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THE SITUATION ROOM

Suspect Arrested in Etan Patz Murder Case; President Obama Steps Up Attacks on Mitt Romney; Obama's Money Link to Romney's Ex- Firm; Romney's Big Blue Collar Advantage; "That Black Hole You Feel In Your Chest"; Thousand Of Flags On Arlington Graves; U.N.: Iran Uranium Higher Enrichment; Derby-Winning Trainer Suspended 45 Days; Fugitive Penguin Captured; Snoop Dogg Throws First Pitch, Tebows; Radiation In Apartment Building's Foundation; New Nail In Coffin Of Newspaper Industry

Aired May 25, 2012 - 16:00   ET

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


GLORIA BORGER, CNN ANCHOR: And happening now: Exactly 33 years after Etan Patz vanished, a suspect is expected to be charged today with killing him. And he's going to be arraigned from his hospital bed.

And this hour, a lot of people are not convinced that this notorious missing child case has actually been solved.

Plus, as President Obama steps up his attacks on Mitt Romney's record as a CEO, guess who might have helped pay for the ads? People who work for the company the Obama camp is hammering. That would be Bain Capital.

And a terrifying discovery: radiation from the meltdown of a nuclear power plant actually built into the foundation of an apartment building.

Wolf Blitzer's off today. I'm Gloria Borger, and you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

And it could happen any minute now, a suspect finally charged in the disappearance of Etan Patz. Exactly 33 years ago today, the 6-year- old vanished, launching a national campaign to find and protect missing children. The suspect, Pedro Hernandez, allegedly has confessed to killing Etan.

But there are many nagging questions still out there, such as what was the motive? Did police miss clues for decades? And could they have gotten it wrong now?

Our national correspondent, Susan Candiotti, is outside the district attorney's office in New York.

Susan, Hernandez is going to be arraigned from his hospital bed?

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's a possibility, but we have some new updated information on that, Gloria, having learned that he has now been admitted to the hospital under a suicide watch and a psychiatric evaluation has been ordered. Original what happened was, earlier today, he was brought over to the hospital from the jail because he needed some medications that were not available at the jail. Not psychiatric in nature is what I'm being told.

But when he arrived at Bellevue Hospital here in New York, which does have a psychiatric unit, he began making statements according to a law enforcement source, including, "I want to die, I want to die." At that point, the psychiatric evaluation was ordered and you could say that he's now under a suicide watch.

So what this means in terms of whether an arraignment will indeed happen today, first court appearance, or whether it happens by hospital bedside or at all, remains unclear, Gloria. But it's just one of many things that happens today as investigators continue to look at this case.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CANDIOTTI (voice-over): NYPD crime scene investigators snapping pictures at an eyeglasses shop in Manhattan's upscale SoHo section and in its basement where Etan Patz was allegedly strangled, the location just blocks from Patz's apartment, where his parents still live; 33 years ago, the shop was what New Yorkers call a bodega, or convenience store.

It looked out on Patz's bus stop. At the time, 19-year-old Pedro Hernandez was a stock boy. Now 51, he's seen here in a photo obtained by "Inside Edition."

RAYMOND KELLY, NEW YORK CITY POLICE COMMISSIONER: Hernandez described to the detectives how he lured young Etan from the school bus stop at West Broadway and Prince Street with the promise of a soda.

He then led him into the basement of the bodega, choked him there and disposed of the body by putting it into a plastic bag and placing it into the trash.

CANDIOTTI: Lisa Cohen wrote a book about the Patz case. She had not heard of Hernandez until two days ago. He was never a suspect. But part of his story might fit with what Patz's parents told her about the day their son disappeared, his first time walking to the bus stop by himself.

LISA COHEN, AUTHOR: I know he had that dollar when he left for school that day, or at least that's the story I have always heard from his parents, and that he had talked about buying a soda at the bodega before he got on the school bus.

CANDIOTTI: Hernandez came to the attention of police last month after authorities dug up a basement in a different SoHo building. That dig didn't turn up much, but the publicity prompted a tip about Hernandez.

KELLY: In the years following Etan's disappearance, Hernandez had told a family member and others that he had -- quote -- "done a bad thing" and killed a child in New York. CANDIOTTI: But Hernandez has no criminal record and his arrest is raising plenty of questions.

His neighbors in New Jersey say Hernandez kept to himself.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He seemed like an all right guy. He had a wife. And there was a young daughter. And they were -- you know, they said hello and everything. They were always smiling. And, well, if this guy, like they say, confessed to it, 33 years, he's been living in his own personal hell.

CANDIOTTI: It's also been a difficult 33 years for Patz's parents. Flowers and a note saying "God bless you, you will always be remembered" greeted Stan Patz on the stoop where his wife kissed her son goodbye, never to see him again.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CANDIOTTI: And so more difficult days ahead for the Patz family, still so many unanswered questions -- Gloria.

BORGER: Thanks, Susan.

Unanswered, indeed.

And whatever hopes Etan Patz's parents had of finding their son gave way many years ago to pain and resignation, as police followed one false lead after another.

And now with a suspect under arrest, our Mary Snow looks at all the twists and turns this case has taken -- Mary.

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Gloria, those early hopes that Etan may still be found alive was the initial reason why the family never moved or changed their phone number. This case has taken investigators across the country and around the world. But, for 33 years, there's never been an arrest until now.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SNOW (voice-over): When Etan Patz vanished on May 25, 1979, police swarmed the Manhattan neighborhood where he lived and disappeared. Many people were looked at, but it took three years before a potential break in the case.

Investigators zeroed in on a drifter named Jose Ramos. Police were led to a drainpipe where Ramos had pictures of little boys. At the time, the lead went nowhere. Then, in the mid-1980s, investigators turned their attention overseas when a photo of Etan Patz surfaced in Israel, once again, no arrests.

Then attention turned back to Ramos. Journalist Lisa Cohen, who wrote a book about the Patz case, says Ramos had been friendly with a woman who walked Etan to school during a bus strike. And she says the renewed interest in Ramos came after it was learned that Ramos molested the woman's son. Ramos became a suspect in Etan Patz's murder.

COHEN: He actually ultimately said that he took a boy to his apartment that day that he was 90 percent sure was Etan Patz and that he tried to have sex with that boy and that he then said he let him go. And there have been various other pieces of circumstantial evidence over the years that make him a prime suspect.

SNOW: But prosecutors never had the evidence to charge Ramos in Etan's murder. He was convicted in another molestation case and remains in jail in Pennsylvania.

In 2001, Etan was declared dead. In 2004, a judge found Ramos guilty in a civil suit filed by the Patz family.

STANLEY PATZ, FATHER OF ETAN PATZ: This man stole our son's future and he should pay.

SNOW: With Jose Ramos due to be released from prison in November, Stan Patz insisted in asking prosecutors to reopen Etan's case. In 2010, Cyrus Vance, Manhattan's new district attorney, did just that. This April, investigators dug up a basement in a building near the Patz home with police focusing on a handyman. But, again, nothing panned out.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SNOW: And Stan Patz has been so convinced that Jose Ramos killed Etan, that he's said he contacts Ramos twice a year in prison asking him what he did with his son. He sends those messages on Etan's birthday and the anniversaries of the day he disappeared, which is today -- Gloria.

BORGER: Thanks a lot, Mary.

And let's now bring in our senior legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin, to dig in a little deeper with this.

Jeffrey, what happens now in this wrongful death suit against Jose Ramos?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, that's one of the many unanswered legal questions here. That judgment is a sitting judgment. It exists now. He owes the Patz family $2 million. Of course, he doesn't have $2 million. He's penniless and in prison.

BORGER: Right.

TOOBIN: But if he is now -- if the new case proceeds, then that case will presumably be dismissed or something will happen to it, but certainly the priority now is the criminal case against -- with the new arrest.

BORGER: So let's talk about the criminal case and the new arrest. I mean, why has this been so difficult? There are conflicting reports about Mr. Hernandez and whether he's been on their radar for a long time and disregarded. He has no criminal record. He's allegedly confessed. Should we believe now that this is truly the murderer?

TOOBIN: Well, I think we have to wait for the judicial system to operate to reach a firm conclusion.

BORGER: Sure.

TOOBIN: But the police have to know that a confession out of the blue after 33 years has to be treated with some skepticism. You know, why confess now?

The bizarre fact is, false confessions are real. People confess to crimes that they did not commit. That especially happens in high- profile cases. I'm sure many people remember a couple of years ago when a lunatic named John Mark Karr confessed to killing JonBenet Ramsey. Turned out to be totally false.

The NYPD certainly has to be aware of that and presumably is convinced that this is a true confession by Hernandez, not a false one. But it's going to be very important to see if there is any sort of physical evidence that corroborates this confession. And 33 years later, it's going to be hard to find physical evidence.

BORGER: And can it be proven without physical evidence?

TOOBIN: Well, it can be.

It's ultimately going to be up to a jury, and we will see what they believe. But he is going to get a lawyer and he is going to -- he may or may not fight these charges. If he is really full of remorse, there may be no trial. He may simply plead guilty. But if he decides to go to trial, I would imagine the police are going to have to look very hard for some sort of corroboration, because a confession alone is a very thin reed on which to support a conviction.

BORGER: And he apparently may be charged with second-degree murder, as opposed to first-degree. Can you explain why that would be the case?

TOOBIN: Well, that would -- in New York State, first-degree murder only applies to murder of police officers, I think. So, second-degree murder is the most he could be charged with under New York State law.

And murder is the only crime for which there is no statute of limitations. So, even though it's 33 years later, it will be legally permissible to charge him with murder.

BORGER: OK. Thanks so much, our senior legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin. Thanks for being with us.

And President Obama is hammering Mitt Romney for his record as CEO of the financial firm Bain Capital. You have heard that all week. But it turns out the president has his own connection to people inside that very company.

Plus, if Mitt Romney is elected president, will his first-term spending plan drive conservative Republicans crazy?

And Vice President Biden talks with the families of fallen troops about his own painful personal losses.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I got a phone call saying that my family had been in an accident. And just like you guys know by the tone of the phone call, you just knew, didn't you?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BORGER: President Obama put Mitt Romney on notice this week that he's going to keep hammering away at his record as CEO of Bain Capital. But it turns out that the president has his own connection to the firm. And that would be a money connection.

Here's our senior congressional correspondent Dana Bash.

DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Gloria, the Obama campaign has always prided itself on getting contributions small and large from al walks of life. But one source of campaign cash can be described with one word, awkward.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They closed it down. They filed for bankruptcy.

BASH (voice-over): Testimonials like this about Bain Capital, the private equity firm Mitt Romney used to run.

JACK COBB, STEELWORKER: Like a vampire, sucked the life out of us.

BASH: The irony, some of the money to pay for this TV ad may come from the same company that Mitt Romney is demonizing in it, Bain Capital.

It turns out employees of Bain Capital had given $124,900 in donations to the Obama campaign. And three of those Bain Capital donors , Mark Nunnelly, Stephen Pagliuca and Jonathan Lavine have given the maximum amount by law, $35,800.

In the case of Levine, he didn't just write his own check to the president. He's what's called a bundler, a fundraiser who helps the Obama campaign raise money from others.

One hundred twenty-five thousand is a lot of money from people who work at a company the Obama campaign and its allies vilify, like in this super PAC ad.

AD NARRATOR: Bain Capital always made money, if we lost, they made money. If we survived, they made money. It's as simple as that.

BASH: All of the nearly $125,000 in donations to the Obama campaign from Bain employees were made in 2011, well before the president's team started accusing Romney of killing jobs while at Bain.

Still, the Obama campaign tells CNN they do not intend to return any campaign cash from Bain employees. "No one aside from Mitt Romney is running for president highlighting their tenure as corporate buyout specialist as one of job creation, when, in fact, his goal was profit maximization," said Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt.

But isn't it hypocritical for the Obama campaign to keep money from employees of a company it goes after as job killers. Here's the Democratic chairwoman's answer.

REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ (D-FL), DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE CHAIRWOMAN: Accepting a contribution from a particular person involved in venture capital and criticizing Mitt Romney who has made his record as a venture capitalist at Bain the central focus of his credibility and his qualification for being president are completely different things.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BASH: Now, we put calls in to the Bain Capital employees who donated to the president to ask if they're going to demand their money back. No one returned our calls.

But Gloria, a spokesman for Bain Capital did get back to us and he said in a statement it is not a, quote, "political organization and take no position on any candidate." He also said that Bain capital celebrates the fact that its employees are, quote, "active in civic affairs and philanthropy across a range of organizations with various policy and political views," Gloria.

BORGER: Dana, but you know, if you're working for private equity and you want to give a political contribution now, do you think twice about it? Particularly the Obama campaign who seems to be sort of taking a whack at you?

BASH: It's hard to imagine not, particularly -- it's not just private equity, be uh in this particular case, the very company that is a subject, of course, of all of these ads and attacks by the Obama campaign. Just talking anecdotally to people who I know who raise money for the Romney campaign -- for the Romney campaign, I should say -- they have told me that many contributors who traditionally gave to President Obama on Wall Street are no longer doing it specifically for this reason.

Certainly getting money from private equity, but some of them are switching over to Mitt Romney because they're sick of being vilified.

BORGER: Yes, I'm sure they're actively courting him.

Dana Bash, thanks so much.

And now, let's bring in our chief national correspondent John King, also the anchor of "JOHN KING, USA." So, how does this look for the president with regard to Bain Capital? Criticizing them, taking their money. JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And taking other private equity money.

BORGER: Right.

KING: So, some people say, wait, Mr. President, you're trying to have it both ways. Wait, Mr. President, that's hypocritical.

Look how quickly when Congressman James Clyburn, member of the leadership from South Carolina, he said earlier this week, I don't take money from companies that rape other companies -- raping other companies. The campaign quickly said we denounce that language. Why? Because that's essentially James Clyburn saying the president's a hypocrite. If he knew he was saying that, maybe not, I don't know.

But so, it is a sensitive issue. But, look, we're in a competitive election. They're going to raise money whoever they can raise money. The question is whether Governor Romney tries to make an issue of that.

Campaign finance, where you get your money, unless there's a scandal or illegality, doesn't usually sway votes. We'll see.

BORGER: Here's my question, when Mitt Romney's been asked about Bain Capital, he seems to be deflecting and starts talking about the message on the economy, instead of really taking Bain Capital sort of head on saying actually we helped this company, that company, this company, that company. Do you think they're going to start taking it on more directly? I mean, they've been attacked on this since the '90s.

KING: They wrestle this with this just about every day, and they've wrestled with it in every one of his campaigns. Ted Kennedy did this in the campaign that Mitt Romney lost.

BORGER: Right.

KING: Shannon O'Brien, when he ran for governor, did it. It was not successful when she did it. I just talked to Rick Perry moments ago for my show, he did this just a couple months back in the Republican --

BORGER: Vulture capitalism.

KING: Yes, indeed. He said, well, it won't work. They go through this every time.

The challenge is, are they going to have to do more? Yes. How much more? That's the challenge, because every second that Mitt Romney's talking about his record at Bain, he's not assaulting the president's three years of presidency in the United States in his economic record.

He wants voters to make this a referendum on the president not on his work 25 years ago.

BORGER: And, you know, the real question is whether this fight over Bain is going to resonate with middle class working voters out there or whether it's going to be an argument that seems to kind of not matter to their lives.

KING: And so, we know each candidate's weaknesses. The president has weakness among white, working class voters. We will ask in November, some exit poll question about Bain Capital. I'm sure we will. I hope you exit people, you write it downright now.

Will we learn from that question whether this had an impact? Maybe, maybe not.

So, what do you look at? Do people think Governor Romney's on their side? Does he share their values? Will he fight for them" President Obama has a big advantage there right now.

BORGER: Absolutely.

KING: Down scale white voters tend to be more Governor Romney's voters right now. Can the president peel enough of them away? He's not going to win down scale white voters.

But can the president by saying who will fight to keep your job? Who will fight to keep that plant in your community? If the Bain attacks are successful, it will help the president in the margins there, which means in a place like Wisconsin and a place like Ohio, in battleground Pennsylvania, voters with whom in the past the president has struggled. Again, he might not win them.

BORGER: Right.

KING: If he can change the margins a bit, that's where we'll watch this battle.

BORGER: And look in the battleground states, it's very competitive. So --

KING: It's very competitive and it's very fluid.

You have -- sometimes you see people a bit more optimistic about the economy but then they see something happening in the neighborhood. You have to go state by state, some states are doing better than others. This is a fascinating, close race. Well, if it will be close in the end, we don't know. Right now, this is as close as you get.

BORGER: Well, we take it day by day.

John King, thanks very much.

Now get to work and do your own show, huh?

KING: I have to go, I have to go.

BORGER: Thanks a lot.

And Mitt Romney is now suggesting he would not drastically cut spending right away if he were elected president. So is that going to fly with conservatives?

And a powerful tribute by Joe Biden. The vice president gets emotional and very personal with the families of fallen troops.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BORGER: And joining me for today's strategy session, our Democratic strategist and CNN political contributor, Paul Begala, and former Bush White House speechwriter and CNN political contributor David Frum. David is also a contributor to CNN.com, as am I.

Welcome both.

Mitt Romney had an interview with "TIME" magazine this week in which he said something that conservatives might object to. He said he wouldn't make huge cuts in the first year of his presidency.

Let me read to you what he said. Quote, "I do it in a way that does not have a huge reduction in the first year, but instead has an increasing reduction as time goes on and given the growth of the economy, you don't have a reduction in the overall scale of the GDP. I don't want to have us go into a recession in order to balance the budget."

Now, that sounds a lot like something conservatives might object to who want to cut, cut, cut, not raise taxes -- David.

DAVID FRUM, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: It's great policy. It's the right answer. And it's, by the way, what we would -- we would -- we see conservative governments doing in Germany and in Canada, that you don't make these massive cuts. But the danger for him relative to some of the more extreme voices in the party is that there are people in the Republican Party in the name of government have rejected a lot of the economic effects of what cutting government does. But it is a reminder --

BORGER: They're called Tea Party? Tea Party, have you heard of that?

FRUM: But it's a reminder that Mitt Romney is a highly intelligent man, a highly sophisticated student of the economy and safe pair of hands.

BORGER: Paul?

PAUL BEGALA, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I agree with the first one. He's a highly intelligent guy, really smart.

But he has committed to a document called the Ryan Republican budget. This is a budget the House Republicans have passed. This is a serious document. It's a budget blueprint that the Republicans have passed into law. And it contains -- go take a look at either the Congressional Budget Office, Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, independent think tanks who have look at this. They said, Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, said the Romney/Ryan budget will be the gradual demise of traditional Medicare all to pay for tax cuts for the rich. So, he's right down the line with the most extreme elements of the Tea Party. I suspect he was just trying to etch-a-sketch.

BORGER: But it also calls for tax reform, which is something Democrats want to do, they want to reform the tax code, they want to close some loopholes.

BEGALA: What Romney calls reform is cutting taxes for guys like Mitt Romney, even more to the lowest levels since they've been under Hoover. It's in the budget. Just look it up.

FRUM: The Ryan plan, and I'm not a supporter of it. Let's remember most of the things that happened in the Ryan plan happened three, five, eight, 10 years out. And the idea that 10 years from now that Congress is going to say, well, here's something that the American people would like us to do, that we would like to do, but we won't do it because, thus Paul Ryan make 10 years ago, and the words of Paul Ryan are true and binding forever more, I don't think that's going to happen.

BORGER: I would also say that Mitt Romney used the words in that interview grand bargain, which is also something Republicans may not want to hear a lot about.

But let me move on to the "Washington Post"/ABC News poll which is quite interesting this week. And it showed an advantage for Mitt Romney that struck me. And that is an advantage over the president when it comes to white middle class financially struggling voters.

If you take a look at this poll, who would do more to advance the economic interests of you and your family?, you see there, Barack Obama 32, Mitt Romney 58. How big a problem is that for the president?

PAUL BEGALA, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, first off, he wants the vote of every American.

BORGER: Of course.

BEGALA: The truth is that the same subset voted 58 percent to 40 percent for John McCain four years ago and we call Barack Obama Mr. President today. You don't want to write anybody off.

There is real pain there and we have to do better. The president's got to do better about reaching them. But the argument is going to be this.

Who's better to create an economy that works for the middle class? That same "Washington Post" poll gives President Obama the six-point advantage. When you ask people in that same poll, who is going to cater to Wall Street, Romney by 23 points.

BORGER: So what does it tell you about the voters? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Financially struggling Americans are like students who have been recruited into some nightmare psychology experiment. You press the button and you get a zap. They press the Obama button and they got a big zap.

So they're inclined to press the other button and hope that that button doesn't give them the big zap because they know Obama equals pain, maybe Romney won't equal pain.

BORGER: Is Romney doing anything to help them push that button as far as you're concerned? As you point out the problems for Mitt Romney are on the feels my pain quotient.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Romney is offering hope and change, the same thing that Obama offered in 2008. You know it's pain with this alternative, maybe it's better with the other. That's hope, and that's change.

BEGALA: Romney just screams millionaires and billionaires. That's his problem --

BORGER: No, you scream millionaires and billionaires.

BEGALA: Look at him. Nobody believes anything. When he tries to talk to these middle class voters, I said this before. He looks like the queen of England at the cow chip tossing contest at the county fair. He's completely disgusted by middle class people because he's not one of us and voters pick that up.

BORGER: But would you argue that the president actually had a pretty bad week this week? Here he was with his Bain Capital ads and Cory Booker coming out saying these things are nauseating and stepping on the White House -- on the administration's message.

DAVID FRUM, FORMER BUSH SPEECHWRITER: If Bain Capital -- if this is bad for the economy, why didn't the president and Democrats do something about it? Their view is, look, we are not going to stop this kind of activity.

Bain Capital can lay off everybody it wants, it can do all of these terrible things and we're completely fine with it unless somebody from that company wants the president's job. In which case we'll call him names, but we have no policy response to this whatsoever.

BEGALA: First off, our viewers should know I'm helping the pro-Obama "Super PAC" that's running these things. It's important to disclose that. And here's why we're running them, right?

Because this is a huge problem for Mitt Romney, he wants to bring those values to the public square. If a private company wants to do it, that's one thing. He wants to set up a government that runs by the same rules. Everything goes to the rich and the middle class gets hammered.

FRUM: And Obama will do what to prevent the government --

BEGALA: It's still not what we want the values of that kind of guy to impose his values --

BORGER: These are Paul Begala's ads -- OK, thank you very much. Thanks to both of you guys.

BEGALA: Thanks, Gloria.

BORGER: To change subjects, radiation hits very close to home after Japan's nuclear plant meltdown. The scary discovery inside an apartment building shakes one family to its foundation literally.

And Vice President Biden opens up about the black hole you feel when you lose someone you love. Standby to hear his very emotional remarks.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BORGER: Vice President Joe Biden making an emotional and very personal tribute to the troops. Ahead of Memorial Day, Biden spoke to surviving families left behind by fallen military members.

And he talked about his own loss of his first wife and daughter and how he can relate to those who contemplate suicide.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: When I was a 29-year-old kid, I got elected to the United States Senate out of nowhere on November the 7th. And I got a phone call like you guys got someone walking up to me.

On December 18th, I was down in Washington. I'm the first United States Senator I ever knew. And I was down in Washington hiring my staff and I got a phone call saying that my family had been in an accident.

And just like you guys know by the tone of the phone call you just knew, didn't you? You knew when they walked up the path. You knew when the call came. You knew, you just felt it in your bones. Something bad happened. And I knew.

I don't know how I knew, but the call said my wife was dead, my daughter was dead, and wasn't sure how my sons were going to make it. They were Christmas shopping and a tractor-trailer broadsided them in one instant.

Killed two of them -- and, well -- that black hole you feel in your chest like you're being sucked back into it. Looking at your kids, most of you have kids here.

And knowing -- it was the first time in my career, my life I realized someone could go out and I probably shouldn't say this with the press here. No, but it's more important -- you're more important.

For the first time in my life, I understood how someone could consciously decide to commit suicide. Not because they were deranged, not because they'd been to the top of the mountain and they just knew in their heart they'd never get there again.

It was never going to get -- never going to be that way ever again. And just when you think maybe I'm going to make it, you're riding down the road and you pass a field and you see a flower and it reminds you.

You hear a tune on the radio, or you just look up in the night and you know you think maybe I'm not going to make it, man. Because you feel at that moment the way you felt the day you got the news.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BORGER: And Biden went on to talk about happier times and about learning to love again. And his wife, Jill, was at his side and he told the story of how it took five proposals for her to say yes.

Also for Memorial Day weekend, soldiers place small American flags on more than 280,000 graves at Arlington National Cemetery. Every available soldier from the U.S. Army's Third Infantry participated. This so-called "Flags-In" tradition dates back to 1948. Flags were also placed at the tombs of the unknowns.

And radiation nation, some Japanese are making a shocking discovery in their homes, we're tracking the nuclear fallout.

And Egyptians finally free to choose a president, but could the election be decided in the streets? We'll have our live report from Cairo.

And New Orleans becomes the largest U.S. city without a daily newspaper. So what does that mean for the future of journalism?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BORGER: Iran might be one step closer to a nuclear weapon. Lisa Sylvester is monitoring that and some of the other top stories in THE SITUATION ROOM right now. Lisa, what do you have for us?

LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Gloria. Well, the U.N. says inspectors found uranium in Iran enriched up to 27 percent, that's the highest level ever found there.

Iran says it may be due to technical reasons beyond the operator's control. This comes as Iran held nuclear talks with six nations including the United States. Many believe Iran wants to build nuclear weapons, which requires 90 percent uranium enrichment.

And the trainer for Triple Crown hopeful, "I'll Have Another" has been handed a 45-day suspension. It's tied to a 2010 race with another horse.

But Doug O'Neill will be able to participate in the June 9th Belmont stakes because the suspension won't happen until at least July 1st. "I'll Have Another" won the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness and could become the first triple crown winner since 1978.

A fugitive penguin captured in Japan, this 1-year-old penguin was on the loose for nearly three months after escaping from a Tokyo aquarium. It somehow scaled a 13-foot wall and a barbed wire fence to get in the Tokyo Bay. Aquarium staffers finally captured the runaway bird by hand yesterday. They said the penguin is a little excited after its journey.

And the rapper taking the mound for the Chicago White Sox last night. He threw out the first pitch before the Twins/White Sox game. And after the pitch, Snoop playing it up, taking to the knee to do his best Tebow. You see him there. The White Sox beat Minnesota 11-8. So good for him. It looks like he had a ton of fun out there -- Gloria.

BORGER: I think that's a hard thing to do, right? I mean, particularly when you're a guy and there's so much macho on the line.

SYLVESTER: I think you're right, but obviously he has skills, not just as a rapper, but obviously on the baseball field. Yes, good job. We have to see it again.

BORGER: Hard to get it over the plate, really hard.

SYLVESTER: And you know, also, a little toss out to Tim Tebow, of course.

BORGER: Of course.

SYLVESTER: He looks very different. He looks very different in the jersey and everything else. It's a good look too.

BORGER: A little different look, right. Thanks a lot, Lisa.

And never listen to what the government tells you. That's what distraught Japanese are saying. Why they can't trust what their leaders say about radiation.

And newspapers, well, they take another step in the way of the dinosaurs. How much longer can the business hang on? Howard Kurtz joins us right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BORGER: A terrifying discovery. More than a year after the earthquake and meltdown at a Japanese power plant, CNN's Kyung Lah has an in-depth report of members of one family who discovered radiation right under their feet.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KYUNG LAH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): One mother's rage. Local government representatives have finally shown up to talk to Ayako Yaegashi, her husband and two young children months after a horrific discovery at their apartment complex.

This brand new building's foundation is radioactive. The city's experts found a level 10 times higher than average exposure in Japan, but city is supposed to be in a safe area, 40 miles away from the so- called danger zone around the Fukushima nuclear plant. So how did this happen?

This cement came from this quarry, just miles from the crippled nuclear plant. When the triple meltdown happened, radiation rained down on the quarry. The radioactive rock was then shipped across the country and used to build this apartment building.

Residents from the first floor have all moved out. Yaegashi lives on the third floor where the government keeps trying to tell her it is safe.

(on camera): Do you feel nervous even just standing out her here?

(voice-over): Yes, I'm worried, says Yaegashi. Radiation is invisible. It could be airborne right now. It could be coming out of the ground, we don't know.

(on camera): It is not just the apartment building, the contaminated rock from the quarry made its way to nearly 1,000 different locations across the region.

It is right under my feet in this new section of this little canal. Just an example of how radiation from the Fukushima nuclear disaster has worked its way into ordinary life here in Japan.

(voice-over): The radiation tainted straw was fed to cattle, which became tainted beef that ended up in supermarkets and restaurants across Japan.

Radioactive particles flew across the country and landed on green tea fields in South Japan, which ended up in teacups and airborne radioactive particles appear to have entered a baby formula factory, formula which ended up on store shelves.

All of these scares have led to the opening of nearly 100 independent store fronts across Japan where residents can test food and soil for radiation. I can't believe the government. I don't believe them, she says. We have to protect ourselves.

That is what we have learned from Fukushima. Japan's government is constantly monitoring the radiation in the air, ground and water on a local and national level.

But Ayako Yaegashi is a living example that the government can't control the spread of radiation everywhere. Never listen to what the government tells you, she says.

If you do, you will pay. She and her family go back inside with little relief from the government. They will try to handle this crisis on their own. Kyung Lah, CNN, Nihomatsu, Japan.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BORGER: And the 9.0 earthquake that unleashed a tsunami and Japan's nuclear crisis was the fourth largest quake on record and the biggest one, of course, ever to strike Japan. And Egypt's historic presidential vote may be headed for a runoff. And there are concerns that one leading candidate could turn Egypt into another Iran.

New Orleans is about to become the biggest metro area in the world without a daily print newspaper.

And is Donald Trump angling to be Mitt Romney's running mate, really?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BORGER: This is a disturbing story for those of us who love to hold and read a printed newspaper whatever our iPads allow us to do. One of America's oldest papers, the New Orleans "Times Picayune" will offer you only three printed editions a week beginning in the fall.

And New Orleans will become the largest metro area in the nation now that doesn't have a daily print newspaper. And joining me now is Howard Kurtz, Washington bureau chief of "Newsweek" magazine and he's also the host of CNN's "RELIABLE SOURCES."

Howie, we have seen this starting to happen at newspapers for years now. We know that the economy is going in the wrong direction as far as newspapers are concerned. But the "Times Picayune" was so important to that community during Katrina. How can this happen there of all places?

HOWARD KURTZ, HOST, CNN'S "RELIABLE SOURCES": That's what makes it particularly heartbreaking. This is a newspaper where many of the staff members either lost or had damage to their homes during that devastating home. Kept writing, kept reporting, kept publishing, and now New Orleans becomes the largest city in the United States not to have a daily newspaper.

BORGER: So does this mean that eventually if it can happen there that print editions of all daily newspapers are going to go the way of the steam engine?

KURTZ: I certainly hope not as a lifelong newspaper guy and you worked for a newspaper a long time ago.

BORGER: And magazines.

KURTZ: Here's the problem. I'm sure some of the younger people watching are saying so what, so it'll become the web site. Why do we need print?

Well, for one thing, I like the idea of being able to step outside the door and take a physical product and take it on the subway and read stories that you miss online when you're just surfing at hyper speed.

Also newspapers need the revenue provided by print advertisements because online ads produce a fraction of the money coming in.

BORGER: Well, I was just reading this that print ads account for most newspaper revenues about 86 percent. So can you shift that to the web?

KURTZ: Well, that's the reason that we don't see papers like the "Times Picayune," completely giving print publications so at least three days a week including Sunday you get some of that ad revenue.

But look, the trend is moving in this direction. It really pains me to say that. I don't think print is going to disappear completely, but it may in some communities.

In other words, I think the "New York Times" is a national newspaper, "Wall Street Journal," "USA Today" and "Washington Post" will still be around. But in these mid-sized cities, they are really struggling.

And here's the problem, Gloria, when you shrink the revenue and cut the staff, which is also happening in New Orleans, you are crippling the reporting those communities rely on.

BORGER: Well, that was going to be my next question, which is what does this do to the quality of journalism? I think we sound like two dinosaurs here who both used to work in print and now you're on the web and here I am on TV.

And I write for the web, but -- but what does this do to the quality of investigative reporting, for example, which costs an awful lot of money, you know.

KURTZ: You know, newspapers are already cutting back. For example, you go to any state capital in the United States and there are far fewer print reporters there than there used to be.

That means fewer people keeping an eye on the governor, on state legislators, on contracting, that's important stuff if you live in that community. And I don't see local TV or web sites stepping up to fill that breech. They can't be everything to everyone anymore.

But they do some things very well, sports and entertainment. But also if you're in New Orleans or Tampa or St. Louis or San Francisco, you rely on that local paper to your hold your public officials accountable. We're going to be seeing less of that.

BORGER: I fear that's going to be the case.

Thanks so much -- Howie Kurtz.

We'll see you Sunday.

KURTZ: Absolutely.