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@THISHOUR WITH BERMAN AND MICHAELA

Feinstein Accuses CIA of Illegally Searching Senate Computers; Interpol Identifies Iranians With Stolen Passports, Says Likely Not Terrorism; Some Family of Flight's Missing Say Their Calls Ring Through, Unanswered; Galifianakis Interviews Obama About Health Care

Aired March 11, 2014 - 11:00   ET

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


JOHN BERMAN, CNN CO-ANCHOR: The mystery of Flight 370, new information this morning has officials thinking it was not terrorism.

How can they be so sure in what they are saying about two Iranians traveling with stolen passports?

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN CO-ANCHOR: The president like you likely have never seen him before, the Funny Or Die video to sell ObamaCare.

We'll show you the whole thing in its entirety so you can be the judge. Did he funny or die?

BERMAN: Hello there, everyone. I'm John Berman.

PEREIRA: And I'm Michaela Pereira. It's 11:00 a.m. in the East. That means it's 8:00 a.m., bright and early, out West.

We'll give those stories and much more, right now, @ THIS HOUR.

BERMAN: And we are going to start with this story that's gripping so many people's attention around the world, no terrorist ties found four days after that Malaysia Airlines jet just vanished from the sky.

Interpol now says it was likely not the result of a terror attack. The men who used stolen passports to board the flight have been identified as Iranians, one 18-years-old, the other, 29. They entered Malaysia using valid Iranian passports.

No sign of the wreckage, authorities are broadening their search to the western part of the Malaysian Peninsula at this point, and no answers for family members, either, an agonizing wait for all these loved ones of the 239 people on board the flight. You can hear them crying.

Russia says Secretary of State John Kerry postponed a face-to-face meeting that had been set up with President Vladimir Putin. They were supposed to talk about U.S. proposals on how exactly to solve the crisis ongoing in Ukraine.

Meanwhile, ousted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych showed up today in southwestern Russia, claiming and insisting that he is still the leader of his country and that he will soon return to Kiev, as soon as he possibly can.

BERMAN: And this just happened a short time ago, some pretty high drama in our nation's capital, Senator Dianne Feinstein lashing out at the CIA on the Senate floor. She accused the agency of illegally searching the computers of the Senate intelligence committee, a committee that she heads.

At the time, the panel was investigating the CIA's detention and interrogation program.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D-CA), INTELLIGENCE CHAIRWOMAN: Based on what Director Brennan has informed us, I have grave concerns that the CIA's search may well have violated the separation of powers, principles embodied in the United States Constitution, including the speech and debate clause.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Feinstein says she did not want to go public about her concerns, but says she asked the CIA for an apology and recognition that the search was inappropriate, but she did not receive it.

You can imagine how furious those senators and their aides all are about this.

PEREIRA: New Jersey Governor Chris Christie's former aide, Bridget Kelly, she is in court today, her first public appearance since Christie fired her for those "Traffic-gate" e-mails.

A judge is hearing arguments about whether Kelly and Christie's former campaign manager must turn over documents to a committee.

They have argued that they shouldn't be forced to turn over records that could incriminate them.

BERMAN: The mystery of the missing jetliner is growing this morning as another day passes in Malaysia with no trace, none, of the wreckage or no signal, again, none, from the plane's flight data recorders

PEREIRA: A new twist came just hours ago, when the International Police Agency, Interpol, concluded that the disappearance of Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 does not -- does not appear to be related to terrorism.

Interpol's secretary general says there's no evidence to suggest that these two men, these two Iranian men who used stolen passports, were connected to any terrorist groups.

Here is some of what he had so say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RONALD NOBLE, INTERPOL SECRETARY GENERAL: The more we are inclined to conclude that it was not a terrorist incident. And if you read what the head of police from Malaysia said recently about the 19-year-old whose photograph is here wanting to travel to Frankfurt, Germany, in order to be with his mother, it's part of a human-smuggling issue and not a part of a terrorist issue.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PEREIRA: We are joined @ THIS HOUR by Brian Jenkins in Santa Monica, California. He's director of the National Transportation Security Center of Excellence at the Mineta Transportation Institute, also senior adviser to the president of Rand.

And our Richard Quest is here in studio with us.

Gentlemen, good to have you both.

Brian, we'll start with you first. How is it - and I think a lot of people are scratching their heads about this - that, with no plane, no debris found, no trace of this airplane, how is it that Interpol can be so confident this was not terror related?

BRIAN JENKINS, MINETA TRANSPORTATION INSTITUTE: I don't know that they can conclude that it wasn't terrorist related. Certainly the fact that there were people on board that plane with stolen passports has fueled speculation.

It seems less likely that those two on the plane with the stolen passports have anything to do with terrorism, but we're still confronted with the mystery of what brought this plane down.

There are so few planes that crash, and most of them, when they do crash, the explanations are ready available, crashes during takeoff or landing during bad weather, that this type of mystery tends to fuel speculation about other causes.

I suspect that speculation will persist.

BERMAN: It's the facts or the lack of facts around this plane crash that in some ways unprecedented.

We are joined by Richard Quest here. Richard, you know so much about aviation. The list of nos, as I like to call it here, is extraordinary -- no communication from the cockpit, no signals of any kind, no wreckage. We just haven't really seen anything like that.

RICHARD QUEST, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No, not at this point.

This morning, we heard from the Malaysian military that they now -- and they explained why they have widened the search area to the western coast of Malaysia and into the Malacca Straits and up towards the Andaman Sea.

And they say that the radar track showed that after the plane left the eastern coast of Malaysia by Kota Bharu, it turned around and headed in the opposite direction. Now, that raises an entire raft of questions, not least, how could it fly back over the entire Malaysian Peninsula and air traffic control not notice?

How could the pilots not give information? How could the plane itself not be telegraphing information every 10 minutes about the change of course?

This would have been a plane that was flying a flight path in direction contradiction to its filed path, so that's another conundrum. They are unknowns.

We are in the realm of Donald Rumsfeld, knowns, knowns, unknowns, unknown knowns, and I'm afraid that's where we are at the moment.

PEREIRA: But with these knowns and unknowns and so many of them being unknowns, we also know that these kind of jetliners are so technologically equipped. This had one of those emergency locator beacons of some sort on it.

Explain to our viewers what that it is and how it should have worked in an incident like this.

QUEST: The, ELT, or the emergency locator transmitter, is fitted to flight-data recorder and the cockpit voice recorder, the so-called "black boxes." I think we all know by now they are actually orange.

And in extremis, in a plane crash, if they become detached or there is a violent collision, they have a mechanism that they will start transmitting. They have battery power to last up to 30 days, although there is evidence that it will last much longer.

If the ELT is underwater, then you might not hear the signal, the so- called "ping" signal, I am here, I am here, pinging signal, which is why greater ships with better sonar are now being brought into the area -

PEREIRA: To aid in the search.

QUEST: -- that will be able to pick up the ELT.

PEREIRA: Brian, you know, in the absence of wreckage and the absence of these signals, security is your area of expertise here, what would you be looking into?

Malaysian officials say, despite the fact they don't think it's terrorism, they are still scouring the records of people who were on that flight to look for any psychological or personal problems.

JENKINS: The fact is, that while the search for the wreckage continues, there will be an ongoing investigation of every single individual on that aircraft, and if it was carrying any other cargo, there will be investigations of that cargo. That investigation will go on.

Among the many speculative theories, and these are all speculation, in the absence of fact, on offer are this was a hijacking gone bad; there was a bomb on the plane; this is a pilot that committed suicide and turned off these various monitors; this was somehow a shooting of the pilot and the co-pilot, which put the plane into a steep dive.

All of these are on offer and they really reflect a desire on the part of everybody to fill in the blanks, to fill in the mystery with a cause, and, preferably, a human hand in the cause, because everyone who is a bit apprehensive about flying on airplanes likes to believe that humans are in control rather than this being some random, technological failure, or in this case, a sequence of technological failures.

PEREIRA: Brian Jenkins, Richard Quest, we appreciate both of you joining us to add to this conversation, an ongoing concern, an ongoing mystery as they continue to search for that flight.

Ahead @ THIS HOUR, more mystery about this ill-fated Flight 370, some people are saying, they are calling the cell phones of their loved ones that are missing and they are hearing the phones ring.

Imagine how terrifying that is.

BERMAN: That's just so emotional.

Also, President Obama in the hot seat, the hard-hitting interview with award-winning journalist Zach Galifanakis, the guy from "The Hangover."

Yeah, it's a joke, but it's a joke with huge, political implications.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PEREIRA: A bizarre and eerie part of this Malaysia Airlines jetliner mystery, some of the passengers family are telling "The Washington Post" that they've been actually trying to reach their missing loved ones by calling their phones and that, on the other end, they're actually hearing these phones ring.

BERMAN: The phones are ringing; they are not being picked up, but they are ringing.

With the families just so desperate for any kind of news at all, you can imagine how they're clinging to this as a sign of hope, just some hope for a connection here.

PEREIRA: Our Andrew Stevens joins us by phone. He's in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and he joins us now.

Andrew, I can imagine how upsetting this must be for the family members. What have you been hearing from them? What are they telling you?

ANDREW STEVENS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): We're going into the fifth day. You can imagine, you can only imagine, just how distraught they must be getting, because there just is so little information coming out. And then, to dial the number of your loved one and to hear it ring would give you hope against hope.

We were hearing that at a conference today -- press conference today given by the senior executives of Malaysia Airlines actually in Beijing for some of the families of passengers who were on that plane. And it was -- there were harrowing scenes there, a father standing up and screaming, you know, "Give us information! Where is my son? What has happened?"

And we were hearing there that they were ringing these numbers and they were calling, they were actually calling, getting a ring tone. Talk to an expert, and they will tell you that that is not an uncommon thing to happen. It's part of a call-forwarding system. It is the world in which we live. This can happen because if you think about it, you are getting five days on now, the batteries, obviously, would have long have since run down. So this is just a cruel twist rather than anything else.

PEREIRA: Cruel's a perfect word.

BERMAN: It's gotta be so difficult for them. Do they feel like they're -- are these people satisfied with what they are hearing from the airline right now? Because there are just no answers out there. Is the airline telling them anything right now to keep them calm, to keep them -- I don't know. I mean, I don't know how you keep up hope --

PEREIRA: I don't know you do.

BERMAN: -- with all the information that's out there? But how are they doing?

STEVENS: Well, they are in the dark as we are. This has been going on for so long now with so many sophisticated devices aimed at locating a plane which can disappear off the radar (inaudible) in a fairly busy part of the world as far as air traffic concerned, completely disappeared.

Over the last three days, we've had various leads, but all run to nothing, reports that (inaudible) water. They've turned out to be nothing associated with the plane. Talks or reports of an oil slick in the water.

Yes, there is an oil slick in the water. It's come from a barge, not -- it's not jet gas. And so on. So the Malaysians are very careful about saying we've got this, we've got that because so much has been discredited.

So you can only imagine their frustration in having to deal with the families who all they want to know is what has happened to their loved ones. And they just can't tell them. And you have this horrible standoff between the two now. Looking at the video, looking at the footage of that press conference in Beijing today, the raw emotion is just totally understandable. And it's now bubbling out. The Chinese are quite -- can be quite stoic, but only now, four days on, it's heading towards a fifth day, it's really starting to boil over. PEREIRA: Well, and Andrew Stevens pointing out there, that, you know, this grief and anguish turns to frustration, because there is a lack of answers. Authorities themselves are stumped and stymied by the lack of any evidence or debris or a signal or anything. But you can't help but just feel terrible for these victims who have no idea.

BERMAN: It's completely understandable.

PEREIRA: The worst nightmare.

BERMAN: All right, coming up for us next, we are going to talk about something that has a lot of people talking in Washington and Hollywood. This is one of the strangest interviews you have ever seen, one of the funniest you have ever seen, and perhaps one of the most politically effective interviews you have ever seen. That's right. That's the guy from "The Hangover." And he had a sit-down with President Obama. We'll tell you why.

PEREIRA: Plus, if you thought the aforementioned Beibs was bratty before, just wait until you see his legal deposition. You might not believe your eyes.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: All right, you have never seen President Obama sit down for an interview quite like this. He was at this interview to talk about health care and Obamacare. But where he was, oh, where he was.

PEREIRA: You know, Funny or Die? He sat between two ferns with Zach Galifianakis. There's not really not much we can say about it other than say, take a look at it. We will discuss on the other side after you have the chance to view it.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ZACH GALIFIANAKIS, COMMEDIAN: Sorry I had to cancel a few times. My mousepad broke last week, and I had to get my great aunt some diabetes shoes, and --

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You know what, Zach? It's no problem. I mean, I have to say when I heard that, like, people actually watched this show, I was actually pretty surprised.

GALIFIANAKIS: Hi. Welcome to another edition of "Between Two Ferns." I'm your host, Zach Galifianakis. And my guest today is Barack -- President Barack Obama.

OBAMA: Good to be with you, Zach.

GALIFIANAKIS: First question, in 2013, you pardoned a turkey. What do you have planned for 2014?

OBAMA: We'll probably pardon another turkey. We do that every Thanksgiving. Was that depressing to you, seeing one turkey kind of taken out of circulation, a turkey you couldn't eat? GALIFIANAKIS: So how does this work? Do you send Ambassador Rodman to North Korea on your behalf? I read somewhere that you'd be sending Hulk Hogan to Syria. Or was that more of a job for Tonya Harding?

OBAMA: Zach, he is not our ambassador.

GALIFIANAKIS: What should we do about (inaudible)?

OBAMA: Why don't we move on?

GALIFIANAKIS: I have to know, what is it like to be the last black president?

OBAMA: Seriously? What is it like for this to be the last time you ever talk to a president?

GALIFIANAKIS: It must kind of stink, though, that you can't run, you know, three times, you know?

OBAMA: Actually, I think it is a good idea. You know, if I ran a third time, it would be sort of like doing a third "Hangover" movie. It didn't really work out very well, did it?

Now, I have to say that I have seen this show before and some of the episodes have probably been a little bit better than this. For example, the one with Bradley Cooper, that was a great show.

GALIFIANAKIS: Bradley Cooper --

OBAMA: He kind of carried that movie, didn't he?

GALIFIANAKIS: Which film are you speaking of?

OBAMA: Those "Hangover" movies. He basically carried them.

GALIFIANAKIS: Yeah, everybody loves Bradley. Good for him.

OBAMA: Good-looking guy.

GALIFIANAKIS: Being like that in Hollywood? That's easy. Tall, handsome, that's easy. Be short and fat and smell like Doritos and try to make it in Hollywood.

Is it going to be hard in two years when you're no longer president if people will stop letting you win at basketball?

OBAMA: How does it feel having a three-inch vertical?

GALIFIANAKIS: It is a three-inch horizontal. So.

Where are you planning on building your presidential library, in Hawaii, or your home country of Kenya? Because both places seem like they would be --

OBAMA: Zach, that's a ridiculous question.

GALIFIANAKIS: Well, you know, not to bring up the birth certificate, and which you never did really produce --

OBAMA: Where is your birth certificate? Why don't you show it to us right now?

GALIFIANAKIS: I don't want to show anybody my birth certificate because it is embarrassing.

OBAMA: What's embarrassing about it?

GALIFIANAKIS: My weight on it. It says I was born seven pounds, 800 ounces.

You know what I would do if I were president, Mr. President? I would make same-sex divorce illegal, then see how bad they want it.

OBAMA: I think that's why you are not president. And that's a good thing.

GALIFIANAKIS: You said if you had a son, you would not let him play football. What makes you think that he would want to play football? What if he was a nerd like you?

OBAMA: Do you think a woman like Michelle would marry a nerd? Why don't you ask her whether she thinks I'm a nerd?

GALIFIANAKIS: Could I?

OBAMA: No. I'm not going to let her near you.

GALIFIANAKIS: So do you go to any websites that are dotcoms or dotnets? Or do you mainly just stick with dotgovs?

OBAMA: No, actually we go to dotgovs. Have you heard of healthcare.gov?

GALIFIANAKIS: There we go.

OK, let's get this out of the way. What did you come here to plug?

OBAMA: Well, first of all, I think it's fair to say that I wouldn't be with you here today if I didn't have something to plug.

Have you heard of the Affordable Care Act?

GALIFIANAKIS: Oh, yeah, I heard about that. That's the thing that doesn't work? Why would you get the guy that created the zoon (ph) to make your website?

OBAMA: Healthcare.gov works great now. And millions of Americans have already gotten health insurance plans. And what we want is for people to know that you can get affordable health care. Most young Americans right now, they are not covered. And the truth is, is that they can get coverage all for what it costs you to pay your cell phone bill.

GALIFIANAKIS: Is this what they mean by drones? OBAMA: The point is, that a lot of young people, they think they are invincible.

GALIFIANAKIS: Did you say invisible? Because I think that's improbable.

OBAMA: No, no, not "invisible", invincible, meaning that they don't think they can get hurt.

GALIFIANAKIS: I'm just saying that nobody could be invisible, if you had said invisible.

OBAMA: I understand that. If they get that health insurance, it can really make a big difference. And they've got until March 31st to sign up.

GALIFIANAKIS: I don't have a computer so, how does --

OBAMA: Well, then you can call 1-800-318-2596.

GALIFIANAKIS: I don't like the phone. I'm off the grid. I don't want you people, like looking at my texts, if you know what I mean.

OBAMA: First of all, Zach, nobody is interested in your texts. But second of all, you can do it in person. And the law means that insurers can't discriminate against you if you've got a pre-existing condition anymore.

GALIFIANAKIS: Yeah, but what about this, though?

OBAMA: That's disgusting. How long have you had that?

GALIFIANAKIS: Oh, just four months.

OBAMA: Really?

GALIFIANAKIS: Spider bites. I got attacked by spiders.

OBAMA: Zach, you need to get that checked right away. You need to get on healthcare.gov because that's one of the most disgusting things I have ever seen.

GALIFIANAKIS: Is your plug finally over?

OBAMA: I suppose so.

GALIFIANAKIS: So which country were you rooting for in the Winter Olympics?

OBAMA: Seriously? I'm the president of the United States. What do you think, Zach?

GALIFIANAKIS: I want to thank President Obama for being on the show.

OBAMA: I'm going to press this.

GALIFIANAKIS: Don't touch that, please.

Thanks for the interview and thanks for letting me shoot my show here all these years.

OBAMA: You've been shooting these shows here in the diplomatic room? Who gave you permission to do that?

GALIFIANAKIS: Bush.

OBAMA: Seriously? Who gave him clearance?

GALIFIANAKIS: Watch the spider bite.

OBAMA: That's the other hand.

GALIFIANAKIS: No, it's everywhere.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PERIERA: "Between Two Ferns".

BERMAN: The spider bites, they're everywhere.

PEREIRA: They're everywhere. So what were you initial thoughts? You saw the whole thing several times.

BERMAN: I have several thoughts.

PEREIRA: Share.

BERMAN: First of all, I am thoroughly impressed with the humor of the president of the United States. You know, it it's not easy to play the straight man.

PEREIRA: Yeah.

BERMAN: I mean, I do it all the time right here. It is not easy. No, he was really genuinely very funny. I give him huge credit for that.

PEREIRA: But, I feel like he's got --

BERMAN: However -- there's no "but". It's an "and".

PEREIRA: OK.

BERMAN: This is a political ad.

PEREIRA: Yeah.

BERMAN: I mean, this is a political ad designed to promote Obamacare to get the message out there to everyone around the country, including young people, to sign up. I am not saying anything is wrong with that.

PEREIRA: Right, because people are going to say, "Look you've got a message you've got to put out. You've got a plan that you're trying to promote. You know your audience. You know how to reach them. Why not do it in a platform and a way that they'll find entertaining and actually might pay attention to?"

BERMAN: And that's the calculation from the White House Communications Office. And the near fact we just broadcast the whole thing shows you that they're 100 percent.

(LAUGHTER)

PEREIRA: And effective.

BERMAN: So take it for what it is. And I will also will stick up for my friends who are journalists and work in the White House press corps. You know, there are plenty of people who would die to have a seven-minute interview with the president about Obamacare who are actual journalists.