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THE SITUATION ROOM
Tea Party Rallies; Talking With the Taliban; China Has a Field Day with NSA Leak; FBI Admits Using Drones in U.S.; Fresh Outrage, New Details of IRS Scandal; HPV Vaccine More Effective than Anticipated; Tennis Star Forced to Explain Rape Comment; Pop Meets Prancercise
Aired June 19, 2013 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now: new evidence in a mysterious and deadly airline crash. Did investigators get it wrong? I will ask a former NTSB official.
Plus, Tea Party activists vent their anger at the agency that targeted them. But there's new reason to doubt claims that the IRS was involved in partisan scheming.
And growing outrage that the U.S. is about to talk peace with the Taliban, only hours after they took credit for killing more Americans.
Wolf Blitzer is off today. I'm Jake Tapper.
Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
We begin this hour with demands for a new investigation into the horrific midair explosion of a TWA jet. It happened 17 years ago off the coast of Long Island, killing all 230 people on board. Now a new documentary is giving new life to the theories that a missile might have actually caused the crash.
In the film, six retired members of the original investigative team break their silence and they challenge the NTSB's official finding that wiring in a faulty fuel tank was to blame.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What would your analysis have been?
HANK HUGHES, NTSB INVESTIGATOR: The primary -- primary conclusion was the explosive forces came from outside the airplane, not the center fuel tank.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would that statement have been in your analysis?
HUGHES: If I got the right one.
ROBERT YOUNG, INVESTIGATOR: The agenda was that this is an accident; make it so.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: The investigators will not speculate about the source of the explosion, but this documentary clearly suggests that crucial evidence has been kept under wraps.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TOM STALCUP, "TWA FLIGHT 800": The family members need to know what happened to their loved ones. This investigation was, no -- not one single eyewitness was allowed to testify. That's unheard of. Let the eyewitnesses speak publicly at a government hearing, reopen the investigation and find out what really happened and stop this facade that's been going on for too long.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: In a moment, I will talk to a former NTSB official who worked closely on the Flight 800 case, but, first, let's dig deeper into the crash investigation and the doubts surrounding it.
CNN's Tom Foreman joins us.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, this really seems like it wasn't that long ago, Jake. But it was quite a number of years back.
When you look at it, TWA Flight 800 took off at 8:20 on the evening of July 17, 1996. It was still light out at the time. The weather forecast called for a smooth flight to Paris, and it was that way for a matter of minutes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We just saw an explosion out here.
FOREMAN (voice-over): Two other pilots were in the air and saw the explosion.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It blew up in the air and then we saw two fireball goes down into the water.
FOREMAN: Other eyewitnesses were on Long Island.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It looked like a mile in the sky of flame coming down, straight down. I thought it was coming from the ground up, because the flame looked like it was shooting from the ground up, if you know what I mean.
FOREMAN: Two hundred and thirty men, women and children were aboard Flight 800. Everyone died. People thought terrorism immediately. An alert went out to the FBI. The Navy sent state-of-the-art salvage ships.
Investigators ended up recovering 97.5 percent of the plane. In a giant hangar, they actually actually put TWA 800 back together and reconstructed the plane's last seconds. Early on, they determined the center fuel tank blew up, causing the nose and first-class section of the jet to break off and fall away.
Incredibly, the coach section kept flying for about 30 more seconds. Evidence pointed not to one explosion, but two, the second blast, half-a-minute after the first erupted when the left wing tore away from the back half of the plane, leaking fuel from the much larger wing tank until something touched off a spark. That, they say, is why people saw a line of flames shooting upward.
Those eyewitness accounts of a trail of fire hit the Internet less than 36 hours after the explosion. People speculated it was a terrorist surface-to-air missile. Then, a document began circulating on the Web, taking the missile theory in a new direction. It said a U.S. Navy ship accidentally shot down Flight 800 and a cover-up reaching the highest levels of government was in play. It might have stayed an Internet conspiracy theory, had it not been for one man.
PIERRE SALINGER, FORMER ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: It's a document that I got about five weeks ago from an intelligence agent of France.
FOREMAN: In March of 1997, Pierre Salinger, the former press secretary, former U.S. senator and network news correspondent, claimed to have verified the friendly-fire cover-up, specifically naming the USS Normandy as the ship that fired the missile.
But there was a problem with his claim. Salinger's proof turned out to be the same unsubstantiated document that had been on the Internet for months. And investigators concluded the U.S. Normandy never fired any of its missiles and, even if it had, it was out of range.
FOREMAN: The NTSB looked at this for four years after the explosion and in August of 2000, they put out the final report and concluded that TWA 800 was the victim of fundamental flaws in the design and engineering of the aircraft, wiring that cracked and lost its insulation, allowing high voltage into that center fuel tank full of highly explosive fumes.
That's the official story, Jake.
TAPPER: All right, Tom Foreman, thank you.
And joining me now is Peter Goelz, a former NTSB managing director who worked closely on the TWA Flight 800 investigation.
Mr. Goelz, thanks so much for being here.
PETER GOELZ, FORMER MANAGING DIRECTOR, NATIONAL TRANSPORTATION SAFETY BOARD: Thanks for having me.
TAPPER: I want to play for you a clip of the producer of the film talking to our morning show "NEW DAY" this morning.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STALCUP: What we do show in the documentary is solid proof that there was an external detonation, that's in the form -- of course, everyone knows about the eyewitness statements, and we have corroborating information from the radar data. And the radar data shows an asymmetric explosion coming out of the plane, something that didn't happen in the official theory.
Let the eyewitnesses speak publicly at a government hearing. Reopen the investigation and find out what really happened and stop this facade that's been going on for too long.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: He's saying solid proof of an external explosion. Your thoughts?
GOELZ: Mr. Stalcup is wrong. There's no solid proof. There's no evidence whatsoever that supports his theory. He's been chasing a variety of theories for 15 years. This is just the latest. He's wrong.
TAPPER: How do you account for the investigators in the film, the people who worked for TWA, the pilots union, NTSB, who say that they feel that there was evidence that there was an exterior explosion?
GOELZ: Well, I think if you question the individual investigators carefully and ask them whether they agree that there was a missile and whether they agree that it has been covered up, they will start to get awfully weak.
For instance, Hank Hughes, the former NTSB investigator, who I know well, his major complaint is, the FBI treated him poorly. And that goes under the news of dog bites mailman. The FBI treats everyone they work with poorly. And we had problems like that. But there is no evidence whatsoever.
These guys cherry-pick their facts. I can point to the China Lake report on potential missile explosions. They are unambiguous and clear. Didn't happen.
TAPPER: Is it possible at all that any information was suppressed during the original investigation? A news release for the documentary claims the investigators featured in the film waited until retirement to come forward and were not allowed to speak to the public -- that's a quote from the release -- or refute the NTSB at the time of the official investigation.
GOELZ: It's absolutely not true.
Mr. Hughes was given whistle-blower protection and was called to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee. He was under complete protection. He had no constraints. And what he had to say was, the FBI didn't treat me right.
TAPPER: The filmmakers are submitting a petition asking for the NTSB to reopen the investigation based on what they call new evidence. Do you think that that's a legitimate request? Is there any value whatsoever, do you think, in reopening this case?
GOELZ: Well, they're free to -- you know, any citizen is free to ask the NTSB to look at an investigation again. The investigation is never officially closed. But they have to have new evidence.
And, frankly, I listened to their press conference. I have seen their movie. There's no new evidence. This is simply that they don't like the interpretation or the analysis that was given to the existing evidence. That frankly is not enough.
TAPPER: What do you account for all the individuals who say they saw something heading towards the airplane?
GOELZ: That's a great question. And we wrestled with the eyewitness issue for a long time.
Here's what we know for sure. We know precisely when the event began. The data recorder, the voice recorder stopped. The signal from the plane stopped. We know where it began. And we know precisely where it ended. And we know that, in between those two points was somewhere around 40, 42, 43 seconds. So we know that's what happened.
If someone says, and almost all the witnesses say this, I heard a sound, I looked up, and then I saw a streak of light or a fireworks and an explosion -- those who say they saw that saw the last six seconds of the event. No witness saw the first event, 40 seconds prior to that. It could not be a missile.
TAPPER: Lastly, sir, you directed family support for the families of the TWA Flight 800 investigations. Obviously, they're the ones we really care about here, their pain and their suffering, their losses.
TAPPER: Do any of these families that you know of have a desire to reopen this case? Are any of them on board with taking another look?
GOELZ: Oh, yes, there are. There are a few. And I have spoken with them repeatedly over the years.
There's a French gentleman who lost his son who continues to believe vehemently that this was shot down by the United States Navy. There are some other family members as well who just don't accept the explanation. And I understand that.
But, you know, this was the most exhaustive investigation in the history of the NTSB. Tens of thousands of pages are on the public record. People ought to take the time to read those pages if they're interested.
TAPPER: All right, Peter Goelz, thank you so much for being here.
GOELZ: Thank you. TAPPER: Up next: Afghan President Hamid Karzai is lashing out at the U.S. over planned talks with the Taliban at their controversial new office.
And a reality check on the IRS. Was the organization under political pressure to target conservatives? We will tell you what congressional investigators are learning.
TAPPER: It's the group that ruthlessly targets Americans for deadly attacks, the group that sheltered Osama bin Laden, and now the U.S. is about to do something that was once unthinkable, sit down for talks with the Taliban.
CNN Pentagon correspondent Chris Lawrence has more.
Chris, a lot of anger over this, I would assume.
CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Jake, anger is probably an understatement.
A lot of folks are outraged that the president would give the go-ahead to these high-level talks, especially in light of everything that's happened in the past few days.
LAWRENCE (voice-over): In the next few days, a U.S. ambassador is expected to sit across the table from the Taliban, launching negotiations with a group that just 24 hours ago took credit for killing four more American troops by firing rockets at Bagram Air Base.
REP. DUNCAN HUNTER (R), CALIFORNIA: And we're helping legitimize while they're blowing up Americans in Afghanistan.
LAWRENCE: Republican Congressman Duncan Hunter blasts the Obama administration's plan to send a high-level official to Qatar, where the Taliban have now opened an office and are flying their own flag.
HUNTER: It raises them up in the national and international eye. That's what it does.
LAWRENCE: The office itself isn't confined to peace talks.
JIM PHILLIPS, HERITAGE FOUNDATION: It could use it as a base for propaganda, for fund-raising, for reaching out to other governments, particularly in the Persian Gulf.
LAWRENCE: The actual sign had to be taken down because the Taliban called the office the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, the name they used when they ran the country.
JENNIFER PSAKI, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESWOMAN: The office must not be treated as or represent itself as an embassy. LAWRENCE: What did the Taliban do to earn these talks? They made a statement supporting a peace process.
They did not agree to a cease-fire. They did not acknowledge the Afghan constitution.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We do think ultimately we are going to need to see Afghans talking to Afghans about how they can move forward.
LAWRENCE: Which may not happen now, after a furious President Hamid Karzai pulled out of the talks.
HUNTER: I think he has a legitimate contemplate that we're trying to legitimize the guys that are blowing up Americans and Afghans in Afghanistan.
LAWRENCE: Karzai even took it one step further, suspending separate talks with the U.S. over a troop presence post-2014.
PSAKI: There are certain things that clearly did not go as planned.
LAWRENCE: Yes, certainly didn't. But the president admitted there will be bumps in the road, but said all sides have too much to gain not to talk. But while the administration is trying to break up the Taliban and al Qaeda, some critics say it's actually the Taliban that's doing a better job of driving another wedge between the U.S. and Afghan governments -- Jake.
TAPPER: All right. Chris Lawrence, thank you.
Just into THE SITUATION ROOM, three midshipmen at the U.S. Naval Academy are accused of sexually assaulting a female midshipmen. They're also accused of making false statements and are facing military charges. Academy officials say two of the accused are former football players. The third is a current player who has been suspended from the team.
An embarrassing blunder by a high-profile gun control group, how it mistakenly memorialized one of the Boston bombing suspects.
Plus, kicked out of the Men's Warehouse?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're going to like the way you look. I guarantee it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Why he was fired from the company he started.
TAPPER: Still ahead, we're looking at the NSA leaker's relationship with China. Is there a secret reason he's hiding out in Hong Kong?
Plus, a surprising new report on a controversial vaccine and its effectiveness in fighting a cancer-causing virus.
TAPPER: Happening now: the NSA leaker's China connection. Is he passing secrets to the communist regime? I will ask a top lawmaker what he thinks.
And a cancer-fighting vaccine has been controversial, but is it effective? Stand by for the surprising news results.
Plus, our reality check on the IRS and its scrutiny of the Tea Party. You may think you know what really happened, and you may be wrong.
Wolf Blitzer is off today. I'm Jake Tapper and you are in THE SITUATION ROOM.
President Obama stood before a symbol of freedom today and tried to calm European anger about U.S. government spying. In a speech at Germany's historic Brandenburg Gate, he alluded to the controversy over NSA surveillance and he promised a balance between security and privacy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Our current programs are bound by the rule of law, and they're focused on threats to our security, not the communications of ordinary persons. They help confront real dangers, and they keep people safe here in the United States and here in Europe.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: The NSA leak may be getting even more attention in China than in Europe. As far as we know, the leaker, Edward Snowden, still is hiding out in China's backyard, Hong Kong. The controversy is raising a lot of questions about Snowden's ties to the communist regime and about China's relationship with the U.S.
CNN's David McKenzie joins us live from Beijing -- David.
DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's right.
By showing up in Hong Kong, Edward Snowden opened himself up to those questions. The question is, does China want him here or not?
MCKENZIE (voice-over): Edward Snowden surfaced in Hong Kong with a laptop full of secrets to expose a U.S. surveillance program and told a Hong Kong paper that the U.S. is hacking China. Legislators in the U.S. are asking questions. REP. MIKE ROGERS (R), MICHIGAN: Does he have a relationship with a foreign government? And is there more to this story? We're going to make sure that there's a thorough scrub of what he is -- what his China connections are.
MCKENZIE (on camera): Snowden and Beijing say there's no connection. Chinese state media is having a field day with the Snowden affair. One sample headline, "The World Owes Snowden a Debt of Gratitude."
(voice-over): For China, it's payback. The U.S. government and security companies have been accusing China of hacking for months. But a leading Chinese media expert says the Chinese government can only say so much.
JEREMY GOLDKORN, DIRECTOR, DANWEI: I think it's quite difficult for China to make too much of a fuss about American surveillance and hacking, because they don't want to draw attention to their own activities in this area.
MCKENZIE (on camera): It's widely believed that the Chinese government monitors its own citizens and even controls the flow of information.
At New York (ph) University now, even our own broadcasts on sensitive subjects...
(voice-over): Are silenced.
Most analysts believe that China is more worried about its No. 1 foreign policy priority, the United States.
GOLDKORN: The U.S./China relationship is of such vital importance to both sides that neither government would want the relationship to be derailed by Snowden.
MCKENZIE: A menacing North Korea. Military influence in the region. And of course, a vital trade relationship are the chief concerns of the U.S. and China.
MCKENZIE: Well Jake, most analysts I speak to say that China needs the U.S. far more than it needs any of Snowden's secrets -- Jake.
TAPPER: All right. Thank you, David.
Joining me now is House Intelligence Committee member and Republican congressman, Pete King.
Congressman, thanks for joining us.
Snowden denies it. But are you aware of any evidence that Snowden has connections or has been giving information specifically to China?
REP. PETE KING (R-NY), HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE MEMBER: No. I know that it's being looked into. But I'm not in a position to say, you know, what his relationship with China is. I haven't made that accusation.
Again, I think this is something that has to be looked into. As to why he went to China any previous connections he had. Any intelligence he might be giving them. That to me is just sound intelligence work on the part of our government. But I'm not in a position to say what he has done or not done.
TAPPER: OK. I want to get first your reaction -- I want to get your reaction to what the FBI director, Robert Mueller, said today about drones in the United States.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Does the FBI use drones for surveillance on U.S. soil?
ROBERT MUELLER, FBI DIRECTOR: Yes. Very, very minimal way. And very seldom.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Congressman, do you have any issues with the FBI using drones on U.S. soil?
KING: I really don't. To me it's another form of surveillance. Sometimes they use binoculars. Sometimes they use telescopes. Sometimes they just use eyesight. To me, so long as it's not penetrating someone's home and there's no -- I don't see the Fourth Amendment issue.
Obviously, it's not something that should be abused. But to me it's a legitimate law enforcement actual that should be used in certain circumstances.
TAPPER: I want to play an exchange that you had with the director of the NSA, General Keith Alexander.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Prior to 9/11 there was phone messages from Yemen which you did not have the capacity to follow through on which perhaps could have prevented the 9/11 attack. General Alexander, or Mr. Joyce, could both of you explain how the attack could have been prevented?
GEN. KEITH ALEXANDER, NSA DIRECTOR: What we don't know, going back in time, is the phone call between Yemen and there. If we would have had the reasonable articulable suspicion standards, we'd have to look at that. But assuming that we did. If we had the database that we have now with business records FISA, and we searched on that Yemen number, and saw it was talking to someone in California, we could have then tipped that to the FBI.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: So what did you take away from that answer? Do you think the 9/11 could have been prevented if we had had the surveillance programs in place?
KING: I agree with General Alexander. I think it could have been prevented. There's no such thing as a sure thing in this business. But to me that would have added an extra piece of the mosaic, and it definitely would have improved our chances of being able to stop 9/11.
TAPPER: Someone who disagrees with you on a lot of these issues. Republican Senator Rand Paul also talked about 9/11 in an interview with our Jim Acosta yesterday. Senator Paul said the failures before 9/11 had to do with a lack of police work, not seeking warrants, had nothing to do with the ability to listen into phone calls. What would your response be to that?
KING: I actually have no idea what Senator Paul is talking about. I don't what warrants he's talking about. I don't know which phone calls he should have been listening to.
To me what General Alexander said yesterday certainly holds up a lot better than what Senator Paul was saying. To me I've studied 9/11 as probably as much, you know, more than most people. And I'm really not aware of what he's talking about.
I mean, obviously, in hindsight there's probably different things we could have done. But it's always in hindsight. And again, if we all look in hindsight, it's much more likely we would have found something if the FISA authorization had been there.
TAPPER: I interviewed two NSA whistleblowers, Thomas Drake and William Binney, yesterday, and I asked Drake about General Alexander's answer that the technology does not exist for an NSA analyst to, quote, "flip a switch" and listen to Americans' phone calls or read their e-mails. This is what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
THOMAS DRAKE, NSA WHISTLEBLOWER: To say that the technology does not exist really begs the question, and do we just trust his word for it? There's been a number of cases that have been made public including a couple of analysts at Ft. Gordon in Georgia, where they're actually listening in on NGOs and American citizens overseas.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Congressman, are you confident that the technology does not exist? Or do you have any concern at all that general Alexander might have been hiding behind the phrase, "flip a switch," because it's obviously more complicated than just flipping a switch?
KING: I'm going to say, I have tremendous confidence in General Alexander. As a member of the intelligence committee, I've had dealings with him. I've always found him to be very straightforward, very honest, very dedicated. So if it comes down to a choice, I will side with General Alexander.
TAPPER: And lastly, sir, there's an unreleased documentary film on the 1996 TWA Flight 800 explosion. I'm heard you've heard about it, and many of your constituents, I'm sure have a lot of interest in it.
Producers say that this documentary offers solid proof that there was an external detonation that led to the plane crash, and producers are submitting a petition signed by many former investigators, asking for the National Transportation Safety Board to reopen its investigation. Do you think that the investigation should be reopened?
KING: I'll have to see what information they had. That actually -- the plane came down very close to my district. I was out there at the site a number of times during the summer of 1996.
Also, though, I have great regard for Jim Calstrom (ph), who was the FBI man in charge of the investigation.
And so again, obviously, I'm open to all new evidence, and I would look at it, but I'm not going to make any decision right now.
TAPPER: All right. Congressman Peter King, thank you so much for your time.
KING: Thank you.
TAPPER: Up next, a significant new study on the effectiveness on the HPV vaccine. Is it a breakthrough in fighting cancer?
And tennis star Serena Williams tries to set the record straight about stunning comments about a highly-publicized rape case.
TAPPER: On Capitol Hill today, fresh outrage at IRS targeting of conservative groups but also new information as lawmakers dig deeper into the scandal.
CNN chief congressional correspondent Dana Bash is working the story for us -- Dana.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Jake, the FBI director got an earful today from a conservative senator, accusing him of slow-walking the IRS criminal investigation. But here in Congress, the probe is in full force, and there is more bipartisan agreement in what they've found so far than meets the eye.
BASH (voice-over): Outside the Capitol, thousands of Tea Party supporters rallied, railing against the government agency that targeted them: the IRS.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We will get the truth and we will hold those responsible accountable.
BASH: Inside the Capitol, sources tell CNN congressional investigators conducted their eighth recorded interview with an IRS employee, trying to get to the bottom of why Tea Party groups were subjected to inappropriate IRS scrutiny and delays in applications for tax-exempt status.
A new CNN/ORC poll shows that during the month Congress has been investigating, American suspicion about White House involvement in Tea Party targeting has jumped: from 37 percent in May to 47 percent now.
But that flies in the face of what lawmakers of both parties leading the investigation have actually found so far: No evidence that singling out Tea Party groups was politically motivated.
This week, Democrat Elijah Cummings released the full transcript of an IRS interview he first previewed on CNN's "STATE OF THE UNION," which undercuts any narrative about the pressure from higher up.
The IRS employee, a self-identified conservative Republican, says the reason the first Tea Party group was singled out was to get guidance on how much political activity a group can engage in and still qualify for tax-exempt status.
A congressional investigator asked, "Are you aware of any political motivations behind the screening, centralizing and development of Tea Party cases?"
"I'm not aware of that," replied the IRS employee.
REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D), MARYLAND: He said over and over again, "I wanted to be consistent." And so that's how all of this got started. Period.
BASH: CNN reviewed another transcript of an interview with Washington IRS official, Holly Paz, which reveals an agency plagued more by bureaucratic ineptitude than partisan scheming.
She said using the term "Tea Party" was a shorthand way to identify any group engaging in political activity, the way Coke us used to describe soda, and Kleenex for tissue. "They all understood the real issue was campaign intervention," said Paz.
When it comes to delays, Paz said many requests languished because the IRS Cincinnati office waited for guidance from IRS Washington, while Washington didn't realize applicants hadn't received answers from Cincinnati.
(on camera): While there is bipartisan agreement that there is no evidence so far of political influence, Republican sources emphasize that basically, their investigation has a long way to go, many more IRS employees to interview before they can firmly conclude why and how IRS Tea Party targeting happened -- Jake.
TAPPER: Dana Bash on Capitol Hill.
Despite its woes, the IRS says it is legally bound to pay $70 million in bonuses to union employees. Republican Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa is among the lawmakers demanding to know why. He wrote to acting chief Daniel Werfel of the IRS, saying bonuses were banned with this spring's forced budget cuts. But the IRS says it's negotiating bonuses with the union.
The controversial vaccine against the virus that causes cervical cancer is working better than anyone expected, with infections down more than half among teenaged girls.
CNN senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen is looking at new numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Elizabeth, what did the researchers find?
ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: You know what, Jake? What they found is that the vaccine seemed to work even better than they thought it was going to in many ways. What they found was a 56 percent drop in HPV rates in teen girls.
Now, it doesn't mean that HPV has gone away. In fact 89 million Americans have HPV, and HPV, we know, causes 70 percent of cervical cancers.
But that drop is a great thing, and they're crediting the vaccine, which came out in 2006 -- Jake.
TAPPER: Elizabeth, that's good news. Obviously, great news. But there's still a lot of people who haven't had the vaccine. Why not?
COHEN: Right, they were hoping that by this time, about 80 percent of girls would get the vaccine. But it turns out that only about a third have gotten all three of the shots that they're supposed to get.
You know, maybe the word hasn't quite gotten out yet. Maybe it's because people are used to getting shots for their, let's say, 2, 3 and 4-year-olds, but not necessarily for their, you know, girls at age 11 or 12 or 13, but they're really hoping to get the word out. Because the more girls who get vaccinated, you get her immunity. They don't give it to boys. Boys don't give it to other girls. It's really important.
TAPPER: You talked about girls getting the shot, but as you mentioned, boys can get it, as well?
COHEN: Right. When boys get HPV, they -- they can also get cancers. And so there's an emphasis now also on boys getting the shot at around the ages of 11 to 21. So this is on the vaccine schedule for boys, as well as girls. And we'll see how those rates do years from now.
TAPPER: Elizabeth Cohen, thank you so much.
Tennis star Serena Williams sparks a controversy with remarks about a notorious rape case. Now she's being forced to explain herself.
TAPPER: Forget the New York Giants or the Jets, neither is governor Chris Christie's favorite. Watch the governor riling up a New Jersey school assembly.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: My favorite football team are the Dallas Cowboys, which by the way, is not the smartest thing for the governor of New Jersey, to want to be a fan of the Dallas Cowboys.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Christie says the Giants and Jets of his childhood, quote, "Pretty much stunk, and why root for a team that makes you angry?"
Just days before Wimbledon, tennis star Serena Williams finds herself having to explain a controversial remark about a high-profile rape case.
In an interview with "Rolling Stone" magazine, she talked about the conviction of two Steubenville, Ohio, high school football players who assaulted a drunk 16-year-old classmate. Williams said the girl should not have been drinking and that she, quote, "shouldn't have put herself in that position," unquote.
CNN's Rachel Nichols is working the story for us.
Rachel, what is Serena Williams saying about this controversy?
RACHEL NICHOLS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, well, Jake, I want to put that quote in a little bit more context for you, as well.
The beginning of the quote in "Rolling Stone" had her saying specifically ,"I am not blaming the girl." She then went on to question did the girl's parents -- I'm using her words -- teach her about drinking and not drinking to the point where she couldn't remember anything and then that's where she followed, saying she shouldn't have put herself in that position.
That's the context of it. Of course, it still angered plenty of people, and that's why Serena then came out with a statement today. And she said, quote, "I'm currently reaching out to the girl's family to let her know that I am deeply sorry for what is written in 'Rolling Stone.' What was written, what I supposedly said, is insensitive and hurtful and I by no means would say or insinuate that she was at all to blame."
Serena then went on to say in her statement that "My prayers and support always go out to the rape victim, in this case most especially, an innocent 16-year-old child."
So she clearly feels at this point she needs to come forward and clarify her remarks and hopes that this kind of puts an end to the issue, but of course, she's about to start Wimbledon, Jake. She'll be giving plenty of press conferences over the next two weeks, and you can bet she's going to be asked about that.
TAPPER: You've known Serena since she was 15. What's your perspective here?
NICHOLS: You know, she went on in her statement to say that she's always been very supportive of women's issues. And that's actually true. She and her sister, Venus, have made such a point of being vocal on these that there's actually a documentary about that coming out later this summer.
So I think we can look at her actions over the years and trust that what she says in her statement today is true, that her general feeling about this is what it is.
And then separately, when she wants to talk about the fact that, hey, maybe you tell your daughters, your young girls "Don't get so drunk as a teenager that you could fall prey to predators. Don't put yourself in position to be the victims of crimes and people that would want to hurt you." Doesn't necessarily mean that they are at fault for those crimes. It just means that you need to be smart about certain situations so you lessen the chances of being in those positions.
Now, confusing those two things is something Serena did because of course, the victim in the Steubenville case didn't do anything wrong. And she needs to basically come forward and say that, which she thinks she said today.
TAPPER: Right. Well, I mean, I do wonder what about the parents of the two convicted rapists? Did the parents teach them that sexual assaulting and raping young girls isn't a good idea? But we'll leave that where it is.
NICHOLS: Certainly -- yes, I would certainly hope that parents all over teach them that.
NICHOLS: And I think that Serena's been on record in the past saying things. I just think that for her, at this point, she sort of says things casually. And I would like to give her the credit of admitting that she was wrong, because she was wrong in this situation. The comments that she made were wrong, and I think that she came out and said that they were wrong and apologized. It's something that gets added to that ledger, and then we'll see where she goes forward from here.
TAPPER: All right, Rachael Nichols. Just one quick note from you. Is LeBron James going to wear his headband tonight or is he not?
NICHOLS: We'll move on to something a little bit more lightweight. Yes. The game seven of the NBA finals. Game six, if you were watching, LeBron's headband, something that he is rarely seen without, came off. And he played like a beast, as he said, after that.
So the big question is, is he going to wear it tomorrow night? I was able to sit down for an interview that will run on CNN during the day tomorrow. But he did reveal an exclusive sneak peak, Jake. He did say that he's going to start with the headband. In fact, he was very funny during the interview. He took his headband and kissed it. He apologized for abandoning it last night, and he said that he's going to start with it in game seven. But then he'll see how he plays. If he doesn't play well that headband could go again. TAPPER: Interesting. All right. We'll all be watching. The interview start airing tomorrow on "NEW DAY," which airs at 6 a.m. -- beginning at 6 a.m. tomorrow morning. Thank you, Rachel Nichols.
Coming up, Prancercise rides again. If you like the original, and millions of people did, for some reason, you have to see what's coming up next.
TAPPER: How do you top the Prancercise sensation? Well, CNN's Jeanne Moos shows us.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Pop meets Prancercise. The big star John Mayer turns the Prancercise lady into the leading lady...
JOANNA ROHRBACH, CREATOR OF PRANCERCISING: What about Prancercising...
MOOS: ... into the leading lady on his new single.
JOHN MAYER, MUSICIAN (singing): My love didn't cost a thing.
MOOS: It's natural to wonder, hold your horses, how did that happen?
Joanna Rohrbach says her understanding is that Mayer saw her original Prancercise video with the volume turned down while he was working on his song.
ROHRBACH (via phone); He saw that my movement synchronized with his song very well.
MOOS: Next think you know, Mayor's crew was shooting her Prancercising to "Paper Doll."
It's been a surreal ride for Joanna. Imagine seeing yourself spoofed by a horse. By a family. By a lady walking her dog.
ROHRBACH: It's been very chaotic, to be honest with you, Jeanne. I just can't seem to get a handle on everything.
MOOS: Joanna calls the reaction to her rhythmic exercise routine inspired by horses overwhelming but thrilling.
Prancercise has even spawned Twittercise. Though tweets get pretty jumbled when you shift to a gallop.
(on camera): Now, I'm not especially proud to say that I was one of the first news people to Prancercise publicly.
I'm channeling my inner horse. It's exhausting.
Maybe my colleagues in news business should have known better than to follow in my Prancercise steps.
(voice-over): On "The Today Show"...
AL ROKER, NBC'S "TODAY SHOW": Wow.
MOOS: ... it was almost a Prancercise collision between the hosts.
On HLN's "NEWS NOW"...
MIKE GALANOS, HLN ANCHOR: It's time to Prancercise. Let's go.
MOOS: ... anchor Mike Galanos led what amounted to a Prancercise flash mob.
And on a KTWO morning show in Casper, Wyoming, a fitness trainer gave her critique.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Here they come prancing onto the stage. What are you looking at right now?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just a lot of flailing around right now is what I see.
ROHRBACH: Nobody is really doing it. You know, they're imitating what they think is Prancercise. They aren't doing the actual movements.
MOOS: Tell that to the unicorn.
Let's face it. We all look as graceless as donkeys compared to the princess of Prancercise.
Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.
TAPPER: That's it for me. I'm going to Prancercise my way out of here.
"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.