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CAMPBELL BROWN

Interview With Tom Colicchio; LeBron James Sweepstakes Continue

Aired July 2, 2010 - 20:00   ET

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


CAMPBELL BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Hi everybody.

As we head into this Fourth of July weekend, we are now on day 74 of the disaster in the Gulf. Another 1.5 to two million gallons of oil poured out of the well just in the past 24 hours. A lot is washing up on the region's beaches. And that could be devastating for tourism. It's already been devastating for tourism, especially coming up on this, one of the most important weekends of the year. We are going to be live at the beach tonight with the very latest.

The other industry that's taking a big hit is seafood, and tonight I will talk to top chef Tom Colicchio, who went down to the Gulf to see for himself whether he thinks their seafood is safe to eat.

And then later, the man of the moment, LeBron James, sure he is one of the best players in basketball history, but why are mayors and governors across the country falling all over themselves to get him for their teams? We got lots to cover, a lot of ground to cover tonight, but we are going to start again with that number-one story, the disaster in the Gulf.

We learned today that the cap on the ruptured well has been bouncing in the water, probably because of the effects of Hurricane Alex. Well, now there are fears that less oil was being captured than we thought, so is this another setback in the containment effort?

We are going to bring in right now Randi Kaye, what is live in New Orleans for us tonight, with more on this -- Randi.

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Campbell, even losing one drop of oil for folks here in the Gulf, that is a setback in the containment process.

And a BP spokesman saying today, confirming that high winds are accounting for that wobble that we are currently seeing on the underwater pictures. The wave height is expected to decrease through the weekend, but officials do say that they are now capturing slightly less oil than before the waves and the rough water made that cap wobble or jiggle -- Campbell.

BROWN: And, Randi, in his briefing today, Admiral Thad Allen talked about the government's use of skimmers in the Gulf, sort of this skimmer surge. Explain how it's going so far. KAYE: Well, a lot of folks here are talking about skimmers. I was actually out with Governor Bobby Jindal yesterday, and he is still waiting on the skimmers for the state. A lot of the parishes here have far more skimmers on paper than in reality.

St. Bernard's Parish told us that they would have this thing cleaned up, in fact, if they had as many skimmers as it says that they are actually supposed to. But today national incident commander Admiral Thad Allen talked about what he called the federal government's aggressive skimming strategy. And Admiral Allen says that since the beginning of June skimming capability in the Gulf has actually increased fivefold now, from about 100 large skimmers to 550 skimming vessels of all different sizes today.

So, he says so far 28.2 million gallons of an oily, watery mix has been skimmed from the Gulf surface, Campbell.

BROWN: And, Randi, also there is this report from NOAA today with some pretty unsettling news from Miami and the Keys. What is the probability that they are going to see oil on their beaches soon?

KAYE: It's looking just like they might.

The latest report from NOAA just out today as you said, it shows how the oil may impact the shoreline, who may get it, and the news really is not looking too good for the East Coast. Research based on -- has been based on four months, and it looks like the Florida Keys, Miami, and Fort Lauderdale could actually be in jeopardy now. Those areas have, according to NOAA, a 61 percent to 80 percent chance that oil will reach their beaches.

And NOAA says the oil won't be in the form that it is now. It would be much more degraded. The dispersant would have had some work on it. It would be in the form of scattered tar balls, and not the large surface slick of oil that we have seen out here.

The threat outlined in NOAA's model though does not necessarily indicate that the oil will come ashore for sure. It all depends on the winds and the ocean currents and the weather really. We have 23 named storms expected, 14 hurricanes, so who knows what's going to happen and where that oil is going to end up.

BROWN: And those people are going to be anxiously watching.

Randi Kaye for us tonight -- Randi, thanks very much.

A new health advisory in effect tonight for all Pensacola, Florida, beaches. The oily muck and tar balls littering the shore could spell disaster for the tourist hot spot. That already is again for this holiday weekend, but it may be for the entire year.

And CNN's John Zarrella is in Pensacola tonight for an up-close look at the latest victim of the Gulf Coast oil spill. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN MIAMI BUREAU CHIEF: Cleanup crews pore over Pensacola beaches. Oil stains and tar balls cover what was just a few weeks ago pristine white sand.

Front-loaders literally dump Pensacola's economy into waiting trucks. The virtually empty beaches are now under what the county health department is calling an oil impact notice, warning people to stay out of the water and off of the oil-stained stand indefinitely.

(on camera): Does it worry you that the closure of these beaches might not just be for days; it could be weeks, if not longer?

LARRY JOHNSON, PENSACOLA, FLORIDA CITY COUNCIL: Yes, we have lost this summer. The summer of 2010 is gone for Pensacola Beach, the way that I see it. Our season is from Memorial Day to Labor Day. We are sitting here the week before July 4th, and there is nobody here.

ZARRELLA (voice-over): Disgust, anger. For Councilman Larry Johnson, this show of cleanup force is too little, too late. Day after day, the tides shift the sand. Much of the tar and oil is buried before the crews get to it. Johnson digs down. The oil appears underneath the surface, like the rings of a tree that tell its age.

JOHNSON: John, this has been covered up from the night before.

ZARRELLA (on camera): Now, how many inches down is this? That's got to be four inches, five inches?

JOHNSON: Four or five inches down.

ZARRELLA (voice-over): Pensacola is home to Gregg Hall and Diana Stephens.

GREGG HALL, RESIDENT OF PENSACOLA, FLORIDA: It kills me. I mean, it kills my soul that the Gulf of Mexico is being destroyed.

ZARRELLA: Every day, they walk the beach taking pictures -- iReporters for CNN, they have documented what they see. Not pretty. Gregg puts his hands in the water, when he takes them out, tar. Diana holds a clean fish tank filter, not for long.

DIANA STEPHENS, RESIDENT OF PENSACOLA, FLORIDA: This is it. Just holding it in for a few seconds, you can see you get tar balls. This is the sheen mousse, which is the foamy orange stuff that you see out in the surf.

ZARRELLA: Nearly every day, more oil washes ashore, bringing with it waves of overwhelming frustration felt by most people here.

STEPHENS: You can't get everything. It is kind of like cleaning this beach with a toothpick. It is just -- it's an impossible task.

ZARRELLA: An impossible task with no end in sight.

(END VIDEOTAPE) BROWN: It's really heart breaking to look at. Nearly 20 percent of all Pensacola's revenue is earned in July, but the numbers as John pointed out there are likely to fall very short this year.

And John is with us right now I believe from Pensacola.

Are you there, John?

ZARRELLA: Yes, I'm here, Campbell.

BROWN: Just give me your perspective of what it's looking like right now where you are.

ZARRELLA: Well, you know, Campbell, about half of that 20 percent you mentioned is made in the first two weeks, 10 to 12 days, of July, and they say that about 50,000 -- about 50 percent of the advance bookings for the July 4th weekend were canceled.

The July 4th weekend, and next weekend, which is the Blue Angels air show weekend, are the two biggest tourist weekends they have here in Pensacola. And you can see, Campbell, it's a no-brainer. It's empty here -- Campbell.

BROWN: Yes. And compared to other years, I mean, this is going to be a huge hit, right?

ZARRELLA: Yes. July 4th last year, 100,000 people were here, and they actually expected that this year -- they do about two million tourists every year. And they expected -- every summer -- and they expected that this year this would be their biggest tourist year ever.

And that's going by the boards very, very quickly -- Campbell.

BROWN: People are -- there are some people on the beaches, I know. Are they getting in the water or are they staying out of the water mostly?

ZARRELLA: You know, the few people that are here, there are those that we saw today that actually were in the water.

And, you know, it's interesting about that health advisory, Campbell, that the city, the county actually took it on their own to do that, because as you know the EPA has not set any standard for what's safe water, what isn't safe water. But as you saw in that piece, when they brought out that fish filter, it was just covered. It would be common sense not to get in the water, but we saw lots of folks that were in there today just the same -- Campbell.

BROWN: Wow.

John Zarrella -- appreciate it, John, from Pensacola for us tonight. Thanks.

Still ahead: When you see that oily muck spewing into the Gulf, it makes you think the last thing you should eat is Gulf seafood, right? But not so fast. One of the nation's top chefs says eat up. Tom Colicchio will be here in just a minute to talk about it.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BROWN: When you see the oil in the Gulf coursing into the sea, washing up on beaches, you have to wonder if any seafood from the Gulf is safe to eat.

Well, one of the most famous chefs in the world decided to check it out for himself. Tom Colicchio, who has a small empire of restaurants and his own TV show, "Top Chef," was in the Gulf last weekend and he watched how they are testing fish and came away with this advice: Dig in.

I spoke with him a little earlier about his trip.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BROWN: Tom Colicchio, so good to have you here.

TOM COLICCHIO, CHEF: Great being here.

BROWN: So, you went down to the Gulf with a few other prominent chefs to sort of investigate, I guess, how safe the seafood was. Tell us what you found.

COLICCHIO: Sure. Yes, there were seven of us. We went down to Grand Isle and we were there Sunday. We got there Sunday afternoon.

And we spent -- we went out not actually in the Gulf because it was a little rough with the storm coming in, so we stayed in the bay. And you could see that there were some areas of the marshlands that were damaged by oil. There was a little oil here and there you saw on the surface getting sort of skimmed up.

But then after that, we spent a lot of time with fishermen, fishing families, and talking to them just to try to get a better idea of what was going on there. And there's sort of two stories right now that I think you need to tell about the Gulf. One is that this is devastating. It's horrible what's going on down there.

They need to stop this oil somehow, some way. Hopefully, it will happen with this new well that they're drilling. But on the other hand there's a lot of hope. There are fishermen that are still fishing.

BROWN: Right.

COLICCHIO: The fishermen that aren't cleaning up the oil, they are actually fishing. And the fish that's coming out of the Gulf is safe.

There's five different agencies testing the waters. There's tissue samples being taken every day. I think there were over 300 done so far since May.

BROWN: And just to be clear, they're not fishing in the oil spill area.

COLICCHIO: No, no, no, no.

(CROSSTALK)

COLICCHIO: Thirty percent of the Gulf is closed off to fishing. There is a huge buffer zone between where the oil is and areas that you can fish.

And it's being patrolled by the Coast Guard from air, from helicopter, and planes, and boats. And the penalty for fishing in closed waters is that you lose your license to fish in federal waters. Federal waters start three miles from the beach, so they will lose their livelihood if they get caught fishing in closed areas.

BROWN: So they're testing fish. I know NOAA is doing it. You've got a ton of government scientists who are looking at this.

COLICCHIO: Sure.

BROWN: And they're looking for any, I don't know what the science of it is, but...

COLICCHIO: Well, they're looking for hydrocarbons in the fish, the oil, and actually the presence of oil in the fish.

BROWN: And they haven't found any.

COLICCHIO: Absolutely none. And the reports that I have seen from the Louisiana Fish and Game, the samples are taken, then are sent to an independent lab for testing.

And you can actually go to www.Louisianaseafood.com and actually see those tests and then see the actual tests that are being taken. And, listen, I was skeptical going down there. I have been fishing my entire life and I wanted to see what it was like down there.

BROWN: Right.

COLICCHIO: And so when I got the opportunity to go, I was skeptical. And I really...

BROWN: Well, see, that's how I -- I'm a mother. I have got two little kids and I'm supposed to give them seafood?

(CROSSTALK)

COLICCHIO: I have an 11-month-old at home. Yes.

BROWN: You have got a perception issue.

(CROSSTALK)

COLICCHIO: Sure.

BROWN: You're a chef and you love seafood and you care about the industry and you're trying to help them by conveying this to people. But you have this huge perception issue to deal with because of what people are watching on TV every night.

COLICCHIO: Right. Well, the perceptions are wild. People are coming into my restaurants not wanting to eat seafood at all.

BROWN: Right.

COLICCHIO: Cod and things like that that come from the North Atlantic, never, you know, been south of New Jersey, they're getting lumped into it. So, I think this is something that the entire seafood industry needs to tackle.

BROWN: Really got to educate people.

COLICCHIO: Yes, number one.

But there is this crazy perceptions that they can't go down to New Orleans because there's oil lapping onto the beaches of New Orleans. New Orleans is a hundred miles from the spill. It's not in the Gulf.

BROWN: Right.

COLICCHIO: And so the perceptions are running wild.

But, you know, I was skeptical. And I am, you know, I would say 99.9 percent sure, from everything that I have seen, from talking to the fishermen, from talking to the various scientists that are down there, that this is safe.

You know, what's interesting is seafood is not tested by the USDA. Meat is. Seafood is too perishable. So, it usually goes from fisherman to a distributor to either restaurants or -- and this is the only seafood actually being tested. So, it's -- this is the safest seafood out there probably.

(CROSSTALK)

BROWN: The restaurants in the area, I mean, look, this is having a devastating effect on the local economy overall, but restaurants have to be especially hurting, right?

COLICCHIO: Sure. It's interesting.

I have heard that New Orleans is actually pretty busy. In fact, I think that, you know, Anderson Cooper has been there and he's been I guess commenting that the streets are busy in New Orleans.

BROWN: Right.

COLICCHIO: But Grand Isle and places like that, these are tourist areas.

BROWN: Right. COLICCHIO: And, you know, obviously, the fishermen, if they're not fishing, they are working the spill and from what I understand a lot of them are getting their checks from BP.

I'm not a fan of BP, but that's what I understand. But it's the hairdressers. It's the guy who was selling slushies, you know?

BROWN: Right.

COLICCHIO: It's the local restaurants down there because they rely on tourism. We're down in Grand Isle and we're in a house overlooking the beach on a day where it's 95 degrees on a Sunday. You would expect the beach to be just filled with people.

BROWN: Nobody.

(CROSSTALK)

COLICCHIO: No one is down there.

BROWN: Nobody.

One prominent New Orleans chef -- her name is Susan Spicer -- is actually filing a lawsuit against BP. And I know she has been a judge with you on "Top Chef."

So do you support the lawsuit? Should other restaurant owners be thinking about getting on board with this?

COLICCHIO: Well, I have known Susan for over 20 years and I consider her a close friend. And I'm not in New Orleans. And I don't know what's going on. But what I don't want this lawsuit to do is to in any way sort of make that perception worse that you can't get seafood, because you can.

BROWN: Right.

COLICCHIO: And that's the only thing I'm afraid of. If -- my understanding now is the lawsuit has been filed and she's gone on record saying that this is to -- just in case it gets worse.

BROWN: Right.

COLICCHIO: Because it can get worse.

BROWN: Right.

COLICCHIO: This thing changes every day.

And so, this is just in case it gets worse and she wants to get her suit on file now. But, again, I think the message needs to be that there is seafood there, fishermen are fishing and the fish is safe. And I hope that that message doesn't get lost in this lawsuit.

BROWN: And any chance -- I guess I can't let you go without asking you this -- that your show, that "Top Chef" will do something with this sort of idea of what's going on down there and try and work it into the story?

COLICCHIO: We're currently in our seventh season and we already shot the entire season, with the exception of the finale.

BROWN: Yes.

COLICCHIO: But we're back in production probably some time in early the fall and I'm going to try to make sure that we do something with Gulf seafood, Louisiana seafood.

(CROSSTALK)

BROWN: Well, To, it's great to have you here. Good to meet you.

COLICCHIO: Thanks.

BROWN: Thanks for coming on.

COLICCHIO: Pleasure.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BROWN: Coming up, the battle over immigration reform is just beginning -- why Arizona Governor Jan Brewer is angrier than ever, while other leaders are calling for calm on the border. We're going to hear from Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

And it could be Michael Steele's biggest gaffe yet -- why some in his own party are calling on the Republican National Committee chairman to resign.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BROWN: The backlash against President Obama's immigration reform is in full swing. Despite the president's call to secure our borders and his recent deployment of 1,200 National Guard troops to help get the job done, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer blasted the president's plan as -- quote -- "disappointing, to say the least."

Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. JAN BREWER (R), ARIZONA: I will not, and I know you will not, accept the notion that border security is the responsibility of the border states.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: But a leader in another border state says Brewer is missing the point here. While he admits the system is broken, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa says effective immigration reform isn't about talking tough. It's about building bridges.

And Mayor Villaraigosa is joining me live right now from Los Angeles. It's good to have you here, Mayor. Appreciate it.

The president made his first big speech on immigration reform, the first one of his presidency, just yesterday. And I think most agree that there's virtually no chance of Congress passing anything really before November. Are you disappointed that the administration didn't take this on until now, didn't make it a higher priority earlier?

ANTONIO VILLARAIGOSA (D), MAYOR OF LOS ANGELES: Well, actually, this was his first major speech, but he's had a number of high-level meetings with Republican leaders, with Democratic leaders on the issue since early in the year.

He's reaffirmed on a number of occasions his support and his belief that we should pass comprehensive immigration reform this year. And the fact is, as I have said to many who have criticized him, he doesn't have a vote in the Congress.

It's up to the Senate and the House to do this. And I believe that they need to do this, this year. The fact is, this immigration system,, both parties, everyone agrees, is broken. We need to secure our borders without question, but we also need to provide a pathway for citizenship.

BROWN: So, Republicans, you know what their arguments are here, and they argue particularly the law in Arizona is really a response to the failure of the federal government to secure the borders. Do you believe that the administration has now adequately secured the borders?

VILLARAIGOSA: Well, I think they have done a lot more to provide personnel at the border and more technology at the border. I do think that the best way for us to secure our borders is to fix the broken immigration system. So, if we want to do that, we can.

Just provide more personnel there and more technology. We need to make sure that employers are held accountable for hiring the undocumented illegally. We need to make sure that there's ramifications and consequences for hiring the undocumented, but also provide a pathway for citizenship that says, look, I have broken the law. I have got to get at the end of the line. I have got to pay my taxes, and I have got to ensure that I haven't broken the law in other areas as well.

BROWN: But let me push you on the border issue just a little bit, because I want to ask you if you agree with what Arizona Governor Jan Brewer said last night, that border security should not be in her view the responsibility of border states.

And you're a border state mayor. Do you think the president has sent enough troops to the border to get the job done?

VILLARAIGOSA: Well, I believe there is more personnel there than at any time in our history. I think we have adequate personnel. But more importantly, if we want to secure those borders, the federal government does have to provide that, not the border states. I agree with that proposition. But by the same rationale of thinking, I also believe that states should not be passing laws like Arizona did.

That's the federal government's responsibility, under the supremacy clause. And, you know, you mentioned Republicans and Democrats. We just passed at the U.S. Conference of Mayors, an organization that's bipartisan, Democrats and Republicans unanimously passed my motion that called for the federal government to pass comprehensive immigration reform to secure our borders, to hold employers accountable, but also provide a pathway for citizenship.

They also unanimously in that motion called for the repeal of the Arizona law.

BROWN: Your city, because of the Arizona law, is boycotting the state. And Governor Brewer is angry that the president hasn't called for you to stop the boycott. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BREWER: He could have talked about the boycotts and put some cold water on that craziness. You know, that's what we want from our president. We want leadership and in the end we want our border secured.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: So, Mayor, you were part of that, you know, in her word, craziness that she's talking about there. Do you think your boycott is really the best solution? The people of Arizona are certainly the ones who are going to be suffering in the end, whether they support the law or not.

VILLARAIGOSA: Well, reasonable people can disagree about the means by which we demonstrate our opposition to this law.

I think this law is unconstitutional on its face. It's discriminatory. I believe, as she does, as Governor Brewer does, that it's a federal responsibility to secure our borders and to enforce our immigration laws. I also agree that the system is broken, that we have to have respect for the rule of law, but that we have to create a framework that reforms that current broken system, and we can only do that through legislation.

BROWN: And, finally, let me ask you, because you have seen a lot of these national polls. I have seen a couple, one showing 57 percent, one 58 percent of Americans support the Arizona law. Why is the American public for this bill? I mean, why do you think they disagree with you?

VILLARAIGOSA: Well, actually, 57 percent support the law, and 57 percent support comprehensive immigration reform. I think people are frustrated, Campbell. I think they recognize the system is broken and they're frustrated that the beltway hasn't fixed it. And President Obama's called on the House and the Senate to do that. They should do that in a bipartisan way. But if there's not the Republican support for it, we need to move this legislation along.

BROWN: All right. Mayor, it's very good to have you with us. And appreciate your time tonight, sir. Thank you.

VILLARAIGOSA: Thank you.

BROWN: And still to come tonight: Has Michael Steele finally gone too far? Up next: outcry on the right after the RNC chairman calls the conflict in Afghanistan a war of Obama's choosing -- after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BROWN: Tonight, there are new calls for embattled Republican Chairman Michael Steele to step down and they are coming not from Democrats but from some prominent voices in Steele's own party. "Weekly Standard" editor William Kristol is condemning the chairman for remarks he made about Afghanistan at a recent fundraiser. Kristol says Steele's recent remarks that the war in Afghanistan is unwinnable is grounds for his departure. Here is what Steele said that got him in trouble.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL STEELE, RNC CHAIRMAN: Keep in mind, again, for our government (ph) candidates, this was a war of Obama's choosing. This is not something the United States had actively prosecuted or wanted to engage in. Well, if he' such a student of history, has he not understand that, you know, that the one thing you don't do is engage in a land war in Afghanistan?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: And, of course, it was a Republican president who led a NATO coalition to invade Afghanistan right after the September 11 attacks. I spoke a little earlier tonight with CNN's chief political correspondent Candy Crowley about the hoopla. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BROWN: So, Candy, you've now got Bill Kristol of "The Weekly Standard" calling for Steele to resign. In an open letter he writes, quote, "Needless to say, the war in Afghanistan was not a war of Obama's choosing. It has been prosecuted by the United States under Presidents Bush and Obama. Your statement puts you at odds with about 100 percent of the Republican Party."

How much of a blow is this to Steele?

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's not great. I mean, he -- not only did he not seem to understand in that statement he made what this war was about and that it started with 9/11 and that we went after Al Qaeda being protected by the Taliban in power in Afghanistan, he didn't seem to understand the party's position. This is not a good thing. But let us also add that Michael Steele has been in a bunch of trouble before several times and he survived all of them.

BROWN: But let me read you what he said in response to, or his attempt rather to clarify his remarks. And he said, quote, "During the 2008 presidential campaign, Barack Obama made clear his belief that we should not fight in Iraq, but instead concentrate on Afghanistan. Now, as president, he has indeed shifted his focus to this region. Our country must give our troops the support necessary to win this war."

It's confusing I think.

CROWLEY: 180.

BROWN: Clarity was the goal here. But could that appease fellow Republicans at this point?

CROWLEY: You know, I have no idea. I mean, what he did was a 180 there. I mean, the big thing here wasn't that he said this is President Obama's war. Plenty of people had said now that he has put more troops in Afghanistan than President Bush did. It is President Obama's war. But not in the way he said it. He said it as though President Obama had started it, which he did not. But what really is chopping Republicans at this point was the suggestion that it's a war that can't be won. That is so far from Republican orthodoxy at this point.

They are the main supporters of this war. It's the Democrats who tend to look at it and think, oh, my goodness, it's not winnable. So -- and it comes at a really key time. They're trying to get funding for the increase in troops there and basically the Senate left without passing that funding. So the timing's awful, the words were wrong. But I think that second statement Steele put out clearly is a 180 on his part trying to get out of it.

BROWN: So if Steele can't stick to the talking points, why is he still there? How does he? You pointed out he keeps surviving all these gaffes. How does he survive all these gaffes, and are there any good reasons for Republicans not to get rid of him?

CROWLEY: Yes, November. It's just messy. It's messy to get rid of a Republican chairman at this point. And more than that, it's way too complicated. You would have to bring all of the Republican committee together. And that would be the chairman of every state and two or three others from those states into Washington or somewhere to vote him out. So in addition to being messy, it's complicated and, by the way, Michael Steele's term is up in January and it may just be a less complicated, less messy way to go just to wait him out until January.

BROWN: All right, Candy Crowley for us tonight with the latest. Candy, thank you very much. Appreciate it. CROWLEY: Thank you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BROWN: And coming up, the latest in the increasingly bizarre case of those alleged Russian spies. New questions tonight as two more suspects reveal their true identities.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BROWN: In a few minutes, the LeBron James sweepstakes intensifies as teams line up hat in hand. Just how far will they go to court the NBA superstar? We're going to game the odds. But first, Joe Johns is here with a look at some of the other stories we're following tonight.

Hi, Joe.

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Campbell. An explosive case filled with racial tension is in the hands of a California jury. Former Oakland transit police officer Johannes Mehserle, who's white, is accused of murdering an unarmed black man on a subway platform. The shooting was captured on cell phone video and led to rioting 19 months ago. The city of Oakland is preparing for a possible repeat of violence. However, jurors have retired for the night without reaching a verdict. They're expected to continue deliberations after the 4th of July holiday.

Another sign the economic recovery is sputtering. New employment numbers came out today and they were disappointing. The labor market lost 125,000 jobs, coming in below expectations. The unemployment rate fell slightly from 9.7 to 9.5, but that is no silver lining. The decline happened because more Americans just plain stopped searching for jobs.

Tonight, three Republican senators say they do not want Elena Kagan on the Supreme Court. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski and Utah Senator Orrin Hatch all say they will oppose Kagan's nomination. Hatch called Kagan a brilliant scholar but questioned her legal experience. Minority Leader McConnell questions whether Kagan would be an impartial jurist when applying the law. With a Democratic majority in the Senate, Kagan's confirmation still is viewed as all but certain.

And an unmanned cargo spacecraft went way off course and missed its rendezvous with the International Space Station today. The Russian vessel was supposed to dock with the space station but it overshot it by two miles. There are six astronauts onboard the space station. NASA says they were never in danger. Engineers with the Russian space agency will try to dock that vehicle again within the next few days. Something like two tons of stuff on that ship that flew by. It's like missing the grocery run, Campbell.

BROWN: No kidding.

JOHNS: I'm sure they're going to keep that back. BROWN: All right. Joe Johns, tonight. Joe, thanks very much.

Still to come, what's going to happen to the kids of those accused Russian spies? Well, a couple of them may be headed back to Russia. Also tonight, LeBron mania hits fever pitch as the basketball great nears his big decision. We're going to tell you how cities across America are jumping for hoops to try to win him over.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BROWN: The story getting all the buzz this 4th of July weekend, a new poll that suggests about one in four Americans don't know that we fought the British in the revolutionary war. According to a new survey from Marist College, 20 percent weren't sure which country we fought. Another six percent guessed France, China, Japan, Mexico or Spain, which brings me to the perfect video to kick off the weekend, little kids re-enacting the American revolution.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, you British soldiers, your parliamentary system is treating us unfairly.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, we want your money to support our economy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don't worry. I wrote a Declaration for Independence. Go ahead and sign it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'll sign it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This river is dangerous. Let's cross it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want to defeat (INAUDIBLE).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm winning.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This hurts my head.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now we can stand as an independent nation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: Happy Independence Day, everybody.

And now a little more news. We have the latest on that Russian spy caper. Court documents today reveal that two more accused spies admitted to investigators they used false names and are indeed Russian citizens. And now, new questions are being asked about the fate of the alleged spies' children. Who is taking care of them? And will they remain in the U.S. or go to Russia? Here's CNN's Brian Todd.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Campbell, prosecutors say they hope to indict all of these five suspects by next week. In the meantime, most of them, including some married couples, are being held without bail and their children are in real limbo.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TODD (voice-over): Emerging from what authorities say was a deep-cover operation, three accused Russian spies appear in federal court. The judge calls each a danger to the community and a flight risk, orders them held without bail. They include a married couple, Patricia Mills and Michael Zottoli, who have separate lawyers and don't even make eye contact with each other in court. Mills' face showing clear signs of strain. Authorities say she's trying to get their two children, ages 1 and 3, sent to Russia to be with her relatives. There are at least seven children among four married couples in this alleged spy operation. Children struggling not only with sudden separation from their parents --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They are both of them innocent.

TODD: But also the accusation that their parents weren't who they said they were. The government's complaint says illegals, spies who don't have diplomatic cover, sometimes work under the guise of married couples and will often have children together. This further deepens an illegal's legend. I asked child protection advocate Terri Braxton about that.

(on camera): Now the children might question whether their parents were ever even married, when their parents actually felt an emotional bond with each other, because they could be spies, they could be set up to do all of this. How bizarre is that?

TERRI BRAXTON, CHILD WELFARE LEAGUE OF AMERICA: Well, I, you know, I don't have any precedence on which to base an opinion so I -- you know, I think it is certainly something that I've not experienced before. But, and I can't imagine that any of the kids in this situation are going to feel good about the situation.

TODD (voice-over): The kids may not have even known their parents' names until now. Prosecutors say suspect Patricia Mills told investigators her real name is Natalia Pereverzeva, and that her apparent husband Zottoli said his name is Mikhail Kutzik. I spoke about that balancing act with Eric O'Neill, a former FBI operative who helped catch Russia's FBI mole Robert Hanssen, a case dramatized in the Hollywood film "Breach."

(on camera): How hard is it to be a spy when you've got kids of any age?

ERIC O'NEILL, THE GEORGETOWN GROUP: That has got to be incredibly difficult because when you're a spy, the focus of your life is to be a spy, to accomplish the operation, to accomplish your objectives. When you're a parent, you're supposed to take care of your kids. You are supposed to put them first in your life. And a spy can't do that.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TODD: Experts say despite the bizarre nature of this case the children of all of these suspects will very likely be handed over to whomever the parents choose for guardianship unless there's evidence of abuse on the part of the parents -- Campbell.

BROWN: Brian, thanks.

Coming up next, mayors, governors, and even President Obama have weighed in on this. It is the LeBron James sweepstakes and it's heating up as NBA teams engage in a high stakes battle to lure the coveted superstar. We're going to look at just how much "King James" may be worth on and off the court.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BROWN: The nation is in the grip of LeBron James fever. Now that the Cleveland Cavaliers star is a free agent, everybody is trying to guess, will he stay with the only team he's ever played for, or is it time to move on? And fans from cities across the country are taking to the Internet to try to sway his decision.

Check out the video of a group of Clevelanders singing to the tune of "We are the World."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DICK GODDARD, TED STRICKLAND: Please stay LeBron. We really need you. No bigger heart is going to love you half as much as we do.

PETER LAWSON JONES: It's the choice you're making will you go or will you stay.

BILL MARTIN: What will we do without you if you move away.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: And not to be outdone, here is a group of Broadway singers trying to sell LeBron on New York.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BROADWAY SINGERS: Take your family down to Fifth Avenue and we've got pretty belles (ph) in New York too. Free (INAUDIBLE) and ice skating (INAUDIBLE) it's cold at Lincoln Center. (INAUDIBLE) main street so cake by the slice and despite what you heard New Yorkers are nice.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: And joining me now are sports radio host Stephen A. Smith who is in -- who is actually with me. I thought he was going to be in Philadelphia. He's here tonight. And also comedian Steve Hofstetter who's joining us tonight as well. Welcome to both of you. Stephen, these aren't just fans who are launching, lobbying campaigns right now. You have the governor of Ohio who was in one of the videos. The mayor of New York is going on TV every five minutes and making a pitch for it. Why do people want him so badly? Why is this such a big deal?

STEPHEN A. SMITH, NATIONALLY SYNDICATED RADIO HOST: Well, first of all, the singing is going to determine he's clearly not going to New York or Cleveland.

BROWN: No.

SMITH: Let's be real about that. But to be serious, he's going to mean a lot of money to any city that he goes to. I mean, it's projected that if he comes here and helps the New York Knicks win a championship, that particular season it would generate about $60 million for the city. You have to remember that when Michael Jordan, somebody he's comparable to in terms of cache and things of that nature --

BROWN: Yes.

SMITH: -- certainly not in the form of championships, not yet in his career, but Michael Jordan when he retired from the game of basketball, they projected that he was worth $60 billion -- I'm sorry $1 billion to the city of Chicago.

BROWN: So --

SMITH: So that's, I mean, this is -- he's a moneymaker.

BROWN: I was going to say compare him to -- explain how good he is. I mean, compare him to other athletes in terms of his ability.

SMITH: He is -- well, first of all, he's the most dominant player in basketball. Kobe Bryant has the best skill set. He may be the best player, but LeBron James is the most dominant. He's 250 pounds. He's 6'8", built like a brick-chiseled house for crying out loud. I mean, he comes at you like a locomotive. You cannot stop him. He can shoot over you. He can jump over you. He's got the speed to go through you or around you. You cannot stop him. You're either too small for him, you're too big, you're too slow, whatever the case may be. He is the complete and total package as a basketball player with the exception of his free-throw shooting.

BROWN: So --

SMITH: Whatever the shooting --

BROWN: Break it down for us, Steve. Which teams are actually in the running? And I know you have a little bit of a bias here.

STEVE HOFSTETTER, COMEDIAN: I think -- well, I mean, I'm a Knicks fan. I'm going to hope they're in the running. But I'm also not delusional. So, I think he's staying in Cleveland. I mean, the guy has got a tattoo. It says 330. That's the Akron area code. The only reason I even know about the Akron area code is because of LeBron James. He's put them on the map. I think he wants to finish the deal. He's a hometown guy and this is someone, you know, not only is he the best basketball player in Cleveland, he's probably one of the best baseball players there too. You know, this is -- he's their sports hero. This is their guy.

BROWN: And he's been honest about one thing.

HOFSTETTER: Yes.

BROWN: Which is he does want to go somewhere where he can win. And just listen to what he told Larry King. This is last month.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LEBRON JAMES, NBA PLAYER: My ultimate -- my ultimate goal is to win a championship. And I understand that me going down as one of the greats will not happen until I, you know, win a championship. So for me, the team that I decide to go to or, you know, if I'm staying in Cleveland, that ultimately has the best chance for me to win a championship not one year but multiple years and for me to continue to get better and help that team win, I think also would be my decision. I'm going to do what's best for me and my family.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: So where do you think he's leaning right now?

SMITH: I reported on just a few days ago I think he's going to South Beach. I think he's going to Miami to play along side Dwyane Wade. You have to understand they have approximately $44 million in salary cap room. They would re-sign Wade. They could keep LeBron. They could bring LeBron James onboard in order to get that third player which is believed to be Chris Bosh because they really don't want Amare Stoudemire who's on his way to the Knicks. In all likelihood, they want Chris Bosh. You'd have to work on a sign and trade in Miami in order to make that happen. But at the same time, if you're talking about Dwyane Wade with LeBron James with Chris Bosh, you have a trio, a dynamic trio that instantly makes them the favorite to represent the Eastern conference in the NBA finals.

LeBron James is a dominant player. We all know that. We heard him talk about winning. He's a winner by any stretch but at the same time he's been devoid of championships.

BROWN: Right.

SMITH: When you look at Danny Ferry, the former GM who resigned just a few weeks ago or was let go depending on who you believe, he put together a decent enough team where people like myself had Cleveland going to the NBA finals to meet the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston bounced them right out of there. Somehow LeBron James is culpable for that. He knows he can't do it by himself. You got a guy like Dwyane Wade who's already won a championship, who averaged 45 points in the finals who's hungry for another one himself. That would be a way to get that title he wants. BROWN: That was way more than I ever wanted to know about basketball, but I'm glad you're here.

HOFSTETTER: Well, I'm here for you. I'm here for you.

BROWN: I'm glad you're here for me. But, OK. You can comment on what he said.

HOFSTETTER: Yes.

BROWN: But I also just want to get your take, one of your takes on the amount of money that is being kicked around when people are trying to woo him right now.

HOFSTETTER: Well, the most amazing thing is that people are saying that the money is what's going to do it, you know, because he can make more in Cleveland if he stays or because, you know, the endorsements will be in New York.

BROWN: Right.

HOFSTETTER: They're not even factoring in, first of all, there's no income tax in Florida. You know, that's a huge reason for him to go there because that's -- I mean, He can keep all of his money. You know, if he goes to New York, the property taxes are lower. So I don't think the money is going to do it.

This is also a guy who hasn't looked at a price tag in forever. You know, this is a guy who's making a ton of money. He's going to make his money from commercials. I don't think he's going to make the money from the contract. It's not going to compare. The reason why Michael Jordan was worth a billion dollars to Chicago is because the money follows.

BROWN: Right. All right, gentlemen, thank you for being here and doing this for me. I really appreciate it. We'll see what happens.

SMITH: Right.

BROWN: Stephen and Steve, have a great weekend.

"LARRY KING LIVE" starts in just a few minutes but up next, tonight's "Punch Line."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JIMMY KIMMEL, HOST, "JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE!": I tell you I'm ready for the 4th of July. It's my favorite holiday. No presents, no church. Just a Zippo lighter and a trunk full of explosives.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: Finally, tonight's holiday weekend "Punch Line." Take it away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST, "LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN": Here in New York City fireworks, I like it, because if you spend the holiday in the city, you know this, that the fireworks, what they do is, well, they're beautiful to look at but more importantly they drown out the gunfire.

JIMMY KIMMEL, HOST, "JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE!": The Nigerian team finished last in their group. They didn't win any games and as a result of that the president of Nigeria, Goodluck Jonathan, has suspended them for two years. And what does this say about the state of our news organization in this country that a guy named Goodluck Jonathan is president of the largest country in Africa and I'm only just now finding out about it?

JON STEWART, HOST, "THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART": Her opponents will not explicitly divulge why they don't want her to be a Supreme Court justice for fear that they will look like provincial little brains. Let's watch it play out.

BVUNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have a very different belief system than most of the people who come from where I come from.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You grew up in Manhattan.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Manhattan's upper west side.

STEWART: Let's just cut to the chase. You're a Jew.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: And that's it for us. Have a great weekend everybody.

"LARRY KING" starts right now.