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Killer Whale Probe; What's Next for Killer Whale?; White House Social Secretary Quits; Interview With Texas Congressman Ron Paul and Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz; New York Governor Calls Off Reelection Bid

Aired February 26, 2010 - 16:00   ET


RICK SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: Biggest story to break in the last couple of hours. You saw it happen right here live on CNN during our hour, New York Governor David Paterson fought off the scandals and the rumors.

One controversial phone call was just too much, too much for some of the Democrats. It's a phone call that most would say he never should have made, and his reelection campaign is now toast.

Here is what else is going on.

SANCHEZ: Here's what is making the LIST.

REP. RON PAUL (R), TEXAS: The insurance companies love this.

SANCHEZ: Ron Paul is against the insurance companies' greed. And he's also against the present Obama reform plan, both. He will explain.

What do you do with this SeaWorld whale?

PAULA GILLESPIE, EYEWITNESS: She was down in the tank, and we saw all the thrashing and the bubbles, and him pushing her with his nose. And it was just so, so traumatic.

SANCHEZ: A whale that's now killed three people.

And speaking of animals gone wild, who is at fault here?

The lists you need to know about. Who's today's most intriguing person? Who's on the list you don't want to be on? You will find out as our national conversation on Twitter, on the air continues.


SANCHEZ: If you think about it, when 80 percent of the people who filed for unemployment -- or pardon me -- who went bankrupt last year filed for bankruptcy listen year -- that's what the president said -- that 80 percent of them did because of health reasons.

So we fact-checked. And the president was wrong. It's 70 percent of the people last year who filed for bankruptcy said they had to do it because of health reasons, couldn't afford what they had to pay, couldn't afford their premiums, couldn't afford their deductible, had to quit their jobs.

Mark Halperin is good enough to join us now. He's got the hottest book in America, "Game Change." This thing is filled with interesting anecdotes about things that happened during the election, about Bill Clinton, about Sarah Palin. I mean, it's -- it's just a great read. And he's good enough to let us know what's going on no.

Mark, how are you?

MARK HALPERIN, SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST, "TIME": Rick, as we say in Atlanta, all you all are very nice about the book.


HALPERIN: Thank you.

SANCHEZ: And, you know, down in South -- down in South Georgia, they say, it's morning time, just in case you're wondering...

HALPERIN: Morning time. Yes, thank you for that.

SANCHEZ: ... as opposed to mornings.

All right, let's start with Paterson. This should come as a shocker to no one. What is interesting is that he was fighting the thing off with a preemptive -- with a preemptive energy not the likes of which have been seen since maybe George Bush in Iraq.

HALPERIN: You means in terms of getting it -- in terms getting out -- away from a possible investigation?

SANCHEZ: Instead of...


SANCHEZ: No, I mean, in -- in terms of getting in front of the story, and making an announcement that...


SANCHEZ: ... you know what, "The New York Times" is about to say something terrible about me, but don't believe.


SANCHEZ: It's not true.

And now the story comes out.


This guy has not shown the best judgment in dealing with the press and the public since he became the acting, the governor, and I think -- the unelected governor -- and I think it's still possible that he's going to be forced from office. From a national point of view, there's another storyline here, which is Andrew Cuomo, the former HUD secretary, the son of the former New York governor, was going to get in this race and beat Paterson for the Democratic nomination. Now he's going to have a much easier time getting the Democratic nomination, probably be the next governor of New York.

And this guy wants to be president of the United States. This makes that much more likely on a faster timetable.

SANCHEZ: He's going to go up -- I mean, talk about a name from the past. I was just kidding with one of my producers, with Gary Dotters (ph). I said, you know, it's almost like things just kind of circle around.

Rick Lazio? Rick Lazio is going to be back in the news again, huh?

HALPERIN: Rick Lazio is going to be the Republican nominee. So, you're going to have the guy who ran against Hillary Clinton when she ran for Senate in 2000 against the son of the former governor. You know, we don't have a hereditary monarch system here. It only seems that way.


SANCHEZ: All right.

Let's go to health care, because I'm getting tweets from people all throughout the day. In fact, let's -- have we got a couple of them here? I'm just going to go blind here and try and see if I can show you what Americans are saying to me, all right?

And most of them, what they're talking about is, "Employer says" -- here's one right here -- "Employer says he can no longer afford so much insurance, so we must pay, up to $400 a month. Make $9.50 -- $9.50 an hour."

Mark, if I showed you one, I would show 1,000 from people who are tweeting me and telling me, look, things are tough out here, I have got to tell you, and I just got another -- another hike in my premiums.

Eleven states, apparently, this week have hiked their -- in 11 states, the premiums are going to be hiked, I should say. I misspoke on that.

HALPERIN: And, yet...

SANCHEZ: This is a reality.

HALPERIN: And, yet, even with -- even all that anxiety, people in America still brilliantly using 140 characters to express themselves.

There are two realities out there, Rick, that the president knows. And this is why he's gotten leverage. He tried to leverage it yesterday in not letting this thing go down. Number one, individuals, like the people who are contacting you every day with emotion and concern, are suffering. They can't switch jobs. They're one illness away from being bankrupt.

Their kids sometimes can't get the care they need. And, on the business side, you've got small, medium, large businesses all across the country who either can't provide care or are struggling to provide care, or, in some cases, can't compete internationally with other countries where health care is done in a much more cost-effective way.

So, this problem isn't going away. That's what the president hopes to use as leverage, but it's going to be a problem, and it's something that I think could eventually cause there to be a bipartisan deal, because it simply is not sustainable the way we're headed now, for families or for businesses.

SANCHEZ: But, look, the Dems have themselves to blame, don't they? I mean, am I -- am I wrong here? The Dems were all for the public option. They had the votes, it seemed. They have them now, if they go the reconciliation route. They need 50 votes, and then they need Biden to put the big hammer down and put the stamp on this thing. Why don't they just do that?

HALPERIN: You think Joe Biden would like to be the 51st vote? You think that would make him happy?

SANCHEZ: I think Joe Biden would get a real kick out of it.

HALPERIN: They don't -- they're not...


HALPERIN: They're not doing it because, first of all, they may not have the votes. They may not even have the votes for the -- a version of like what the Senate passed or the president is proposing, let alone the public option, number one.

And, number two, there's a limit to how much they can do here, both through using this reconciliation shortcut, but also just doing it in a partisan way. To do the single-payer -- not single-payer -- the public option with just Democratic votes, even for some Democrats who are partisan and who believe that it's immoral that we're the only industrialized democracy that doesn't have health care, that's a bridge too far.

So, even though they might be able to get the votes for it, I don't think they will. And it's -- again, it's not clear that they could.

SANCHEZ: But is -- but, on the other side, as wrong as the Dems are for knowing and believing in something and not having the wherewithal to get it through, are the Republicans right to suddenly come back and say, scratch the whole thing, we will start over, and we will go step by step?

How is that going to sit with the American people?

HALPERIN: Rick, you are trying to bait me into doing my Jack Cafferty imitation.


HALPERIN: I'm not going to...


HALPERIN: I'm not going to fall for that. I'm not going to attack everybody.


HALPERIN: Look, there's a lot of blame to go around. And the frustration and anger that people are feeling about their health care, they see that Washington, from their point of view, isn't helping...


HALPERIN: ... that Washington is not providing a solution. Clearly, there's a lot of blame to go around.

The buck stops with the president. It did for George Bush. It does with this president. He -- if he thinks the right way to proceed and the only way to proceed is to get Republican support, he is going to have to figure out how to get that, even if it pissed off -- can I say that? Are we on a seven-second delay?

SANCHEZ: Yes, go ahead. Yes, you just did.

HALPERIN: Even if it -- even -- that's my inner Cafferty coming out.


HALPERIN: Even if it bothers some of the Republicans -- or some of the people in his own party, labor unions and some of the liberals in the Democratic Party, if he thinks that is the right thing to do -- and, as a candidate, he suggested that was the right way to reform health care, to deal with the environment, and energy, et cetera -- he's going to have to take some risks to do it.

SANCHEZ: Well...

HALPERIN: Yesterday was a version of that, but not a successful one.

SANCHEZ: What -- what is so bizarre about this is that 52 percent of the American people, last time I checked, say they're OK with the public option. In fact, they would like to see it passed.

And then when you ask them if they like this whole reform idea, and they start looking at it bit by bit, and -- or as one big giant glob, they don't like it. They say, forget about it; I don't want that.


SANCHEZ: So, thing...

HALPERIN: Rick, if you -- if you look at... SANCHEZ: ... it's almost like the Dems are better off saying, you know what, let's just give them the big bitter pill and make them swallow that, right?

HALPERIN: I think the best thing you could say, Rick, about the American people, if you break the polling data down the way you did, is, we're a little schizo.


HALPERIN: That would be the best thing you could say about...



SANCHEZ: Yes, and that includes me on certain days. Just ask my wife. But that's another conversation...

HALPERIN: Just Monday, Wednesdays, and Fridays.

SANCHEZ: ... with -- with...


SANCHEZ: That's another conversation with Mark Halperin, who is in his Friday mood.

Mark, good luck with the book, way to go, and thanks being on. Appreciate it.

HALPERIN: Thanks, Rick. Always happy to be here.

SANCHEZ: All right. Here's -- here's this piece of information I'm going to be sharing with you in just a little bit.


PAUL: Allow the insurance to be sold across state lines. Do something with tort reform, because, believe me...

REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ (D), FLORIDA: That's good. That's in our bill. We do that.

PAUL: ... the number of...


PAUL: Yes. Yes, really.



SANCHEZ: These -- these two go at it. This is interesting. I mean, you heard what Mark Halperin had to say about what is going on with health care.

Obviously, I want to know what you have to say -- and that's why I'm reading all your tweets -- about your particular situation, but wait until you see when Ron Paul and Debbie Wasserman Schultz get at it. I mean, he gets wound up, as wound up as I have seen him before. Health care reform can do that to politicians, bring out their passions, you know.

We're going to hear what else they had to say about the president's summit in just a couple of minutes.

And, also, maybe this sounded like a good idea on paper, amateur night at the bullfights. In reality, things don't work out all that well for wannabe matadors. Ouch. You will see it for yourself. The pictures tell the story, a painful story. We will show them to you.

I'm Rick Sanchez. This is your LIST. And it's scrolling on. And we're so glad you're here.


SANCHEZ: You know, I have been talking about making this not a political story and not a policy story, but a people story. I'm going to do this every single day, because I think it's -- it's as much about what matters to you as what matters to those guys in Washington.

So, here's another one. Look -- look at this tweet I just got just during the break here: "This is crazy. My husband's premiums tripled for the same amount of coverage, but then the out-of-pocket increased even more. Ripoff."

I'm telling you, I'm not kidding, what I just told Mark Halperin, if I get one of these, I'm getting 1,000 of these. There are people who are angry about the situation with health care in this country. That's not to say there's only one solution, but there's no question that there's a problem.

Another problem is off the coast of the Pacific, right? This is Okinawa? Okinawa apparently had a big earthquake about 50 miles from it.

And Chad Myers is all over this thing.

Everyone wants to know, Chad, is this going to cause a tsunami?



MYERS: No watch and no warning in effect for all of the Pacific. Now, there probably will be a small tsunami, maybe three feet, for the people of Okinawa. It usually happens very close to the island that the earthquake happened.

Now, this earthquake was a 7.3 initially. They have now reduced it to 7.0. This happens a lot, where they reduce the numbers. Sometimes, they have to raise it, but, for the most part, they usually reduce it.

There's the epicenter right there, 7.0, instead of 7.3, which means it was the same size as the Haiti quake, except it was 50 miles away from Okinawa, and not only 10 miles away, like it was for Haiti. And it was also 13 miles deep. Thirteen miles deep is deep enough that it doesn't shake the bottom of the ocean enough to cause a big tsunami.

And the 7.0 is a big quake if you're underneath it, but it's not really that much of a quake if -- to make a significant wave. So, there's Okinawa. If the wave would have come in, it would have been very fast, because, at 50 miles away -- and you're only talking about, oh, I don't know, six hundred miles per hour of these waves, so all of these coastal areas would have been -- have been hit quite quickly, within 10 minutes.

And, so far, there are no reports of any damage there in Okinawa. And we don't expect any significant tsunami Pacific-wide there at a 7.0 quake.


SANCHEZ: Chad Myers is the -- is the guy whose phone number you want if you're ever invited to one of those, like, trivia games.

I just...

MYERS: I don't -- no, not -- don't phone a friend. No thanks.

SANCHEZ: He just knows stuff, you know?


SANCHEZ: Thanks, Chad.

MYERS: Thanks, buddy. All right.

SANCHEZ: You want to see some really, really cool video? I mean, this is crazy. First of all, ask yourself, what are they thinking? I mean, this is called amateur night at the bullfights. Three people are in the hospital after jumping into the ring, which crazy people do.

The dude in pink pants there, I think he's the one who got hit really bad. Did you see him just a little bit earlier? Amateur bullfights, it's called (SPEAKING SPANISH). What? Even I can't pronounce this.



It's popular in Colombia. Almost anybody can participate. The three people who got hurt are expected to recover, though, so I get they're going to be all right. Why would anybody go and run and -- oh, I get it. There was a camera there.

Take a look at this. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PAUL: The insurance companies love this.


SANCHEZ: "The insurance companies love this."

He's saying the insurance companies are being done a huge favor by President Obama's reform plan. That's a perspective you don't hear every day. But you don't get to talk to Ron Paul every day. He's explaining his provocative statement and he gets some pushback from Debbie Wasserman Schultz. You will see them do a little of this.

Also, here's a question that we have been asking in our newsroom all day. What should be done with SeaWorld killer whale? Should an animal be put down or returned to the wild when it attacks its trainer? What do you do? Hey, by the way, it's not one trainer, one person. This animal has killed three people. What do you do with the animal?

Still ahead, we're going to tell you what SeaWorld plans to do, and if other animal experts think what SeaWorld is doing is right or wrong. PETA is going to be here. You betcha.

We will be right back.


SANCHEZ: All right. I want to check in with Chad Myers real quick just to find out what's going on across the Northeast.

Have you folks seen some of the pictures of what -- parts of New York? I saw a picture of what I think was Highway 19 earlier today. I used to live in Bergen County, New Jersey, when I worked for another network up in New York.

And, Man, it was rough back then, but I saw pictures today that made it look as hard or as difficult to be on those roads as I have ever seen before.

MYERS: I know. And you're talking about 20 and sometimes now 30 inches of snow, a brand-new record for any one month at Central Park, over 36 inches now. The old record was 30 inches in a month. And February is the shortest month, and it's still snowing.

And here's in Tenafly. A big gourmet store, the roof collapsed 11:00 this morning. People were inside, but everybody did get out OK. Nine workers and five customers were believed inside, but at least, as the roof came down, they heard it cracking and started running. There you see the Fort Lee fire chief there.


MYERS: A Tenafly gourmet farm right there. I mean, I -- I have actually been in this area, with all of these little delis and gourmet shops.

And I know how busy they can get. And, 11:00, at least that was just before the rush hour. But, at that point, with that much show, was there really a rush? I'm not...


MYERS: I'm not that sure.


MYERS: You know, could -- you couldn't even get there.


MYERS: Here's a live shot from New York City from the -- from Central Park proper. It's still snowing, 16.9 inches, and still coming down. We're all amazed that they could keep this little circle, Columbus Circle, clear of snow even though right there by where that guy is standing, where the monument is, there's 17 inches of snow there.

And people are now walking back and forth in the park. That was not allowed for a while today and last night, as a limb got too heavy with the snow on it, broke, collapsed, and fell on a man, and killed him...

SANCHEZ: Really?

MYERS: ... from the weight of that snow and the weight of that limb.

SANCHEZ: Are you serious?


SANCHEZ: A guy got killed yesterday when a limb fell on his head that was packed with snow?

MYERS: In Central Park over by Fifth Avenue, yes.

SANCHEZ: I did not know that.

MYERS: Yes. I think it was like 69th Street, so not that -- all that far from the zoo.


MYERS: WABC, we have some numbers now coming in, 35, 36 inches, especially in Orange County, New York. That would be north and west of where you were talking about. Literally, there was this dividing line. The east side of the Hudson Valley just got rain and very heavy snow, thick snow, but it just compacted down.

And the other side, the Adirondacks and all the back over toward -- toward, you know, Wayne and -- and Patterson, the snow just piled up.


MYERS: ... now 15 inches.

SANCHEZ: There you have it. Chad Myers...

MYERS: It's hard to go to the Paramus Mall at 15 inches.

SANCHEZ: Paramus Mall?


SANCHEZ: That is the greatest mall in the world.



SANCHEZ: Everybody hangs out at the Paramus Mall.

MYERS: Yes. It used to be...

SANCHEZ: Thanks, Chad.

MYERS: There used to be a Crazy Eddie's right across the street that I would go to all the time.


SANCHEZ: Look at you. It must be Friday. Chad is telling all his stories.



SANCHEZ: All right, let's do this.

I promised you that I was going to let you hear what Ron Paul has to say, right?

Look what's going on here. This is the New York governor. This man, David Paterson, came into office after Eliot Spitzer was ousted by a sex scandal. He immediately started telling us about his sexual peccadillos. And now Paterson is caught in his own controversy.

But I know what you want to see is, what did Ron Paul have to say and what got him so riled up yesterday when I called him here to talk to him about what was going on with health care? I thought he should have been at the health care summit, being -- beings that he's a doctor, right?

Well, wait until you hear what he has to say. That's next.


SANCHEZ: Welcome back, everyone. I'm Rick Sanchez.

What do you do with a whale that's killed three people, three? Count them. Well, you're getting into this. We have asked the question and we're going to do the story coming up. And I have got someone from PETA who is going to join me.

Go to the Twitter board, if you -- if you could, Robert. Look at this.

"Rick, I do not want to see them put the whale down, but I do think that is one fish they need to."

And the next one says: "That whale didn't go crazy. That whale went whale. Why do you think they are called killer whales?"

Huh. That's interesting. Everybody seems to be talking about this whale thing. So, I have invited PETA to come on. You know they are going to have a very strong take on this. And you are going to hear it in just a little bit.

But, first, Ron Paul.

Now, Ron Paul's all free market, right? He's the guy who is all let the mark determine what you do. So, I asked him yesterday, well, about what about these health insurance companies that are basically, you know, making tons of profits, and, at the same time, they're increasing everyone's benefits? And the system seems to not be working so well, right?

He agreed. So, then I said, what, are you for the President Obama reform plan? No, he's not, not even a little bit. In fact, he has an interesting opinion about this. And he gets some resistance as well from Debbie Wasserman Schultz from the state of Florida.

I want you to watch this interview. I think you will find it instructive.


SANCHEZ: Congressman Paul, you're a big free market guy. And -- and I think a lot of folks respect you for that. But do you not believe that some of these big insurance companies have gotten too powerful in what they can do?

PAUL: Well, yes.

This is a consequence of government-managed care. The corporations get involve. The managed health care gets involved. The insurance companies get involved, the drug companies.

Who do you think pushed through prescription drug programs? It was the -- it was the drug companies. So, I agree that corporations are out of control. But it's -- it's not because it's a market function. There's been no market function. It's been a government-mandated function. The government controls this.

So, right now, do you think this administration...

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Come on. PAUL: ... is going to take on the drug companies and insurance companies? That's not going to happen.

We have a type of corporatism that runs in this world and in this country, and it moves toward a fascist system, because government and big business go -- get in bed together. And it's not free markets at all. The free market that I know about existed a long time ago, and things weren't nearly as bad as they are today, let me tell you.

SANCHEZ: That's -- that's interesting, because you're -- it's a double whammy that you're proposing. You're saying, look, the corporations are screwed up because they have gotten too greedy, and the people who have helped them get screwed up is the government, who have really been their allies in this.

That's a -- Debbie Wasserman...

PAUL: That's absolutely right. And they still are. They still are.

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Rick, that's just...

PAUL: And they will be in the outcome of this out -- this -- this debate.

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Rick, that's just ridiculous.

Come on.

SANCHEZ: Go ahead, Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Give me a break.

PAUL: Thanks. Thanks.


WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: You're going to -- you're suggesting...


WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: You're suggesting that...

PAUL: You don't think the corporations -- you don't think the corporations work the system?


WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: You're going to say that government...

PAUL: You don't think they work the system?

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Excuse me. Excuse me.

You're going to -- you're -- you're suggesting that the government tells corporations -- insurance companies that they -- they have -- they have to deny people, based on a preexisting condition, that they have to drop -- to drop people from insurance coverage because they -- when they get sick, that they -- that they have cap damages -- that they have cap people's insurance coverage annually and for their entire lives?

The government doesn't tell -- tell insurance companies to do that.

PAUL: But, wait, we didn't have that...

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: That is corporate greed. That is driven by corporate greed, and corporate greed alone. And we need to make sure that we strike a balance.

That's what this health care -- care reform bill is all about. It's about striking a balance, because the insurance industry in America, when it comes to health care, has run amok, and we have to get a handle on it, so we can establish some balance and some -- some security and stability for the American people.

PAUL: Yes.

You know, when -- when the dust settles, if the administration gets what they want, they are going to have 30 more million people get insurance. The insurance companies love this. I mean, it will be subsidized by the government. The government is going to have to subsidize this.

And the big -- and the corporations are not going to be complaining. Yes, they will complain now, and they might take some rules and all, but they are going to be very happy when all these people have to pay , and the government is behind this. So, this -- this -- they're in bed together.

SANCHEZ: But the math -- but -- but -- but wait a minute. But, hold on, Congressman.

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: More importantly, we're going to get our deficits under control.

SANCHEZ: Well, but hold on a minute. Hold on a minute.

Congressman, the math does not support your argument. Never before in the history of the United States has more money been spent by one industry on one particular legislation to try and influence it. They have spent upwards of $400 million in lobbying fees, and ads, et cetera, to make sure this reform is defeated.

If that's the case, why in the world would they -- quote -- "love it," as you say?

PAUL: Well, they will, because they will get something out of it.

But if you're really want to get some competition, you know, allow the insurance to be sold across state lines. Do something with tort reform, because, believe me...

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: That's good. That's in our bill. We do that. PAUL: ... the number of...


PAUL: Yes. Yes, really.


PAUL: We will see.

SANCHEZ: All right.


WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: It's in the bill.

PAUL: The attorneys won't allow -- the attorneys aren't going to allow that. You know the attorneys run this place up here.

SANCHEZ: We will leave it at that.

PAUL: So, that's not likely to happen.


SANCHEZ: We will leave it at that, because we're out of time. But I enjoyed the discussion, and I learned from both sides.

Thanks. I appreciate it, Congresswoman, from the Sunshine State.

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Thank you. Thanks, Rick.

SANCHEZ: And, Congressman Ron Paul, my thanks to you as well.


PAUL: Thank you.


SANCHEZ: Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Ron Paul, glad to have them. And they have both agreed to come on back, because we think -- Don't you agree? -- that was an interesting pairing there, those two. A little bit of friction, a little heat makes for light, right?

Now this:


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tilikum is an extraordinary animal. He is very large. We have the highest standards of safety. And the protocols we have put in place, obviously, those are being revisited at this time.


SANCHEZ: SeaWorld reveals what it plans to do with the killer whale that killed a trainer -- the third time this whale has killed someone.

Brooke Baldwin has been covering this story. Up next, she's going to take us into what the corporate folks said today there at SeaWorld. And it was interesting, because their reaction was -- I think I used this word earlier, and I think it kind of fits -- it was opaque. It was not emotional, not a lot of pathos there, if you know what I mean, which, you know, different people react in different ways.

Governor David Paterson, he is jeopardizing the Democrats' hold on power in New York with his string of scandals and questionable judgment. There he is. You saw him during our show. He came out and said, I'm too far down in the polls, this is too much of a difficult situation and I'm not going to run. So that's interesting.

We're going to give you the reaction in just a little bit to all of this.

Stay right there.

I'm Rick Sanchez. This is THE LIST.


SANCHEZ: You know the story. We broke in yesterday and brought it to you, the killer whale that decided yesterday that it was going to kill its trainer. It was a bizarre story.

SeaWorld came out today and talked about their investigation. And the interesting -- the really interesting part of this story is we later found out that this whale had already killed two other people in the past, that they generally didn't use it in their performances, their shows. They kind of kept it in the back, but they did do some things with it.

What did they do and what are they doing now? And what really happened?

That's why Brooke Baldwin is here. She's going to take us through this story.

What's going on?

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, there are so many questions, and I know the days are kind of blurred.

It actually happened on Wednesday. And then today, you're right, SeaWorld, the president, came forward and he started talking about what exactly happened.

But first, we just got some pictures in. I want to get these to you. These are from one of our iReporters who wants to remain anonymous.

But you're looking -- and this is Tilikum. And as we hopefully can get through some of the pictures --

SANCHEZ: Tilikum is the name of the whale. BALDWIN: Tilikum is the name of the whale, Tilly for short. And Dawn Brancheau was a 40-year-old trainer, one of the most respected trainers. There she is minutes before this whale essentially took her under.

Let me back up and tell you that the news out of today's news conference is the fact that these shows at the famed Shamu Stadium in Orlando specifically will resume tomorrow at 11:00 in the morning. But here's the big change.

The trainers will not be in the water with any of these killer whales pending this investigation that's undergoing right now. And, of course, this protocol review.

Now, the SeaWorld president will not say -- he was asked -- he will not say if Dawn Brancheau violated any rules, but says changes will need to be made.

Here he is.


JIM ATCHISON, PRESIDENT & CEO, SEAWORLD PARKS & ENTERTAINMENT: You know, at the end of the day, this is a terrible incident. As I mentioned earlier, I knew Dawn very well. Very well personally.

She was an amazing, dynamic woman, and a very, very talented trainer. So, the fact that this incident occurred for the first time in our 46- year history and occurred with such a talented individual, absolutely, we have to look at everything we do.


SANCHEZ: All right. There's a lot of questions as to how this woman died.

Do we have a better idea? Because yesterday you and I were going back and forth on this thing.

BALDWIN: We do. Well, officially from, you know, Orange County Fire and Rescue, they listed it as multiple traumatic injuries and drowning. But what really did happen?

Actually, her mentor has seen this video. Here's the video. And Dawn, at one point, she gets down into this four-inch deep water, so she's not actually swimming with Tilly, but she is really close. And this trainer explains when she made -- there she is, right next to this whale. And right here is where she made this fatal mistake.



THAD LACINAK, FMR. HEAD, SEAWORLD ANIMAL TRAINING: She wasn't obviously watching what she was doing with her ponytail. And her ponytail drifted into the water, and Tilikum, who was laying on his back while she was rubbing him down, he grabbed her ponytail and pulled her into the water. That's as simple as it gets.

Dawn, if she was standing here with me right now, would tell you that that was her mistake.


BALDWIN: We have heard from members of her family. In fact, even her sister --

SANCHEZ: Ponytail?

BALDWIN: Ponytail got in the way. And we don't know if that was part of the protocol, that you're supposed to have short hair, long hair. Again, that's part of what they're going to be looking at, and that's a change we may see.


BALDWIN: But she didn't have children. Apparently, her sister said the whales were considered kind of her children. She had 16-plus years working with these massive mammals. She called it the greatest job on earth.

In fact, we dug up some video, thanks to our Orlando affiliate, WESH, this interview with Dawn from 10 years ago.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's a tough job, isn't it?

DAWN BRANCHEAU, SEAWORLD: Yes, we really do go through a lot of physical exertion. You can see in the show, we do a lot of deep water work, breath holds. Very high energy behavior with the animals. Obviously, they're giving out a lot of energy, too, but we're working together and having a lot of fun as well.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What are you doing here? Look at that.

BRANCHEAU: That's actually a sit-down, so I'm actually sitting on the nose of a killer whale, and she's blasting me up throughout the water. And those are some porpoise behavior. So you can see we're doing deep behaviors in the water with the animals, kind of accentuating the power and strength of the killer whale.


SANCHEZ: Here's the problem though. The problem is this killer whale has not killed for the first time yesterday. Two other times it has killed people.

BALDWIN: Two prior incidents, one at SeaWorld, one up in British Columbia. And, you know, one big question, what about the fate of Tilikum? The president of SeaWorld said a major part of our attraction at SeaWorld, a special member of the family, a member that needs special attention and will remain. SANCHEZ: Even though it's killed three people now. Aren't they going to put it in a certain setting, a special setting, something to make --

BALDWIN: For now, it's in its own holding pool, but later on, we don't know. That's part of this investigation.

SANCHEZ: I'll tell you, there's a lot of questions left here --

BALDWIN: A lot of people are talking.

SANCHEZ: -- because of this. And, you know, one of them has to do with this whale. I mean, if you have a dog and it bites all your neighbors, they put it down.

BALDWIN: But some people would say this is not a dog.

SANCHEZ: Let's do this -- stick around. All right?


SANCHEZ: SeaWorld, as you just heard, wants to keep the killer whale. A little unsure about exactly what they're going to do. They say it's the for the animal's best interest. That's up for debate.

In fact, when can I come right back, I'm going to ask a representative from PETA how wild animals should be treated after attacks on humans.

And then later, the White House social secretary and close friend of the Obamas stepping down. Her decision or the president's decision? Is she a casualty of the White House party-crashing scandal?

That and a whole lot more.

Stay right there. THE LIST scrolls on.


SANCHEZ: Lisa Lange is with the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. We all know it as PETA.

Lisa, how are you?



Hey, what do you make of this thing? What do you make of this whale of a story? Pardon the pun.

LANGE: Well, it's a tragedy that didn't' have to happen. And as you stated in the earlier block, this is an animal who has killed before. But it isn't just about this one animal.

All of these animals in marine amusement parks suffer either physically, and always psychologically. Some of them lash out, like this animal has done several times, and many others have as well. And all of them suffer depression, lethargy, they suffer from living in concrete polls, which for them is the equivalent of a bathtub.

SANCHEZ: Let me ask you --

LANGE: They're living in chlorine.

SANCHEZ: Let me ask you a question. And obviously you make good points, and I think a lot of people respect how hard PETA fights for the protection of animals, which most people of course would agree with.

But if this were my pet -- or so many Americans have pets -- if this your pet, someone's pet, and it was ferocious, or aggressive, and had attacked a child or a neighbor, and any time you came near it, it growled and it threatened to bite, would PETA suggest it should be put down?

LANGE: You know, you have to really look at those on a case-by-case basis. I think that there are instances where an animal has to be euthanized if it's a domestic animal. It has to be euthanized because that animal is not safe to other animals and people. But in this instance, when we're talking about wild animals, they shouldn't be in captivity in the first place. And so if you want to remove the danger --

SANCHEZ: Yes, but it is. But it is.

LANGE: Right.

SANCHEZ: But that's why I'm making this analogy though, Lisa. I'm thinking to myself, if we tend to do that with animals and everyone says it's OK, shouldn't you do it with an animal that's killed three people, or should we at least make that a part of the conversation?

LANGE: Well, no, because we have an option here. And what has to happen not only with Tilikum, but with all the existing marine mammals in captivity, is we need to release them to seaside sanctuaries. And this is where SeaWorld needs to be spending its money.

These animals have literally done their time. And it is possible to do. It was done with Keiko, the Orca who was used in the "Free Willy" movies. He lived out the last five years of his life in a sanctuary and was able to swim free in Icelandic and Norwegian waters.

BALDWIN: But Lisa, if I may, I read up on Keiko, and of course we all remember "Free Willy," and everybody was debating, should we free Willy? They finally took Keiko from Oregon, out to Iceland, where it was kept in sort of this private area until they finally unleashed it.

But then there are the reports that this animal was so used to being around humans, that it would actually seek out human activity, it would allow people to get on its back. And so, finally, it sort of died a quiet death, and there was a lot of debate to whether or not this animal should have ever been set free. LANGE: Well, the only debate and the only questions came from the industry that makes money off keeping these animals in small swimming pools. Everybody else, and scientists included, agreed that he relearned how to catch fish. He swam free.

And yes, he did still check in with people. He had been in captivity so long, he enjoyed human companionship. But the beauty of this situation he had the choice. He was swimming in the ocean, he was able to catch fish again, he was able to swim with other Orcas. And that's what has to happen with all of these animals.

SANCHEZ: But, you know, here's the problem. Every expert that we checked with today -- and we called a bevy of them -- said if you put this particular animal back in the wild, you're basically killing it. He won't be able to survive.

LANGE: He wouldn't if you put him in the ocean tomorrow. It's a process. And they didn't just release Keiko to fend for himself.

They taught him in Oregon how to live with and how to hunt for live fish. This would have to happen with all these animals. It's an investment. It's an investment that SeaWorld owes to these animals right now.

That's the answer to this. They can't and they shouldn't --

SANCHEZ: And close the park. So you just say close the entire park down, no one should see animals performing or on display?

LANGE: Close the marine mammal portion of this, absolutely.


LANGE: The thing is, when it comes to kids, the better lesson is that these animals have families of their own and they deserve to live a life that's free. That's the better lesson to kids.

SANCHEZ: All right. Spoken like a true PETA representative.

Lisa, thanks so much. Appreciate you taking the time to talk to us.

LANGE: Thank you.

SANCHEZ: And thank you, Brooke, for taking us through that as well and for filing that report for us.


SANCHEZ: All right. Let's talk about this. A member of Obama's inner circle has stepped down. You're going to remember who we're talking about here -- Desiree Rogers.

Remember the party crashers, the ones who were allowed to go into the White House when they really shouldn't have, and someone should have been checking them at the door? The person who most agree allowed that to happen is the one who's stepping down. Was she really let go?

Also, up next, champagne, cigars and gold medals. The women's hockey team thought celebrating like boys on center ice was a great idea. The problem is even boys probably would have gotten in trouble for doing this.

All right, ladies. You're fantastic, you won the gold medal. But then? Right? Right?

BALDWIN: I don't know. I don't know.

SANCHEZ: You're not going to commit?

BALDWIN: Wait for the video. Wait for the video.

SANCHEZ: We're going to have it in just a little bit.

Stay right there.

This is THE LIST. Let's scroll it on.


SANCHEZ: Welcome back.

Have you ever wondered what the Energizer Bunny would look like in an episode of "Cops"?

Let's do "Fotos."

To Fort Worth, Texas, we go -- rolling police chase. He's out, he's down, he's up, he's gone. Over the woods and through the river to grandmother's house.

BALDWIN: Something like that.

SANCHEZ: Something like that.

It turns out this fellow was wanted on a parole violation for a burglary charge. He eventually gave up.

I mean, it's like -- look at it. Now he's pushing the car.


SANCHEZ: Oh, no! Oh, down goes Frazier!

BALDWIN: And he's caught.

SANCHEZ: OK. More police action in a minute.

Meanwhile, this. Police take down a guy after a high-speed chase, throw him in the back of a cruiser. But watch this from another car's dash cam.

The suspect gets out of the back, jumps in the driver's seat. And zoom, he's gone.

Watch it again. Still wearing handcuffs, he's out. He's back in.

BALDWIN: No, he didn't.

SANCHEZ: He floors it. It didn't last long. The guy wrecked that police car about a few minutes later, and added a couple of charges to the list. Police say the child locks weren't engaged on the back doors in the car.

BALDWIN: Shame, shame.


All right. Speaking of the Canadian women's hockey team -- were we? We were.

BALDWIN: Yes, we were.

SANCHEZ: The players have some explaining to do because of these pictures. By the way, these are the most athletic, the most wonderful, the most incredible athletes I've seen. I was fascinated by them, watching them yesterday. But then I went to bed and they didn't.

BALDWIN: What about some celebratory cigars with champagne?

SANCHEZ: Yes. They came out with the champagne, the cigars.

BALDWIN: Come on.

SANCHEZ: This is after they had been given the gold medals. The stadium, everybody was gone. They got a rousing ovation.

They just didn't want the moment to end. So they sat out there and pretended to be smoking cigars, and they drank champagne, and now they could be in a little bit of trouble.


SANCHEZ: The team apologized for any embarrassment they caused, saying they were caught up in the emotion of the gold.

Oh well. Gold medal fever, it wraps up today's "Fotos del Dia."

We're going to be right back. Wolf Blitzer's going to be joining me.

Stay right there.


SANCHEZ: Welcome back. I'm Rick Sanchez.

Take a look at the tweets that I'm getting.

This first one, man, they're all over me. It says, "Opaque, not transparent." But then it says, "Leave the Orca alone. You're trying to get him killed. Stop it!"


The next one says, "How many times will the authorities let this whale kill people before it steps in and forces their hand?"

So, look, there's a lot of folks out there watching, and they all seem to have different opinions about this thing. But definitely a lot of folks are talking about that story.

Wolf Blitzer is joining me. He's going to be talking about a lot of things as well.

Let's start with -- hey, what do you know about this situation at the White House? Remember we covered this story, when those folks tried to get into the White House? And it appears that Desiree Rogers, who was, like, the social secretary at the White House --

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, social secretary.

SANCHEZ: She was kind of the one who screwed up, right?

BLITZER: Well, she is was in charge of the Social Office for the first lady. And she acknowledges she should have had representatives of the Social Office at the various gates when the Salahis made their way through.

They got their way through the first checkpoint. The Secret Service let them.

Had there been somebody from the Social Secretary's Office going through the list, they wouldn't have seen the name on the list, maybe they wouldn't have gotten through. The Salahis apparently said they were on the list, and so the Secret Service said they'll go to the next staging point where they assumed she had already been on the list on the first staging point, and they eventually got through, and that was that.

SANCHEZ: And now she's resigning, because essentially -- you wonder, though, is she resigning, or was the heat put on the Obama administration to say, you know what, adios?

BLITZER: I don't think a lot of people remember it. I think -- my own hunch is that she got -- she was upset in the fallout from all of this, the White House had basically decided to muzzle her. They weren't letting her go out and speak, and it wasn't that much fun for her anymore.

She's a very intelligent woman, very powerful, strong in her own way, did a lot of important stuff on the outside. And I guess it was just too many restrictions on her.

In the end, she said, you know what? If they're not going to let me do this job the way I want to do the job and have some sort of visibility, then she was just going to step back and do something else, which, good for her. We wish her the best.

SANCHEZ: Yes. Exactly. Hey, good for her. She'll probably -- I mean, from all indications, she's a very talented and a very --

BLITZER: She'll do just fine. She's a very, very smart woman. I know her. And I'm sure she's going to do just fine.

SANCHEZ: Wolf Blitzer with "THE SITUATION ROOM" coming up in just a little bit.

We'll be looking forward to it, Wolf. Thanks so much for joining us with the info.

BLITZER: Thanks, Rick.

SANCHEZ: All right. Appreciate it.

We're going to be coming back in just a little bit. I want to tell you what's gone in Cuba. Folks in south Florida who are Cuban exiles are up in arms, and they're pointing their finger at the Castro brothers.

I'll tell you why as soon as we come back. It has to do with that guy and a hunger strike.

Stay there.


SANCHEZ: I told you I'm going to make a commitment to follow most of these stories not so much from the Washington perspective, but from the "you" perspective. That's why I have RICK'S LIST. That's why I follow Twitter and I see what you all are saying to me throughout the show, all 130,000 of you.

Look at this one here, just at the very top.

I asked people, "Are your premiums going up?" Because I'm hearing premiums are going up all over the country on health care.

"Mine just went up 35 percent yesterday, and that's with $15,000 out of pocket exposure."

So stories like that continue to come in, and I'm going to continue to share them, because those are the stories that really matter.

By the way, two members of Congress want the president to know what's happened to that man that you see right there. That's Orlando Tamayo.

He died Tuesday night after a hunger strike in a Cuban prison. He was buried Thursday amid government crackdowns to stop antigovernment protests.

Miami's exiled Cuban community is up in arms about this. He was one of 75 dissidents, Tamayo was. Remember when the Cuban government picked up a whole bunch of folks in 2003 for actively working in defiance of the Castro government? The official charge, by the way, according to Amnesty International -- and we checked -- was contempt, public disorder and disobedience.

Now, Tamayo's mother says that her son was repeatedly beaten by prison guards. He went on a hunger strike on December 3rd.

How will this affect warming U.S./Cuban relations? Well, Republican Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Mario Diaz-Balart say they want President Obama to "stand with the Cuban people and stop appeasing the Cuban regime with direct talks and unilateral concessions." So, these are two Republican lawmakers who are taking a shot at the Obama administration, saying it's going too easy on the Castro government.

Orlando Tamayo, interestingly enough, was a plumber and a bricklayer by trade. Dead, some would argue, for speaking out against the government.

There you have it.

It's been a good week, folks. Thanks so much for being with us.

I'm Rick Sanchez. RICK'S LIST returns next Monday.

Now off to my colleague and friend, Wolf Blitzer, in "THE SITUATION ROOM."