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THE SITUATION ROOM

Obama Cancels Talks with Putin; Sudden Halt to Fort Hood Trial; Usher's Son Rescued From Pool; Oprah Returns to the Big Screen; Looking at the Odds, Not the Jackpot

Aired August 7, 2013 - 17:00   ET

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


WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, relations with Russia go back in the freezer. President Obama calls off a meeting with President Putin.

A deadly form of bird flu can probably now spread from human to human. I'll talk about that with CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta and the nation's point man for infectious diseases, Dr. Anthony Fauci.

And after 15 years, Oprah Winfrey returns to the big screen. She sits down with CNN to talk about her new movie, "The Butler," racism in America and the success of her own cable network.

I'm Wolf Blitzer.

You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

President Obama has formally canceled next month's meeting in Moscow with Russia's president, Vladimir Putin.

Why?

Because of Russia's offer of asylum to the NSA leaker, Edward Snowden. And that is just the tip of an iceberg.

Let's go live to our chief White House correspondent, Jessica Yellin.

She's got all the latest for us -- Jessica.

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, for a while, the U.S. tried to reset relations with Russia. And the administration had big hopes of reaching a deal with the Russians to reduce nuclear stockpiles, or agree on how to press Iran and Syria for stability in the Middle East.

But thanks to the breakdown in relations over Edward Snowden, now those goals are even further out of reach.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

YELLIN (voice-over): President Obama says no thanks to Russian President Putin's one-on-one summit in Moscow, putting a new frost in an already chilly relationship. Behind the latest cold front, Edward Snowden.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM "THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO," COURTESY NBC)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Even though we don't have a extradition treaty with them, traditionally, we have tried to respect, if there's a lawbreaker or an alleged lawbreaker in their country, we evaluate it and we try to work with them. They didn't do that with us.

And, in some ways, it's reflective of some underlying challenges that we've had with Russia lately.

YELLIN: In a statement, the White House says he nixed the meeting over a lack of progress on the shared agenda. That includes missile defense, arms control, human rights and anti-homosexuality rules.

MATTHEW ROJANSKY, U.S.-RUSSIA RELATIONS EXPERT: Really, all they're going to do is they're going to play into Putin's hands, make him appear to be a sort of indisputable, important world leader, someone that the president of the United States has no choice but to see. And they're saying, no, we do have a choice, we're not going to see him.

YELLIN: You could have seen this coming. Here are the two leaders at a summit three months ago, not exactly chummy.

Since then, Edward Snowden has crowded the relationship.

PRES. VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIA (through translator): Bilateral relations, in my opinion, are far more important than squabbles of the activities of the secret services.

YELLIN: Only further complicated by Russia's crackdown on gay rights, as the country prepares to host the Winter Olympics.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM "THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO," COURTESY NBC)

OBAMA: If Russia wants to uphold the Olympic spirit, then every judgment should be made on the track or in the swimming pool or on the balance beam. And people's sexual orientation shouldn't have anything to do with it.

YELLIN: Presidents Obama and Putin will see each other at the St. Petersburg G-20 Summit, making the Moscow blow-off even more awkward.

ROJANSKY: I suspect there is going to be some kind of minor diplomatic kerfuffle around the St. Petersburg G-20 Summit, where the Russians will do something to indicate their displeasure. You know, they, perhaps, won't include President Obama in some kind of group hug or photograph or something to show that, you know, the important leaders get included.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

YELLIN: And, Wolf, officials tell me -- administration officials tell me the president does not plan to have a one-on-one sit-down with President Putin, even at the G20 Summit in St. Petersburg, though they do expect the two presidents will see one another there. The president does typically meet with the host country's leader during these summits, so that's an added cold shoulder -- Wolf?

BLITZER: All right. We'll see what happens once they actually get to St. Petersburg. Often, they do it on what they call the sidelines, the margins, if they do have a little get-together. We'll, of course, be watching in early September.

Jessica Yellin, thanks very much.

And joining us now, Fareed Zakaria, the host of CNN's "FAREED ZAKARIA GPS" -- Fareed, in the interview on "The Tonight Show," the president also defended his decision to go ahead and attend the G20 Summit in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM "THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO," COURTESY NBC)

OBAMA: I will be going...

JAY LENO, HOST: (INAUDIBLE).

OBAMA: I will be going to that, because the G20 Summit is...

LENO: All right.

OBAMA: -- the main forum where we talk about the economy, the world economy, with all the top economic powers in the world. So it's not something unique to Russia. They're hosting it this year...

LENO: Yes.

OBAMA: -- but it's important for us, as the leading economy in the world, to make sure that we're there.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: What do you think of his decision to snub the bilateral meeting in Moscow, supposedly the day before, instead go to Sweden, but still go ahead to St. Petersburg?

FAREED ZAKARIA, HOST, "FAREED ZAKARIA GPS": I think it's exactly right. You remember, Wolf, we talked about this a couple of days before all this happened. And that was what I predicted they would do.

I think it's very important to go to the G20. It is the crucial decision-making forum now. And we've got a lot of issues that have to be dealt with, from trade to, you know, the issues of cyber security and things like that. The United States needs to be at the table.

But any kind of special recognition for Putin under these circumstances strikes me as the wrong message to send.

So I think the president did the right thing.

BLITZER: There is clearly a serious strain in U.S.-Russian relations right now. It reminds me of an interview I did with Mitt Romney a little bit more than a year ago, when we spoke about U.S.-Russia relations.

And he said this at the time.

Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY (R), FORMER U.S. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: These are very unfortunate developments. And if he's planning on doing more and suggests to Russia that he has things he's willing to do with them he's not willing to tell the American people, this is to Russia, this is, without question, our number one geopolitical foe. They fight every cause for the world's worst actors. The idea that he has more flexibility in mind for Russia is very, very troubling, indeed.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: So in retrospect, Fareed, was Romney right when he called Russia America's number one geopolitical foe?

ZAKARIA: I don't so, because I think it misconstrues the kind of world we're in, Wolf. We're not in a world -- a binary world where we have one big enemy. That was the cold war. That was World War II, if you will. It's a world in which we have many challenges. We've got challenges coming from Iran, from the collapse of Syria, from al -- you know, terrorist networks.

Yes, Russia is not one of our most trusted allies. It never has been. And I think that the mistake, sometimes, we make, it so imagine that there was some, as I say, imaginary moment where Russia was a a great ally or cooperated with us. For a brief period, when it was on its knees after the cold war, when Yeltsin was president, Russia was quite cooperative with us. Otherwise, for the last 75 years, we've been always been dealing with a difficult Russia that has interests -- fundamental interests that are different from ours.

BLITZER: The outgoing deputy director of the CIA, Mike Morrell, just gave an exit interview in "The Wall Street Journal" in which he says, as far as he's concerned, this. He says, "Syria is probably the most important issue in the world today because of where it is currently heading."

He is deeply concerned about the chemical weapons, other weapons in Syria. If the regime loses control, al Qaeda will have access to all those weapons. He says that's the major national security threat to the United States right now.

What do you think?

ZAKARIA: Well, I think it's certainly one of the biggest problems we face. If you look at where al Qaeda is cropping up, Wolf, it's not in the places that are the most, you know, kind of radical. They're not the greatest hotbeds of Islamic radicalism or militancy. It's in places where the government has no control. So it's Somalia, it's Yemen, it's Mali, it's Chad. Syria is -- has -- the danger here is that Syria becomes one of those failed states, and then al Qaeda is able to establish a foothold. As you say, the chemical weapons add to the complexity.

But the problem is there isn't an easy answer to it. I mean, unless the answer is that we send, you know, we send hundreds of thousands of troops, or even tens of thousands of troops, in, it's not clear to me what the answer is, because remember, aiding the rebels, in many ways, would be aiding al Qaeda, because al Qaeda is sort of allied with the rebels in Syria.

So he's absolutely right, this is a very complicated problem that the United States has to navigate. But I'm not sure that there's an easy answer, such as, therefore, we should support the Syrian rebels or, you know, what should -- or should we support Assad to make sure that these al Qaeda groups never get control of these chemical weapons?

It's just a very tough problem.

BLITZER: It certainly is.

All right, Fareed, thanks very much.

Fareed Zakaria, the program, "FAREED ZAKARIA GPS," airs every Sunday, 10:00 a.m., and it's replayed at 1:00 p.m. Eastern.

Thanks very much, Fareed.

Up next, a stunning new twist and a snag in the court-martial of the admitted Fort Hood massacre gunman.

Also ahead, an in your face war of words between Anthony Weiner and a rival in the New York mayoral race. Wait until you see what happened.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: A stunning accusation and a sudden halt to the court-martial of the admitted Fort Hood gunman, Major Nidal Hassan. It comes a day after the Army psychiatrist declared that he, indeed, was the shooter who killed 13 people and wounded 32 others in a 2009 rampage.

Hassan is representing himself, but the lawyers assigned to back up his defense team have now suddenly asked to withdraw from the case.

CNN's Ed Lavandera is on the scene.

He's been in the courtroom, Ed, what's the latest?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, this was a bizarre day of teri -- what we thought was going to be testimony, Wolf. But everything started about 45 minutes late this morning.

And then, when the judge did show up and Major Hassan was at his defense table, as well as prosecutors, and this his what is called the standby counsel -- three attorneys that have been assigned to Major Hassan to help navigate him through this death penalty case basically told the judge that they want to modify their standing and their role in this case.

They say that Major Hassan is essentially working with the prosecution to ensure that he gets the death penalty and that they can't stand by and watch that happen.

Major Hassan objected to that. And before everything -- anything could be said, the judge shut it all down, said that that would be a conversation that those attorneys would have in private.

So everything has been shut down for today. We're told that everything is supposed to resume tomorrow.

But a dramatic legal drama there unfolding that we witnessed today -- Wolf.

BLITZER: And how did it get to this point, where the trial had to be postponed for the whole day?

LAVANDERA: Well, essentially it was from the get go, from what we saw yesterday, in his opening statements. The first thing that Major Hassan declared is, "I am the shooter."

And it was clear from the outset that he wasn't going to be putting on any kind of defense as to whether or not he is guilty or innocent.

Throughout the day, some dozen witnesses testified. Major Hassan didn't really cross-examine anyone, only had a few questions, didn't raise any objections.

So it was clear to those attorneys that are assigned to help him through this that he wasn't really going to be putting up much of a defense when it came to arguing whether or not -- his guilt or innocence, in this case. He had made it very clear from the beginning that he is guilty of this crime.

BLITZER: He says basically he wanted to protect the Taliban from the U.S. military in Afghanistan. That's why he says he went out and killed 13 fellow troops and wounded, what, 31 others.

Ed is covering the trial for us.

We'll stay in close touch.

Ed Lavandera on the scene at Fort Hood, Texas.

An important milestone today for the three women recovering from horrible crimes.

Mary Snow is monitoring that and some of the other top stories in the SITUATION ROOM right now. Mary, what do you have?

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, in Cleveland this morning, demolition crews tore down the house where Ariel Castro held three capital kidnapped women for decade. They were freed in early May. One of the women, Michelle Knight, actually stopped by today. She gave some of the onlookers yellow balloons which they release to show solidarity with others, especially children who've been abducted.

A fire heavily damaged the international terminal at Nairobi Kenya's airport today. Nobody was hurt. But Kenyans authorities are very worried about potential harm to the country's tourism industry and export. The Nairobi airport is one of East Africa's major hubs.

And things are getting pretty testy between New York City's mayoral candidates. Check out this exchange between Democrat Anthony Weiner and Republican George Mcdonald.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I heard what you said.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don't put your hands on me ever again.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Really?

(INAUDIBLE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SNOW: You didn't hear it. Anthony Weiner calling his opponent grandpa. Now, New Yorkers have to get through at least another month of name-calling. The primary which will narrow down the field of candidates is September 10th -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. Mary, thank you.

Coming up, a troubling development that may make it much easier to catch a deadly form of the flu. Stand by.

Also, we have details of what's being called a near-death accident involving Usher's son. It's a restart of the custody battle between the singer and his ex-wife. We have the latest. Stay with us. You're in the SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: A little boy is lucky to be alive. And his near drowning is sending a bitter custody fight between the singer, Usher, and his ex- wife back to court. Five-year-old Usher Raymond V got stuck in a swimming drain on Monday. Usher's aunt who was in charge called 911, but a pair of workmen at the home to install a sound system actually pulled the little boy out of the pool.

He was conscious, alert, and breathing when an ambulance took him to an Atlanta area hospital. CNNs Alina Machado is joining us now. She has more on this custody fight that the accident has reignited. What's the latest, Alina?

ALINA MACHADO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, Usher's ex-wife is requesting a custody hearing today. She sent out a tweet saying in part, "I'm so happy to say that my son is doing much better, talking, and asking for food. Thank you for your wishes and prayers."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MACHADO (voice-over): A day after singer, Usher Raymond's, son nearly drowned in a pool at his Atlanta home.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They're doing CPR on him now.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is he breathing?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is he breathing? Is he breathing? He's breathing, yes, ma'am.

MACHADO: The 5-year-old's mother, Usher's ex-wife, Tameka Foster Raymond, filed this motion, seeking an emergency custody hearing. It's the latest development in what has been a bitter fight between the singer and his former wife. Usher and Tameka married in 2007. They were divorced just two years later. The singer gained custody of the couple's two young boy's.

But according to Tuesday's court filing, the boys' mother says there has been, quote, "a substantial change in circumstance materially affecting the welfare of the minor children of the parties." Usher's ex-wife alleges he travels excessively, away from the home 85 percent of the time, and that, quote, "the minor children are at risk while in the care of third party caregivers."

The filing cites Monday near drowning of the five-year-old who was being cared for by his aunt at the time of the incident. It said he was left in the pool unsupervised. Tina Shadix Roddenberry practices family law in Georgia.

TINA SHADIX RODDENBERRY, FAMILY LAW ATTORNEY: In family law cases, how a litigant handles litigation is often a relevant factor for the court to consider. For example, in this situation, it appears the child was in intensive care when she signed the affidavit and filed the motion.

I think it's going to be an argument by Usher's attorneys that the mother is showing poor judgment and spending her time and resources litigating over an issue when the child probably needs all the focus on him and his medical care and making best decisions there without the stress of comparing for hearings.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MACHADO (on-camera): Now, Raymond would not comment on the motion or calls to Usher's attorney and his publicist were not immediately return. Meanwhile, the hearing on that motion is set for Friday afternoon, and we're told Usher and his ex-wife are both expected to be in court -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Thanks very much, Alina Machado reporting for us.

Still ahead here in the SITUATION ROOM, a troubling development that may make it much easier to catch a deadly form of the Flu. TWO top doctors, including our own, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, they're both here in the SITUATION ROOM.

Plus, Oprah Winfrey, Oscar contender? Stay with us and see why that could happen.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Happening now, a very worrisome development involving a deadly strain of the flu.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER (voice-over): Stay with us for what you need to know.

A poplar psychology teacher scary past just caught up with him. It puts officials and the university on the spot.

And, Oprah Winfrey sits down for a rare one-on-one interview. And that sound in the background might be Oscar buzz.

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

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER (on-camera): Interview with Oprah Winfrey coming up in a few minutes here in the SITUATION ROOM. But right now, there are new worries about what the World Health Organization calls one of the most lethal strains of flu to appear in recent years. It's a form of bird flu that until now only rarely spread to humans. But for the first time, scientists now say they have documented a case of human to human transmission in China.

And joining us now, our chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, and Dr. Anthony Fauci, he's the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health here in the nation's capital. Thanks to both of you for joining us. Sanjay, quickly to you, what do you make of this worrisome development?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, i think it's concerning, although, you know, maybe not time to sound the alarm bells, you know, quite yet. You know, you have 134 cases of this H7N9. People never remember these numbers, Wolf, but it's not the same bird flu as we talked about several years ago, about ten years ago.

It's a type of bird flu, but a different one. Just one that's presenting -- showing up this year. Of those people, about 43 people have died. Now, two of the people are -- this father and this daughter. We know that the father interacted with poultry that was subsequently found to be infected, but his daughter never did, and she still got infected.

So -- and then they genetically tested the virus and found that, in fact, it did spread from father to daughter. So, it was a documented case of human transmission. And that's what people are looking for. Let me point out, Wolf that this man also had contact with at least 43 other people, as far as that investigation, and they did not become infected.

So, this virus does spread from human to human. We documented that, but it doesn't seem to happen easily, at least, not according to this one report.

BLITZER: Dr. Fauci, how worried should Americans be? Could this possibly spread here to the United States?

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIR. NATL. INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: Certainly, there's a possibility, but as Sanjay said, right now, this very inefficiently goes from chickens to humans. There has only been 144 cases, as Sanjay mentioned. But the interesting thing is that, as we've seen with our bird flus that jump species from the chicken to the human, it can go rarely from human to human, but it's not sustained.

It looks like in this particular case from the father to the daughter, that it was a one-off, because it went to her. And as Sanjay said, they investigated very closely 43 other individuals who had close contact, and it did not spread. So, that's what we call a lack of sustained transmission. If it stays that way, then things will be clearly much less worrisome than if it started to be a sustained transmission.

BLITZER: I know Dr. Fauci Sanjay has a question for you. Go ahead, Sanjay.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: I'll just preface by saying Dr. Fauci is a guy we always call and ask these questions to. But I'm curious, when you heard about this report, this case actually happened back in March, what sort of preparations do go on at your level, at the United States' federal government level for possible preparations?

FAUCI: Well, the preparations are, you know, already having the virus in a seed form to start making a vaccine if necessary. So we're already in the process, not necessarily at all of mass producing a vaccine, but the early processes of getting a seed for a vaccine to be able to make it, and if we need to stockpile it, to stockpile it. Also, taking a look at its sensitivity to the currently available antivirals. That's been tested, to make sure that if fact if we do have an outbreak, we have drugs to be able to treat them. So, these kinds of preparations at the level of the CDC, and FDA and NIH and the W.H.O., are all ongoing right as we speak.

GUPTA: And does it appear to be sensitive to Tamiflu, one of the common antivirals?

FAUCI: In general, yes. There's been one isolate that's been shown to in fact have resistance. So, you have to be careful. When you only have a single isolate that's resistant, that doesn't mean that all of these will be resistant, but it certainly does have the capability of getting resistant to the Tamiflu. But that's not something, given the small number of cases we have seen and the lack of transmissibility from person to person, that's not something that's really of great concern now but certainly something we want to keep an eye on. BLITZER: Are there certainly groups, Dr. Fauci, of people who seem to be more susceptible to this particular flu than others?

FAUCI: Well, you know, it's very interesting, wolf. We don't have definitive proof that there's a genetic predisposition, but it's curious that we know that it's likely that many, many people are exposed to this, particularly when you have a considerable number of chickens that are infected. And yet very, very few people yet infected. That suggests, but by no means proves, that there may be some genetic predisposition to the susceptibility to getting infected, but that's still in the theoretical phase. But it's a good suggestion.

BLITZER: Excellent discussion, good information, Dr. Anthony Fauci, as usual. Thanks very much. And Sanjay Gupta, of course, thanks to you as well. We'll stay on top of the story. Let's hope it stays as remote as it appears to be right now.

And just ahead, a popular psychology professor with a deadly secret buried in his distant past. Now the secret is revealed.

And the payoff is sweet: $425 million. But you won't believe the odds against winning the latest Powerball Jackpot. That's coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: All of us can certainly remember a favorite teacher, so you can imagine what students, parents and university officials are feeling when they learned the shocking details of a popular psychology professor's very early life. Those details include murder charges and insanity.

CNN's Ted Rowlands has the story.

TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): August 4th, 1967, inside this home in Georgetown, Texas, police found the bodies of a college professor, his wife and their 17-year-old daughter. Within hours, 15- year-old James Wolcott admitted he'd killed his family using this .22- caliber rifle. Wolcott told police he hated his parents and sister and claimed he'd been sniffing glue in the weeks before he murdered them.

The story sent shock waves through the small town and made headlines around the country. The next year James Wolcott was tried as an adult, but was found not guilty by reason of insanity. Seven years after that, in 1974, he was deemed sane and set free.

(on camera): After that, Wolcott seemed to just disappear until a Texas newspaper reporter tracked him down here in the Central Illinois town of Decatur where he's been teaching psychology at Millikin University for the past 27 years.

(voice-over): Here he is now. His name is Dr. James St. James. He's the head of the psych department at Millikin and a student favorite.

JORDAN STOUT, STUDENT, MILLIKIN UNIVERSITY: He's very intelligent. He's almost a genius. He could lecture for hours without notes and he just knows everything off the top of his head. ROWLANDS: Some people are upset St. James didn't tell the university about his past when he was hired. Decatur City Councilman Jerry Dawson told the local newspaper, quote, "If I were a parent and my kids were going to Millikin, that's something I would want to know."

The university, though, is standing by St. James, saying given the traumatic experiences of his childhood, Dr. St. James's effort to rebuild his life and obtain a successful professional career have been remarkable.

(on camera): There are some people who want him to step down. What are your thoughts?

STOUT: I think he should stay. He's been a great professor. He has no reason to leave unless he does something here. You know, he has no reason to step down.

ROWLANDS: We tried to contact St. James, who's now 61, at his home and by e-mail but got no response. Even with his secret now out, the university is expecting he'll be back in the classroom when school resumes at the end of the month.

Ted Rowlands, CNN, Decatur, Illinois.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: And this footnote: "The Chicago Tribune" newspaper did make contact with St. James. He would not comment except to say he planned to return to work.

Up next, after 15 years, Oprah Winfrey returns to the big screen. She sits down with CNN's Nischelle Turner to talk about her new movie, racism in America, and the succeed of her own cable network.

And after a player has hit the benches of the bullpens they clear, two teams get ready to fight. But the only brawl takes place on Twitter. That's coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Here's a look at this hour's "Hot Shots."

In England, a surfing competition heats up. Check it out.

In Mexico, migrants ride atop train cars.

In Moscow, the sun shines behind a Kremlin tower.

And in Berlin, 1,600 panda sculptures decorate a square in front of the main train station.

"Hot Shots," pictures coming in from around the world.

She never went away, but Oprah Winfrey is making a major comeback to the big screen. She starts in director Lee Daniels' new movie "The Butler" about an African-American who witnessed three decades of history while working at the White House.

CNN's entertainment correspondent Nischelle Turner caught up with Oprah for a rare one-on-one interview.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NISCHELLE TURNER, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: So your first dramatic role in 15 years since "Beloved."

OPRAH WINFREY: Can you believe that, Nischelle? Can you believe it? I know, really, what made me say yes to that?

TURNER: That was my question. What made you say yes?

WINFREY: Especially since I was going through it. I was going through building O.W.N. and thank goodness we were on the other side, at least headed in the right direction for that. And I said to Lee, this is the absolute worst time you could ask me to do anything, Lee. And, you know, he just would not take no for an answer.

I think that one of the reasons why there's so much still lingering prejudice and racism is because we don't get to see people as ourselves. And so this was an opportunity, I thought, to let the world feel --

FOREST WHITAKER, ACTOR, "THE BUTLER": I'm the new butler.

WINFREY: The heart of the butler, the heart of this period that really was a defining period in the lives of many black people, but also our nation.

TURNER: I was going to say, will this generation that sees this movie today, do you think they'll get Cecil Gaines, though? Or will they look at him as weak? Because he --

WINFREY: I certainly hope not. I certainly -- you know what I hope that this generation looks and sees is they see their own fathers. That's what I hope they look and see. And see their own fathers, and recognize that there were different ways of being a warrior.

That moment in the film where Cecil Gaines goes in and says the white help is making more than the black help here, and I think that's not fair and we should, you know, get equal pay. That is his way of warring.

TURNER: The conversation that is -- is had in this film about race, race relations, racism, we're still having that conversation today.

WINFREY: I think we'll be having that conversation.

TURNER: You think?

WINFREY: For a long time, because, you know, all of this, conversations about race, conversations about profiling, regardless of what race is being profiled, is really about our march to humanity. It's about our march to not fearing one another, and I think when you don't have stories and you don't have a placement in the culture where people can see that there's a whole tapestry -- you know, one of the reason why I love this film and wanted to be a part of it is because of the tenderness between the -- of the husband and wife. And the tenderness and nurturing nature of the middle-class family. You know, so many images --

TURNER: I had never seen that before.

WINFREY: I know you hadn't seen it before. You know? I know you hadn't seen it.

TURNER: Seriously. I've never seen that before.

WINFREY: Isn't that just shocking? And when I ask other people, white people, black people, when have you seen that tenderness and honor and respect and -- people who have been together and they can finish each other's sentences, and you can see the caring.

The caring that's in that family happens not just when they're in bed together, Cecil and Gloria, but when they're sitting at the table and finishing each other's sentences, and she said --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WINFREY: What was the name of that movie, honey?

FOREST WHITAKER, ACTOR, "THE BUTLER": "In the Heat of the Night."

WINFREY: "In the Heat of the Night."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WINFREY: You can feel that.

TURNER: Do you feel like you still experience racism of any form?

WINFREY: I -- nobody's going to call up -- come up to me and call me the N word unless they're on Twitter and I can't find them.

(LAUGHTER)

TURNER: Twitter thugs are something else, right?

WINFREY: Twitter thugs. That's what it does. The Twitter thugs. So I've learned to leave the Twitter thugs alone. So I guess -- unless it's something ridiculous, nobody is going to do it, but I experience racism in ways that you experience when you have reached a level where people can't call you to your face by -- you know, out of your name.

I experience it through people's expectations and lack thereof. And I use it to my advantage. It's a wonderful thing when people count you out because they think you can't do something. It's a wonderful thing. I always say this. There's a poem by Maya Angelou called "Our Grandmothers."

And there's a line in there that says, "When I walk into the room, I come as one, but I stand as 10,000." So when I walk into the room and I'm the only one standing in there, I'm the only one, it doesn't bother me a bit.

TURNER: Can I just ask you quickly about the good news that you got earlier this week, that OWN is going to turn a profit six months ahead of schedule?

WINFREY: Yes. Yes. Yes. Thank you for that. Listen, from the beginning, Nischelle, everyone told me that it was going to take five years, but I think because it was my name on the channel, there was an expectation that people were just going to automatically turn on the TV, and even though nothing was there, they were going to just sit there and watch nothing.

So we had to build the channel. Now I always believed that it was going to take some time. What threw me off was when I finished the show, and then everybody said, why isn't it done yet? But what I do when the going gets rough, there's no such thing as quitting. I have to -- I sit with myself. I go inside and I say, all right, what is the next right move? What do I need to do to turn this around?

And that's what we did. We did. Not I, but my team. Sheri Salata, Erik Logan, we had many, many, many, many, many a nights.

TURNER: So many Jesus come?

(LAUGHTER)

WINFREY: And honey, Jesus was at the table. Jesus was at that table.

(LAUGHTER)

That's why we're moving forward because Jesus was at the table. Thank you.

TURNER: Thank you very much.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Nischelle is joining us right now.

Thank you very much. Excellent interview, Nischelle.

TURNER: Thank you.

BLITZER: Now you've seen the movie, "The Butler." I can't wait to see it but I think you've seen it, what, twice already? Is it as good as all the critics say?

TURNER: You know I have seen it twice, Wolf. And the first time I saw it was because I knew I was going to sit down with Oprah. But I saw it a couple of weeks earlier. So the day before I was to sit down with her, I wanted to go see it again so I could be completely refreshed and have it fresh in my mind.

And I'm going to tell you this. It's a movie definitely with a message that's going to get a lot of people talking. And it will generate a lot of buzz.

You know, Oprah hasn't done a movie for 15 years, a dramatic role, Wolf. And I have not seen her surrender to a role like she does with this one. Since she was Sophia in "The Color Purple" and she got an Oscar nomination for that. So she's really good in this role, it's a supporting role, but she's really good in this role, and Forest Whitaker is understated and elegant.

But there's so many superstars in this movie. Robin Williams plays Dwight Eisenhower. Liev Schreiber plays Lyndon B. Johnson. James Marsden plays John F. Kennedy. I mean, just so many. I mean, Eugene Allen is the butler's real name. But in the movie, Cecil Gaines serves seven presidents, eight presidencies. John Cusak plays Richard Nixon.

So my question to you, Wolf, because I heard a little rumor that you have covered the White House since President Ford? Is that true?

BLITZER: That would be Gerald Ford. That would be Gerald Ford. Yes. That is Gerald ford, yes.

TURNER: So --

BLITZER: That is definitely true and I've seen a lot of staff people at the White House over those many years as well.

TURNER: Well, you know what, I have to tell you, you could be the Eugene Allen of CNN because that means you've had Gerald Ford --

BLITZER: Jimmy Carter.

TURNER: Jimmy Carter. Yes.

BLITZER: Ronald Reagan. All of them.

TURNER: President Reagan.

BLITZER: Yes.

TURNER: H.W. Bush, W. Bush, President Obama and Bill Clinton, that's seven, Wolf. You've been here.

BLITZER: You know -- are you going to check out my next motion picture?

TURNER: You know what, I've seen you in about three --

BLITZER: You saw me in "Skyfall." I know. Everybody saw in "Skyfall."

TURNER: Yes.

BLITZER: But this Saturday night, 9:00 p.m. Eastern, on our sister network, HBO, the new Larry David film, "Clear History," you'll see Wolf Blitzer in that film.

TURNER: I got my popcorn ready.

BLITZER: You ready?

TURNER: Wolf, I'm there. Yes.

BLITZER: All right. I think you'll enjoy it. If you like Larry David, and who doesn't.

TURNER: Exactly.

BLITZER: All right. Good. Just want to make sure you're watching. It was pretty thrilling to interview Oprah, wasn't it?

TURNER: You know, it absolutely was thrilling and she was lovely and she really kind of put herself out there. One of the things that really actually made me -- give me pause was because I didn't expect her to say it, when I asked her flat out, if she still experienced racism. I expected her to say no. But she didn't. She said she does.

BLITZER: Yes. You did a good job, Nischelle. Thanks very much.

Nischelle Turner, helping all of us here at CNN. Thank you.

Emotions were already high when the Washington Nationals took on the rival Atlanta Braves last night. The Braves are racing towards a pennant. The Nationals got so much -- at least not now. The Nats got an early homerun. But the Braves were irritated when excitable young star Bryce Harper lingered to enjoy his moment and slowly trotted home.

And that set the stage for Harper's next at-bat. The Braves pitcher immediately hit him with a 94-mile-per-hour fastball. Harper threw down his bat, started yelling, both benches, both pens, they cleared. Players were ready to brawl, but guess what? There was no brawl. At least not on the field. Instead, the two teams fought it out the modern way. They fought it out on Twitter.

Using one of Harper's most quoted lines against them, the Braves sent out a tweet saying, "Clown, move, bro." But the Nationals topped that, tweeting back, "Which part, giving up the homerun or drilling the 20-year-old on the first pitch his next time up?"

The former Braves star, Chipper Jones, also jumped in, tweeting, "Don't walk off homers and you won't get hit."

It may have been too much excitement for Chipper. Today he sent out what he said was his last tweet. I guess that makes him a Twitter quitter, or something like that. We'll see what happens the next time the Braves play the Nats.

At the top of the hour, one al Qaeda plot is foiled, but the threat against Americans remains very real.

And the $425 million jackpot is extraordinary. But guess what so are the odds. That's next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: All right. Get ready for another massive lottery jackpot. Tonight's Powerball drawing is worth $425 million. But you might want to focus on a different set of numbers.

CNN's Tom Foreman is here to explain what's going on.

Go ahead.

(CROSSTALK)

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, Wolf, there's some places where you're more likely to win than others, at least statistically. Not really. Look at this. If you look at the states out there, some states have produced more winners. Indiana, huge, Missouri, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, they produced a lot of winners.

Statistically, are people more likely to win there? No, it just has to do with a combination of how the numbers came together and how many people played in those places. So there are lucky states just because that's happened to be the way it goes.

There are also lucky numbers out there. These are the numbers that have most often produced winners, 23, 8, 26, 36, 56 and the Powerball, 29. Not necessarily in this combination. Just these are the numbers most often associated with winners -- Wolf.

BLITZER: If you won the jackpot, show us what you could buy with all that money.

FOREMAN: Man, could you buy things with this? Look, $245 million is a lump sum. Let's say you have no taxes. Let's say you just get $245 million. You could buy a Bugatti Veyron. This is considered the fastest production car in the world. But not just one of them, let's speed them up here. This go about 250 miles an hour. You could buy 98 of them.

If you want to go beyond that, you could get an Elizabeth Taylor diamond to -- with a car like that, a lot of people are going to be interested in you. But you don't just get one, you can get 27 of those, or if you want, you could actually go and rent the country of Lichtenstein for an entire month, although I think any pay-per-view movies or use of the mini bar will cost you a little bit more.

BLITZER: Of course. Always does. Statistically the odds are what? We did some math. About one in 175 million?

FOREMAN: Yes. Those are your chances of actually winning this thing. So they're not very good. But I do want to compare this with some other things you should think about. For example, if you were to be wanting to win the lottery, you have a 15 times better chance of being killed by a shark, attacked by a shark.

You have a 29 percent better chance -- 29 times better chance of being attacked by a swarm of bees and you have a 58 --times better chance of being hit by lightning. But, but, but that's all about the big prize. You might win a little prize along the way, Wolf, so the odds are against you, but the payoff is very, very big.

BLITZER: Certainly is. Tom Foreman, let's see what happens later tonight. Thank you.