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CNN SUNDAY MORNING

Defending the Decision to Mirandize; Official: Suspect, Mom Talked "Jihad"

Aired April 28, 2013 - 08:00   ET

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


POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning everyone. Happy Sunday. I'm Poppy Harlow. It is 8:00 here in Boston, 5:00 on the West Coast. We're glad you're with us this morning.

Federal investigators are type-lipped this morning about what they may have found in a nearby landfill. They were searching for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's laptop computer. It is believed that the bombing suspect's computer could have very critical information about the planning of the attacks and whether the brothers truly acted alone as Dzhokhar told investigators.

The FBI is also still conducting interviews as they look for more information on the bombing.

And that quest for new information seems to have stalled since suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was read his Miranda rights, leading some to criticize that move. Now, the administration is responding to that criticism.

And our Pamela Brown is live in Devens, Massachusetts, with that story.

Pamela, we know you're standing inside the prison hospital where Dzhokhar is being held. What is the administration saying at this hour?

PAMELA BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Poppy, my colleague Brianna Keilar spoke to Attorney General Eric Holder last night at the White House Correspondents' Dinner in Washington and he commented publicly for the first time about whether he believed Miranda rights were given too soon to the suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

Here's what he had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Can you comment on the suspect being Mirandized and whether that was appropriate?

ERIC HOLDER, ATTORNEY GENERAL: Well, I mean, the decision to mirandize him was one that the magistrate made and that was totally consistent with the laws that we have. We have a two-day period that we were able to question him under the public safety exception. So I think everything was done appropriately and we got good leads. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: And law enforcement sources we've spoken with are backing that up saying they were able to conduct a thorough investigation with Tsarnaev under the 48 hours they have with the public safety exception.

Also, I spoke to a Justice Department official who says basically the judge was just following the rules here and that initial appearance must be held without, quote, "unnecessary delay."

So we do know from sources that Tsarnaev hasn't been communicating anything substantive to authorities since he was read his Miranda rights. But, of course, we know too that he has representation now. So perhaps his attorney is advising him not to communicate with authorities anymore -- Poppy.

HARLOW: Pamela Brown live for us this morning. Thank you, Pamela.

Now to new information on the investigation from Russia. Officials there have turned over a wiretap recording from 2011 to the FBI. It is of one of the Boston bombing suspects, it is of their mother apparently talking on the phone about jihad. And it's believed that she may have been talking to one of her sons.

Remember, Russia asked the United States to investigate Tamerlan Tsarnaev back in that same year, 2011. Now, the FBI did. And he, Tamerlan, was added to the watch list along with his mother.

Joining me now to talk more about the investigation is Tom Fuentes. He's a CNN law enforcement analyst and also former FBI assistant director.

Good morning to you, Tom. Thank you for being with us.

TOM FUENTES, FORMER FBI ASSISTANT DIRECTOR: Good morning.

HARLOW: After the news broke I instantly thought that I really wanted to talk to you because it's still unclear when this call was made, when it was intercepted, but it may have happened and may have been the motivation for Russia to ask the United States to look into Tamerlan Tsarnaev.

What they heard on that call may have prompted them to ask the United States to do that. So, if the FBI had known about that call and the details of it, wouldn't we have seen a much more thorough investigation or a following of Tamerlan Tsarnaev?

FUENTES: Well, I think the investigation was already thorough, but what you would have probably had is a much closer dialogue with the Russians on what they knew, how they knew it, how they knew the mother was involved, what was the nature of the conversations.

I don't think they have the actual transcripts or verbatim copies of the intercepts. They just have a summary that they were discussing jihad and really haven't, I don't think, put enough detail to that to even say, oh, mom, I like jihad, I think it's a great idea, or, I'm going to do it, I'm going to become a jihadist.

But we don't have -- that nuance is important in a case like that. Is he just thinking that he supports people that do it around the world, or is he planning on doing it himself? And is she egging him on or encouraging him or helping in the planning?

The other issue with this is that if the Russians are intercepting her and the conversations with her son or sons, then how is it they don't know that he's coming to Russia? How is it that he doesn't know that he comes to visit her and the father?

HARLOW: Right.

FUENTES: And, you know, at that point they're the ones that alerted the FBI that they ought to be looking at him and yet they're looking at both of them much more closely than anybody knew until this week.

So that to me is a major issue of not just what was in the conversation and it would have been great to know that two years ago, but what about intercepting her and knowing about his plans to travel to Russia, what kind of coverage did they put on him when they got there? We don't know and they didn't tell us that he was there. They didn't tell us they were covering him. They didn't tell us he was on the way back.

So in essence the investigation conducted by the FBI in 2011, no additional substantive information ever gets added to that until this week.

HARLOW: You know, it's interesting. I'd love for you to give our viewers a sense of diplomatic and especially intelligence relationships with Russia at this point in time. Because publicly the only statement we've heard from President Putin since the attack is that he wishes that more could have been given in terms of information from Russia to the United States but that he wants the U.S. and Russia to work very closely together.

Now we find out days after the suspects are apprehended, days after, that there was this call that was intercepted. Many are saying what more information does Russia have in terms of intelligence we need to know? So what is that relationship like?

FITNESS: Well, normally, the relationship's been pretty good. I've had numerous trips to Moscow, agents working for me assigned to the Moscow legal attache office of the FBI. We've worked closely on major financial crimes cases, major international organized crime efforts cases, with both the FSB and the MBD (ph), who are equivalents in Russia of the FBI, and, normally, that information sharing is very good.

I think in this case it may not have been that the Russians were trying to deceive us or hold back information as much as, from their point of view and from our point of view, all of the Chechen militants to that point that were planning terrorism in Dagestan or in Chechnya were carrying those acts out directly against Russia. There had been no time since this insurgency in Chechnya started or in the Caucasus started in the early '90s, at no time had any of those troops ever trained, deployed terrorists come to the United States and attack Americans. Everything was generated against Russia itself, mostly in Moscow.

So, I think that might have been part of it. They wanted more information for their purposes to protect Russia, to protect Moscow and didn't think that it would really impact on us maybe to the degree it ends up impacting on us.

HARLOW: And very quickly here -- your response, your thoughts about Eric Holder, attorney general, not commenting when CNN asked him about not intercepting those calls. We know that officials have known about those in a few days.

FUENTES: Well, they've been just known -- but, yes, they're still trying to get more information about that and, you know, there are other issues that lay here to not divulge immediately. So, I don't want to comment on that part because I'm not sure what the reason was or if there was anything there they were trying to withhold or not. I just don't know.

HARLOW: Right. Tom Fuentes joining us this morning. Thank you, Tom.

FUENTES: You're welcome, Poppy.

HARLOW: Well, extra security on hand for Oklahoma City's marathon. It's going on right now. Before the race there was a moment of silence for the 168 victims of the Oklahoma City bombing back in 1995.

But this year, there is added emotion. That is because the 23,000-person starting field includes some people who ran in Boston two weeks ago. They weren't able to finish the Boston marathon because of the bombings. So organizers invited them to come to this race, gave them free entry today. Today's memorial marathon is expected to raise about $1 million.

An update now on another big story we've been following for you. A new arrest has been made in the case of those ricin-laced letters sent to President Obama, to a senate Republican and to a Mississippi judge. This comes just days after prosecutors dropped charges against another man.

Our Alina Machado is following the story from Tupelo, Mississippi -- Alina.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ALINA MACHADO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Poppy, the son of a judge here in Lee County who received one of those ricin letters says he's hoping the arrest is a step toward justice for his family. (voice-over): This is the man federal authorities now believe mailed three ricin-laced letters earlier this month to President Obama, Mississippi Senator Roger Wicker and county court judge Sadie Holland.

Federal prosecutors have charged James Everett Dutschke. He's accused of, quote, "knowingly developing, producing, stockpiling, possessing a biological agent for use as a weapon." That agent according to the U.S. attorney's office was ricin.

STEVE HOLLAND, VICTIM'S SON: This could have been devastating, very devastating. I mean, mom could have died.

MACHADO: Steve Holland's mother is the Mississippi judge who received one of the letters. Dutschke ran against him for a seat in the Mississippi statehouse in 2007.

HOLLAND: He was a mad personality. He was a vicious kind of guy. He attacked me personally and even my entire family. That was his M.O. during the campaign.

MACHADO: Last week charges were dropped against the first suspect in the case, an Elvis impersonator named Paul Kevin Curtis. Curtis said he'd been framed and pointed to Dutschke as a possible suspect. Not long after, FBI agents searched the martial arts studio Dutschke used to run as well as his home in Tupelo.

In this YouTube video posted last week, Dutschke talked about the investigation.

JAMES EVERETT DUTSCHKE, RICIN SUSPECT: I met with the FBI. I consented to a search, sign a piece of paper saying go ahead and search the house. I don't have anything at all to do with this.

MACHADO: An attorney representing the 41-year-old on a separate case says the martial arts studio closed after Dutschke was charged with child molestation earlier this year. Dutschke has pleaded not guilty to those charges.

(on camera): Dutschke is expected to be in federal court tomorrow morning. We are hoping to learn more about the arrest and also about what it was that led authorities to him -- Poppy.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HARLOW: Alina Machado, thank you.

Well, after a string of alleged terror plots with ties to radical Islam, there is an increasing focus in this country on how to stop potential terrorists from ever becoming radicalized. We're going to talk to one Muslim who has a support group to try to pull people away from extremism. There he is, Muhammad Heft joins me next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARLOW: Stopping radical extremists before they attack. That is the focus of our faces of faith this morning in both the Boston bombing and the foiled terror plot in Canada the suspects may have been motivated by radical Islam.

And this past week, two men in Canada were arrested and accused of plotting to blow up a commuter train that runs between the United States and Toronto. They are both described as devout Muslims. And police say they may have had guidance from al Qaeda in Iran.

In the case of the Boston suspects, the brothers may have self- radicalized online or may have been influenced by an extremist friend. We just don't know yet, but this brings up the very important question: how do you prevent a religious follower from being drawn-in by radical extreme ideologies.

Let's discuss that with my next guest, Muhammad Heft, is from Toronto. He's a former Lutheran who converted to Islam. He's also a volunteer liaison for the Canadian police. And he runs his support group focused on pulling Muslims away from radicalism.

Muhammad, thank you for joining us this morning.

MUHAMMAD ROBERT HEFT, MUSLIM OUTREACH LIASON FOR CANADIAN POLICE: Thanks for having me.

HARLOW: You knew the family of one of the suspects in that Canadian terror plot. Police even talked to you about it. And I wonder, were there any signs of radicalization there?

HEFT: Well, I think what happened was the father came to me on several occasions with some concerns that his son was becoming a little too rigid, a little too self-righteous. He was happy the son started practicing the religion after many years of not practicing, but at the same time, in the beginning, you're a little overzealous. So, I guess I liken -- and nothing against the born-again Christians, the born-again Christians, you're happy you found Jesus and you get a little pushy and kind of forget there was a time that you weren't practicing.

So, you know, there's that moment where you can go either way when you go from that point of zeal to that point of radicalization.

HARLOW: Just this morning you told me about an hour and a half ago, you were threatened again for speaking out, for going to police about telltale signs like this.

HEFT: Yes, well, I mean, it comes with the territory. It's not the first time I've done this. This has been going on for seven, eight years that I've been speaking out and asking community leaders to bridge build with policing agencies and to be vigilant in the community. I mean, the fruition and the manifestation has been this arrest that's taken place.

I mean, it's a testament to, you know, (INAUDIBLE) P.C., the sense that the Muslim community, the Canadian people, it's -- but it's something we've got to do. And, you know, when nobody wants to put themselves out there and put their family in harm's way, but if you believe in something like I do, you have to, and it comes with the territory.

And I put my faith in God that I'm doing the right thing and God will protect me because I want to stand for justice. And I don't care what their religion is.

HARLOW: You said recently, Muhammad, and this is a quote, "Prayer should bring you to mercy, not rigidness, not intolerance." Tell me about the work you do to prevent radicalization.

HEFT: Well, I mean, it's just that. I mean, where's the love? Gosh, we came to this country.

I mean, I'm born and raised here, but, you know, they give you so much. You have a life. You come from in many cases a life of poverty and you come here and they open their doors and give you a chance to make a living for your family. You know, God says to be thankful to those who have been good to you. So give thanks and love people.

My gosh, where is the love in the world? It's not just with us, but talking to people who are radicalized. You have to tell them there's mercy and compassion. And that's our prophet came to preach. Yes, we're not pacifist. I'm not here to preach that we don't have times where we can justify defending ourselves.

But at the same time, my gosh, man, how can you blow up children and women and children and live a life like that. I mean, win one heart at a time.

HARLOW: I think --

HEFT: My gosh, it's just horrible.

HARLOW: I think that one of the questions though that comes up in that is sometimes people that do get radicalized don't have those outside interactions with people. They don't have supporters of their same mindset around them so they turn to the Internet, they turn online, they have that self-radicalization. We know it's more rare.

But what do you do in those circumstances where you're not able to have that communication with them and they're getting all these messages fed to them online?

HEFT: We have to get the message out. We have to be better. We have to be on the Internet. We have to be in that mosque. And we have to catch it and nip it in the butt before it happens.

If people aren't happy that they don't have the proper social services in the community, they're going to look for it somewhere else. They're going to look for the teacher somewhere else. We have to be able to teach the people, take care of them, and also have the proper social services set up so these people can integrate in society.

A lot of them feel ostracized. They feel demonized. They feel victimized. So, we have to be able to embrace them like, if you're Canadian American out there, I know horrible things are happen, but go knock on your Muslim neighbor's door and say, hey, do you want to have a barbecue? What are you up to? I'd like to get to know you.

Reach out. This is the Canadian and American way. This transcends the religion. This is the fact that this is what brought people to our country in the first place.

So, I ask you and plead with you reach out to Muslims and try to bridge build between communities.

HARLOW: We appreciate your time this morning, absolutely appreciate you sending that message. Thank you, Muhammad Heft, for joining us.

HEFT: Thanks for having me. God bless you.

HARLOW: From Islam to atheism, evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins joins me next with theoretical physicist Lawrence Krauss, very smart science guys. We're talking about their new film "The Unbelievers", which follows their efforts to explain science and, well, not so much religion.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARLOW: Take a look at this new documentary.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's no one whose views are not subject to question.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Science is wonderful. Science is beautiful. Religion is not wonderful. It's not beautiful. It gets in the way.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Some of the stuff you do really upsets some people. Would you prefer that --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I think these are wonderful things. People shouldn't be threatened by science.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARLOW: Science versus religion. It's called "The Unbelievers", and it follows two renowned and very controversial scientists on their trek around the globe debating religion and important of science in the modern world. We're lucky enough to have both of them with us live this morning from Toronto. That's where the film premieres tomorrow night.

Thank you both for being here.

Evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins and theoretical physicist Lawrence Krauss. Thank you both.

Lawrence, let me address this question to you first. That question that this movie begs -- what is more important, to blame science or destroy religion? What's your answer to that? LAWRENCE KRAUSS, THEORETICAL PHYSICIST: Well, I think the purpose of the movie is to really celebrate the wonder of the real universe. Rich and I discuss that in the movie. That means not accepting myth and superstition.

So, for the corollary of understanding the universe is to get rid of myth and superstition. That also means getting ultimately destroying religion. I think the two go hand-in-hand.

HARLOW: That flies in the face of what millions of people in this country and around the world believe, so no doubt this is going to be a very controversial film. Tell me why you made it. Why did you travel the world the way you did? Why did you do it now?

KRAUSS: Well, I think there's -- first of all, I think you're hearing so many people talk about religion because it's really in the modern world, in the first world in the death throes in many ways. Fewer people are going to church and more people vocalizing. But it's also more important for all the issues facing us in the 21st century for people to accept the world for what it is.

And Richard and I have started having a series of public dialogues. And we thought -- the director thought it would be fun to follow us around. And there was a very exciting and interesting experience. And I've really found that the dialogues we've done have been learning experiences for me. And I think the audiences like to see that kind of discussion.

I don't know what Richard thinks.

RICHARD DAWKINS, EVOLUTIONARY BIOLOGIST: I'm very keen on the idea of sort of mutual tutorial of two people each with something to say, something to learn from each other. And while they learn from each other, it's nice to think an audience is learning at the same time.

KRAUSS: And as I say, the film jumps between talking about religion but also trying to introduce some exciting concepts of science. So we really hope that people who haven't thought of these things will come and learn about biology and about the early universe and in the process at least be provoked to think about these questions.

DAWKINS: And carry on with the discussion after watching the movie. That's very important.

KRAUSS: I agree.

HARLOW: You know, I believe it was you, Richard, who was in Boston recently. And we're coming to you live here again this morning. And the question in all of this tragedy in Boston is was radicalization -- did radicalization play a role in these attacks or not?

I wonder what you thought when you started hearing reporting that indeed radicalization may have played a role in the attack here in Boston, radicalized religious views, your take.

DAWKINS: It's very easy to blame radicalization. But radicalization is very easy if people are brought up in the first place to believe that faith is a virtue. If you bring up children and tell them believing without evidence, which is what faith is, is a virtue, then only a tiny minority of them may become radicalized. But the ground has been fertilized for radicalization.

It's easy when people have been pre-adapted, have been prepared with a view that faith is what a virtue that what your religion teaches you it's right.

HARLOW: But --

DAWKINS: In a way, no wonder they are so easy to radicalize because they're told from babyhood onwards that their religion is the important thing and that's what they have to believe, even if there's no evidence.

KRAUSS: And I think that's the important point. If you are told you're absolutely right -- OK --

HARLOW: I was just going to say --

KRAUSS: It's easy to --

HARLOW: Go ahead. Go ahead. I apologize.

KRAUSS: Well, no problem. But it's that idea of knowing the absolute truth and nothing to change your mind that if you believe you're right, then almost anything you do, if you believe God's on your side, then anything you do seems reasonable. And that's the real problem. It's that belief in crazy things produces irrational actions, and the worst kind of irrational actions are what we've seen with the violence lately that's been associated with Islam.

HARLOW: I would just say to wrap this up here in terms of talking about religion as a virtue, there are many virtuous things that many believers think are part of religion in this country and around the world -- treating your neighbor as you would want to be treated, you know, also giving to those in need are all parts of many, many religions as well. So, in terms of looking at it, you have a different view than many others, we appreciate you sharing your view with us. And I look forward, I think many people look forward --

DAWKINS: You cannot credit religion with that. You cannot credit religion with that. That's universal. That's a very good principle -- what you call it -- the golden rule, that kind of thing.

KRAUSS: Yes. It's not just religion. People can be good or bad and be based on rationality. Religion sometimes helps, but it doesn't have to.

HARLOW: Just from this conversation I can tell what a heated debate there will be in the film. Appreciate your time, guys. Thank you both very much. Well, a room packed full of journalists, but they weren't chasing a story, they were the story at the annual White House Correspondents' Dinner. We'll have the highlights of that coming up for you next.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARLOW: Welcome back to CNN. It is Sunday morning. I'm Poppy Harlow.

For one night only President Obama becomes comedian-in-chief. He was a hit last night during the Annual White House Correspondents' Dinner. It's a chance for the President to acknowledge journalists, us and network executives with praise and yes with insults. And there was no one off-limits.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ED HENRY, FOX NEWS CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: And without further ado I'd like to introduce the President of the United States.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you. Thank you everybody. How do you like my new entrance music? Rush Limbaugh warned you about this second term, baby -- we're changing things around here a little bit.

Actually, my advisors were a little worried about the new rap entrance music. They are a little more traditional. They suggested that I should start with some jokes at my own expense. Just take myself down a peg. I was like, guys, after four and a half years, how many pegs are there left?

I want to thank the White House correspondents, Ed you're doing an outstanding job. We are grateful for the great work you've done.

And to all the dignitaries who are here, everybody on the dais. I especially want to say thank you to Ray Odierno who does outstanding service on behalf of our country and all our men and women in uniform every single day.

And of course, our extraordinary First Lady, Michelle Obama -- everybody loves Michelle. She's on the cover of "Vogue." High poll numbers, but don't worry, I recently got my own magazine cover. Now I -- look, I get it. These days I look in the mirror and I have to admit I'm not the strapping young Muslim socialist that I used to be. Time passes. I get a little gray.

And yet even after all this time I still make rookie mistakes. Like I'm out in California, we're at a fundraiser having a nice time. I happen to mention that Kamala Harris is the best looking Attorney General in the country. As you might imagine I got trouble when I got back home. Who knew Eric Holder was so sensitive.

Yes, maybe I have lost a step. But some things are beyond my control. For example, this whole controversy about Jay-Z going to Cuba, it's unbelievable. I've got 99 problems and now Jay-Z's one -- that's another rap reference.

The -- of course everybody's got plenty of advice. Maureen Dowd said I could solve all my problems if I were just more like Michael Douglas in "The American President". And I know Michael's here tonight. Michael, what's your secret, man? Could it be that you are an actor and I'm Aaron Sorkin liberal fantasy? Might that have something to do with it? I don't know. Check-in with me. Maybe it's something else.

Anyway, I recognize that this job can take a toll on you. I understand second term, need a burst of new energy, try some new things. And my team and I talked about it. We were willing to try anything. So we borrowed one of Michelle's tricks.

I thought this looked pretty good, but no bounce.

Anyway, I want to give a shout out to our headliner, Conan O'Brien. I was just talking with Ed and I understand that when the correspondents' association was considering Conan for this gig they were faced with the age old dilemma -- do you offer it to him now or wait for five years and then give it to Jimmy Fallon?

That was a little harsh. I love Conan. But the problem is the media landscape is changing so rapidly. You can't keep up with it. I mean I remember when buzz feed was just something I did in college around 2:00 a.m. It's true.

Recently though I found a new favorite source for political news. These guys are great I think everybody here should check it out. They tell it like it is. It's called whitehouse.gov. I cannot get enough of it.

The fact is I really do respect the press. I recognize that the press and I have different jobs to do. My job is to be President. Your job is to keep me humble. Frankly, I think I'm doing my job better.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARLOW: Welcome back, folks. Well, mortgage rates fell to another record low this week. Take a look.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARLOW: Welcome back everyone. I'm Poppy Harlow coming to you live from Boston this Sunday morning. Let's get back to last night's laughs at the White House Correspondents' Dinner and President Obama.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) OBAMA: I am not giving up. In fact, I'm taking my charm offensive on the road: a Texas barbecue with Ted Cruz; Kentucky bluegrass concert with Rand Paul and a book burning with Michele Bachmann. My charm offensive has helped me learn some interesting things about what's going on in Congress. It turns out absolutely nothing.

But, the point of my charm offensive is simple. We need to make progress on some important issues. Take the sequester. Republicans fell in love with this thing and now they can't stop talking about how much they hate it. It's like we're trapped in a Taylor Swift album.

One senator who has reached across the aisle recently is Marco Rubio, but I don't know about 2016. I mean the guy has not even finished a single term in the senate and he thinks he's ready to be president -- kids these days. I, on the other hand, have run my last campaign.

On Thursday as Ed mentioned I went to the opening of the Bush Presidential Library in Dallas. It was a wonderful event. And that inspired me to get started on my own legacy, which will actually begin by building another edifice right next to the Bush Library. Can we show that please?

I'm also hard at work on plans for the Obama Library. And some have suggested that we put it in my birthplace, but I would rather keep it in the United States. Did anybody not see that joke coming? Show of hands. Only Gallup, maybe Dick Morris.

Now, speaking of presidents and their legacies, I want to acknowledge a wonderful friend Steven Spielberg and Daniel Day-Lewis, who are here tonight. We had a screening of their most recent film "Lincoln" which was an extraordinary film. I am a little nervous though about Steven's next project. I saw a behind the scenes look on HBO, well, let's just check it out. Roll the tape.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEVEN SPIELBERG, DIRECTOR: Well, I was thrilled that "Lincoln" was a success. And as I was thinking about what to do next, in the middle of the night I woke up and it hit me, "Obama". I mean, the guy's already a lame duck, so why wait.

Picking the right actor to play Obama, that was the challenge. I mean who is Obama really? We don't know. We never got his transcripts and they say he's kind of aloof. So I needed somebody who could dive in and really become Barack Obama.

And it turns out the answer was right in front of me all along -- Daniel Day-Lewis. He becomes his characters. Hawkeye from "Last of the Mohicans" and Bill the Butcher from "Gangs of New York" and Abraham Lincoln in "Lincoln". You know what -- he nailed it.

Was it hard playing Obama?

OBAMA: I'll be honest, yes, it was. His accent took a while. Hello, Ohio. Hello, Ohio. I love you back.

Look. Look. Let me get clear about this. The cosmetics were challenging. I mean you wouldn't believe how long it takes for these ears I'm wearing. I don't know how you (inaudible).

SPIELBERG: Once we had Daniel to play Obama, we had to cast the rest of his team. And I think we've got some pretty terrific performances.

TRACY MORGAN, ACTOR: Working with a legend like Daniel is intimidating, but he makes everyone better. Without them I never could have played Joe Biden, literally, I am Joe Biden.

OBAMA: The hardest part is trying to understand his motivations. Why did he pursue health care first? What makes him tick? Why doesn't he get mad? If I were him, I'd be mad all the time. But I'm not (inaudible). I'm Daniel Day Lewis.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: It's a remarkable transformation. Do I really sound like that though, honey? Well, Groucho Marx once said -- and Senator Cruz, that's Groucho Marx not Karl. That's the other guy. Groucho Marx once told an audience, "Before I speak, I have something important to say."

And along those same lines I want to close on a more serious note. Obviously there's been no shortage of news to cover over these past few weeks and these have been some very hard days for too many of our citizens.

Even as we gather here tonight, our thoughts are not far from the people of Boston and the people of West, Texas. There are families in the Midwest who are coping with some terrible floods.

So we've had some difficult days, but even when the days seem darkest we have seen humanity shine at its brightest. We've seen first responders and national guardsmen who dashed into danger, law enforcement officers who lived their oath to serve and to protect and everyday Americans who are opening their homes and their hearts to perfect strangers.

And we also saw journalists at their best, especially those who took the time to wade upstream through the torrent of digital rumors to chase down leads and verify facts and painstakingly put the pieces together to inform and to educate and to tell stories that demanded to be told.

If anyone wonders for example whether newspapers are a thing of the past, all you need to do was to pick up or log onto papers like the "Boston Globe". It's when their communities and the wider world needed them most they were there making sense of events that might at first blush seem beyond our comprehension. That's what great journalism is and that's what great journalists do.

And in these past few weeks as I've gotten a chance to meet many of the first responders and the police officers and volunteers who raced to help when hardship hits, I was reminded as I'm always reminded when I meet our men and women in uniform whether they're in war theater or here back home or at Walter Reed, Bethesda -- I'm reminded all these folks they don't do it to be honored. They don't do it to be celebrated. They do it because they love their families and they love their neighborhoods and they love their country.

And so, these men and women should inspire all of us in this room to live up to those same standards, to be worthy of their trust, to do our jobs with the same fidelity and the same integrity and the same sense of purpose and the same love of country. Because if we're only focused on profits or ratings or polls, then we're contributing to the cynicism that so many people feel right now.

And so those of us in this room tonight, we are incredibly lucky. And the fact is we can do better -- all of us. Those of us in public office, those of us in the press, those who produce entertainment for our kids, those with power, those with influence, all of us including myself we can strive to value those things that I suspect led most of us to do the work that we do in the first place, because we believed in something that was true. And we believed in service and the idea that we can have a lasting positive impact on the lives of the people around us.

And that's our obligation. That's a task we should gladly embrace on behalf of all those folks who are counting on us, on behalf of this country that's given us so much.

So thank you all to the White House correspondents for the great work you do. God bless you all. May God bless the United States of America.

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HARLOW: Thanks very much for joining us this Sunday morning. "STATE OF THE UNION" with Candy Crowley is up next.

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