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Israel Accused Of Spying On U.S.-Iran Nuclear Talks; Angelina Jolie Has Ovaries And Fallopian Tubes Removed. Aired 4:30-5p ET

Aired March 24, 2015 - 16:30   ET


[16:31:23] JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm John Berman, in for Jake Tapper.

More now on our breaking news coverage of the devastating plane crash in the French Alps that likely claimed the lives of all 150 people on board.

We're now learning more about who was on that doomed flight. The passenger list included two babies and 16 students and two teachers from one high school in Germany.

CNN's Frederik Pleitgen is live at the airport in Dusseldorf, where the plane was supposed to land.

And, Fred, so many grief-stricken family members have arrived there only to hear the heartbreaking news that their loved ones likely did not survive.


It's an absolutely sad scene here at the Dusseldorf Airport. The crisis center here at the airport was established shortly after all of this happened. We have learned now in the meantime that at least 67 German nationals were on board that plane, also a lot of people from Spain as well.

But it's that big tragedy within the tragedy that is really moving this country right now. Of course, as you said, at least two babies on that plane, as well as 16 high school students from a town that is only about an hour-and-a-half away from where I am right now. Certainly right now here in Germany, this is a country that is in mourning. It's also a country that quite frankly is almost confused, if you will, because it prides itself on high technology, it prides itself on the safety of things like its airlines.

This is certainly a big blow. But the victims right now are at the forefront right now. Let's look at how this is unfolding.


PLEITGEN (voice-over): Devastated family members are gathering at Dusseldorf Airport, where the doomed flight was headed, and also at Barcelona Airport, where the flight originated. A crisis center has been set up with a team of psychologists for those who need care. Relatives, many crying, were escorted by police and airport staff as

they made their way to the airports. Officials believe there were no survivors after the Airbus A-320 crashed Tuesday in the foothills of the French Alps.

THOMAS WINKELMANN, CEO, GERMANWINGS (through translator): On board, there were 144 passengers, including two babies on board, as well as six crew members. Two were in the cockpit and four in the cabin.

PLEITGEN: Sixteen students and two teachers from this high school in Haltern in Northwest Germany are among the 150 presumed dead. The students had spent a week at exchange students in Spain and were returning when the flight crashed.

BODO KIMPEL, MAYOR OF HALTERN, GERMANY (through translator): The whole city is shocked and we can feel it everywhere. This is the worst, what happened.

PLEITGEN: The students are among the 67 Germans the airline believes were on the flight. German Chancellor Angela Merkel is expected to travel to the crash site on Wednesday. Officials in Spain said 45 passengers had Spanish names.

KING FELIPE VI, SPAIN (through translator): There are no known survivors. There's a high number of Spaniards, Germans and Turks.

PLEITGEN: A high-level official briefed on the search operation says human remains are strewn for several hundred meters. Authorities said it could take days to recover the bodies because the mountainous terrain and bad weather are making it difficult to reach the crash site.

WINKELMANN (through translator): We express our deepest sympathy for the relatives of the passengers killed and the crew members. We think about the victims at this moment. At the same time, we will do as much as possible with the authorities to find out the reason for this crash.


PLEITGEN: And so the grieving of the relatives, of course, continues, and we have, of course, heard, John, that the airline wants to make it possible for everyone who lost a loved one in this horrible tragedy today to be able to get at least to the vicinity of where this crash happened -- John.

[16:35:10] BERMAN: Fred Pleitgen, thanks so much. Our hearts do go out to all of those families.

To our politics lead now. The country's first official Republican candidate for president cut off from his wife's health insurance. So now Senator Ted Cruz says he is opting for Obamacare, the very same system he is fighting so hard to kill. He just explained his decision to CNN. That's next.


First this hour in our politics lead, Republican Senator Ted Cruz, who was number one out of the gate to announce his campaign for president yesterday, now in a notable twist of fate, he is telling our Dana Bash that he may end up benefiting from that thing he despises so most, Obamacare.

Dana is with us now. Let's listen to what he had to say.


DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You and your family have been getting your health insurance through your wife's job. Her company has been Goldman Sachs. She has now left that to help you with your campaign. So where are you getting your health insurance now?

[16:40:15] SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: So, she's taking an unpaid leave of absence from her job, and so we're transitioning. We will be getting new health insurance and we will presumably do it through my job in the Senate, and so we will be on the federal exchange, like millions of others on the federal exchange.

BASH: So, you will be getting Obamacare, effectively.

CRUZ: It's one of the good things about Obamacare, is that the statute provided that members of Congress would be on the exchanges without subsidies, just like millions of Americans and there wouldn't be a double standard.

BASH: But, Senator, so, right now, the irony is just kind of unbelievable, that you have made your name fighting against Obamacare, and now you are going to sign up to get your insurance through that very process, Obamacare.

CRUZ: Listen, it was the case before Obamacare that federal employees could get health insurance through their jobs. That's not a new development. So, yes, I will get my insurance through my job, like millions of other Americans. That's not a...

BASH: Will you take a subsidy from your job, which is the federal government?

CRUZ: We will follow the text of the law.

I strongly oppose the exemption that President Obama illegally put in place for members of Congress, because Harry Reid and the Senate Democrats didn't want to be under the same rules as the American people.

BASH: That means you are going to take a government subsidy?

CRUZ: I believe we should follow the text of the law.

BASH: The law that you want to repeal? CRUZ: Yes. No, I believe we should follow the text of every law, even laws I disagree with.


BERMAN: You know, look, it is interesting, Dana. And a whole bunch of other Republican senators and congressmen who voted against Obamacare no doubt getting their coverage now through Obamacare, but on that question of a subsidy, have you heard back from his office as to whether he would accept it?

BASH: Yes. I just did actually, as we were listening to that, get a text saying he is not going to take a subsidy.

They argue inside the Cruz camp that that puts him in line to your point with many, many other Republican senators who have opposed Obamacare, but are still enrolled in Obamacare because it is the law of the land, pushing back pretty hard on the idea that this is news because it is the law of the land.

But, of course, until now, Cruz has been able to kind of shield himself because he hasn't been involved in it at all on a personal level because he's had his wife's health insurance, which is why I asked the question.

BERMAN: Right. It's a good question. They lost the Goldman Sachs health insurance. Now he's taking the government plan, essentially. He is a government worker.

What other option would he have, though? I suppose he could not have health insurance or go out and get it privately essentially.

BASH: That's exactly right.

And I thought maybe he was going to answer my question by saying that they would do COBRA, which a lot of people who lose their jobs or leave their jobs and they have health insurance through their companies, they can extend that for a fee. But he didn't say that. Certainly they could, like any American, go out and go not through the exchange, but just go buy private health insurance.

Again, as I was texting back and forth with somebody from his campaign, the answer was they believe that the private insurance system, mechanism is obliterated, in their words, because of Obamacare, so it is harder for him to go around the system. That's their answer to that.

But is it possible? Yes. Would it cost more? We don't have the figures, but it would likely cost more to do that.

BERMAN: Look, you cover a lot of Republican candidates. Do you anticipate this being an issue on the campaign trail? I doubt he's the only one. There are other senators running. There are probably other senators who are on Obamacare.

BASH: Very likely there are. And that's what his campaign is arguing, that he shouldn't be held to a different standard because there are a lot of Republicans. Frankly, most if not all Republicans at this point who are in Congress and running for president argue that they want to repeal Obamacare, and many if not most of them are a part of it.

The difference here is, number one, Ted Cruz has made his name, has become a public figure on repealing Obamacare. He announced for president on the five-year anniversary of Obamacare. And, as I said, until now, he's been able to kind of shield himself because he's had his wife's insurance. That's no longer the case.

BERMAN: Yes. He is the most ardent or one of the most ardent opponents. And it is at least notable that he will now be member of the Obamacare system, as it were.

Dana Bash, great interview. Thanks so much for being with us.

BASH: Thanks, John.

BERMAN: Coming up, new allegations that Israel has been spying on the United States and trying to derail any potential deal with Iran. President Obama was asked about it just a short time ago. We will tell you what he received.

Plus, she acknowledges she will never have children again, but Angelina Jolie she is making the right decision -- why

[16:45:00] she chose invasive elective surgery again. That's ahead.



BERMAN: Welcome back to THE LEAD. Topping our national lead, explosive allegations of spying on the United States not from an enemy like Russia or from China, but from one of the U.S.' most critical allies, Israel.

The "Wall Street Journal" says shortly after nuclear negotiations with Iran began nearly two years ago, Israeli officials started secretly eavesdropping on the close door talks in an effort to sabotage any possible deal.

Let's get more now from CNN's Jim Acosta at the White House.


JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Describing his relationship with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as business like, President Obama said there's nothing personal in their agreement on two key issues, the Iran nuclear talks and prospects for Palestinian statehood.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: This can't be reduced to a matter of somehow let's all hold hands and sing kumbaya. ACOSTA: The president rejected Netanyahu's latest position in favor of a two-state solution with the Palestinians, something the prime minister rejected just before his reelection.

[16:50:06] PRESIDENT OBAMA: He pointed out that he didn't say never, but that there would be a series of conditions in which a Palestinian state could potentially be created. But of course, the conditions were such that they would be impossible to meet anytime soon.

ACOSTA: Making matters worse, senior Obama administration officials complained to the "Wall Street Journal" that Israel is spying on the Iranian nuclear talks and leaking details to Congress. It's one thing for the U.S. and Israel to spy on each other.

The newspaper quote on official, "It is another thing for Israel to steal U.S. secrets and play them back to U.S. legislators to undermine U.S. diplomacy. The president tried to laugh that off.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: As a general rule, I don't comment on intelligence matters in a big room full of reporters.

ACOSTA: But lawmakers on both sides are puzzled. House Speaker John Boehner denied receiving any classified information from the Israelis.

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: I'm not sure what the information was, but I'm baffled by it.

ACOSTA: As did the top two men on the House Intelligence Committee.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have not been briefed by the Israelis on anything that's in the "Wall Street Journal" article at all.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: None of those cases have the Israelis discussed with me anything that I would consider a classified or even all that sensitive.

ACOSTA: The Israeli prime minister's office is denying it all, saying the allegations are utterly false. The state of Israel does not conduct espionage against the United States or Israel's other allies. But the accusations are not completely new. Just last month, the White House was openly complaining about Israeli leaks.

JOSH EARNEST, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: There's no question that some of the things the Israelis have said in characterizing our negotiating position have not been accurate.


ACOSTA: And Republicans suspect some of the anonymous complaints about Israeli spying are more sour grapes on the White House over Netanyahu's meddling in the Iran nuclear talks. As one GOP aide said, it's laughable that the Israelis had to tell the U.S. Congress to be concerned about a bad deal -- John.

BERMAN: Jim Acosta, more on this complicated ever worsening relationship. Thanks so much. Coming up, she said she wanted to do it so she would be alive to meet her grandchildren. Angelina Jolie's candid admission after surgery, an operation she elected to have, should others now follow in her footsteps?



BERMAN: We're back today with the Pop Lead. A very personal revelation from one of the biggest names in Hollywood, all in the effort to save herself from cancer that haunts her family. Angelina Jolie shared that she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed.

The procedure comes almost two years after she had a double mastectomy for the same reason. She details her decision in a "New York Times" op-ed. She wrote, "I went through what I imagine thousands of other women have felt. I told myself to stay calm, to be strong, and that I had no reason to think I wouldn't live to see my children grow up and to meet my grandchildren."

Let's bring in Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN's chief medical correspondent. Sanjay, Angelina lost her mother to ovarian cancer, her grandmother and aunt also had cancer. So what did she see, was it just the family history that led her to make this decision?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I think the family history obviously was the most concerning and also just the young age. You know, her mother was diagnosed with ovarian cancer at age 49, and died 7 years later. So it's a very strong family history.

I think that's what prompted the genetic screening a few years ago. There's testing for the genetic mutations. If someone has mutations in these particular genes they have increased likelihood of developing cancer. That's why she had the breasts removed a couple of years ago and also why she had this done, her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed as well.

BERMAN: Explain to me this mutation and how much it increases the risk for cancer. It's the mutation of the BRCA-1 gene, correct?

GUPTA: Yes, there's a BRCA-1 and BRCA-2, breast cancer one and breast cancer two. Here's how to think about it, John, is that these genes, if they are working properly, they're going to help fight cancer, if they're not working properly, you don't have those same cancer fighting cells or not as many of them.

For example, if the average risk for a woman to develop breast cancer is about 10 percent, if you have mutations of these genes, the risk goes up to 55 percent to 65 percent. For ovarian cancer, it's about a percent and a half the average risk.

If you have mutations in these genes, it can go up as high as 40 percent. So it's a significant increase it's not 100 percent. It's not saying for sure you'll develop cancer, but it does say your risk increases. BERMAN: The surgery that she has elected to have both two years ago and very recently are dramatic decisions, these are serious procedures. Do doctors recommend this for people in similar situations to Angelina Jolie?

GUPTA: John, it is such a personal decision. I read her op-ed carefully both from a couple of years ago and now from today. She said, look, this is my decision. This was a personal decision. She was very -- she took pains to say not everyone should make the same decision.

Some women will say, OK, I now know my risk for breast cancer is increased. The way I'm going to handle that is I'm going to get more frequent screenings. If there's a cancer, I'll find it early.

Other people will say, I don't want to take any chance whatsoever so I'll go ahead and have the prophylactic operation. So it's an incredibly personal, maybe one of the most personal decisions in medicine.

BERMAN: Personal decision, but when Angelina Jolie does it, it has public impact. Dr. Sanjay Gupta, thanks so much. Make sure to follow the show on Twitter @theleadcnn. That's it for today. I'm John Berman in for Jake. I'll turn you over to Wolf Blitzer now in "THE SITUATION ROOM."