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THE SITUATION ROOM

Fear of Killer Virus at Florida Hospital; Outrage as Sterling Slams Magic Johnson

Aired May 13, 2014 - 17:00   ET

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


WOLF BLITZER, HOST: Happening now, breaking news -- killer virus. As many as 20 American health care workers may have been exposed. Two are exhibiting symptoms.

Is this the beginning of a potentially deadly U.S. outbreak?

Terror lockdown -- a capital city and the U.S. embassy now in a virtual fortress, as new details emerge about a deadly gun battle between embassy workers and militants who tried to kidnap them.

Sterling versus Sterling -- the wife of the Clippers' owner shares in the outrage, as Donald Sterling bashes NBA legend, Magic Johnson.

Will distancing herself help Shelly Sterling hold onto the team?

I'm Wolf Blitzer.

You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BLITZER: Let's get to the breaking news. A new and mysterious virus that kills many of it's victims. Right now, there's growing concern it could be spreading here in the United States. Two employees at a Florida hospital reported flu-like symptoms after coming into contact with a patient confirmed to have Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, known as MERS. Twenty people may have been exposed. They've all been ordered to stay home as health officials scramble to prevent the virus from spreading. Concern is great. There are signs that have been posted at 22 U.S. airports already, warning travelers of the risks, the symptoms and what to do if they think they've contracted the virus.

We're covering all angles of the story this hour with our CNN correspondents, our health care experts.

Let's begin with CNN's Brian Todd.

He has the latest on the MERS virus here in the United States -- Brian, what are you finding out?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, one public health expert told me officials don't know how many people may have been exposed, how many people have infected with MERS. Some may have had mild symptoms and thought they just had a cold.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TODD (voice-over): A creeping, contagious and potentially deadly respiratory virus has reached the U.S. and created a legitimate health scare. Two Orlando-area health care workers exposed to a patient with MERS have been treated for flu-like symptoms. One of those workers is in isolation.

DR. ANTONIO CRESPO, DR. P. PHILIPS HOSPITAL, ORLANDO: It all happened before the proper isolation precautions were initiated, so these people were in contact with the patient without a mask.

TODD: Officials say about 20 health care workers at two hospitals in the Orlando area might have been exposed to the MERS patient.

What is MERS?

It stands for Middle East Respiratory Syndrome. It started in the Saudi Peninsula, but has now spread around the globe. Experts say it may originate with camels, but you can get it simply by breathing in. Most of those getting it have been relatives of patients or health care workers.

DR. JOXEL GARCIA, DIRECTOR OF HEALTH, WASHINGTON, DC: We can infect one person to another if they're in close proximity. We have droplets of the fluid that we have in our body being inhaled by the other person or being in close contact with the other person.

TODD: It attacks the respiratory system.

The main symptoms -- coughing, fever, trouble breathing.

Why is it so scary?

It's deadlier and spreads through the body faster than the very similar SARS virus of a decade ago. About a third of the 530 plus MERS patients have died, experts say, compared to about 10 percent of SARS' victims.

GARCIA: There's no vaccine for it and there's no treatment for it.

TODD: Meaning patients survive only by getting the symptoms treated.

There are two actual MERS patients now in the U.S., both of them health care workers. The most recent one, in Orlando, recently flew from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia to London, then from London to Boston, Boston to Atlanta, then Atlanta to Orlando.

(on camera): Are they going to have to track everyone on each one of those flights?

GARCIA: Not necessarily. As a matter of fact, what they would be doing is people that were in close contact with that patient. So if you were sitting near that person, one or two seats, yes, you're going to be interviewed. But if you're sitting several rows and that patient did not walk close to you, there's no reason to even be concerned.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

TODD: The other MERS patient in the U.S. also recently flew from Saudi Arabia to London, London to Chicago, then took a bus from Chicago to Indiana. Dr. Joxel Garcia says that bus ride could be a problem. That patient had extended exposure to others closer in and it's not clear how good the ventilation system on the bus was. All of those passengers, he says, on that bus will have to be tracked somehow, Wolf.

That's not going to be easy to find all of them.

BLITZER: And there were new warnings for travelers as well, right?

TODD: That's right. In the United States, the TSA has posted this sign at 22 major airports. It warns people going to the Arabian Peninsula of the MERS virus. It says, you know, wash your hands off and avoid touching your face, avoid close contact with sick people. It also lists some of the symptoms and says if you've gotten exposure to this, if you feel these symptoms within 14 days of when you were there, you'd better call a doctor.

BLITZER: Brian Todd, thanks very much.

Let's go to Orlando right now.

CNN's Alina Machado is at the hospital where those health care workers were exposed to the MERS virus -- Alina, what are you hearing, what are seeing over there?

ALINA MACHADO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, this is one of two Orlando area hospitals where hospital workers may have been exposed to this virus. This is also the same hospital where that 44-year-old man who is the second confirmed MERS virus case, this is where he is recovering right now. Doctors say he is in good condition and he is improving. Now, he came to Dr. P. Phillips Hospital May 8th. But it wasn't until the following day that doctors began to suspect MERS.

A total of 20 health care workers in the Orlando area may have been exposed to this virus. They are being tested. Have also been told to stay home for 14 days. Fifteen of them work at this hospital. Five work at a different hospital. The man visited before he was diagnosed.

Now, take a listen to what an infectious disease specialist has to say about all of this.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MACHADO: What special precautions is the hospital taking here, and, also, the other hospital?

What are you guys doing to make sure that the people who are in this hospital are safe?

CRESPO: The people that are in the hospital that has not been in contact with the patient are safe. The patient has been in proper isolation precautions since we suspected the infection on Friday morning. And he has remained in isolation. And everybody going inside the room needs to wear the proper attire, which includes a mask, a special mask, goggles, gowns and gloves.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

MACHADO: Now, one health care worker has been admitted to this hospital. Initial testing should be available in a day or two. And, Wolf, doctors here are waiting to learn those results before they decide what to do next.

BLITZER: Alina Machado in Orlando for us, outside the hospital there.

Alina, thank you very much.

Let's bring in CNN's Tom Foreman.

He has a closer look at how the MERS virus arrived in the United States -- Tom, what are you learning?

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, really, this is the geography of this disease, Wolf.

The center of the MERS problem is Saudi Arabia. They've had almost 500 cases there since the disease was discovered back in 2012.

It produces, as Brian noted a little while ago, symptoms that are kind of like flu -- fevers, coughing, pneumonia. And in about 150 of those cases there, it has ended in death. There is something not entirely understood about this link to camels that has been discussed in this, but the disease is showing up in plenty of places far from the desert, as people travel from that region carrying the illness, which takes a couple weeks or more to show up in someone if you have it.

So you can see on this map all the different places where they've seen some kind of measure of this. The latest country to report, the United States, with these two confirmed cases and now all the other people are being watched right now.

The first, if you look about the actual travel of this, the first one involved this health care worker who went to Saudi Arabia, flew to London, then to Chicago, then took a bus back home to Indiana. That's where he got sick. He got treatment and he got better.

The second involves another case. In this case, it was a Saudi man who was also in Saudi Arabia, working as a health care worker. He traveled to London, then to Boston, then to Atlanta, before arriving in Orlando to visit family. He's also being treated and reportedly improving.

But the mere passage of these two men through those cities and everyone they touched, that's what has health officials reaching out to all these people to see if they picked up the disease. There may be hundreds of people they have to somehow reach and question.

It does not spread as easily as the flu. That's the good news. But it is considerably more lethal. So that's why they're taking all of this very, very seriously, Wolf. It may seem like a couple of cases, it may seem like a couple of people, but they know what it can turn into -- Wolf.

BLITZER: It can be very, very deadly.

Tom, thanks very much.

We're going to continue to follow the breaking news. I'll speak live with one of the health officials charged with tracking the deadly MERS virus. There he is. We'll go live to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: We're continuing to follow the breaking news, the rapidly growing concern over Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, known as MERS. As many as 20 workers at a Florida hospital may have been exposed after coming into contact with a patient confirmed to have the virus. Two of the workers are now showing some symptoms.

Our senior medical correspondent, Elizabeth Cohen, is working this part of the story for us -- Elizabeth, we now have a case in Indiana. We have a case in Florida, potentially two health care workers.

How nervous should the public at large be right now?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, Wolf, whenever you have an infectious communicable disease that kills about 30 percent of the people it infects, there is reason for concern.

So let me kind of try to group who should be concerned.

If I were the wife of one of these patients, I would be concerned, because I think I might get it -- hugging, kissing, living in close quarters.

Or if I were a doctor or nurse who was taking care of one of these MERS patients, I would be worried, because doctors and nurses have very close contact with patients.

If I had just come off of a flight from the Arabian Peninsula and I had symptoms such as coughing or shortness of breath, I would be concerned, which is why they're putting out those posters that they're putting in airports now.

If I didn't fall into one of those categories, I would not be so concerned. So again, this is something that close family contacts, health care workers and people who've traveled in the area and are experiencing symptoms, they're the people who really need to be worried.

BLITZER: We're told that that patient in Florida took four flights while feeling ill. So what does it mean for the other people on those planes, from Saudi Arabia, to London, to Boston, to Atlanta, finally in Orlando?

COHEN: Right. Those folks are going to be getting a phone call, if they were on one of the domestic flights. They'll be getting a phone call saying, "Hey, how are you feeling? You know, we wanted to reach out to you" They're going to get a call from the state health department or from the Centers for Disease Control.

This is out of an abundance of caution. There's no reason to think that this virus could spread on an airplane, but then again, we don't know for sure. And that's why the CDC is being extra cautious and is reaching out to those people.

Again, the kind of transmission that we've seen has really been among close family members who spend a lot of time together, who are physically close to one another, or doctors or nurses. But it is possible that it could have spread on the plane, which is why the CDC is reaching out to those passengers.

BLITZER: All right, Elizabeth. I want you to stand by for a moment. I want to bring in Dr. Marty Cetron of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. He's the director of Global Migration and Quarantine.

Dr. Cetron, thanks very much for joining us. Here's the question. We've known about Mers for two years. How much do you, the experts, really know about this?

DR. MARTY CETRON, CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION: Well, Wolf, thanks for the question. I think there's a lot more that we have to learn. And we look at the emergence of these viruses as an important opportunity to actually characterize the risks and the transmission and the settings and so that we can help shape our guidance into the future.

And viruses can change. And so I think that we've learned some over the last few years, but there's many gaps to fill and your correspondent had the assessment and the balance just right in terms of who should be concerned and who should not be worried. I think that that grouping is exactly on target right now.

BLITZER: And you do believe that about a third of those who come down with Mers (ph) will die. Is that right?

CETRON: You know, it's really hard to assess the case fatality rates at the beginning of the epidemic, because often what happens is the most serious and hostile cases, the ICU cases, they get counted first, and surely they're at greater risk of dying. Sometimes we don't know the true number of people infected. Often as an investigation goes on, the case fatality rate comes down as we learn more, but that's something that's still under investigation. And I think that any type of virus that has even an early case fatality rate of one-third is something to be taken seriously.

BLITZER: Obviously very seriously. Here's a question. Are certain people more vulnerable than others? I assume older people, for example, or very, very young kids might be more vulnerable. Is that right?

CETRON: Yes, I think that's very fair. And typically what we're seeing with this virus is among the people that get severe illness and who go on and die of this illness, they tend to be older, and they tend to be people that have underlying chronic health conditions who are more vulnerable to any type of infection. We see this during influenza seasons and other types of viral infections.

So yes, in fact, the case fatality rate among those who are vulnerable tends to be much higher than the case fatality among the younger healthier person tends to be much lower in this outbreak of Mers so far.

Dr. Cetron, Elizabeth Cohen has a question for you.

Elizabeth, go ahead.

COHEN: Dr. Cetron, I was wondering, you know, there's a lot of concern about the passengers who are on those flights with the Florida case of Mers. Have we ever heard of someone getting Mers from being on a plane with an infected person?

CETRON: No. So far with the over 500 cases reported, we have not had a single case that's known to be transmitted in an airplane. And we are basically doing this investigation, as you indicated, not only out of an abundance of caution for respect for this virus but to confirm that that is, in fact, the case and that we aren't seeing any asymptomatic or mild infections among these passengers, who may pose a risk.

So I think that you had it exactly right in your lead-in there. The people that we are most concerned about, who are really in close intimate contact, include family members and health care worker settings, where there's a lot more vulnerability.

And we are reaching out to these airline passengers just to check up on all of them, make sure they're -- well, offer them an opportunity to be tested and confirm. In the first introduction in Indiana, we've reached 100 percent of the airline passengers, and we've had no secondary spread so far. And we'll continue to do that with these flights in the second case in Florida.

BLITZER: In the CDC advisory, health advisory that you put out, Dr. Cetron, it says, wash your hands often, avoid touching your face, avoid close contact with sick people. How do you -- how do you get this disease? How contagious is it? CETRON: Well, we certainly need to know a lot more about the transmission characteristics of this disease, but from the first 500- plus cases so far, it appears that you need close contact with the secretions of somebody who's actually sick with this virus. So this is not something you get by casual exposure in a community.

We have not seen any community transmission, sustained community transition. And it's certainly not as contagious as, for example, the measles virus, which has a very, very high reproductive rate and is much more contagious. In fact, it doesn't even appear to be as contagious as the influenza virus in its current setting.

BLITZER: Let's hope that you guys find a solution to this and find some sort of cure, some sort of preventive vaccine, if necessary, as well. Dr. Marty Cetron, thank you very much.

Elizabeth Cohen, always thanks to you, as well.

Coming up, an historic moment for the NFL as it prepares for its first openly gay player. We'll take you live to St. Louis as this player, Michael Sam, is getting ready to speak, for the first time answering reporters' questions. Stand by.

And an exclusive interview with Magic Johnson. What does the NBA legend think of Donald Sterling's latest verbal attack?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling may have thought his exclusive interview with CNN would ease the uproar over his racist remarks which got him banned by the NBA for life, but Sterling made matters worse after unleashing a jaw-dropping diatribe against an NBA icon. Our CNN national correspondent, Suzanne Malveaux, has the details.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DONALD STERLING, L.A. CLIPPERS OWNER: Big Magic Johnson, what has he done?

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: He's a business person.

D. STERLING: He's got AIDS.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Tonight, universal condemnation after Clippers owner Donald Sterling once again spewed vitriol against former L.A. Laker Magic Johnson.

D. STERLING: What kind of a guy goes to every city and he has sex with every girl? Then he catches HIV. Is that someone we want to respect and tell our kids about? I think he should be ashamed of himself.

MALVEAUX: On Twitter, Johnson stayed above the fray, writing, "I'd rather be talking about these great NBA playoffs than Donald Sterling's interview." But in an interview set to air later tonight on "AC 360," he told CNN's Anderson Cooper --

MAGIC JOHNSON, NBC HALL OF FAMER: He's trying to find something he can grab onto to help him save his team, and it's not going to happen.

MALVEAUX: Sterling's initial racial rant was made public more than two weeks ago after he told this woman, V. Stiviano, that he was jealous she had posted a picture of herself with Johnson at a Clippers game.

D. STERLING: You can do anything. But don't put him on Instagram for the world to have to see so they have to call me. And don't bring him into my games, OK?

MALVEAUX: When asked about Johnson by Anderson Cooper, the 80-year- old billionaire didn't hold back.

D. STERLING: He's spent millions on giving away and helping minorities. Does he do that? That's one problem I have. Jews, when they get successful, they will help their people. And some of the African-Americans -- maybe I'll get in trouble again -- they don't want to help anybody.

MALVEAUX: Sterling's wife of more than 60 years, Shelly, told NBC she fears her husband is suffering from dementia.

SHELLY STERLING, WIFE OF DONALD D. STERLING: Why would he bring Magic Johnson into the issue about what's happening now? I mean, that's why I feel pity. Because he couldn't get all the dots together. He couldn't connect the dots.

MALVEAUX: Shelly Sterling telling NBC her estranged husband's offensive remarks are hurting her reputation.

S. STERLING: Why am I the victim when he's the perpetrator? If somebody kills somebody, does the wife have to stand trial, too?

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MALVEAUX: And Magic Johnson, he is loved by so many. I had an opportunity to interview him back in 2008 when he was campaigning for Hillary Clinton for the presidential nomination. He was a big draw, wherever he went, especially in the African-American community. And a lot of people don't know that, that he was a political operative, as well. Very much involved in politics as well as social organizations.

He has his own network, Aspire, that also I've had a chance to work with him on a series for him, as well.

COOPER: And he's really worked hard for the minority community. He's really done great work.

MALVEAUX: Many, many years. People recognize that.

BLITZER: Which obviously, Donald Sterling doesn't know anything about it, but I know a lot about that. And I know he's been a great, great asset for the entire minority community, whether in L.A. or all over the country.

Suzanne, stand by for a moment. I want to bring in CNN anchor Don Lemon, CNN commentator L.Z. Granderson. He's a senior writer for ESPN.

First of all, Don, what are your reactions to these latest outrageous statements that Sterling is making about Magic Johnson, a true icon, if you will? How shocked were you?

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: I was shocked that he would even -- in the first place would even utter a negative word about Magic Johnson. So listen,, I agree with you that Magic Johnson is a role model and he's done a lot for the African-American community.

But Magic Johnson has done a lot for every community. He's a philanthropist; he is someone who helps everyone. Yes, minorities, African-Americans, but he helps everyone.

And, Wolf, remember when the president just a few months ago announced this initiative, My Brother's Keeper, because we have that really great conversation with Magic Johnson live on the air about what needed to be done to help young, black men, what needed to be done to help minority communities? He cares.

So for that -- for anything to come out of Donald Sterling's mouth that has anything negative to say about Magic Johnson is just way off. It's just off base, and it's insulting and ridiculous.

BLITZER: It certainly is. L.Z., that first shot we showed of Magic Johnson with his fans over there, you saw Adam Silver, the new commissioner of the NBA, standing right behind him.

Adam Silver wasted no time following Anderson Cooper's exclusive interview with Donald Sterling to issue this statement. I'll put it up on the screen. "I feel compelled on behalf of the NBA family to apologize to him that he continues to be dragged into this situation and to be degraded by such a malicious and personal attack. The NBA Board of Governors is continuing with this process to remove Mr. Sterling as expeditiously as possible."

How much damage do you think Donald Sterling has done to the NBA family?

L.Z. GRANDERSON, CNN COMMENTATOR: Well, you know, I think what he's done is just simply exposed the fact that the NBA, for better, for worse, kind of protected this man for 30 plus years. You know, back in 1982, there were a group of NBA owners that tried to get him out of the NBA back then because of racist remarks he made to Ralph Sampson leading up to that year's draft.

And for whatever reasons the NBA didn't force him out, they kind of dropped the ball on that. Commissioner Stern -- then Commissioner Stern kind of said that the organization was a good organization back in 1983 and it kind of protected him more or less. And so I think the more that Donald Sterling talks, the more he exposes himself as being the racist that he is. He also exposes the NBA family in the fact that the ownership and the NBA and maybe even Players Association sort of turned a blind eye for him for decades.

BLITZER: But the fact is -- and Suzanne, let me bring you back into this conversation. Adam Silver, the commissioner, he wasted no time, within a matter of only hours he banned this guy from the NBA for life and he's taken a very firm position ever since. So I mean, he is really on solid ground over here.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And he has to. I mean, this is -- for years we have known about these kinds of things that he's been doing and one of the things that I thought was really revealing, not just how he feels about Magic Johnson but really about the black community as a whole, when he talks about kind of making these blanket statements.

I thought the interview, in Anderson's interview, was worse than what you actually heard on those audiotapes because you heard the kind of stereotypes, the kind of things that he really felt about black people and the community saying they don't give back, they are not taking care of their own.

I mean, that's where you really get the sense of his thinking, this kind of plantation mentality that he has, not just his feelings towards Magic Johnson. I thought it was very, very revealing, the kind of racism that we are actually talking about.

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: In many respects -- in many respects, Don, I think you agree, what he told Anderson may even be worse than what he was surreptitiously recorded and saying early on.

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: I had -- listen, I was listening to his comments again and I've heard them a number of times. We played them last night on my show, watched him on Anderson, I heard them on the morning show. And then I was on with Ashleigh Banfield and I had this epiphany, I said what he's saying now is way worse -- you're right on. It's way worse than what he said in private.

He -- OK, he didn't know he was being recorded, maybe. But he was aware, there were cameras and microphones in the room and that -- those words came out of his mouth. He not only insulted African- Americans, he -- to many people I know, he embarrassed Jewish people, he shamed people who have HIV and AIDS in just one single sound bite. But this was an hour and a half conversation he had with Anderson and he just went on and on, and the more he talked, the more he put his foot in his mouth.

And I'm glad he's talking. I think he's a lost cause, by the way, but I'm glad he's talking because it does reveal his racism but there's also a mirror -- it holds up a mirror for people around the country who think, who may think like him and they may think it's OK. Now they see themselves on television, now they see people ridiculing them and commenting about it, and they may think twice, hopefully, about having those kinds of thoughts --

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: And then we heard him, L.Z., when he accused Anderson Cooper of being a racist. I mean, I don't know -- this guy sounds delusional, if you will. He sounds like he's living in another world.

GRANDERSON: Well, I'd tell you, it was the first time in which I was -- listened to his estranged wife and I started to realize that maybe she's telling the truth about this part. And that is perhaps he's -- you know, going through the early stages of dementia. It's --

LEMON: But L.Z. --

GRANDERSON: It's befuddling.

LEMON: He says --

GRANDERSON: Go ahead.

LEMON: He may be going through the early stages of dementia but then he says, you know, well, I'm going to say this about the black community, there is no -- and then he goes, well, I may get in trouble again. He's aware that what he's saying in some sense is not right. He's admitting it right there in the interview.

MALVEAUX: But I think he's -- I think he's not aware of how all of this is landing because he still insists that he's loved by the players. I mean, that seems pretty delusional.

GRANDERSON: Exactly.

MALVEAUX: And Shelly, his wife, also says that she's getting a lot of love as well at these games. I think both of them don't really seem to be aware of --

GRANDERSON: They're both delusional.

(LAUGHTER)

MALVEAUX: Of what's happening here.

BLITZER: All right. Guys, stick around. I don't want to leave this subject. We have a lot more to discuss.

By the way, Anderson will be joining us live right at the top of the hour with more of his exclusive interview with Donald Sterling. Also, he spent time with Magic Johnson today, getting Magic's reaction to Sterling's latest shocking remarks. That's coming up.

Also, we have much more of the unbelievable interview everyone is talking about. What was it that got Donald Sterling all choked up?

And a deadly day at the barber shop. We had new details about a shootout between American officials and al Qaeda.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Let me show you a live news conference coming -- going on right now in St. Louis. The St. Louis Rams introducing their new draft choices, including the all-American defensive end who played at the University of Missouri, Michael Sam.

Historically speaking, this is a major, major event because Michael Sam will be the first openly gay player in the NFL. There he is over there. We're going to monitor -- right now they are just talking football. They are not talking about anything else but it's a significant event right now.

Michael Sam being introduced in St. Louis to fans, speaking to reporters about football.

Don Lemon, L.Z. Granderson, Suzanne Malveaux, we're watching all of this. I want to get back to the Donald Sterling issue in a moment.

But quick thought from you, Don. It's interesting, they're just talking football right now. They're not talking about what so many other people are talking about, this historic breakthrough. There will be an openly gay player in the NFL.

LEMON: Listen, there are gay players in the NFL already. They were probably there from the very beginning. I'm glad -- it's very simple, I'll be quick here. I am glad that he's there talking about football. Continue to talk about football and continue to get on the field and kick butt and that's what I want to see him do and that's what the fans want to see him do.

And I say to him, put blinders on like V. Stiviano and keep your eye on the prize and that's it. You don't have to talk about being gay or whatever. Just play a good game of football. That's all he needs to do.

BLITZER: And I'm sure he will.

L.Z., what do you think?

GRANDERSON: You know, he looks really comfortable up there. He was comfortable in the locker room in Missouri. I expect that he makes the team to be comfortable in the NFL locker room as well. He was (INAUDIBLE) the grand pick. The chips were stacked against him, if you will. The Rams had a fantastic draft. So, you know, it's going to be a hard rope for him whether he was openly gay or not.

And like Don said, it's important for him to just focus in on football because that's the most important thing.

BLITZER: I think you were watching the Redskins fan right there.

Suzanne, you've been watching football for a long time. Do you want to weigh in?

MALVEAUX: I do want to weigh in. I mean, I think it's great. I mean, play good football but also talk about your partner. It was beautiful to see the kiss and I would say do both. I mean, be your complete best and don't hide and simply play a good game. But I wouldn't say not talk about it. I'd say continue to talk about it. Continue to push the envelope because clearly that is allowing everybody there to grow.

BLITZER: Yes. I remember when he told "The New York Times" when he came out with his sexual orientation, he said, I just want to make sure I can tell my story the way I want to tell it. I just want to own my truth, and that's what he did and he was drafted by the St. Louis Rams.

We'll monitor this news conference. But I want to get back to the Donald Sterling uproar.

Our Christine Romans, Don Lemon, just had a chance to meet and speak with Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and get his thoughts on what's going on. As you know, he's always outspoken. Listen to Mark Cuban speaking to Christine.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARK CUBAN, DALLAS MAVERICKS OWNER: I can't comment on Mr. Sterling but what I can say is we're a franchise organization. So it's not -- it's not apples to apples in taking property. And that's kind of what I've learned since my original comments, you know, it's like if the -- someone who was a McDonald's owner franchisee started talking about spitting in the French fries.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Right.

CUBAN: Right.

ROMANS: He'd lose his franchise.

CUBAN: You lose your franchise.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: All right. You remember early on he had said something about a slippery slope. But he clearly wants to walk away from that?

LEMON: That is a mark of a mature adult, someone who can admit that they're wrong and say, OK, I change my mind, after learning more. May have been a bit ignorant about the rules, now I've learned, I'm a learned man and now I've changed my mind. He's absolutely right, Wolf, and it's what I have been saying all along and what many people have been saying all along. This isn't -- this isn't a free speech issue. This isn't someone's property being taken away.

He signed a contract, a contract with the NFL and within that contract there are clauses and rules that he agreed to that he would not bring any negative publicity, any negativity to the team or to the franchise. And he's certainly done that. So he has broken a contract.

BLITZER: One final question for you, L.Z., before I let all of you go. Donald Sterling told this to Anderson. I want to play this little clip. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STERLING: You want me to hire a wall of lawyers and them to hire a wall of lawyers and to go to war. I don't think that's the answer.

COOPER: So what is -- what are you going to do?

STERLING: I think the answer is, the league is a good league. All honest people. And I think that whatever they decide that has to be done, I think I should work with them and do it.

COOPER: The NBA says they want you out. Are you willing to give up ownership of the Clippers?

STERLING: Well, I'm not sure that's what they want.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: I think that is what they want. L.Z., a quick thought?

GRANDERSON: Well, that's absolutely what they want. And this is just another, you know, piece of the puzzle as to whether or not, you know, his wife is right and that he may be suffering from dementia because there's no way he can see what is going on around him and think that the league wants him to stay in it.

BLITZER: All right, guys, we'll leave it on that but we have a lot more coming up at the top of the hour. Anderson is going to be joining us live fresh from his interview with Magic Johnson.

Clay Aiken is now the Democratic candidate for Congress in North Carolina one week after a close primary battle. The former "American Idol" star has been declared the winner with fewer than 400 votes. The announcement comes one day after his chief rival died. Keith Crisco, a businessman, former top state official, fell in his home, suffered a fatal head injury. Aiken now face Republican Congresswoman Renee Ellmers in November's election.

Just ahead a devastating blow to the search for Flight 370 after a key piece of equipment suffers serious damage.

Plus, two Americans go to get their haircut, end up using deadly force. So what happened on the streets of this capital city?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Violence is rocking an important capital city as it goes on lockdown, and new details emerge about a deadly shootout involving two Americans. A warning, some of what you're about to see may disturb some viewers.

CNN's Mohammed Jamjoom has been working his sources on the ground in Yemen. Mohammed is here in the SITUATION ROOM.

What are you learning, Mohammed? MOHAMMED JAMJOOM, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, last week we broke details about that brazen attack in which AQAP, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, tried to kidnap two U.S. embassy employees. Today I'm learning more details from my Yemeni sources about what exactly happened and why so many new questions have arisen.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JAMJOOM (voice-over): CNN has learned two Americans were at the Taj Barbershop, a Sana'a salon popular with foreigners, when gunmen attacked them. Had one of the Americans not been carrying a gun, they may not have survived.

The deadly firefight that broke out killed both militants. This graphic pictures shows one of them after being shot, while the U.S. and Yemeni governments now agree on the sequence of events, the incident is still raising questions.

Why would U.S. embassy employees more a target for terrorists than ever before in Yemen break security protocol and venture out of their heavily secured compound for a haircut. Why would a simple State Department employee have a permit to carry a gun?

The blowback has been severe, as this barbershop attack has scared many foreigners off the streets of Sana'a, usually the most tightly secured of Yemen's cities. Now cars have been replaced by tanks, pedestrians with soldiers. Sana'a is on lockdown.

The U.S. embassy there remains a virtual fortress and will be closed to the public for at least another two weeks. Another reminder of how serious the threat toward them is now.

With Yemen's military continuing to battle al Qaeda in the country's south, street fighting has increased in Sana'a, and many now wonder if the real war on terror has moved to the capital.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

JAMJOOM: And, Wolf, many sources in Yemen telling me the questions about this attack will continue until there are clear answers. They are concerned that if it is revealed that these may have been CIA agents or special operations officers in Yemen, that that could cause a lot more questions by the Yemenis and cause Americans in Yemen to be more of a target.

BLITZER: Mohammed Jamjoom, thanks very much.

Let's get some more now with one of the leading experts on national security. Richard Clarke is a former top White House official, counterterrorism adviser. He's also the author of a brand new book, "Sting of the Drone," we'll talk about it in a moment.

How dangerous are these al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula terrorists right now?

RICHARD CLARKE, FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY AIDE: Right now, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is al Qaeda. These are the people who were plotting to come to the United States. These are the people who were plotting to blow up American planes, but right now they are in a war with the Yemeni government. And this war has been going on for several years, but the last three weeks, Wolf, have been very intense and the Yemeni government has been pushing back, trying to recapture provinces that were under the virtual control of al Qaeda last month.

BLITZER: Can the Yemeni government do this? Do they need outside help, especially from the United States?

CLARKE: They need outside help for intelligence collection and they need outside help for air support, and we've been using over the course of the last few weeks U.S. drones as close air support to the Yemeni attacks. We did a drone attack on Sunday, there were drone attacks three weeks ago, on Saturday and Sunday, on a weekend, three weeks ago, so we're a big part of this fight against al Qaeda.

BLITZER: Have they been able, though, to get the top leadership? We know that master bomb maker, currently, he's still on the loose.

CLARKE: He apparently is on the loose. We haven't been able to get him. You know, they're looking for him and trying to kill him for three years. So it's very hard to get individuals. But they have been picking off large groups of people. The attack on Sunday apparently killed six al Qaeda people in a vehicle. The weekend before the attacks, then they apparently killed 30 in one weekend.

BLITZER: How extraordinary is it that the U.S. embassy in Sana'a, the capital of Yemen, is in virtual lockdown right now, shutdown, they're too worried about an attack?

CLARKE: This has happened a few times in the last several years where they are shut down for a day or two days because they've had intelligence that an attack team has entered the city. And until they get that attack team, they close down, because, Wolf, that embassy was the subject of an al Qaeda ground assault a few years ago.

BLITZER: Tell us about your new book, "Sting of the Drone." Speaking of drones.

CLARKE: Well, you know, one of the chapters takes place in that village in Yemen, coincidentally, the exact same village where the real attack occurred. This is a thriller designed to take you behind the curtain of how U.S. drone operations work now. But also to answer the question, what could happen in the future if other people start using drones and what if the terrorists use drones against us.

BLITZER: How do the -- do the terrorists have drones right now?

CLARKE: Well, it's really easy to buy a drone right now in the United States. There are over 2,000 small drones that have been sold in the United States being used by farmers and police departments. The White House is looking at what the rules should be for governing them. One almost hit a plane in Florida last week, so it's possible, in fact, the FBI did a sting operation and arrested an al Qaeda sympathizer in the United States, saying that he was planning to use a drone in the United States.

BLITZER: The book, "Sting of the Drone," I'm going to read it. Sounds like a great thriller. Richard Clarke is the author.

Thanks for coming in.

CLARKE: Thank you.

BLITZER: Coming up, Magic Johnson now reacting to Donald Sterling's vicious verbal attacks. CNN's Anderson Cooper will join us live with that and more of his exclusive interview with Sterling.

Plus, a potentially major setback for the search of the missing Malaysian airliner. We have details of serious damage to an underwater drone.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Happening now. Breaking news. Magic Johnson just responded to Donald Sterling's verbal attacks. The NBA legend is speaking out in an exclusive CNN interview about Sterling's shocking statements to our own Anderson Cooper.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STERLING: Big Magic Johnson, what has he done?

COOPER: Well, he has -- he's a businessperson. He --

STERLING: He's got AIDS.

(END VIDEO CLIP)