible train crashes lately. You know, Washington, D.C. being the most recent tragic example where so many people lost their lives. So was that going through your mind as you're seeing this kid at the controls?

CATTIE: Well, you know, that's why I brought it to the press' attention. And, you know, I talked with the MTA and the inspector general's office. After it happened, I provided them the photo and told them what happened, because I just, you know, I think it's incumbent. You know, we're American citizens. We have to keep an eye out for each other. And don't assume that, you know, you're on public transport, that everything is being run properly. If you see something, you know, say something, take a picture and, you know, make people aware of it.

COSTELLO: Right.

CATTIE: So, hopefully, something gets done.

COSTELLO: I'm just looking. Do we have an MTA statement?

We do?

OK, there it is.

We see the MTA statement. "Under New York City Transit rules, the presence of an unauthorized person in the cab of a subway train is expressly forbidden and viewed as a serious infraction. Depending on the outcome of the investigation, disciplinary charges may be filed against these employees."

So you have evidence in the picture. So most assuredly something will happen. And an investigation is under way, and that's going to make you feel a little better.

CATTIE: Well, you know, I didn't want this young man to get in any trouble. I don't want the conductor or the driver, you know, to lose their jobs over this. I just think it's a, you know -- like President Obama said, these are teachable moments, and that hopefully something good comes out of it, you know. I didn't want, you know, something to happen in a couple of weeks. A train being in an accident and people get injured or killed. And to think, God, I didn't do anything and, you know, hopefully this makes the system a little bit safer.

COSTELLO: Well, it's good you have that handy dandy cell phone with the camera in it. Thank you so much.

CATTIE: Thanks for having me.

COSTELLO: Jules Cattie, stick around.

We're watching extreme weather as well. We'll have the latest for you from that front. It is 44 minutes past the hour.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

ROBERTS: We are watching extreme weather across the country this morning. Our Rob Marciano is all warmed up at the weather center in Atlanta.

And we're taking a look at some stuff happening in northern Texas, Rob. And around the Dallas area?

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, Dallas-Ft. Worth Metro plus.

Good morning, guys.

Tornado warning out earlier for the Fort Worth area. This is radar indicated. And that warning has been extended eastward towards the Dallas area as well. So here it is on the radar scope. We have a severe thunderstorm watch. It's in effect after the next couple of hours. This line continues to barrel to the east. Here it is. And the pink area is hail and, also Dallas County. Those are the areas that are under a tornado warning for the next, about 30 minutes here as this line continues to move off to the east.

Radar indicated -- so if you live in the Dallas area, you certainly want to take cover. I know you're probably getting up and getting ready for work, but just hunker down for the next 10, 20 minutes until this line heads out of your way, because it is a serious situation.

If the tornado doesn't drop out of the clouds, certainly there's enough ump in the atmosphere to cause winds in excess of 60 miles an hour, and that can do some damage also. More tranquil rain heading across parts of Wisconsin into Chicago. That may slow down travel if you're travelling through Chicago.

And the rains across the northeast coming to an end at least for now, northern northeast parts of the country in a bit of a flood watch for the time being, but more thunderstorms possible. Not so much today, but I think if we head towards tomorrow for New York. 81 degrees in Atlanta. More record breaking heat across the Pacific Northwest.

Carol, John, they broke all-time records in places like Seattle and through parts of western Oregon yesterday. They can only beg for some of the rain that Dallas can't take any. If you live in Dallas, certainly take cover at least for the next 20 minutes. Some rough weather will be there.

ROBERTS: What it hit in Seattle yesterday? Was it 104?

MARCIANO: I think it's 103, and that was an all-time record. Vancouver, Washington, 108. Also an all-time record. Portland got to 106. They are at all-time record at 107. Regardless, a lot of folks who live up there don't have air conditioning. And the air is definitely sweltering.

ROBERTS: All right. Rob, thanks so much. We'll check back with you on that tornado watch. Appreciate it.

MARCIANO: All right, you got it.

COSTELLO: A lot of concern lately about homegrown terrorists. Well, Janet Napolitano, the Homeland Security secretary, is talking about that, and how America is protecting itself. Mary Snow talked with her. We'll talk to her live tomorrow.

More right after the break. It's 49 minutes past the hour.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning and 9 minutes to the top of the hour.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano wants us all to get involved in fighting terror. She gave a major address on the threats that our country faces today from outside and right here at home.

Our Mary Snow has the rundown of Napolitano's New York City trip.

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John and Carol, one thing that became very clear is that the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security feels it's imperative that the public plays a role in counterterrorism efforts. And we also get a chance to ask her about the threat from homegrown terrorists.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SNOW (voice-over): Visiting Ground Zero for the first time, the nation's Homeland Security chief, Secretary Janet Napolitano, toured the site of the worst terrorist attack on U.S. soil and spoke of a constantly changing threat.

JANET NAPOLITANO, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: Homegrown, radicalized, violent extremism. And that is something we also need to be watchful for.

SNOW: Napolitano wouldn't say how worried she is by the North Carolina arrest of suspects accused of planning to commit violent jihad overseas.

But an internal document shown to CNN indicates federal anti- terrorism officials are concerned, urging police agencies to be on the alert for homegrown terrorists.

Besides the North Carolina case, there have been recent instances of Americans going to Somalia to help militants and a New York man going to Pakistan to join al Qaeda.

SNOW (on camera): Is this a new wave, would you say, of American-bred terrorism?

NAPOLITANO: It's too soon to say whether it's a new wave. But I think it's certainly correct to say we've had a number just since I've become secretary. And it is something that we are monitoring -- not just monitoring, that sounds so passive, but really watching out. We're working closely with our federal partners and, importantly, state local tribal law enforcement, the first -- you know, they've got the first eyes on the ground.

SNOW (voice-over): To make her point about the need to work with local partners, the secretary joined the city's mayor and police commissioner on New York City subway. She announced millions in federal money for security for the transit system, seen as a primary terrorist target.

But the theme of her visit and the speech she delivered while here was the need for government to not just to protect the public, but look to citizens for useful information to thwart potential terrorist attacks.

NAPOLITANO: The consequences of living in a state of fear rather than a state of preparedness are enormous. We may be better prepared as a nation than we were on 9/11, but we are nowhere near as prepared as we need to be.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SNOW: And the secretary says terrorists are living in a web 2.0 world that requires new ways of thinking. She said one thing that the department has done recently is to hire a former computer hacker to help identify weaknesses in the country's cyber network -- John and Carol.

COSTELLO: Talk about health care reform, too, on AMERICAN MORNING. Coming up, we'll tell you why President Obama's former doctor is against this health care plan.

ROBERTS: You know, this is such an emotional issue. And we just had Earl Pomeroy on, one of the Blue Dog Democrats, getting e-mails on it. Why have this guy on? All he wants to do is block health care. It's like their emotions are running so high.

COSTELLO: That's because it's going to cost everybody so much money, supposedly.

ROBERTS: And so many people have got vested interest in this. You know, the left and the right. It's incredible.

COSTELLO: We'll get into it all.

It's 54 minutes past the hour.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COSTELLO: Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning. Lawmakers won't be agreeing on health care reform anytime soon. September at the earliest. But doctors are gathering on Capitol Hill today to see if they can influence the outcome, including the president's former doctor from Chicago.

And you might be surprised by whose side he's on. Our Jim Acosta met with him, and he's not holding back.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John and Carol, President Obama talks often about all of the forces lining up against his health care plan. But there's one critic you may not have heard from in this debate, Mr. Obama's former doctor, David Scheiner. And he is passionate in his belief that the president's plan won't work.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, hi.

ACOSTA (voice-over): Chicago doctor David Scheiner has taken a hard look at President Obama's prescription for health care reform and sees bad medicine.

DR. DAVID SCHEINER, PRESIDENT OBAMA'S FORMER DOCTOR: This isn't the kind of health care program that I think is going to work.

ACOSTA: What makes Dr. Scheiner so special?

He was Barack Obama's personal physician for 22 years. He voted for Mr. Obama, but the doctor thinks the president's plan doesn't go far enough.

SCHEINER: If I had to say the single one thing, which is the worst part of it, is that private insurance companies continue to be a part of the health scheme. Everybody keeps saying we don't want the government getting involved in health care. The government is involved in health care and Medicare, and it works.

ACOSTA: Scheiner would rather see the nation adopt a single payer system like the ones in Canada and Europe. It's something an up and coming state Senator Obama talked about six years ago.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I happen to be a proponent of the single payer universal health care plan. But as all of you know, we may not get there immediately, because first we've got to take back the White House and we've got to take back the senate and we've got to take back the Congress.

ACOSTA: But during the campaign, that position evolved.

OBAMA: If I were designing a system from scratch, then I'd probably set up a single payer system. But the problem is, we're not starting from scratch.

This is about the future.

ACOSTA: Now the president favors giving Americans the option of joining a government-run plan that would compete with private insurers.

OBAMA: Nobody is talking about some government takeover of health care. I'm tired of hearing that.

ACOSTA: But Dr. Scheiner points out nobody has seen the details of that option, making it a hard sell for the president.

SCHEINER: We don't even know fully what the public option is going to be. If the public option is too good, patients who are sick will flock to it and I'm not sure it will be able to support itself.

ACOSTA: Scheiner almost had a chance to confront the president with his concerns. He was invited to a recent televised town hall with Mr. Obama, but he says he was dropped from the program.

SCHEINER: I just hope that the Congress and the American public and the president would hear some of my words. We've got to do something better.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA: Dr. Scheiner will finally got a chance to have his say here in Washington. He and other doctors who support a single payer system are gathering at the capital today to meet with lawmaker and rally with supporters. He may not be the president's doctor anymore, but Dr. Scheiner says he's trying to save the patient before it's too late -- John and Carol.

COSTELLO: Thanks, Jim Acosta.

Home  |  World  |  U.S.  |  Politics  |  Crime  |  Entertainment  |  Health  |  Tech  |  Travel  |  Living  |  Money  |  Sports  |  Time.com
© 2014 Cable News Network. Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. All Rights Reserved.