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THE SITUATION ROOM
Supreme Court will Announced the Judgment on President Obama's Healthcare Law; Senator Marco Rubio makes Comment on Illegal Immigration; A 68-year-old Bus Monitor Bullied by Kids; David Maraniss released a Biography of President Barack Obama; CDC Lab in Atlanta is under Investigation on Potentially Dangerous Leak
Aired June 23, 2012 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: You're in the SITUATION ROOM.
A huge week ahead for the United States Supreme Court as the country awaits judgment day for President Obama's controversial health care law. Ahead, a closer look at how the court might rule and what it could mean for the White House.
Senator Marco Rubio defends Mitt Romney as the Republican presidential candidate changes his tone on illegal immigration. I'll talk to senator Rubio about an issue that hits him close to home and about his chances of becoming Romney's running mate.
And a new investigation into a potentially dangerous germ leak at a U.S. government lab. Is an agency that's supposed to protect us from disease putting people at risk?
We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer.
You're in the SITUATION ROOM.
All eyes on the U.S. Supreme Court this coming week as the justices are expected to hand out a ruling that will impact every American and shape the future of the country. The long-awaited decision on President Obama's health care reform law, and coming just months before the election, the stakes, politically speaking, could not be higher.
CNN's Kate Bolduan is joining us now. She's got a little preview of what we could expect.
Set the scene for us -- Kate.
KATE BOLDUAN, CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hey, there, Wolf.
Well, it is the biggest secret in Washington and really only the justices and their law clerks know how this drama will end. But one thing is certain. We will know in a matter of days if the affordable care act stays or goes and unprecedented decision affecting, as you said, nearly every person in this country.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And ask that the affordable care act in its entirety be upheld.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That is a direct threat to our federalism. Thank you.
BOLDUAN (voice-over): From the minute arguments were over --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The case is submitted.
BOLDUAN: Court watchers were searching for any clue as to how the justices might vote.
THOMAS GOLDSTEIN, SCOTUSBLOG.COM: Obviously, everybody in a case of this magnitude is trying to read tea leaves.
BOLDUAN: For the high court, it's no small feat deciding four separate issues impacting nearly every American, and the fate of the president's number one domestic achievement. Here are the court's options.
The centerpiece -- will the individual mandate stand or fall? Does the rest or any of the law survive if the mandate is struck down? Or will the court call for a legal time-out until the main provisions go into effect, though this option is unlikely.
Key to the decision, it may be these two men, chief justice John Roberts and the traditional swing vote, Justice Anthony Kennedy.
GOLDSTEIN: More so than in most cases, Justice Kennedy seemed visibly to be struggling here. He thought that this statute does fundamentally change the relationship between the federal government and the citizens, which really worried him. On the other hand, he understands the special nature of the insurance market.
ANTHONY KENNEDY, SUPREME COURT JUSTICE: Can you create commerce in order to regulate it?
BOLDUAN: While Kennedy and chief justice Roberts are part of the conservative majority, they asked hard-hitting questions to both sides.
JOHN ROBERTS, SUPREME COURT JUSTICE: I don't think you're addressing their main point, which is that they're not creating commerce in health care. It's already there. And we're all going to need some kind of health care, most of us will, at some point.
BOLDUAN: There's skepticism of the government's case leaves the mandate in doubt. However, court watchers say they left themselves some wiggle room to side with the government, albeit narrowly.
GOLDSTEIN: No matter what side wins this case, it is going to win barely, because it's so close. If the individual mandate is held, it's most certainly to be an opinion by five or six justices saying, Congress can go this far, but no further.
BOLDUAN: Even Paul Clement, the attorney challenging the law cautioned that such a high-profile case is impossible to predict.
PAUL CLEMENT, ATTORNEY: I would never get in the business of being a prognosticator. I do think the one thing that's pretty secure is that the justices are taking this case very seriously.
BOLDUAN: Now, after the decision is handed down, the big question quickly becomes what now? House Republican leaders have made clear if the law isn't completely thrown out, they'll vote to repeal whatever's left.
And for weeks, Wolf, both the White House and congressional Republicans have been quietly strategizing their message, so they're very much ready as soon as the decision comes down.
BLITZER: I'm going to talk to Candy Crowley about the political fallout in a moment, but there's another major case that the Supreme Court is going to decide on this coming week as well, involving immigration.
BOLDUAN: Yes, another blockbuster that we'll get a decision on this week. This involves Arizona's controversial illegal immigration law known as sb-1070. It is part of the law's been blocked, as it's being challenged inviting -- working its way through the federal courts and made its way to the Supreme Court.
Basically, the bottom line here is the state of Arizona argues that it is stepping where the government as so far failed. And the federal government is fighting back saying that the state is stepping on what is exclusively federal authority over immigration policy. Americans across the country are going to be watching this. This is a big election year issue. States also, Wolf, are watching this very closely, as many states in this country are also considering similar laws.
BLITZER: Kate Bolduan's going to be busy this coming week. Thanks very, very much.
Let's dig a little bit deeper now with our chief political correspondent, host of "state of the union," Candy Crowley.
You know, I had a chance to speak to Debbie Wasserman Schultz this past week, the chair of the DNC, the Democratic Party and asked her about options depending on what the Supreme Court does. Listen to this little exchange.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Are you ready to deal with that?
DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ, DNC CHAIRMAN: I'm confident, as is President Obama, that the Supreme Court is going to uphold the constitutionality --
BLITZER: What if they don't? Have you thought about that? SCHULTZ: Well, we can't really deal in what ifs. I'm confident they're going to uphold it. If for some reason they don't, we are committed and we need to make sure that with we can continue to cover the Americans that would be left twisting in the wind.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Health care reform law, you know, this is the signature achievement of the Obama administration so far. If the Supreme Court rules all or some of it being unconstitutional, that's a huge embarrassment?
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: It is. And its initial blow, the question is, two months out, three months out, how does it fit into the political discussion? And what Debbie Wasserman Schultz there was saying, which is basically nothing, like I'm not going to give you contingency plans, have been asked at the White House repeatedly, and they say the same things, we expect it to be upheld. But we are also hearing that they are talking about, quote, "contingency plans." But politically, this could go either way.
I honestly could make an argument that this would help Republicans. Certainly, Republicans think it will, as Kate mentioned, they want to have vote after vote of whatever doesn't get thrown out, at least on the house side, where they have the vote. And they think when they look at the public polling that, you know, a majority does not like what the critics call Obama care.
But if you look at the parts of it that are now in place, there can be no lifetime cap on insurance benefits, children up to the age of 26 on their parents' health care, and no pre-existing condition can be used to deny insurance coverage, those are popular things. So I would watch for the Democrats to say, so, now, how are we going to do this?
Now, do they each have to come up with a plan? I think the public's going to say, OK, now what? So they each have to play this carefully and I could see it going either way in terms on who benefits from it politically?
BLITZER: The political fallout.
BLITZER: Because certainly, if the Supreme Court justices say, it is constitutional, and lets the law stand, that will presumably really energize that Republican base to try to change it.
CROWLEY: That's exactly what Republicans believe. We've talked to a couple of people, as I'm sure you have, that if said, you know I think the right thing to do is, would be if they throw out this individual mandate. But for us if they let it stand, it keeps the base energized. They're not thinking, OK, the health care thing is over. They are thinking what we need is a change in president and it keeps them energized.
BLITZER: And there's one other option out there. They could punt these nine justices and say, you know what, this since the mandate and the penalty, the tax doesn't go into effect until 2014, we're not going to rule on it now. We have to wait for that provision to actually go into effect. I don't think they'll do that, but that's one option.
CROWLEY: I don't either. It would be fun if they did, but I don't see it happening.
BLITZER: Well, we'll know soon enough. And "STATE OF THE UNION," Sunday morning, 9:00 a.m. Eastern/noon Eastern, we'll be watching.
CROWLEY: I will be back.
BLITZER: Thank you.
BLITZER: Details of President Obama's early life that we haven't heard before, some of them contradicting his own memoir. I'll talk to the author of a brand-new biography that's generating lots of buzz.
And hidden fees, rate hikes, bad customer service. Now complaints about credit cards go public in a big way.
Plus, the viral video of a grandmother and a school bus monitor being brutally bullied by students, and she is speaking out.
BLITZER: It's arguably the most anticipated political book of the year. A new biography of President Obama that reveals new details of his early life which "The New York Times" calls both, surprising and gripping.
And the author, David Maraniss is joining us right now, his brand new book is simply entitled "Barack Obama: the story."
David, thanks very much for coming is. Thanks very much for writing this book.
You know, a lot - not a lot, but key elements of what the president himself wrote in his autobiographies you learned were not necessarily all that factual, not necessarily based on reality. What was the biggest difference you found?
DAVID MARANISS, AUTHOR, BARACK OBAMA: THE STORY: Well, he acknowledges in his memoir that there are composites and a compression of time in there. And it is true that there's a difference between memoir and rigorous factual biography.
I would is a that what he was doing is trying to put everything through the lens of race. So that he creates characters, somewhat built on real people that I found, but sometimes the real person was white when he was making them black or vice versa, and it was all sort of for one purpose in mind, in his memoir, which was to write about his self-identity. And my purpose is far different. Any biographer is trying to just get the real story. So I wasn't doing it to fact check or vet in that super official political sense. I was just trying to get the story right.
BLITZER: If there was any doubt where he was born, you put that to rest. You studied that pretty closely, right?
MARANISS: I don't think any serious biographer ever had any doubt, but the accumulation of documents is pretty overwhelming, as well as interviews with people who were in the hospital scene that week and were passing along the word of this oddity that Stanley had a baby, that's the first name of Barack Obama's mother.
Furthermore, there were INS documents of Barack Obama senior, who was on a visa from Kenya, and who was sort of problematic for the INS. They were watching him every day. So I have the documents of the INS reporting where he was during the period before, during, and after that birth.
BLITZER: So what do you say to all these birthers out there, what the Donald Trump or others who still don't believe he was born in Honolulu?
MARANISS: I don't know what you can say. I mean, there must be some other -- I sort of want him go on a deal with it anymore, but on the other hand, I wonder, what drives them? Why do they want to believe this fantasy?
BLITZER: And if you look at polls, there are still elements out there who insist he's really secretly a Muslim?
MARANISS: Well, that part I found to be particularly delicious in doing the reporting. Of the Obamas in Kenya, their rise -- his grandfather, it's true, converted to Islam, although he did not practice it very devoutly.
But when you study the rise of the Obamas in Kenya, it was conservative evangelical Christians who are responsible for the rise all along the way. The Seventh Day Adventist came out to western Kenya to the newer tribe and taught them English. Barack Obama's father was educated at an Anglican School and then was basically mentored by a woman who came to Kenya from the United States to spread the gospel and teach literacy. She's the one who brought him to the United States. So it had nothing to do with Muslims.
BLITZER: Yes. And what are the most compelling part of the book, and it's a sad story is, you believe the president was actually better off not really knowing or having a life with his father.
MARANISS: You know, that's a difficult thing for me to say, but as trying to be an objective observer, historian, I think that's true. That --
BLITZER: Why. Tell our viewers.
MARANISS: Because his father was abusive. And he wasn't with Obama's mother for more than a couple of months. But the next woman he married, another American, told me gruesome stories about being beaten by him, physically with his hands, had a knife to her throat. Just -- he was an alcoholic and very abusive. And that would have been difficult, of course, for any kid.
BLITZER: And you also write, movingly, how he struggled with his own racial identity. Give us an example.
MARANISS: That is the last third of the book. He is trying to figure himself out. And his whole early adult life is an arc towards home going from living with white grandparents, having a white mother, to finding himself in the south side of Chicago, finally, as an African- American.
And along the way, I have letters that he wrote where he's describing this struggle and how he's looking at other people with different niches and he's trying to figure out how he can be both everything, because he is both black and white, and also find a comfort level in the black community.
BLITZER: You know, you've also written a great biography of Bill Clinton, now great biography of Barack Obama, two presidents, two guys, who grew up really without a father.
BLITZER: But emerged very different in terms of their social behavior. Bill Clinton, he could go schmooze, he could go socialize, he made everyone feel special. This president, very different, why?
MARANISS: Well, part of it is coming from Hawaii. There's a saying, they are cool head made thing and sort of laid back and pull an instance. He doesn't need people. He figured himself out. He was an introvert. He had the sensibility of a writer, which is sort of a participant/observer.
And Bill Clinton needed people so badly that in high school, he would invite friends over just to watch him do a crossword puzzle. You know, I mean, he has a preternatural need and ability to survive with other people, which Barack Obama never had.
BLITZER: At one point, you write about how it's tough for him to make a serious decision, but he did decide to go ahead and give the order to kill bin Laden, even though there was no guarantee that that mission would succeed. Was that in his character?
MARANISS: It was. But when you see, going back to his days as a community organizer in Chicago, his mentors and people who worked with him there said he was very cautious. He would deliberate and deliberate to the point of sort of driving them crazy. And then he would make a bold move. And you see that in his presidency.
So., you know, not just with bin Laden, but also with the don't ask, don't tell, decision. For the first two years of his presidency, the gay community was sort of pounding on him, why aren't you acting? He's trying to figure it out. His life is a study in how to avoid traps. So that's why he sometimes appears too deliberate. BLITZER: Are you working on part II right now?
MARANISS: It will be a while, because I don't want it to be a quickie, I want to get the documents, but there will be a second volume, yes.
BLITZER: We're looking forward to that. Thanks for all the great work.
MARANISS: Thank you.
BLITZER: The book is entitled "Barack Obama: the story." The author is David Maraniss.
A possible running mate for Mitt Romney accusing President Obama of politicizing the immigration issue. Stand by for my interview with Senator Marco Rubio.
And if you're fuming about surprise credit card fees or lousy service, there's now a place where you can share your complaints with the world.
BLITZER: We've all heard people gripe about credit card companies and the high fees, the interest rates they sometimes charge, but now there's one place where the whole world can see those complaints in hopes that it will make a real difference.
Let's bring in Lisa Sylvester. She's been investigating. - Lisa.
LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, there, Wolf.
Well, this is a site where consumers can go on and see how their credit card company measures up. Have they logged a number of complaints? Is there an issue a person is facing that maybe others are facing as well? That's the point of having a data base like this, to shine sunlight on the industry. But the banking and credit card industrious, they don't like this a bit.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: USA prime credit. My name Peggy. You got problem?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Peggy? Third time I've called. It's time I speak with a supervisor.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Supervisor is genius. I transfer. Transfer! Transfer!
SYLVESTER (voice-over): It's such a stereotype that some credit card companies are even making fun of their own industry. Hidden fees, lousy customer service, a surprise jump in interest rates. A lot of people have griped about credit card companies.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I paid a couple of bills and they sent me more bills behind that one.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I missed a payment by five days and they cut off my card. I went to charge something and I couldn't charge it because they had cut it off.
SYLVESTER: Now people have a new tool. The federal government has launched a new consumer complaint database. The consumer financial protection bureau unveiled the site, which includes a snapshot of the 45,000 complaints the bureau says it has collected from consumers on their mortgage, student loans, and credit cards.
The bureau's director says, quote, "we hope to improve the transparency and efficiency of this essential consumer market."
The database, still in its beta version, includes 137 cases focused on credit cards and listed by type of complaint, zip code, and how the issue was resolved. Consumer advocates are applauding the new site. The consumer watchdog group public citizen has criticized credit card companies for misleading practices.
BARTLETT NAYLOR, PUBLIC CITIZEN: Among the problems are marketing materials that would suggest that fees are at a certain level, but in the muggers that hide in the small print on page 42 of this particular contract, surprise you with something that you simply hadn't considered.
SYLVESTER: No surprise, credit card companies and banking groups are pushing back, accusing the newly formed consumer bureau of publishing data that has not been vetted for accuracy.
NESSA FEDOIS, AMERICAN BANKERS ASSOCIATION: As the bureau vets or verifies the information, it's basically rumor and gossip. And we don't really want consumers making important financial decisions based on rumor and gossip.
SYLVESTER: The American Bankers Association says there are 320 million American credit card accounts, they say, complaints tally only about 100th of one percent.
SYLVESTER: Now, billing disputes are the most common type of complaint and followed by growth about interest rates and accounts being closed. And as for verification, the consumer bureau, they do confirm that a credit card company of a person making a complaint has had or currently has a credit card with them. Even still, the industry feels that the list will include a lot of frivolous cases, Wolf.
BLITZER: Sure, it will. We'll watch and see how it unfolds. Thank you.
Senator Marco Rubio sharing moving memories of his father's sacrifices so he could achieve the American dream. Stand by for my interview with the possibly vice presidential contender.
And a potentially dangerous germ leak at a U.S. lab. Is an agency that's supposed to protect us really putting people at risk?
BLITZER: Republican Mitt Romney tried this week to convince skeptical Latino leaders that he'd be a good alternative to President Obama. He criticized the president's policy on immigration, calling his decision to stop deporting many young illegal immigrants temporary. But the Republican presidential candidate offered few specifics about what he'd do.
The immigration issue, now front and center for the White House contenders, and for a possible Romney running mate.
And, joining us now from Capitol Hill, the junior senator from the state of Florida, Marco Rubio. He's the author of a brand-new book entitled, simply entitled, "an American Son." There it is. You see it up on the screen.
Senator Rubio, thank you very much for coming in. Really appreciate it.
SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: Thank you for having me.
BLITZER: I want to get to the book in a couple of moments.
Let's talk right now about immigration. Right now the search for Latino support out there. You heard -- I assume you heard Mitt Romney's address before elected Latino officials earlier in the day. And to me, at least, it seemed sort of different, the tone, at least, compared to what he was saying during the primary. Did you hear that?
RUBIO: Well, what I've heard Wolf, is that we're the pro-legal immigration party. That's the argument I've always heard, is the Republican Party is not simply the anti-illegal immigration party. It is the pro-legal immigration party.
We understand legal immigration is good for America, important for America's economic future. We recognize that America has one of the most generous immigration programs in the world. Over a million people a year immigrate here legally. No other country even comes close. But we have an illegal immigration problem, and that's a legitimate concern as well.
BLITZER: The Obama campaign wasted no time coming out with a tough statement, reacting to what Romney said today. They recalled that during the Republican primaries, he said he would -- he called the dream act, and a variation of that you seemed to have liked, the dream act a handout, and he promised to veto it if it were enacted and he were president. Today, we didn't hear that from Romney.
RUBIO: Well, first of all, I think he's made it very clear he doesn't support the dream act. And I don't support the dream act either. I do think there is a better way to do it. I talked about that in my book. There is a way to accommodate these kids that they find themselves in this circumstance, no fault of their own, but there is a way to accommodate them without encouraging or incentivizing illegal immigration in the future.
And I think that's what you saw Governor Romney say today, is that if he's president, he's not going to find a political solution or talking point. He's not going to find a stopgap measure. He's going to find a real, serious, balanced, responsible approach that honors our legacy as a nation of immigrants, that understands the humanitarian component of this problem, but that does so in a way that doesn't encourage or reward illegal immigration in the future.
Look, I think you can understand the human component of this. And these are human beings, and I talk about this in my book, what they want is to provide their families better futures, some of them come from desperate situations, and of course you understand why they're doing that.
But we have to have immigration laws. With we can't be the only country in the world that doesn't have immigration laws and doesn't enforce them. I think there's a balance we have to find. And I think that's what he'll do as president and he's not going to politicize it the way this president has done.
BLITZER: When you heard the president come out last week on his new directive on allowing some young illegal immigrants to stay in the United States, to get legal status for two years at a time, to go get jobs, et cetera, you immediately afterwards, you pulled off from your alternative to the dream act. You were hoping to work with Democrats and others to find some sort of alternative way to deal with this. You've backed away from that now, why?
RUBIO: Wolf, what I said was, I thought by doing it the way he did, it's going to make it harder to find the kind of solution in the long- term that we all wanted to do.
Look, when I first encountered when I came to the Senate, there was no one wanted to talk about immigration. There were too many scars, people are gone too much in years passed, it was very highly charged, very politicized issue.
And the argument I was making was this was a humanitarian issue, not an immigration one. These kids are here in this circumstance through no fault of their own. There's god got to be a way to accommodate them without rewarding or encouraging illegal immigration. That's what we're working on.
And then in comes the president without talking to anybody and basically does it by executive order, five months before the election, in a blatant effort to try to win Hispanic votes or at least to energize the Hispanic vote and turn it against Republicans. He's politicized it.
So, if it's going to be a political ping-pong and a political talking point, it's going to be very difficult to come up with the kind of measured responsible approach that we've been working on.
BLITZER: Should illegal immigrants be allowed to volunteer to serve in the United States military? RUBIO: Well, as part of the alternative we were working on, there was a component where those who are honorably discharged in the so was this country would be allowed access to a legalization process fairly quickly. And I think the vast majority of Americans would agree with that.
But that's not really -- that's an important point and it's one we should talk about, and certainly should be part of any accommodation. It really doesn't cover that many people. I mean, at the end of the day, it's not easy to get into the U.S. military. You can't just walk in and say, I want to be in the U.S. army. They have to accept you. It's not as easy as it once was. Their standards are pretty high and not everybody can get in. So, what about everybody else?
And that's what we are trying to tackle here is the fact that you do have young people that came when they were 5-years-old, some of them don't even know they're undocumented until they try to go to college. And they're the valedictorian of their high school, have been accepted to a Dartmouth or a Yale, and we're going to deport them. That doesn't seem right with people.
So, we do want to address that. But we can't do it in a way that ignores the fact that we have an illegal immigration problem.
BLITZER: How did you feel in the past few days when Mitt Romney singled you out. You're the only one he has publicly acknowledged as being vetted as a potential vice presidential running mate?
RUBIO: Well, I don't pay a lot of attention to the back and forth of -- it's like a sport up here that stuff. But, you know, I've made a decision a couple months ago, Wolf, not to comment on the vice presidential process anymore out of respect for Governor Romney and the work he's putting into that.
The only thing I can tell you definitively is I know 100 percent without any doubt and with great certainty that Governor Romney is going to make a great choice for vice president.
BLITZER: Without get commenting on the vice presidential running mate slot, do you think you're qualified, though, to be president of the United States?
RUBIO: Well, I'm qualified to be a U.S. senator, which is my job right now, and I think if I do a good job here in the Senate and continue to do a good job, that people look at me and say, hey, this is someone who works and is serious about the issues.
I may not agree with him on everything, but I know where he stands and he works hard on behalf of where he stands. I think if I do that, I'll have plenty of opportunities in the future to do things inside and out of politics. So that's what I'm focused on.
BLITZER: You've really written a very personal book about yourself and your family, coming to America from Cuba, "an American Son." But what was most powerful, at least in my opinion, and most moving, was what you wrote about your dad. And unfortunately he passed away and he's not able to see you right now, doing what you're doing. What would you say to your dad right now if you could?
RUBIO: Well, I would just say that, you know, our version of the American dream, in terms of what the American dreams meant for our family, and that's really the story I wanted to tell, was that my parents were able to provide opportunities for me that they themselves didn't have. And I hope my dad can realize, because my faith teaches me he can see what's going on, even just not on television, is that his life meant something. It had a purpose. It opened doors for us that weren't open for him. My mom's still here with us. Hopefully, she sees it the same way. Their hard work and their sacrifice, I know their dreams became impossible for them, but they opened a lot of doors for us and we'll always be grateful for that.
BLITZER: What's the most important thing that you hope that readers of "an American Son" will emerge with? What thought do you want them to leave, knowing about you?
RUBIO: Well, not just knowing about me, but knowing about my family, the only reason I've been able to have the opportunities I had is because my parents worked very hard, they gave up a lot of things so we could have a better life, and because I was born an American son. And that's what title of the book is about.
I think my parents - I know my parents were once my age and had dreams and hopes themselves, it became impossible for them. But things were possible for me that were impossible for them for one very profound reason, and that is because I am an American son.
BLITZER: I'm sure your mom is very, very proud, and I'm sure your dad, and I assumed you would agree he is looking down, he is very proud as well. It is an American dream that has come true for you.
Thanks so much, senator, for joining us.
RUBIO: Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: Potentially deadly germs leaked at a U.S. government bio- terror lab. What we've learned about a new investigation into the leak and the danger.
And a grandmother bullied by middle schoolers. Now the outcry has turned into real action.
BLITZER: Americans depend on the centers for disease control to help keep all of us safe from the most deadly germs and viruses in the world. But the Atlanta-based agency is now under the microscope itself, because of a leak that could have exposed people to germs so dangerous, terrorists might use them as weapons.
Brian Todd has been investigating this story for us. He's coming up with new information.
Brian, what's going on? BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Been investigating this for a few days. Wolf, we just learned that a congressional committee is requesting documents and has launched a probe into one particular CDC lab in Atlanta. This facility had an air leak from a room handling dangerous pathogens.
TODD (voice-over): It's a highly secured bio-germ lab at the centers for disease control, conducting experiments with pathogens like monkey pox, bird flu, tuberculosis, rabies, other organisms that could be used as biological weapons.
CNN has learned a potentially dangerous air leak at the bio-safety level 3 lab will be investigated by a congressional committee.
Congressional sources and CDC officials tell us the leak occurred on February 16th of this year. What is your biggest concern of what could have happened here?
REP. MICHAEL BURGESS (R), ENERGY AND COMMERCE COMMITTEE: The biggest concern, obviously, as my understanding, there was a contingent of visitors who were walking through the building. And had one of those people been stricken or made ill or worse, obviously, that would have been devastating.
TODD: Congressman Michael Burgess will be part of the investigation by the house, energy, and commerce committee. Experts say if experiments had been underway at the time of that air leak, unprotected visitors could have gotten deadly exposure to germs, but an epidemic would have been very unlikely.
The air flow system in that lab is supposed to protect against the release of contaminated air. Air from a clean air corridor is pushed through vents into that lab, where experiments involving those pathogens, and including small mammals, take place. The air circulates and then is pushed to the outdoors through powerful Hepa filters. That air is supposed to be cleaner than the air that comes in.
But on February 16th of this year, visitors who were in a clean air corridor noticed a puff of air being pushed out to that corridor through a window in the slit of the door. That is not supposed to happen.
CDC officials say animals were in that lab at the time, but they were secured in filtered cages. They say the lab was clean, was not active at the time, and no one got infected. CDC officials told us they couldn't put anyone on camera.
In a statement, a spokesman said, "at no time during recent incidents featured in the media were CDC workers or the public in harm's way. This unique facility features multiple security layers, specifically designed to protect workers and the public in the event of an incident." There's been at least one other safety-related incident in that same building at CDC. In 2008, it was discovered that a high containment lab door was sealed with duct tape.
Bob Hawley, former safety chief at a government infectious disease lab talked about the safety layers at CDC, like bio-safety cabinets researchers work within in that lab.
ROBERT HAWLEY, ALLIANCE BIOSCIENCES: Nothing is handled outside that cabinet. So they're working with minute amounts of material and the chances of aerosol are negligible.
TODD: But there are also questions about a possible cover-up here. In an internal e-mail reported by "USA Today," a CDC biologist said the CDC quote, "will do anything to hide the fact that we have serious problems with the air flow and containment in this whole building," end quote. Now, we have not been able to independently verify that e- mail.
In response, though, a CDC spokesman said the agency will continue to be transparent in addressing safety challenges and that it will cooperate with that congressional investigation, Wolf.
BLITZER: Brian, were any of those visitors at the CDC or the CDC workers, for that matter, themselves tested after that incident in February?
TODD: We ran that by a CDC official. He said no one was tested, because he says there was no need to test anyone. He said there were no biological agents circulating in that lab at that time, so there was no need to test anyone. I think it was the potential for something to have happened that scarce people.
BLITZER: It scares people a lot. You'll stay on top of this story. Thank you.
National outcry over a grandmother bullied by students on a school bus, and now that anger has turned into lots of money, for her. We'll explain what's going on.
Plus, Mitt Romney's sons go on late-night TV and reveal their dad's favorite prank.
BLITZER: The video is almost too disturbing to watch. A 68-year-old grandmother forced to endure a barrage of horrifying insults from middle school students on board a school bus.
CNN's Mary Snow is in New York. She's been watching this story now for days.
Mary, what's going on here?
MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, Wolf, people are just so disgusted with what they saw on this video, it's prompted an extraordinary show of support for Karen Klein, the bus monitor. As quickly as the video went viral, so did the reaction to it.
SNOW (voice-over): It only takes seconds to see why this video has sparked outrage, far beyond the upstate New York town where it happened.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE KID: Oh, my God, you're so fat. Karen, you're fat. You're so fat. You take up like the whole entire seat.
SNOW: School bus monitor Karen Klein wipes her eyes as four seventh grade bows taunt her. At one point, they tell her she's crying, but the abuse only get worse. As the boys hurl insults, one can be seen poking Karen. Then, one makes a particularly painful comic, a reference to her son's suicide ten years ago.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE CHILD: You don't have a family because they call killed themselves because they didn't want to be near you.
KAREN KLEIN BUS MONITOR: I didn't like it.
SNOW: Klein, a 68-year-old grandmother of eight who's worked for the Greece New York school district for more than two decades said she did her best to ignore the students.
KLEIN: I sat there and took it until I got off the bus, and I thought, it's little did I know.
I'm glad this year is over.
I was trying to ignore it. I really was. I was sure to block it out big time. And I would turn my head and I was looking out the window. May believe they'll go away. They're still there. So, I just was really trying to ignore have been there was going on.
SNOW: Ignoring it was no longer an option. The video went viral. Now a string of young people are stepping up to voice their disgust about the incident.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The kids that ran the video are part of my age group and I feel like I should apologize on behalf of my whole entire age group, that that had to happen.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's like, what is this world coming to type of thing, you know? How, you know, are these parents, you know, disciplining these kids?
SNOW: A complete stranger even set up a Web site to raise funds for Klein to take a vacation. Money is pouring in, along with messages of support like this one.
God bless you, Mrs. Klein and all other victims of bullying. Let this be a lesson to the bullies.
Police in Greece, New York say as of now, they are not pressing charges because Karen Klein has decided against it. It's partly because of the global outreach being directed at the students.
CAPTAIN STEVE CHATTERTON, GREECE, NEW YORK POLICE: They've received death threats. They've -- we received 911 calls to their home, saying that somebody was holding them hostage. That's not funny. That's a crime. That's a form of bullying. And that makes everyone doing it no better than the four kids who did this.
SNOW: With the police department not pursuing charges, punishment lies in the hands of the school district, which says it will discipline the students to the fullest extent.
Meantime, that fund set up to raise money to send Karen Klein on a vacation topped half a million dollars just within days. The initial goal was to raise just $5,000 -Wolf.
BLITZER: I take it those kids have now apologized to her, is that right?
SNOW: Two of the kids issued an apology in a statement that went to police. Karen Klein said she hadn't gotten the apology herself. And she says she really wants to make sure is that these kids never do this again to anyone else and some of the punishment she says she would like to see, she said she wants to see them of the school bus for a year and she wants them to be banned from playing sports for a year, as well.
BLITZER: Kids can sometimes be so cruel especially to the elderly. It's a real serious problem. They are shining a light on it hopefully will help. I know we are going to stay on top of this because this abusing of these older Americans is a serious, serious problem in our country.
SNOW: It is.
BLITZER: Thank you, Mary.
Up next, a side of Mitt Romney you've probably never heard before. Thanks to his five sons.
BLITZER: It was crowded on the set of Conan O'Brien's talk show host. Mitt Romney's sons, all five of them were there, and they shared a side of their dad we don't often get to see.
CONAN O'BRIEN, COMEDIAN: My first question, why the name Tagg?
O'BRIEN: Everyone else got a -- you're the oldest, right?
TAGG ROMNEY, MITT ROMNEY'S SON: I was born in 1970, so I'm glad I wasn't born moon beam or sunshine or something.
O'BRIEN: What happened, though, is they tamed you Tag first. Usually in my family, my parents went with conventional names and then I came later and Conan came along. But with you, they made a decision right off the bat, he will be Tagg. And after that, suspiciously, everyone else has a normal name.
TAGG ROMNEY: So, you know. They had a good friend named Tagg Tagert and they liked it. And so, I got stuck with it. But the way, I have five sons of my own, and they're all very normal, Jonathan, David, Joseph, Thomas, William names. I almost forgot the last one. My daughter Alley would be upset because I haven't (INAUDIBLE).
O'BRIEN: Good catch on that, by the way, very good catch.
All right. My first question is, you're all grown men. You all have -- you're married, you have children. Does it bother you that the press always calls you the Romney boys? It's like you're 98 degrees or something.
O'BRIEN: You're a boy band in the mall. I mean, you're --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We preferred brothers but, you know, some call boys, so whatever.
O'BRIEN: It's also like in Western you would be, you know, the posse. Get them Romney boys in here.
O'BRIEN: It seems odd that -- OK, your parents have all of you guys, all boys. So my question is, is one of you a girl being raised as a boy?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Danny, want to take this one?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ben sold out immediately.
O'BRIEN: Very attractive Ben. It's the purple tie.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sure, sure.
O'BRIEN: We have -- this seems like a large family to me, but this is just tip of the iceberg. We have a photo here of a family gathering of the Romneys, absolutely incredible. You can tell when you get together, there's a global khaki shortage.
O'BRIEN: There's a panic worldwide. I love that you're all dressed the same but you can tell Ben is the rebel in stripes. Check that out. Takes a lot of guts to say, I'm going stripes when everyone else is plaid. I heard a rumor that you dad likes to get people to try and smell things. What does he do? This is a fairly common prank.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We always fall for it.
O'BRIEN: Well tell us, Matt. What does he do?
MATT ROMNEY, MITT ROMNEY'S SON: This butter is churned, it's so rotten, you got to smell it. He said, yes of course, we have to smell it right away and you go down and right into the butter. Or the whipped cream, you're ending up with stuff all over your face.
O'BRIEN: Wait a minute. OK. So he's just basically smashing your face into food all the time.
MATT ROMNEY: We do. And now we do it all to our kids, you know, naturally.
O'BRIEN: Well, that's --
MATT ROMNEY: As it should be.
O'BRIEN: A proud Romney heritage which must be bad dad. I just don't know, is he going to be doing that kind of stuff if he's president, you know? if he was the president, would he be saying Mr. Bernanke, I'm worried about these figures, mush.
BLITZER: Very funny stuff, Conan O'Brien and the five Romney sons. If Romney is elected president, we'll know a lot more about them, to be sure. That's it for me.
That's it for me. Thank you very much for joining us. I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington.
Remember, the conversation continues on twitter. Follow me @WolfBlitzer.
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