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THE SITUATION ROOM
Interview With Florida Governor Rick Scott; Historic Flooding; California Wildfires; NBA to Owners: Force Sterling to Sell Team; Ukraine 'Helpless' as More Cities Seized; Computer Problems Force Flight Delays
Aired April 30, 2014 - 18:00 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, breaking news: historic flooding. Crews have been racing to rescue trapped residents near the Gulf Coast. We will get a live update from the Florida governor. He's been touring the flood zone.
Fire emergency. Hundreds of homes are evacuated in California as hot, dry winds fan the flames and the danger.
And NBA drama. Could Donald Sterling's wife take ownership of the L.A. Clippers now that he's been banned for making racist remarks? We're digging for new information on that angle right now.
We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BLITZER: Let's get right to the breaking news this hour, extreme weather threatening homes and lives on both coasts of the United States right now. We're tracking floods, fire, and violent storms. Millions of Americans are now affected.
We could see more potentially deadly tornadoes, torrential rains, and high winds in the immediate hours ahead. Our correspondents are in the danger zones. We're tracking the forecast in CNN's Severe Weather Center.
Let's go live to Pensacola, Florida, where homes and cars were literally swallowed by floodwaters as torrential rains hit overnight. Our severe weather expert Chad Myers is there.
Chad, what was it, like, 15 to 20 hours of nonstop rain?
CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, and in one hour, one rain gauge picked up five inches of rain.
They have to think that this place picks up between 45 and 50 inches. But what they had in some spots almost two feet of rain in 24 hours, that's half of a year's worth of rain. There's just no place for it to go except up. And we did see this area right behind me right here, this is Piedmont Road here. And all the way through here, this road is completely gone. We walked this road with the governor earlier today. Residents there just they couldn't believe it. They never even experienced flooding in Ivan or in Katrina, nothing like this. Now their road literally looks like a river, water still coming into the river and flushing on down the street. The residents told me that the drains weren't taking any more water and at that point in time it went up, up and up and then the roadway was washed out from below.
But it was a dangerous night last night because it happened at night for many people. The water came up, the water came in then they had to go up. In some instances, those residents went into the attic. Sound like Katrina in New Orleans? They went into the attic to escape the floodwaters that were coming up in their homes last night, Wolf.
And then something else we just didn't want to hear about, we just heard a rumble of thunder here, and that thunder could mean more showers on the way. The problem yesterday was that it was one storm and then it moved away and then another storm and it moved away. Then they all cluster together. You can probably hear the helicopter taking shots, photos of this damage right here in my microphone.
Another storm here and another storm here. That training effect, like trains, like the boxcars on a train going in the same place because the train track stays in the same place, that's the event that they had here and it certainly washed out a lot of memories for people. They lost a lot of things. It was a flash flood. I was underwater. Probably my feet were underwater at least a couple hours ago. But now it's down.
That doesn't matter to the people that's drywall is wet, their hardwood floor is wet, their couches are wet and all their things that were anywhere near the bottom of their house all wet and have to be thrown away. Big disaster here.
BLITZER: It was that video that we're showing you viewers, look at this from the area, the Pensacola area. It's so dramatic what's been going on over there, Chad. I know that they're sort of bracing for tornadoes. Was the rain, the torrential rain a total surprise?
MYERS: It was a total surprise.
We were chasing tornadoes yesterday in Mississippi and Alabama, and the rain that came down here was supposed to feed those tornadoes. The storms up there never developed. They never got big enough because down here absorbed all of the moisture, absorbed it into the thunderstorms and it rained in one spot.
So what was good for Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, parts of the Carolinas, great news, no tornadoes, was devastating for the people here across parts of Escambia over toward Walton, all the counties right along the Gulf Coast that I love so much because we come visit them every summer.
BLITZER: Yes. All right, Chad, stand by.
I want to go to Pensacola resident Cindi Bonner, who is joining us on the phone. Cindi, you sent us some very dramatic video. We're going to show it to our viewers right now. What was it like? What did you experience?
CINDI BONNER, FLOOD VICTIM: Overnight, it just never slowed down. It was the thunder and the rain from early last night to early hours this morning after the sun actually -- well, after the light came up.
And it was just nonstop. And you could hear thunder. You knew it had just hit something. It was scary. It was scarier than any hurricane I have ever been through.
BLITZER: And you have lived through hurricanes in Pensacola. Have you ever seen flooding like this?
BONNER: Never, absolutely not. The difference in the hurricane than this is you have time to prepare for a hurricane. This was not something that anyone had prepared for. We didn't have batteries, we didn't have water, the extra stuff that we normally would get for a hurricane.
BLITZER: As Chad said, our meteorologist, there was no forecast, no warning that, what, 15 hours of nonstop rain was on the way?
BONNER: Yes. It was basically just another storm moving through. The kids, one of my kids was at an event last night. She couldn't get home until about 9:30, and school's been canceled today and tomorrow.
BLITZER: And then -- but people are going to try to reassemble their lives. So many homes have literally been washed out, roads washed out.
And this video that you sent to us, it is so, so powerful. I think people all over the country, they can relate to what's going on because they know these kinds of neighborhoods and they see this destruction, they see this damage and it is totally, totally heartbreaking.
How scared were you, Cindi, when this was all happening?
BONNER: I was scared. I was texting back and forth with my friend who lives on that road that I sent you the video for, and I couldn't let my kids know that I was just -- I was scared. I got them back to sleep, put batteries in their sound machines, cranked them up loud so that they could get sleep, because we lost our power, lost our water at about 9:00 last night and it didn't come back on until 1:30 this afternoon.
So it was scary, but there's nothing we could do. I wasn't going to leave, so we were there.
BLITZER: Cindi Bonner, good luck to you and good luck to all your friends and family over there as well. Thanks your sharing the video.
The Florida governor, Rick Scott, has declared a state of emergency. And he's warning residents to be on guard for even more rain and maybe more flooding. He's been touring some the hardest-hit areas by these flash floods.
The governor is joining us now live from Pensacola.
Governor, thanks very much.
Has everyone been rescued? Are people missing? What's the latest on that front?
GOV. RICK SCOTT (R), FLORIDA: Sure, Wolf. I got here as soon as I could this morning. We had over 300 individuals asking to be rescued. All those have been rescued today. We don't have anybody that we know of that's still asking for rescue.
You can see the street behind me. All these homes are evacuating. They don't have power. They don't have water. We have so many roads washed away. We have part of our scenic highway washed away. And this was a complete surprise to these people. They woke up at 12:30, 1:00 in the morning with an inch or two or three or four inches of water in their house and just shocked what was going on.
They came out. There's cars overturned. There's cars that fell off the highway. But we have rescued everybody that we know of that's asked to be evacuated, some people from their attics. And this community is already coming together.
As I see and I talk to people, I have been here all day. Individuals are helping each other. They're going in. They're helping store owners get started again. This will be -- this is a vibrant community that's going to come back strong.
BLITZER: We know that the Florida Highway Patrol has reported one death associated with the flooding. Do you know the circumstances surrounding that, Governor?
SCOTT: Wolf, I don't know. I have not been -- that death has not been confirmed to me, but we brought highway patrols here. We brought 24 high-water vehicles from the National Guard here. We brought every resource the state has here.
We're talking to FEMA. They're going to be on the ground on Friday. We're going to make sure all our citizens get taken care of.
BLITZER: This was totally unexpected, we're told. Our meteorologist Chad Myers said there had been really no serious forecasts. There was some fear of tornadoes, but 15 hours of nonstop rain and eventual flooding, that took everyone by surprise.
What happened here? I'm sure you're going to do a little review to make sure the next time around the folks are better prepared.
SCOTT: You know, Wolf, we get ready for hurricanes. We know what to do for hurricanes. We even know what to do for tornadoes.
We just didn't expect this flash flooding up to -- they say over 22 inches overnight, five inches in one hour. We just never expected it. Areas of our city -- of the city of Pensacola never anticipated they would have water like this through their streets.
Like, the street behind me, no one -- there's individuals who lived on this street for 50 years. I talked to one lady. She had never seen water like this on her street. She's just shocked that it would happen, 80 years old, by herself, and was scared to death in the middle of the night when this started happening.
BLITZER: And we're told that more rain is now forecast over the next day or two. What do you anticipate? Potentially -- let's hope not -- could there be even more flooding, Governor?
SCOTT: Oh, we still anticipate as the water goes into the rivers, we're going to have some river flooding. We hope we won't have very much rain, so we won't get more flooding in the city like what we're seeing right now.
But there's still water flowing through our streets. I was at one house where they basically -- it was almost off the slab. The whole back of the house had been washed away underneath.
So, you know, you couldn't get close to it. The highways -- some of the highways I was on, all underneath had been washed away. But we're hoping for no more rain. But, unfortunately, the forecast is for more rain.
BLITZER: Governor, good luck to you. Good luck to everyone over there in the Panhandle, in Pensacola, especially. We will stay in touch, Governor Rick Scott of Florida. Thank you.
SCOTT: Thank you. Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: There's another breaking story we're following here in THE SITUATION ROOM, a fast-moving wildfire that forced thousands of people from their homes in California.
CNN's Paul Vercammen is near the scene. He's joining us now live.
What's the very latest, Paul?
PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, the fire continues to move west.
As you can see, there's haze and smoke off in the distance. The fire burning mainly in the wildland beyond this area. This is where they made their stand along this road, of course, using the cement and a flood control channel as a way to defend against the blaze, 1,600 people evacuated, and as you pointed out, we had 800 acres burned.
Now, Steve Jasso, come on in here. This is his house right behind me. We will show it you in a second.
You were at work. Your wife had to grab everything. What was she taking?
STEVE JASSO, FIRE VICTIM: She took all of our pictures, and computers, birth certificates, all our important documents. She couldn't barely see even in the house it was so smoky. The smoke alarms were going off. She got out safe but was very worried.
VERCAMMEN: You were frankly scared because right over here the fire burned dramatically toward your home.
JASSO: Very close. We have been through this about eight years ago. Came very close also then, too. So we're not used to it, but we know how to pack up and go when it's time. And it was time this morning.
VERCAMMEN: Go ahead and turn over here, David, and show his house. This is how close it came to your house. What an ominous greeting, 8:00 this morning. I know, Steve, you said this is your birthday, so what does this do to all of your plans?
JASSO: I'm going to try to get back in there, get ready for some dinner and hopefully we can come back tonight. If not, we have got some other alternative places to stay.
VERCAMMEN: Well, the good news is your home is safe. I think your dinner reservation is probably blown.
JASSO: Yes, yes.
VERCAMMEN: All right, I'm glad everything worked out for you.
You're one of the first people we have seen in this area, completely evacuated.
It was scary, and Steve is one of the first civilians we saw around here in the last hour or so.
Reporting from Rancho Cucamonga, I'm Paul Vercammen -- now back to you, Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Paul, thanks very, very much. We will check back with you.
I want to two go to Alabama right now. That state has hit very hard, severe flooding as well as deadly tornadoes.
Brian Todd is joining us now from Kimberly in Alabama.
Brian, what's the latest there?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, take a look behind me.
This is the Kimberly Church of God, this is the roof of the chapel, torn completely off, the chapel, dumped right here. There were people actually inside the church taking refuge from the tornado when that happened. We got some extraordinary images from the air of this church, other buildings near here and the destruction in another hard- hit town.
TODD (voice-over): Flying over Bessemer, Alabama, you can see where the tornado swept right up a hill ripping into an apartment complex. It then tore through an adjacent neighborhood. The telltale sign of where it hit, the line of blue tarps. Forecasters predicted these tornadoes would cut long tracks on the ground and would be violent. We saw that firsthand, riding in the air with veteran helicopter pilot Brian Coshatt.
BRIAN COSHATT, PILOT: That's pretty tough for those guys right there.
TODD: In Bessemer, we peered right into two apartment buildings where the top floors were almost completely destroyed. One house had its roof sheered off, the house across the street left intact, a clear indicator of how tornadoes often bounce.
COSHATT: One block can be just completely devastated, the next few houses over untouched.
TODD: Not far away, a massive tree sliced into a house. When we flew low over the town of Kimberly, a jarring image, the Kimberly Church of God, a local landmark, the roof of its chapel now sitting next to the building. Dozens of people took shelter in the church's basement as the tornado struck.
(on camera): Circling over Kimberly on our right side, one of the hardest-hit buildings where the first responders deployed from, the firehouse. Take a look at the building with the red roof, completely pulverized.
(voice-over): Law enforcement officials tell CNN four people including the chief were holed up inside the fire station and happened to choose the only part of the building that remains standing. Brian Coshatt has tracked dozens of tornadoes from the air in this region.
COSHATT: It's a shock. Just imagine you look out the front yard, everything you own is out in the street. But the people in Alabama, they pull together, they help each other. You know, you got friends that live next door and they're willing to help you.
TODD: The severe weather was not finished with Alabama when those tornadoes swept through this area. Just after that, severe rainfall hit the state. More than 11 inches of rain hit Mobile, Alabama, alone. We have some extraordinary video of a swift water rescue. One man caught in these really fast-moving floodwaters, firefighters were able to get him a flotation device and were eventually able to get him out safely, but some extraordinary images from Mobile, Alabama, this state, just like Florida and some of the others around here, Wolf, just getting pummeled by this round of storms.
BLITZER: Certainly is.
And, Brian, as devastating this round of tornadoes was, people in the region have had a similar round before and not that long ago, right?
TODD: That's right. Just a couple years ago, a storm cell with a lot of devastating tornadoes hit just in this area of the state and in Athens where we were yesterday where some people got killed by this round.
A group of about seven or eight tornadoes at least hit that area a couple years ago. They said that there were more fatalities then, but the destruction is more widespread in this one just because there were so many storms coming through this area, Wolf.
BLITZER: Brian Todd on the scene for us in Alabama, thank you.
BLITZER: Still ahead, the mysterious other woman at the center of the scandal surrounding the owner of the L.A. Clippers. There are new claims about why she recorded Donald Sterling's racist rant.
And a new investigation into a company's claim that it may have found Flight 370.
BLITZER: "CROSSFIRE" won't be seen tonight so we can bring you more coverage of the dangerous weather situation and some of the other stories we're following here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
There's lots of fallout as well as new questions about the NBA's decision to force team owner Donald Sterling to sell the Los Angeles Clippers. Sterling has been banned for life from the NBA because of his recently revealed racist rant.
But look at this. Sterling's wife was on hand last night as the Clippers won an emotional playoff game. Could she actually take over the team, and would that undermine the league's decision?
Joining us from New York, CNN's Rachel Nichols and CNN's Don Lemon along with senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin, who's here in Washington with me.
What do you think, Rachel? Because he's said now -- apparently he's quoted as saying, Sterling, that he doesn't believe the Clippers are for sale. What do we know about this?
RACHEL NICHOLS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, well he says that, and that maybe gives us an inkling into whether he's going to fight this.
The NBA ultimately will decide whether the Clippers are for sale. If the other owners by a three-fourths majority or maybe even more decide that the Clippers are for sale, guess what, the Clippers will be for sale. He can try to tie that up in the courts. He won't win. But he can at least try to delay it, tie it up, and maybe cause some other problems.
And that could domino because Doc Rivers has said he doesn't want to work for Donald Sterling anymore. If the summer comes and Donald Sterling does still own the team maybe because of the legal tie-up, that could have some negative repercussions about whether they can hold on to their coach and whether they can hold on to their players.
But the team is going it be for sale. One of the big questions is, where does Shelly Sterling fit in? It's unlikely she can retain any kind of ownership because she can't buy out the team and part of him being gone means that whole ownership group being gone and that includes her.
However, she has tried and she's making a little bit of a play to partly run the team until the NBA takes the team away. And that is going to be a problem, because she has a racist history as well.
BLITZER: She was in the owner's suite last night watching the Clippers play the Warriors, Don. There's a picture of her. What do you think?
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: I think you should -- you know, there's a little thing called self-awareness and knowing when to quit, knowing when to say no and knowing when to have some real compassion.
Listen, I know that she has a connection to the Clippers. That's fine. She also has a connection to the most toxic part of the team right now. So, Shelly Sterling, have a seat at home, not at the game, not in the owner's box.
BLITZER: Who kind of legal action, Jeffrey, could Donald Sterling take if, if the owners vote, I assume they will vote, to force him to sell the team and he decides to fight it legally? What kind of case could he have?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, keep in mind that the constitution, itself...
BLITZER: Which constitution?
TOOBIN: The constitution of the NBA. Good distinction to draw.
BLITZER: Because there are two constitutions.
TOOBIN: Yes, there are several, yes.
NICHOLS: The founding fathers mentioned the L.A. Clippers.
TOOBIN: When James Madison -- no, the NBA constitution says that the members of the ownership group cannot sue to undo any of the decisions.
Now, sometimes, courts have found those provisions unenforceable, but in very rare circumstances. So the odds of Sterling filing a successful challenge to anything the NBA does is extremely unlikely.
Keep in mind, too, that as the NBA moves forward with this three- quarters vote, this is going to be, if I can use a technical term, lawyered up the wazoo to make sure he has no chance of challenging it in court. So it's just -- you know, anybody in America, for better or worse, can file a lawsuit, but the odds of Sterling being able to undo or stop anything that the NBA is doing is really remarkable.
BLITZER: Hold on for one second, Don, because I just want to point out to our viewers that Adam Silver, the new commissioner of the NBA, will have a conference call with nine of the owners tomorrow. This is the first step within the next two, three weeks. All 30 owners will vote. They need 23 to pass this kind of resolution. I assume it will be virtually unanimous.
But go ahead, Don. You wanted to make a point.
LEMON: It's very clear in the bylaws, which Jeffrey Toobin has read, in the NBA bylaws, and I'm sure -- Jeffrey, correct me if I'm wrong -- if you're going to own a team, you must sign a contract and you must sign on to what is in the bylaws.
The last bylaw that I looked at said whatever happens with the NBA commissioner, once you have decided, once two-thirds of the governor's -- part of the governor's association or governor's owners, once they decide that you can no longer own a team, it is a done deal and is not enforceable in court outside of the NBA.
NICHOLS: I agree. There's no question that's what the rules say. But that doesn't mean -- and Jeffrey pointed this out -- anybody can file a lawsuit. He's going to win.
LEMON: But that doesn't mean he's going to win.
NICHOLS: No, no, but he can file and he can tie things up.
There's even talk right now about whether he's going to try to file for a temporary restraining order to try to get back into the arena some time this week. This is a guy -- and I want to point out, it's against the NBA bylaws to pick up and move your team without the NBA's permission, right? This would seem to be pretty obvious. Guess what Donald Sterling did?
LEMON: He moved his team.
NICHOLS: They used to be the San Diego Clippers. He wanted to move them to L.A. The NBA said, no. He did it anyway. They fined him $25 million. He filed a countersuit in the courts, even though he's not allowed to under the NBA bylaws. And that was so problematic for the NBA to tie up one of their franchises, they ended up settling with him.
LEMON: But, Rachel, don't you think this is a different situation, though?
NICHOLS: No, of course. I don't think Donald Sterling is going to win this in any way, even through a settlement.
But I do think that we have seen a track record with him of him, even though things are in the rules, him trying to skirt them anyway. Is he going to do it in this case? He has got a whole lot more people against him than he did when he moved the team from San Diego. Well, we have seen it before. So, we just have to acknowledge this is a possibility.
TOOBIN: No doubt.
LEMON: But I doubt that, listen, this is a different situation that the whole world is watching. That was a situation that was sort of indicative inside -- that was inside baseball, so to speak, or inside basketball.
NICHOLS: Well, that's the people of San Diego.
LEMON: Yes. That's the people of San Diego.
But still, you know, for the way that the country and the world is looking at this, I doubt -- and he may take it and drag it on in court. It would behoove him and everyone affected for him to just move on.
BLITZER: I will just point out when he did that 33 years ago, he was still in his, what, 40s, late 40s. He's now 80 years old. So maybe he's had a change of heart as he gets older and older.
Jeffrey, V. Stiviano, the girlfriend, the other woman, whatever you want to call her, she's told "The L.A. Times" she actually worked for him as an archivist and that the recordings were made, in her words, by mutual agreement.
What do you make of that? Because there's a lot of suggestions that maybe these recordings were illegal in California.
TOOBIN: Well, California does have a law that says if you record someone, either in person or over the telephone, without their consent, it's a misdemeanor. It's very rarely prosecuted, but it is technically against the law.
She is saying, apparently, that this was an open -- that this process was open. So there was no secret taping. Even if it was secret, and even if it was technically against the law, that's not going to help Donald Sterling against the NBA.
BLITZER: Get her in trouble, though.
TOOBIN: It could get her in trouble. She could be the -- she could be sued by him. But I think we can all say who cares?
BLITZER: Rachel, what do we know about this woman? V. Stiviano?
NICHOLS: I just love that you guys were having a completely reasonable discussion about legal tactics.
LEMON: And the bylaws.
NICHOLS: There's a woman parading in front of you who looks like she's trying out for Daft Punk.
And by the way, if you -- if you noted the two different rolls of footage, she's got different color visors. That one is a pink one.
NICHOLS: And then the earlier footage was a different color. So apparently, she's got a collection. So this is what you're dealing with here. I mean, come on. She came out on roller states yesterday. This is a black visor because it's nighttime. And guys, when it's nighttime, you need your black visor, right? You can't go out in a pink visor. That's ridiculous.
LEMON: I looked them up. I looked them up on the Internet. There's a black one, purple one and there's a pink one. So -- I'm going to order it.
TOOBIN: She did say that she was considering running for president of the United States, as well. Now, I wouldn't say she's the front- runner at this point, but, you know, that is, you know, something to consider in the mix.
NICHOLS: Hillary hasn't announced yet, so...
LEMON: Wolf, can I talk about this two-party consent? Because as journalists we are very aware of that, right? It's called two-party consent. Most states have a one-party consent where you don't have to sign on. But here's the background on that.
She said that he told her that he was so forgetful he'd forget what he wanted to say and, you know, sometimes he had to deal with business. So she wanted -- he wanted her to record him all the time. So if he forgot, she could play it back or there was a record of it. If that is indeed true, that changes everything legally when it comes to this case. In that case, it can be said legally that it was a two-party consent.
TOOBIN: That's right. But the only point I was making before is, even if she was breaking the law, that doesn't help Sterling against the NBA. Yes, it could get the two of them involved in litigation, and wouldn't we enjoy watching that? But the -- it certainly doesn't help him in the main issue, which is whether he continues to control the team.
BLITZER: How's all of this, Rachel, affecting the play -- the Clippers won last night. They haven't won a playoff game, I take it, in a long time. For the long-suffering L.A. Clippers fans. But they did win last night so they clearly were motivated.
NICHOLS: No, it definitely has meant a lot to them. Look, when they lost the other night, Doc Rivers, the coach, made the point that they just weren't there mentally on the court. They lost by more than 20 points.
Last night they walk out. You can see it here, a standing ovation. Just when they walk onto the court. Really an amazing moment for everybody involved. And just made them feel like the city was behind them. And the entire, you know, just group of people, even the opposing team stopping to applaud for them. So that was a big deal.
And it's interesting to note, this scene that you're seeing right now could have been so much different. These same players had gotten together earlier in the day and talked about possibly boycotting if Adam Silver's announcement wasn't as forceful as they wanted it to be, if it didn't go as far as they had wanted. They had talked about maybe everybody getting together on the court, letting the ball go up in the air for the jump ball, and then letting it hit the floor and walking away.
So, you could have had a very, very different visual. Instead you got guys walking onto the court for a standing ovation. Cheers.
BLITZER: And Don, I think you'll agree with me. I've known Adam Silver for a long time. He worked for David Stern, the former commissioner at the NBA, for many, many years. Only February 1st of this year did he emerge as the new NBA commissioner.
He didn't waste any time. He was so decisive, so fast. He moved to fix a huge problem for the NBA. By all accounts, Don, I'm sure you agree he did a brilliant job.
LEMON: He did do a brilliant job. And at first I was a little bit critical, because I said I wanted him to suspend Donald Sterling pending an investigation. But I'm not an attorney like Jeffrey. Apparently, he knows the legal realm a lot better than we all do. And he did what was appropriate, and he did it correctly.
I have to say, Wolf, after that press conference, I had a lot of ladies texting me saying, "Hey, listen, is Adam Silver single?" Because they loved how he handled himself.
And I just want to get back quickly to what you -- what Rachel said about last night. You guys were talking about the win. The entire country was rooting for this team except if you're a Golden State diehard. And I have to say, Wolf, you know Rick Welch, who is the general manager of this team. As a matter of fact, we came out together, so to speak, on the same day in "The New York Times." We have become good friends. And I texted him yesterday and said, "Rick, I love you. I love you and your team, but tonight I am rooting for the Clippers."
And he said, "Hey, listen, do what you want, Don. We're all rooting for them in a way. We want to beat them, but the world is rooting for them, as well."
BLITZER: I was actually rooting for the Washington Wizards, and they emerged and they came out going into the second round, which is a long time for those of us who are watching...
NICHOLS: Got to get that in there.
BLITZER: ... Washington wizard fans.
Jeffrey, let's just quickly wrap this up. A quick thought right now. Will Donald Sterling fight this, or will he walk away and take maybe a billion dollars? There are people lining up like crazy to buy this team. He could walk away, as badly as he is, with a billion dollars.
TOOBIN: I think the drama will continue for a while. Will he or won't he? But this will end with Donald Sterling with a big wheelbarrow full of money.
TOOBIN: And, you know, there are a lot worse fates. He -- he is lucky that that's the worst thing that's going to happen to him.
BLITZER: He bought the team in 1981 when it was in San Diego for $12 million. And he could get, I think, a billion dollars when all the dust settles.
LEMON: Go away, Donald. Go away.
BLITZER: Hey, Don, thanks very much. You've got a show at 10 p.m. tonight, Don?
LEMON: I have a show. We will be talking about this. And we will also be talking about, Wolf -- I know you have to go -- where do we go from here? These big -- now that most of the spectacle, the spectacle of Donald Sterling is mostly behind us, where do we go from here? We have these big issues. They bubble up. We become outraged. And then what happens after that? We go back to the meantime. Is this one going to be different? So we'll talk about that tonight at 10 p.m.
BLITZER: All right. We'll be watching as we do every night. Don Lemon, Jeffrey Toobin, Rachel Nichols. Excellent conversation, guys. Thanks very much.
Just ahead, there's other news we're following. Very important news. More cities and towns slipping away from Ukraine's control. We're going to show you what's happening now after they're seized by masked and very well-armed gunmen. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BLITZER: Today, pro-Russian gunmen took over government offices in several more Ukrainian cities and towns. At the same time, Ukraine's acting president complained his security forces either are helpless or actually cooperating with militants.
Our senior international correspondent, Arwa Damon, is joining us from Luhansk in Eastern Ukraine right now where the well-organized, well- supplied occupiers appear to be firmly -- firmly in control. Arwa, it looks like it's getting more dangerous.
ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It most certainly is, especially when it comes to the stability in this region and the level of power that the central government holds over it that we're seeing slipping by the day.
DAMON (voice-over): It's become a routine in eastern Ukraine. Barricaded windows, armed faceless men. This is the Luhansk regional administration building the day after it was taken over.
"We gave the local government an ultimatum about holding a referendum. They didn't respond," says Oleg Desyatnichenko (ph), press secretary of the self-declared headquarters of the southeastern army.
(on camera): We're being allowed inside, but we've been specifically told not to ask any of the policemen that are in the building any questions and also to be careful about who and what we're filming.
(voice-over): Inside, sandbagged fighting positions. And more armed men.
(on camera): This feels like a very unnatural, uncomfortable situation. There's a handful of employees here who clearly don't want to be filmed, but one of the young women said that they basically just came to get their personal belongings and that she just doesn't want to talk about the situation at all.
It's understandable how unnerving it can be to see your place of work turn into this.
(voice-over): The police force passive at best. A handful inside the building and on either side of the street blocking traffic.
The press tour we are on stops at the local ministry of interior offices. No gunmen on site, but not really under Kiev's control.
"There's no support from Kiev," Tatiana Pogukal, spokeswoman says, clearly irritated. "They just called all the employees of the Luhansk police traitors."
Around the corner, the police headquarters the attackers tried to storm. Those holed up inside clearly not wanting to talk. In the midst of Tuesday night's pro-Russian takeover, Irina Chudovskaya got a phone call from the police. Her husband, a prominent human rights lawyer, had been shot twice.
"The police told me that armed men had brought him to the TV station," she recalls. The TV station also part of the pro-Russian takeover. Perhaps they wanted him to make a statement. She doesn't know. "He's Russian by nationality, but he was open about being for united Ukraine," she says, hoping he will survive. And doubting there will be any accountability.
As this woman starts to burn the Ukrainian flag, a man tries to stop her. He's tackled to the ground. "Why are you taking the flag? Don't do it." he pleads. "It's a sin." But no one here is willing or able to stop it.
DAMON: And, Wolf, at this junction in the crisis in Eastern Ukraine, the central government in Kiev, the acting president there has basically come out and said that his government has no control over the situation in Donetsk or Luhansk hoping perhaps that statement will urge his allies to try to exert pressure on Russia to bring about some sort of an end to this crisis, Wolf.
BLITZER: Arwa Damon reporting for us. Arwa, be careful over there, as I always tell you. Thanks very much.
Just ahead, there's another developing story we're following. A ground stop in Los Angeles International Airport. And right now, it's affecting air travel across the country. New information coming in.
BLITZER: Another breaking story we're following right now, with potentially huge ramifications all across the country. A vital air traffic control center now is gradually, gradually restoring a system that's causing flight delays around the United States. The FAA's Los Angeles Center air traffic control facility, which tracks high altitude air traffic, stopped accepting flights for about an hour. As a result, LAX ordered a ground stop. Other flights were diverted or delayed. Again, the system is gradually, gradually being restored.
Let's bring in CNN's Rene Marsh and our aviation analyst, Miles O'Brien and Peter Goelz.
All right. So, Rene, walk us through the latest information we're getting.
RENE MARSH, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: The latest information as we speak, planes are still being diverted, there is still that ground stop in place at LAX and the root of this problem is L.A. Center. That is a high altitude facility that especially keeps planes safely spaced apart. They're experiencing some computer problems.
So, as a result, they have that ground stop in place at LAX and surrounding airports that deal with this specific facility. Now, as you mentioned, they're gradually getting things up to speed. But it's not there, not there yet, not completely. And we have no timeline as to when they will solve this problem.
Of course, if this drags on very long, it just becomes a very nightmarish situation for people who are trying to get from point A to point B if you can't take off, also if you're being diverted. We just saw that the FAA put out an alert saying even airports outside of the jurisdiction of this facility that's experiencing problems, they could experience gridlock, because you have all of these planes diverting to those airports you. So, you can just see how one issue turns into a triple effect situation for many, many other airports.
BLITZER: And, Miles, we got a statement from the FAA. And I'll read to it you.
The FAA's Los Angeles Center air traffic control facility experienced technical issues and stopped accepting additional flights into the airspace managed by the facility for about an hour. Some flights were diverted and the agency issued a nationwide ground stop for flights heading into the airspace managed by the center. The agency is gradually restoring this system.
But we've been talking about the domino effect, the ripple effect. Flights are stopped there. This could cause serious problems all over the country.
MILES O'BRIEN, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: Yes. The big three airports in Los Angeles are in Los Angeles, San Diego and Las Vegas. So, imagine all the traffic associated with just those three airports and then throw in Burbank, and John Wayne, Orange County, just for good measure.
This is the busiest hub of aviation in the world, in southern California. And so, when L.A. Center goes down, you have big trouble that will affect everything across the country. There has been ground stops all over the country as a result, but now it's coming back.
BLITZER: It's coming back, but people are planning on flying tonight, they're going to have some problems, Peter.
PETER GOELZ, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: It's going to be challenging. And we're just getting into the evening rush out in the West Coast from 4:00 on, to about 8:00 is a really prime time for planes both landing and taking off. So, if the FAA doesn't get this center back up and going within the next hour, there is going to be some real delays.
BLITZER: Have they explained, Rene, what they mean by technical issues? They've had some technical. What does that mean?
MARSH: Right. We've been trying to drill down on that, what does that mean?
The most that we have right now is that this is a computer problem. They are not able to electronically enter information. So they have to manually enter information here. So, that's it.
Now, if you manually are entering this information, then you're obviously not able to effectively and quickly space out the airplanes. So to help them manage the airflow, they've stopped takeoffs.
BLITZER: All right. We're going to stay on top of this breaking story for our viewers. Thanks very much.
We're also following some other breaking news this hour. Stay with us. We'll take a quick break.
More in THE SITUATION ROOM right after this.
BLITZER: Here is a quick look at some of the other major stories worth watching right now.
Safety and environmental experts are on the way to Lynchburg, Virginia, after a train wreck and fire between 12 and 14 cars of a train carrying crude oil jumped the tracks this afternoon. Buildings near the derailment were evacuated. Firefighters let the blaze burn out. At least three cars fell into the James River. But official says Lynchburg's drinking water supply is OK.
The Benghazi terror attack that killed four Americans is back in the news. The conservative group Judicial Watch obtained documents showing the White House pushed hard for talking points linking the September 2012 attack to worldwide protests against an anti-Muslim video.
Reporters confronted White House Press Secretary Jay Carney about that this afternoon.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The implication is that we were somehow holding back information, when in fact we were simply saying what we thought was right. And when elements of that turned out not to be true, we were the first people to say so.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Despite denials like that, the Republicans accuse the Obama administration intentionally misleading people about the attacks so it wouldn't hurt the president's reelection campaign.
Today, Oklahoma's governor asked for an independent review of the state's execution procedures. A convicted murderer and rapist stayed alive for 43 minutes after what should have been an injection of lethal drugs Tuesday, at one point saying, quote, "Man, I'm not," and "something's wrong." He died of a heart attack. But another execution has been put off.
Remember, you can always follow us on Twitter. Go ahead and tweet me @WolfBlitzer. You can always tweet the show @CNNSitRoom.
Please be sure to join us again tomorrow in THE SITUATION ROOM. You can certainly watch us live or DVR the show so you won't miss a moment. That's it for me. Thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.
"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.