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House Republicans Target Attorney General; U.S. Warship Collides with Oil Tanker; Interview with John Sununu

Aired August 13, 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 ANCHOR: Happening now: The president is set to go another round against Mitt Romney's new running mate, Paul Ryan. We will hear from him live this hour.

A new lawsuit against the attorney general. House Republicans are fighting a White House claim of executive privilege.

And a U.S. warship collides with an oil tanker. How in the world did this happen?

I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Whatever you may think about Mitt Romney's selection of Paul Ryan as his running mate, it's already been a game changer. Just listen to the back and forth today between Romney and President Obama.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We also shouldn't cut Medicare to pay for Obamacare to the tune of some $700 billion. That's what -- that's what the president does to Medicare. To current recipients of Medicare, he cuts the payments that go to Medicare by $700 billion and he uses that to pay for Obamacare. Those are places where Paul Ryan and I agree.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I know Congressman Ryan. He's a good man, he's a family man. He's an articulate spokesman for Governor Romney's vision. But the problem is that vision is one that I fundamentally disagree with.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: We won't know for a while if Romney's choice of Ryan helps the Republicans or the Democrats. But the debate has changed. And that's good. It's no longer simply a referendum on the president's record during his first term.

Now there's a serious discussion of what a President Romney would do in office if elected because of his selection of Ryan. Unlike, say, a Tim Pawlenty or a Rob Portman, Ryan has laid out a very detailed and controversial budget plan. And that, of course, includes a dramatic change in Medicare for Americans 55 or younger.

The government-run health care program for seniors is exceedingly popular across the country. Polls show that even conservatives and self-described Tea Party supporters overwhelmingly support Medicare. However the Medicare issue plays out, Romney showed guts in tapping Ryan. And I'm glad he did.

He could have played it safe with a Pawlenty or a Portman, but Romney saw his poll numbers moving in the wrong direction in recent weeks and decided he needed a game change, just like John McCain did four years ago. We know how Sarah Palin played. Now let's see how Ryan plays.

Let's head over to our chief national correspondent, John King. He's on the road in Iowa right now with Paul Ryan, who is solo on the campaign trail today.

John, Ryan certainly felt a little bit of the heat of the national stage today. Tell our viewers what happened.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, that first test of how Paul Ryan fares with the American people came here at the Iowa State Fair. And as he came here, Paul Ryan found out, yes, they have corn dogs, just about anything you can eat on a stick, deep-fried Twinkies and feisty politics.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Like I said, she must not be from Iowa.

KING (voice-over): It was a feisty welcome to Iowa a raucous first solo outing on the national political stage.

RYAN: Iowans and Wisconsinites, we like to be respectful of one another.

KING: Iowa State Police hauled off two women who charged the stage and Paul Ryan soldiered on, ignoring one persistent heckler near the front who screamed throughout his 15-minute Iowa State Fair speech.

RYAN: We don't want to follow Europe. We don't want a welfare state. We don't want a debt crisis. We don't want to prolong this recession. We don't want to keep this path of household incomes going down $4,000. We want to turn this thing around.

KING: On the way in, CNN asked Ryan about immediate Obama campaign attacks that a Romney/Ryan victory would endanger Medicare.

(on camera): Hey, Mr. Chairman, they are calling voters here in your state and in here Iowa saying this is proof they're going to take away your Medicare. What do you say to that?

RYAN: We will play these issues later. We will play stump the running mate later. But our job is to strengthen and protect Medicare. That's what we do. President Obama, they're raiding and ultimately rationing Medicare. We will deal with these issues later, though, OK, John? KING (voice-over): This was his first solo event since being picked for the Republican ticket, and Ryan's casual, at-ease style is one reason the Romney campaign believes he's a big asset in Iowa and across the Midwest, especially with white working-class voters critical to Republican chances here.

RYAN: Where are you from?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Des Moines, Iowa.

RYAN: Oh, great. Great.

KING: The upsides are obvious,. Conservatives love the pick. Ryan is an energetic campaigner and that youthful energy is rubbing off on Romney. But there are downsides, like Romney, limited foreign policy experience, only 42, but already 20 years of working in Washington, and a conservative record the base loves, but is a tougher sell with suburban moderates.

What is immediately clear though is that the Obama campaign in Wisconsin is already working harder, same look for their brand, but a new script to slam the opposition. Calls to Wisconsin voters now deal directly with the Ryan factor, nice guy, the Obama volunteers say, but a threat to Medicare and Social Security.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think his policies are the big difference. And I think that Obama, you know, is going to help people like you and I.

KING: The president won Wisconsin by 14 points four years ago, but it's much closer this time. And Republicans here say the Ryan pick adds even more energy to a hungry GOP base.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Much more intense, much more at stake, much more on the line. That hope and change isn't quite working out like everybody hoped it would.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KING: And, of course, the biggest question is whether the Ryan pick matters at all once this rollout buzz fades, as vice presidential picks typically don't have much impact.

But, Wolf, the way both the Romney and the Obama campaigns are talking so much about Paul Ryan, maybe this year will be different.

BLITZER: Might be different. The debate certainly has changed over the past 48 hours to be sure. John, thanks very, very much.

Now to President Obama's swing through Iowa on this day and his jabs at Paul Ryan. The president is due to talk about the economy in the city of Boone very, very soon. We will go there live.

But, right now, let's bring in White House correspondent, Dan Lothian. He's traveling with the president.

What's the latest on that front, Dan?

DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: You're right, Wolf. The president talking about the economy here in Iowa over the next three days, drawing a sharp contrast with Mitt Romney. And now more ammunition going after Paul Ryan today. At an earlier event, the president said he was "a good man," but said quite the opposite about his record.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LOTHIAN (voice-over): In the state that helped launch him to the White House in 2008, President Obama asked for a repeat performance and found a new way to energize voters by trying to connect GOP vice presidential hopeful Paul Ryan to all that he says is wrong with Washington.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Mr. Romney chose as his running as his running mate the ideological leader of the Republicans in Congress. He is an articulate spokesman for Governor Romney's vision, but the problem is, that vision is one that I fundamentally disagree with.

LOTHIAN: In an agriculture-rich state dealing with the worst drought in decades, the president made what the White House described as an official stop to hear firsthand from the owners of a struggling family-owned farm.

OBAMA: We can't make it rain, but this help families like the McIntoshes in states across the country, including here in Iowa. And we're going to keep doing what we can to help.

LOTHIAN: A backdrop that seemed to conveniently reinforce his earlier attack on Ryan and House Republicans, that they are to blame for blocking what he said was a much-needed farm bill.

OBAMA: He is one of the leaders of Congress standing in the way. So if you happen to see Congressman Ryan, tell him how important this farm bill is to Iowa and our rural communities.

LOTHIAN: House Republicans are pointing the finger at the Democratic-led Senate that took a summer break without acting on a bill they recently passed to offer drought relief to farmers and ranchers.

But Ryan remains a rich target for the president's reelection team. They're painting his budget plan as devastating for Medicare and seniors, bad for the middle class, but good for the rich.

STEPHANIE CUTTER, OBAMA 2012 DEPUTY CAMPAIGN MANAGER: It's a budget for redistributing wealth to the top.

DAVID AXELROD, SENIOR OBAMA CAMPAIGN STRATEGIST: He's quite extreme.

LOTHIAN: Republicans call this narrative a false attack by a president who has delivered nothing but broken promises. GOV. BOB MCDONNELL (R), VIRGINIA: The president's talking about issues that really don't resonate with the people. And I think what Paul Ryan brings to the ticket is now a serious conversation about debt, taxes, spending, energy, entitlement reform.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LOTHIAN: Now, the president has also been outlining a series of steps his administration has taken to help farmers during this period of great drought, including up to $170 million to buy beef and fish. But the Romney campaign is pushing back, saying that no one is more committed to helping farmers and ranchers than Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Dan, thanks very much -- Dan Lothian traveling with the president.

We're waiting for President Obama's remarks, by the way. He's in Boone, Iowa. As soon as he starts speaking, we're going to go there live, the president of the United States getting ready to speak.

(NEWS BREAK)

BLITZER: The House Republicans say President Obama and his attorney general have simply gone too far to protect secret documents. So they're going to court. We have new information.

And the president of the United States -- look at this -- he has just taken the stage in Iowa. He's thanking a lot of local folks for welcoming him. We're going to go there live right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: The president is telling his supporters in Boone, Iowa, that the choice this year is enormous.

Let's listen in.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

OBAMA: The idea was to restore the basic bargain that made this country, the basic idea that says, if you work hard in this country, then you can get ahead.

And if you put in the effort and you are responsible, then you can find a job that pays the bills. You can have a home that you call your own. You won't go bankrupt when you get sick. You can retire with some dignity and some respect.

And maybe most importantly, you know that your kids can get a great education and they can dream bigger and do even better than you did. That is the core of the American dream.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: That's the American promise. Now, the problem is, is that we had gone through a decade where that promise wasn't being met. It wasn't being kept.

So we had gone through a decade where jobs were being shipped overseas, where you were working harder, but you were bringing in less, cost of college, cost of health care were all going up. Cost of food, cost of gas all were going up. We ran two wars on a credit card, tax cuts we didn't need and that didn't create jobs.

And it all culminated in the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. So we knew that meeting these challenges that had been building up for over a decade, that it wasn't going to be easy. We knew it was going to take more than one year or one term or even one president.

But what we also knew was that Americans are tougher than tough times. And so even though this crisis that hit us in 2008 and 2009 was bad, even though a lot of folks lost their jobs and a lot of the folks lost homes and a lot of folks lost savings, so that the middle class felt even more under the gun than they were before, what we knew was that the American people are resilient and we are tough. And so for the last...

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: So for the last three-and-a-half years, we rolled up our sleeves and we worked hard.

And small businesses have kept their doors open. And folks, even if they got laid off, they have retrained to find new jobs. And we created 4.5 million new jobs, half-a-million more in manufacturing. The auto industry is back on top.

(APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: And so we have made progress, but we have got a lot more work to do. We have got a lot more work to do. Now...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We can do it.

OBAMA: We can do it. I agree. We can.

(APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: Now, here's the thing.

You know, some people, they're naysayers and they say, oh, America's on decline and they try to paint things as dark as possible, especially during election time. But here's what I want everybody to know. We have got so many things going for us compared to the rest of the world.

We have still got the best workers in the world. We have got the best entrepreneurs in the world. We have got the best scientists and the best researchers in the world. We have got the best colleges and the best universities in the world. We know how to work hard.

And, you know, we're a young country. And we're a country that draws on the diversity of -- folks want to come here from all around the world to be part of this American dream. And most importantly, most importantly, the crisis has not changed our character. It hasn't changed who we are. It hasn't changed our sense of determination and our sense of neighborliness, and our understanding that we're in this thing together.

And so we have come together, just like we did in 2008, because our mission is not yet finished. We are here to build an economy where hard work pays off. And so no matter who you are or what you look like or where you come from, you can make it if you try here in America.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: So there you have it, the president of the United States making his case for reelection in Iowa, where it all started for him four years ago. He's continuing to campaign through that state.

We're going to continue, Kate, to monitor what he's saying. But you get the gist. He says the stakes couldn't be higher for the American people right now, the differences between where he stands and Mitt Romney stands.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We will be hearing much more of that. This is the first day of a three-day tour for the president. Much more of that to come.

And still to come this still hour, we're separating fact from fiction when it comes to Paul Ryan's Medicare plans. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Kate has a quick check of what's going on over at the White House and beyond.

BOLDUAN: The White House and beyond, that's right, Wolf.

First, let's start at the State Department, which today gave Americans permission to donate food and medicine to Iran's earthquake victims without needing a special license required under U.S. sanctions against Iran. The U.S. has offered to help, but Iran has not accepted. Two earthquakes struck the Islamic republic this weekend, killing more than 300 people.

And from the national security beat, a suggestion tonight that businesses need to use military-style tactics to combat cyber-attacks. A new study released by a private Internet security company revealed companies are too vulnerable to hackers. It recommends more intelligence-gathering, so companies will know in real time when hackers attack and what they're going after.

At the White House, President Obama phoned the mission control team for NASA's news Mars rover today both to offer congratulations and to ask for a heads-up. Quoting the president here: "If in fact you do make contact with Martians, please let me know right away because I have got a lot of things on my plate. But I suspect that will go to the top of the list. Even if they're just microbes, it will be pretty exciting."

Wolf, the president is asking the same question you did on Friday.

BLITZER: I'm just curious if they find little tiny little things waving a little...

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: For you, it's very important that they wave. I understand.

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: That would be cool.

BOLDUAN: You and the president, you will be the first people they call.

BLITZER: Still studying those cameras on Mars.

(LAUGHTER)

BLITZER: Right at the bottom of the hour, Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan's differences. Yes, they have different opinions on certain key policy issues. Could that cause a problem for the Republican ticket? A key Romney adviser standing by to join us live.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Mitt Romney promised Florida voters today he wants to preserve and protect Medicare. He campaigned in the Sunshine State without his new running mate, Paul Ryan. Some speculated that Ryan skipped Florida to avoid questions from senior citizens about his plan to overhaul Medicare. But the Romney camp says Ryan will appear in Florida next weekend.

Our own Brian Todd is taking a closer look into the criticisms of Ryan's Medicare plan and whether they ring true.

What are you finding out, Brian?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, we checked some of the facts on this, Ryan's facts and the Democrats' facts, because this could be one of, if not the biggest issue in the entire campaign. Ryan's plan for Medicare reform was one of the first things Democrats attacked him for as soon as he got on the ticket.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RYAN: We won't duck the tough issues. We will lead.

TODD (voice-over): He had hardly cleared his throat from his unveiling before he faced blistering attacks from Democrats. They have started in on Paul Ryan by zeroing in on what could be the biggest issue of the campaign, Medicare.

Here's what Democrats say about Ryan's proposal to overhaul the government's health coverage for seniors.

AXELROD: Medicare would be in a death spiral under this plan.

REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ (D), FLORIDA: Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan both want to end Medicare as we know it.

TODD: Is that true?

Experts we spoke to say Ryan's plan wouldn't necessarily mean a death spiral, but it would change Medicare fundamentally.

An expert at is the independent Kaiser family federation separate from the health insure Kaiser Permanente and an editor at our Web site CNNmoney.com who studies these proposals laid it out this way.

Right now they say it's an open ended program. It pays for benefits people use. Today, there's no cap on the amount the government will the pay for Medical services provided to seniors under the traditional Medicare program.

LEX HARIS, EDITOR, CNNMONEY.COM: One of the main reasons Medicare is in trouble right now is that there's this open-ended cost. You get sick, and the government pays.

TODD: Currently our experts say, people can opt for a private plan and the government has a generous limit on what it will pay for that. Under Paul Ryan's plan, they say, there would be a strict cap on what the government would pay. A fixed amount whether you enroll in traditional Medicare or a private plan for the first time.

HARIS: That's the main way the government will be able to keep costs down under the system.

TODD: Under Ryan's plan, private health insurance firms would compete with the traditional Medicare program for patients. If a patient opts for private coverage and the fixed amount the government pays doesn't cover all of what they need, the patient would have to pay the difference. A new Obama campaign web video criticizes Ryan for that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Those kind of cuts are going to be incredibly painful to the working class person and because we're going to be the ones that are going to be paying for it.

TODD: A Romney-Ryan campaign aide points out his plan doesn't affect anyone in or near retirement right now. President Obama is also taking heat for his approach to Medicare.

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He cuts the payments that go to Medicare by $700 billion and he uses that to pay for Obama care.

(END VIDEOTAPE) TODD: That's been a very familiar refrain in recent dis. Our experts say President Obama is trying to pay for part of his health care reform law by making some cuts to Medicare like reducing payments to providers. But one of our experts says some of that money did go back into Medicare -- Wolf.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Brian Todd, thanks very much.

Let's get some reaction now to the fact check and other issues and joining us is a top Romney campaign surrogate, we're talking about the former New Hampshire governor John Sununu. He is joining us from Manchester.

Governor, thanks very much for coming in.

JOHN SUNUNU (R), FORMER NEW HAMPSHIRE GOVERNOR: Good to be here. How are you? Wolf.

BLITZER: Kate Bolduan is here as well for the questioning.

But let me get your immediate reaction to this whole Medicare uproar because as you know, people who are under 55, if the Ryan plan were to go into effect, it would create a whole new system, a voucher system and there's a lot of concern about that.

Is Mitt Romney fully on board about changing Medicare for individuals 55 and under?

SUNUNU: Let me make a point first of all. The plan that this ticket will be supporting is the Romney plan. And the Romney plan has slight differences with the Ryan plan.

BLITZER: What are they?

SUNUNU: The principal difference is that not only does the Romney plan guarantee that anyone 55 and over will not have their Medicare touched, but it provides some options for them for those under 55 that are slightly different.

But let's talk about the important thing. Where is Medicare today? Medicare has had $716 billion taken from it and put in Obama care and with all due respect to your analyst that said some of it went back to Medicare, a very small amount went back to Medicare. About $70 billion was taken away which reduces payments to providers and reduces services.

BLITZER: Isn't it true, Governor - isn't it true that Paul Ryan wants to keep that $700 billion away from Medicare as well?

SUNUNU: But not in the Romney plan.

BLITZER: In another words, you're saying there's a difference between Ryan's $70 billion cut which is a cut in increased spending, if you will.

SUNUNU: That's correct. BLITZER: As supposed to the Mitt Romney, on this these two men disagree.

SUNUNU: No, they don't disagree. Ryan is on the Romney ticket and he has now bought into the Romney.

BLITZER: He's abandoned his own proposal. Is that what you're saying?

SUNUNU: He didn't abandon it. You have the top of the ticket running for president. Presidents make decisions. Although I do understand the Democrats with the president they have don't think that presidents always make decisions.

But let's clarify where else Medicare is. Today, Medicare is between 10 and 12 years away from bankruptcy. If we don't do something, anybody on Medicare today or 80 percent of the folks on Medicare today and all the folks down to 55 will end up with nothing unless Medicare is fixed. President Obama wants to continue waltzing without providing a serious proposal to fix it.

KATE BOLDUAN, CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Now, Governor, when you're talking about these serious proposals but also one thing that's being looked at especially today since the VP announcement is how this is playing politically. I want to read one thing from the former Bush speechwriter David Frum.

SUNUNU: Can I just finish one point?

BOLDUAN: Of course, you can.

SUNUNU: Then you can do that.

Historically people have thought Medicare was one of the third rails of politics, that you shouldn't touch it. That was in the old days when the Medicare bankruptcy date was 20 or 30 years out. So if you were on Medicare or about to come on Medicare, you figured that it would be OK all the way through your lifetime. And so you didn't want anybody to touch Medicare.

Today, if you're on Medicare, 80 percent of those folks are going to live longer than 10 or 12 years and certainly, the majority of the folks by nearly 90, 95 percent of the folks at about 55 will live beyond that point.

BOLDUAN: All right, Governor.

SUNUNU: They want it fixed.

BOLDUAN: Let's talk about the politics of this though. This article that we're talking about, David Frum wrote this for cnn.com. And in part, he wrote this.

"Obama's message in 2012, forget the economy. It's Medicare, stupid. The Romney-Ryan response, we agree. Medicare it is." So when you look at the politics of this, is putting Medicare at the forefront taking your off the economic message, is that dangerous? Because some Democrats are saying that this is a gift to them.

SUNUNU: Medicare is part of the economic message. You cannot fix the jobs issue without fixing the budget. You cannot fix incentives to create growth in America without addressing the fundamentals of the budget and the economy. They're all together. And only Obama thinks they're not related.

BLITZER: How much of a problem is there, there are other differences, you talk about differences between Romney and Ryan. Other differences as well, for example, on the auto bailout, Ryan voted in favor of President Obama's auto bailout as you remember. Mitt Romney opposed that auto bailout. Ryan voted for TARP the bailout of the big banks as you well know. How much of an issue is this going to be?

SUNUNU: I don't think it's going to be an issue at all. We're looking to the future. You've got to fix America in the future. Some of the folks that have been talking on television lately are talking about the president's speech. And the president's speech in my opinion was full of a powerful and obnoxious odor of mendacity. He was trying to tell us that under Bush, gas prices were going up. They went down. They were at $1.80 when this president came in. They're at $4, almost $4 today. They didn't go up under Bush. They went up under Obama. The price of food had a dramatic increase. Not under Bush as the president's implying but under Obama. Middle class families lost values of their assets under Obama, not under Bush.

BLITZER: All right.

SUNUNU: The president was trying to take credit for all the great things in America but the gaps became worse under Obama than they ever were.

BLITZER: So the bottom line, I want to reiterate this you agree that where they disagree Romney is now the number one, Ryan is number two. So Ryan's position's become Romney's, right?

SUNUNU: No, Romney's position has become Ryan's.

BLITZER: What I'm saying Romney's -- Ryan's future positions are those of Mitt Romney?

SUNUNU: This is a ticket led by a presidential candidate. Does Obama want to be responsible for all the foolish policies Joe Biden has supported? Ridiculous.

BLITZER: All right. So, on the sensitive issue and the president and other Democrats keep bringing it up, women's-related issues, abortion, for example, Ryan opposes abortion in all cases including rape and incest. Romney says is he supports abortion for rape and incest. Romney's position, holds, right?

SUNUNU: You have a pro-life ticket running against an abortion inclined in Obama and Biden. That's the issue.

BLITZER: So, but Mitt Romney is the top of the ticket. So it's his position that he supports abortion rights for women in the case of rape and incest because so far, Ryan has not?

SUNUNU: Politically, Wolf, it doesn't make any difference what I say here. The Democrats are going to make it that way.

BLITZER: John Sununu, thanks very much for coming in. We'll continue this conversation.

SUNUNU: Thank you.

BLITZER: We'll take a quick break. Lots more news coming up. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: A fight between Republicans and the Obama administration is heading to court. Today the house oversight committee sued the attorney general Eric Holder seeking the release of documents related to the controversial weapons crackdown known as "fast and furious".

Our crime and justice correspondent Joe Johns has the story.

(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)

JOE JOHNS, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The legal action renews a nasty grudge match pitting attorney general Eric Holder against house reform and oversight committee chairman Darrell Issa who is demanding justice department documents. The last round ended with a historic contempt of Congress vote against holder in the House of Representatives.

ERIC HOLDER, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: We've produced 7600.

REP. DARRELL ISSA (R), CHAIRMAN, HOUSE OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE: Look, I don't want to hear about the 7600.

JOHNS: Now the committee is asking federal judge Amy Berman Jackson appointed to the bench last year by President Obama to strike down and reject the administration's claims of executive privilege in its battle with Congress over documents in the ill fated fast and furious gun walking investigation conducted by the bureau of alcohol tobacco and firearms.

When federal agent Brian Terry was gunned down in Arizona in 2010, two firearms traced to the operation were found at the scene. Issa and the committee want the court to order the attorney general to produce the documents.

ISSA: It's only with the truth that you can get to real reforms. That's always been what my committee has had as a mandate which is get to the truth about waste, fraud and abuse and get to the corrective action. JOHNS: The justice department issued a one-sentence reaction. We were always willing to work with the committee instead, the house and the committee has said they prefer to litigate. In the past, Holder hasn't exactly held back in describing what he thinks of the investigation.

HOLDER: The regrettable culmination of what became a misguided and politically motivated investigation during an election year.

JOHNS: Legal analysts say the Issa request to the court could face a long and slow road because any district court decision could be appealed. Back in 2008, a question of executive privilege came up during the Bush administration. And the parties decided to settle the issue heading off an appeals court showdown over forcing key White House advisers to testify before the Judiciary Committee. Conservative legal analyst Bruce Fein says there are accommodations that can get made to make it all go away.

BRUCE FEIN, CONSERVATIVE LEGAL ANALYST: One possible compromise would be that only the chairman of the committee and the ranking member could at a secure facility in the department of justice come down and look at the documents that are being withheld under rule no notes can be taken or something of that sort.

JOHNS: Issa says something like that might be acceptable to him.

ISSA: So, it is very clear, they are holding back information that we should, at least, be able to see what they call in camera which we have asked for. We have asked to say let our inspectors see it even if we don't get a copy of it so at least we understand what's there. They've refused.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

JOHNS: Issa admits this case isn't likely to get resolved before Election Day but he says he sees it as a message to the administration about transparency. House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi called it a partisan lawsuit that wastes taxpayer dollars and inspector general's report coming soon could be the most definitive version of the story we've heard yet -- Wolf.

BLITZER: I know you'll be all over it. Thanks very much, Joe Johns.

A bizarre accident involving a U.S. military ship. How could it collide with an oil tanker? Stay with us. You'll find out.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: The military says nobody was injured when a U.S. guided missile destroyer and an oil tanker collided near the Strait of Hormuz, a key passage way for ships in the Gulf, the Persian Gulf.

Our Pentagon correspondent Chris Lawrence is joining us now with the latest. Chris, there are some really amazing pictures of the damage caused by the collision. As we show our viewers these pictures. Tell us what happened.

CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, they're still trying to figure out exactly how this occurred. But when you take a look at this video, it's clear that this was some collision that happened in the Strait of Hormuz.

From what we've been told by sources, the "USS Porter" was heading out of the Strait of Hormuz into the Persian Gulf and this Japanese-owned oil tanker was coming in. Now, the shipping lanes, where they are pretty narrow, maybe about two miles wide. But, again, you're talking about a 9,000-ton destroyer and a 90,000-ton oil tanker.

So, it's amazing the injuries weren't more severe. But, again, this is the Strait of Hormuz. It's been a tense and crowded waterway, a lot of tension going on with Iran right now. And it does call into question if the" USS Porter" wasn't able to detect that huge oil tanker in time, how sit going to detect the fast-moving Iranian everything vessels out there.

BLITZER: I take as no indication that this was terror ruling.

LAWRENCE: No. And in fact, the Navy says this was not combat related. But Wolf, when you look at some of the damage in that video, the first thing that jumped to our minds, was what we saw "the USS Cole" about 12 years ago, the "USS Cole" was refueling in Yemen when it was hit by terrorist by Al Qaeda, a 17 sailors died, more than three dozen were injured.

But again, there have been collisions. Just a few years ago, a U.S. Navy submarine collided with a U.S. Navy amphibious ship that caused more than $100 million in damage. This has happened before and it's something the Navy is going to have to definitely looking into how it happened this time.

BLITZER: It's true. I've been to the Straits of Hormuz. It's a narrow area. The whole area is very narrow, a lot of military ship, cargo ships, oil tankers, amazing these kinds of accidents don't happen more frequently. Let's hope they don't.

Chris, thanks very much.

LAWRENCE: Yes.

BLITZER: Kate, back to you.

BOLDUAN: Coming up next, Jeanne Moos with 60 cats that have cameras around their necks.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BOLDUAN: If you were lucky enough to have a cloudless sky over the weekend, you also got an incredible light show. Our iReporters were kind enough, they were out with their cameras, to capture on annual meteor shower. Just take a look here. These shots are from Oregon, Arkansas and Washington. Just look at these beautiful, beautiful photos.

The meteor shower occurs every summer in late July and early August. It peaked in the wee hours yesterday. But you might still be able to catch a few stragglers this week. Did you see those pictures?

BLITZER: I just saw them now.

BOLDUAN: They are beautiful.

BLITZER: But I love our iReporters. They definitely help us a lot.

BOLDUAN: They definitely do help a blast. So, keep them coming.

BLITZER: They will. No doubt about that.

It turns out that cats do a lot more than just sleep, eat and purr. CNN's Jeanne Moos unlocks the secret lives of cats with the help of kitty cams.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Ever wonder what cats do when they think we're not looking? Me neither.

But thanks to kitty cams hanging off their necks, now we know. They're jumping over fences. They're scrambling across roofs. They're hiding under cars and growling at dogs.

University of Georgia researchers teamed up with National Geographic to put critter cams on 60 pet cats. Got to love those whiskers. The video was eye-opening for the owner of booker t.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I knew his favorite place to go was down in the storm sewer. And now, I know what the storm sewer looks like.

MOOS: And when Pokerty (ph) stopped for a drink, you could almost taste it. Then there was the cat that stumbled on a tree stump full of checks mix to chew on.

But the most popular prey for cats in the study, lizards. That's a lizard in his mouth, turns out there was a lot of bird watching but less bird killing.

Birds accounted for only 12 percent of the creatures killed. The study resulted in cat calls ranging from virtual killing machines to secret world of slaughter. Though only 44 percent of cats did any hunting when left outside.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: An average of two prey items per week.

MOOS: That probably doesn't count the cat that attacked in a possum that came too close to the cat's home. Chief researchers Carry Ann Lord (ph) said most cats lift their prey after they killed in.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Rather than bring it home as a gift for the owners.

MOOS: It doesn't take a kitty cam to know that cats turn up in weird places. Like the ceiling of the university for peace in Costa Rica. One of the most common places they hang out seems to be under cars. One of the cats gave the undercarriage of this truck a closer look than most mechanics would.

Perhaps the most emotionally devastating revelation of the study, say it isn't so, four of the cats were found to be leading double lives. Cheating on their owners.

Archie the tubby was caught on kitty cam at a neighbor's house. These two-timers are getting --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Food but also love and affection and a place to sleep during the day.

MOOS: As for the owner --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I feel like one of those women on the talk show, you know. My husband has two wives. My cat has two families.

MOOS: Get your mind out of the sewer.

Jeanne moos, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: Kitty cam, who knew?

BOLDUAN: I want to know how Jeanne Moos got a cat on such short notice to come into the bureau in New York.

BLITZER: Because she's Jeanne Moos.

BOLDUAN: Because she is Jeanne Moos. Did you ever wonder what cat dos when we're away?

BLITZER: No.

BOLDUAN: I don't think I ever heard one. You don't have any cats?

BLITZER: Never, even in Indiana growing up?

BOLDUAN: No. In Indiana, we called them farm cats. They kind came in to get food and then they kind lived outside.

BLITZER: But you knew them. They had names?

BOLDUAN: Yes. We gave them names. I don't know if they ever agreed with the names.

BLITZER: You had a sweet little dog in buffalo, New York.

BOLDUAN: Well, the dog ?

BLITZER: Dolly.

BOLDUAN: So you would say --

BLITZER: I love dogs.

BOLDUAN: How would you great Dolly.

BLITZER: Hello, Dolly. So nice to have you back where you belong. We would say that to her every single day because she was Dolly. She was a member of the family. We loved her very much.

BOLDUAN: We miss you, Dolly.

BLITZER: We do. You had a dog?

BOLDUAN: We did. We had Chance, we had Jetta, we had Gilly. We now have Scout.

BLITZER: Those are real Indiana race.

BOLDUAN: Those are Indiana.

BLITZER: Thanks. See you tomorrow.

BOLDUAN: OK.

BLITZER: That's it for us. Thanks very much for watching. You follow us on twitter @wolfblitzer, @katebolduan.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.