tv The Situation Room CNN May 20, 2014 2:00pm-3:31pm PDT
very concerned about what is happening in congress. and on that house bill, that this call was focused on, it's set to go to the full committee next week and to the full house next month. jake? >> athena jones, thank you so much. i'll turn you over to wolf blitzer in "the situation room." wolf? jake, thanks very much. happening now, breaking news. the nba versus donald sterling. new details of how and why the league plans to force the clippers' owner and his wife to give up their team. al qaeda triple threat. new intelligence showing the terror network is stepping up plans for american targets from three directions overseas and at home. and protecting a terrorist. the shocking claim that the cia is harboring one of the planners of the deadly bombings of the u.s. embassy and marine barracks in beirut. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room."
let's get to the breaking news right now. stunning new details of the nba charges against donald sterling and of the league's intent to force him and his wife to sell the los angeles clippers. cnn has obtained documents showing the nba accuses donald sterling of discrimination but also of lying, destroying evidence, and refusing to pay a $2.5 million fine. the nba board of governors will take up the charges on june 3rd and if they are sustained, the league will terminate donald and shelly sterling's ownership of the clippers. rachel nichols will be joining us momentarily. and don lemon is joining us. you've gone through these documents showing the strategy
of the nba. termination of the los angeles clippers' entire membership, including mrs. sterling's interest in the team is called for, they say, by the ncba constitution. they are not just going after him, they are going after her as well. >> absolutely. there's quite an interesting and almost bombshell piece of information in there which was certainly news. we know, of course, that the entire basis for the charge, at least initially, was his statements recorded with v. stiviano. and then they added some of the things that they said to anderson cooper. it's an allegation of a coverup, a construction of false information that was submitted to the nba by sterling in the effort to save his ownership. it's not spelled out how he did that but that's yet another offense that the nba alleges sterling committed and another
grounds for taking the franchise away from them. >> in this new document that we obtained, mr. sterling's conduct was discovered that relevant evidence was destroyed and false and misleading information was provided to the investigator, the los angeles clippers issued a false and misleading press statement. clearly they are going way beyond what we heard in that press statement in dell lyineat the formal charges. >> this is far deeper than a morality clause. the thing that gets me but it says termination of the los angeles clippers' entire membership is called for by the constitution. what does that mean for the team? that the team is no longer part of the nba? i'm not sure of that.
this is definitely a bombshell. >> i don't think it means that. it means that they are trying to take the whole thing away and put it up for auction. >> i just want to jump in here, guys. it's a term in the nba constitution. they can either terminate membership. that means that the entire ownership group is no longer involved in the team. when a membership of a team is terminated, it reverts to the nba commissioner or they can just remove one owner. we all know they do not want shelly sterling to remain an owner. that is why they are going the more bombshell to termination membership path. that does not mean that chris paul is now on the open market. it means that it reverts --
>> and shelly sterling said the termination of the l.a. clippers' entire membership, including mrs. sterling's interest in the team is called for by the constitution and related to shelly sterling. >> no, not at all. they are looking to have a whole new clean slate for the clippers and, you know, the clock is really ticking here. today, donald sterling's lawyer asked for a three-month delay in this process and the nba said no. the delay is the classic str strategy for any criminals. the nba said, no, june 3rd is the day that they will begin
this hearing and it may end if there is no defense put up. >> don, i want to you respond to this. i'll bring rachel back into this. one of the points that they are making in this document is that nba membership may be terminated upon the failure of a membership or owner to pay any indebtedness owing to the league. and then they say, this provision has been violated because the los angeles clippers has refused to pay the fine imposed back on april 29th, 2014. so they say they can get rid of him because he hasn't paid the fine. >> you've read my mind. it appears, in him trying to keep his team and him trying to do damage control, that from this that he actually has done himself more harm by the damage control that he's trying to do. he did not pay that fine and
then send a letter to the nba saying why he didn't pay it because he thought -- his attorney at least did. now, according to this, as you read, they can get rid of him just because he did not pay that fine. it seems it would have helped him to pay the fine and then fight it because it would have given them one more solid reason to get rid of him. >> rachel, what do you think of this notion that they think they have another justification for getting rid of both sterlings and when he provided false and misleading evidence and false and misleading public statement that caused grave harm to the nba. >> yeah. the statement was released right after the recordings were released. we all saw it. it basically said he didn't really say the things on that recording and didn't mean them and perhaps the recording was manipulated. i'm curious about the destruction of evidence. you might make the leap that,
hey, there are some alternate recordings that were destroyed. that's going to be a good nugget to the story as we go forward. i'm going to tell you, it's not like damage control gone awry. this is about stubbornness. when these recordings came out, he said he did nothing wrong and in his world what he says goes. as far as he's concerned he didn't have to pay the fine or listen to anyone. and they are saying, you live in our world and in our world you will no longer be a team owner. >> very quickly, jeffrey, before i let you go, you're the legal expert, when the fbi makes a charge like that, that's clearly a crime. if the league says he was destroying evidence, that allegation, what does that say to you? >> well, i don't think it's a crime because this wasnot a
govern governmental allegation. there's a question of whether there's any legal basis to do that. that is a possibility. >> don't go too far. we'll have more coming up at the top of our next hour as well on this story. and also, an important note to our viewers, please be sure to join don tonight that airs at 10:00 p.m. eastern on cnn. up next, a very different story we're covering. al qaeda terrorists targeting the u.s. from three directions. there's new intelligence on a growing threat. and dozens of americans have gone off to train with jihadists in syria. some of those americans are coming back to the united states. so how dangerous is that?
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other breaking news we're following right now as the united states faces what is being described as a triple threat from al qaeda. the danger comes from different directions with terrorists stepping up efforts to attack americans overseas and at home. our pentagon correspondent barbara starr is joining us with the latest. let's start with what you learned, barbara, about this very dangerous american in pakistan. >> wolf, a senior official tells me that they have been
monitoring a series of threats aimed at u.s. targets here at home. one of the big concerns is a man named abdullah ashami. he's part of al qaeda core based in pakistan. this was supposed to be the al qaeda on the run. oshami, believe it or not, was actually born in america, american-born, went to the middle east as a very small child and with his family and now is essentially the head of al qaeda's external planning operations in pakistan. he is a guy that is trying to put the operative in place. they see no operational sales but this is not al qaeda on the
run. and his code name is the one to watch. >> second stream apparently coming from syria. what are you learning about that? >> wolf, another man, a guy named by the treasury department is a key al qaeda senior operative now in syria also at the core of a syrian-based effort planning external attacks and syria is now a hot bed. basically, open territory for al qaeda to operate training camps and they are bringing fighters in and as we'll discuss in a short while, they are sending fighters out of syria trying to get them into europe, trying to get them into the united states to attack wherever they can.
>> the third stream coming from yemen. yemen, wolf, always a concern. the head quarters for al qaeda in the arabian peninsula. remember, we reported several days ago the u.s. embassy in sana had closed to outside services. this is one of the biggest indications of the growing threat from al qaeda in yemen. the concern that they are very capable of trying to attack the u.s. embassy in yemen, capable of trying to attack inside of the united states. let's circle back and tie this all up, wolf. the concern is in each of these locations, al qaeda operatives are threatening and making efforts to try and put operatists in to place to target u.s. attacks in europe, u.s. targets at home, u.s. official tells me that there is no
evidence of operational yet but they are tracking every one as they and merge. >> i want you to stay with us, barbara, mohammed jamjoom is joining us as well as eli. 100 american have already trained with jihadists in syria and as many as a dozen may have already turned to the united states? >> that's what i'm getting from my sources at this point. the key thing here is that it's very difficult to track westerners with western passports, and the concern is between 6 and 12 at this point. we know in some cases where there have been facebook posts and al qaeda has been sending
senior operatives into syria. >> what kind of training are they giving them? >> well, i don't have that kind of information. the point is, even if it's just fighting and making the contacts, it's almost that the rolodex is more important than the training that they would offer. the people that they would contact and to find the documentation in order to slip into the united states. >> mohammed, you're learning of a new recruitment effort on the part of yemen? >> this is happening when the largest al qaeda efforts is happening in the aqap. it's still going. it started about a month ago. it's still going on. yemen's military, with the help of the american and saudis, are on parts of yemen soil that they don't usually go into trying to hunt down the terrorists and yet we're seeing more and more propaganda videos produced by aqap in which they are showing not only foreign fighters, fighters that appear to be european, some which claim to be
european and also we're seeing al qaeda trying to show a different side of themselves, trying to show themselves as pro te tech fors of yemen upon various populations in different parts of yemen. >> a few weeks ago we had mike rogers on our show. he was deeply concerned about the al qaeda threat emerging from inside syria. you're also learning, eli, that al qaeda veterans are flocking into syria for recruitment purposes. what are you learning? >> this was first pointed out back in march and one of the things that was said, that i think is really important, he talked about these kinds of senior commanders who have gone there to set up shop and it's a pattern that we've seen all over the muslim world from libya to north africa. you're finding kind of key figures who were trying to give a franchise or leadership but
also a guide and sort of role. you find new people and the problem met taft sizes. >> barbara starr and eli lake and mohammed jamjoom, thank you. the stunning claim that the cia is supposedly protecting a terrorist accused of planting bombings that killed hundreds of americans. stay with us. you're in "the situation room." whon a certified pre-ownedan unlimitedmercedes-benz?nty what does it mean to drive as far as you want... for up to three years and be covered? it means your odometer... is there to record the memories.
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this is awkward. check your speed. see how fast your internet can be. switch now and add voice and tv for $34.90. comcast business built for business. three decades before the attack on the u.s. embassy, there was a horrific attack on the embassy in beirut. months later, hundreds of americans died when another truck bomb hit by the u.s. marine barracks outside of beirut. there is a stunning new claim that the cia has been harboring an iranian responsible for both of those attacks. our brian todd is joining us with more. we're going to speak with the
author of this new book but tell our viewers the background. what are you learning? >> this seems like a plot taken from the show "homeland," terrorists given protection by the u.s. government in exchange for valuable intelligence. but according to this book, that's not fiction. a mastermind is living on u.s. soil with the backing of the cia. a scene of carnage in beirut, april, 1983, killing more than 60 people, including 17 americans. the cia lost several key officers. former u.s. and israeli intelligence say that this man, then a member of the revolutionary guard, helped plan that bombing, as well as the bombing in the barracks at beirut that year and
orchestrated by this man inside the united states. >> i was blown -- i was stunned. i was surprised. i couldn't believe it. >> ann suffered 19 broken bones in the embassy bombing. dammarell sued and said the cia helped him defect in 2007 in exchange for iran's nuclear program. >> his value could be quite large because our knowledge was quite small. he could have had a treasure trove of information about revolution guard activities, overseas, domestically, he could have provided happens a good deal of information about the nuclear program. >> reporter: according to the book, agari gave intelligence at
natanz and could have given information about a hezbollah operative believed to be responsible for several terrorist attacks against americans. he was assassinated in 2008. the intelligence does not satisfy william baron, who helped continued to the wounded after the bombing. >> my immediate reaction was sick to my stomach and i can't see anything being gleaned from him that we cannot glean from other sources. >> deals are made, deals are cut, countries do it. and that's how they operate and get information that they need. >> but we have gotten a flat-out assertion from the u.s. intelligence community. a spokesman said we can say categorically that the cia did not reset tell or arrange the defection of ali reza agari.
no agency in the intelligence community was involved in reset telling ali reza asgari in the united states or is aware of his whereabouts. they are saying, as they have for years, that they believe that asgari was abducted by the u.s. in turkey. they are still looking for him. >> that's what the iranians are saying. let's explore these new allegations. the author of "the good spy, the life and death of robert ames." also joining us is an attorney representing the beirut bombing victims and the former cia officer bob baer. you've written an amazing book. it reads like a thriller but it's nonfiction. what do you say to these denials from the director of national
intelligence and the cia? >> well, i'm not surprised. just before coming on air with you i got an e-mail from one of my sources, a retired cia officer who had known robert ames very well and i asked him, you know, what did you think of the end story of the book? he's just finished it. and he said, you know, in my heart i have murder for this man. but in my head, i understand they make these tradeoffs. if this man came with valuable information, i can see -- if i had been in that position, i might have made the same choice. and then i asked him, well, what about the denial from the cia spokesman? he said, well, the man is doing his job. that's exactly what he's paid to do. >> in the book, you say that ali asgari is probably living in the united states right now. you don't know where, right? >> i don't know where but in the spring of 2007 there was a
flurry of news stories in "the washington post" and new york sometimes and the guardian and european papers about this defection and i also was able to track down through the internet and sources in berlin exactly how he came about. they are using very specific language. they say that they didn't arrange this defection. well, ali reza asgari arranged his defection on his own. he got himself out of iran, into syria, and crossed into the turkish -- into turkey. but he was, by all accounts, brought to washington, brought to a cia safehouse and debriefed. because, as one of your sources said in the setup, he brought with him information. specifically, he brought a
laptop with information about the iran nuclear program. you know, this is a man who had been involved in these terrible bombings as a young intelligence officer but he rose to be a general in the iranian revolutionary guard and had information about the nuclear program. >> i want to bring bob baer into this conversation. bob, you work for the cia. you understand what is going on. apparently there were disagreements in 20007 between the national security council, the cia. do you help this guy? do you bring him to the united states or do you just go ahead and hikill him? he had sensitive information that the u.s. wanted. >> well, wolf, the problem -- the political problem is asgari was a key player. he could give witness to the iranian regime and now is the
question, do we want to prosecute iran for it or go to war? it's clear that the iranians were involved in. high being gentlemani hijacking the planes and it's a political problem. i can see why they are so sensitive about this at this point and, you know, it's a real problem. >> and the book is about robert ames, who was a top official of the cia who was visiting beirut back in 1983 during the reagan administration when all of a sudden that embassy was blown up and so many people, including robert ames, was blown up, including other people. we're going to continue this conversation right after this. ♪
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switch now and add voice and tv for $34.90. comcast business built for business. . truly shocking claim that the cia has been protecting an iranian terrorist tied to the deaths of hundreds of americans. we're back with the author of the brand-new book "the good spy, the life and death of robert ames," stewart newberger, an attorney for the victims and cia officer bob baer. you represent these family members, stewart. when they hear this allegation, which has now been denied by the cia, the dni, but when they hear this kind of stuff, that this terrorist who masterminded the blowing up of the u.s. embassy in beirut, the marine barracks
six months later, what are they saying? >> i think it's mixed emotions. a lot of the people i represent were career diplomats stationed in beirut. and obviously they are very upset and concerned that someone who could commit mass murder against not just them but the united states government, this was an embassy, after all, that was attacked, could in any way possibly have been sheltered their own government. at the same time, as anne mentioned in her own interview, these are people who work in the diplomatic and intelligence world. as painful as it is, sometimes they understand that their boss has to make tough decisions. whether right or wrong is the toughest decision of all. >> you spent a lot of time interviewing friends and family members of robert ames, the cia officer who was there and blown up at the u.s. embassy bombing
back in 1983. what have they been saying to you? >> well, like stu says, they understand that these kinds of calculations go on all the time. in the shadowy world of intelligence, you have to get information from bad guys. but i would argue in this instance, this is a great miscalculation, a misjudgment. this was a man who was responsible for killing eight cia officers and many more persons in the beirut embassy bombing and 241 marines in beirut six months later and, you know, the intelligence he came with, i would argue, was transitory. it was old almost by the time he arrived here and so i think it was a bad deal. but, you know, i can't know that and the bottom line is that there are a lot of victims and,
you know, the family of bomb ames and the civil court judgment, they were compensated but they haven't received a dime and we are now -- what is interesting about this situation is that we are involved in a delicate negotiation with iran to try to avoid a war. and i'm all in favor of that. but i don't think that these civil suit damages should be forgotten. you know, they should be part of the negotiations. >> a lot of people totally agree with you, kai. as we're speaking, marie is a spokesperson at the state department and she's been tweeting during this interview. she said dni and cia spokesman categorically deny the assertions to asgari. blind accusations without facts, very irresponsible. den nye asgari given u.s. asylum? let me give you another chance
to respond to marine harf at the state department. >> i think people are going to have to read "the good spy" and judge it themselves. the book comes with a thousand footnotes. if the cia's position today is that they don't know where where asgari is, they ought to know. he's responsible for killing eight cia officers. they didn't deny that he had defected in 2007 in the spring of 2007 their position was, no comment. we're not going to comment about this high-level general that had defected. now that we've pieced together with good detective work that this iranian general was responsible and in a position to have done these things in lebanon during the 1983 bombings, suddenly they don't know where he is or who is he.
this isn't believable. >> very quickly, bob baer, a final thought, what do you believe? >> he's somewhere. he's either here or he's in israel. one of the two. he was a key player. no one is going to let him go. i would find it difficult to believe the cia doesn't have a blue where he is. i just don't believe that. >> i find that hard to believe myself. if he's in turkey or saudi arabia or israel, wherever he might be, if he's not in the united states, i presume that people here in the united states government know where he is, given the record and what he has done over these many, many years. the book, once again, is entitled "the good spy," the life and death of robert ames." thanks for joining us, everyone. in less than half an hour, the first polls will be closing as half a dozen states hold primaries today. there are several showdowns between mainstream republicans, tea party candidates in
kentucky, the senate minority leader is expected to fend off a challenge from matt bevin. in georgia, five gop candidates are likely headed to a runoff to face michelle nunn. another family connection in pennsylvania. chelsea clinton's mother-in-law marjorie margolies, we'll have coverage with our political team at the top of the hour. the polls start closing in kentucky then. stay with us. ♪ norfolk southern what's your function? ♪
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. it may be the last best hope for finding malaysia flight 370. the raw data from satellites and the communication with the plane in the final hours. after intense pressure from the families, the data is about to be released. our correspondent rene marsh has more. >> reporter: under pressure from families, the malaysian government now says it will soon release raw satellite data from the night flight 370 vanished. that data led the search here to the south indian ocean. >> our push is for independent review. out of the hands of the people that hold liability in this case and will have to trust that
independence will bring some light. >> experts outside the investigation are eager to review the data the moment it's released. >> it's important for other people to look at it just because they haven't found the airplane where they might just come to a different conclusion. >> the satellite company, inmarsat, and malaysia, are discussing when to release the data and what material to include. cnn is told to expect not only the numbers, but an analysis, as well. >> what do the numbers actually mean is crucial. we don't necessarily have to see every detail of their analysis, but we certainly need to understand the definitions of the terms that they've used. >> the release is a win for families who've been demanding the data for weeks, but they realize it's not an instantaneous game changer. >> i don't think that we'll have any big discovery right off the bat. i mean, it will take a long time for outside experts to take this
information and to try to create models. >> in an open letter, family group expressed fears the search could end before the plane is found, saying that would be, "tantamount to murdering us." they also called for the full recordings of these wings thought to be the black boxes and australian newspaper reports investigators there will not make them public. skeptics believe it's another indication of waning confidence in the signals. but investigators are confident enough in those signals to send both ocean shield and bluefin back to the search area. remember, the search has been delayed for days because of broken parts, but we just found out the underwater search could resume as soon as tomorrow. >> rene, sand by for a moment. i want to also bring in our aviation analysis peter goelz and richard quest. richard is joining us from london right now. richard, what do you make of the
fact inmarsat not only released the data, but a separate analysis? >> i think it's going to be more than just that. i think you're going to get an element of raw data, but you're also going to get quite a bit of understanding behind it, because as rene's report made clear, it's not just enough to know 1.65321, or whatever the numbers might be. you have to understand what were the assumptions that were being made, not by speed or by altitude, but more technically about the satellite, about the aircraft, about the modem. all these sorts of issues play into it. ultimately, from my understanding, from both malaysia and inmarsat, what they are now engaged in is a process of working out which bits of information will be useful, which bits of information are vital, and which bits of information would just clutter up the understanding and should
be left out. >> what do you want to see, peter, you're on investigator. for example, the pings, they said they are not going to release the audio of the pings. why can't we hear those? >> well, what this underscores, wolf, is the fundamental importance of having independent accident investigations. the ntsb, trusted by the public, trusted by families. this investigation has neither. what we're looking for is, as richard pointed out, not just the raw data, but the thought process, the understandings that they reached to get to this spot off of perth. if we don't have that, what we're going to have is a thousand theories develop and simply complete clutter over the next few weeks. >> rene, you're speaking to your sources, that's a potential fear out there, they release all this information, it's just going to clutter up everybody and they are going to be way, way behind. >> right. i spoke with one expert today, one of the experts who's hoping
to get his hands on this raw data, because he wants to get a crack at analyzing it himself, and he said, look, the responsible thing for all of these experts that want to analyze it for themselves to do is don't rush to put out your theory. take a long, hard look at it and try to help inmarsat. this isn't about saying i told you so, i knew you were wrong and throwing out additional theories that would create one big distraction. it is about helping the process. he's calling on these experts to be responsible. >> go ahead, richard. >> yeah, rene makes such a good point. i've got to say, from everything i've looked at with this, this idea that somehow inmarsat came up with some numbers and everybody else bought on to it is just simply not the case. you're talking about inmarsat, rolls-royce, boeing, the aaib, the ntsb, numerous professors at
various universities, other satellite companies. i'm not saying there aren't other experts that have something to contribute, but we need to understand that this information has been very widely reviewed. the only difference is, it hasn't been put into the public domain. i can tell you everything your people have called for today is most likely going to be released. >> richard quest will be joining us tomorrow, peter goelz, rene march, guys thank you very much. the biggest voting day before november, the first polls about to close. we'll have the first results coming in. plus, the nba accusing donald sterling of lying, destroying evidence, and a whole lot more. ♪ [ male announcer ] we don't sit idle wondering how we're going to build a better truck. we get out there and walk a mile, thousands of miles,
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the midterm election. we're awaiting results involving top republicans that could help shift the balance of power here in washington. plus, new details on the nba's legal charges against donald sterling. standing by also to hear from the nba commissioner adam silver, he may answer reporters' questions about the scandal this hour. we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer, you're in "the situation room." this is cnn breaking news. >> the first polls are closing in kentucky, one of six states holding primaries right now. this is the biggest voting day before the midterm election, and it could help decide whether republicans can deliver a punch in the gut to the president of the united states this fall and reclaim control of the united states senate. today's contests are an important new test to the gop establishment's fight to beat back influence from the tea party and its supporters. the most closely watched contest
hit mitch mcconnell of kentucky against the tea party favorite, the challenger matt beavan. beavan is standing by to join us live. we'll discuss what's going on as we await the first results. they are getting ready to come into the "the situation room." our political team is covering all the angles, dana bash is in kentucky, "crossfire" host s.e. cupp and van jones. first, john king is taking a close look at kentucky specifically. this is a key battleground. >> key battleground, wolf, and key battle for mitch mcconnell, who said his goal this year is to crush the tea party. his challenger, matt beavan, by all accounts if you look at the map, people are thinking he's got a tough challenge today. first, let's look at the map. if you see the blue and the map, 36 senate races up this year, 16 we view as competitive for sure or potentially competitive. see all that blue? those are seats now held by
democrats, just two, kentucky and georgia, not held by republicans. republicans believe they have a favorable map. yellow states are primaries today, kentucky and georgia. let's take a closer look at kentucky. as we noted right now on the republican side, matt beavan, louisville businessman, he's the tea party favorite. he says mitch mcconnell has been in washington too long, he's part of the problem, but mitch mcconnell has been working hard and the five-term senator, republican leader now and hopes to be the majority leader is heavily favored today. we'll see what happens. he won narrowly last time by about six points, but kentucky is kind of tough. should mcconnell survive today, this is why this race will continue to get attention, his democratic opponent will be the secretary of state, alison grimes. that race is a dead heat. some people say as much as $100 million might be spent on the kentucky senate race. again, as we wait, i want to
show you, this is senator mcconnell's last race in 2008 when he went with 53% of the vote. this year is viewed as more closely. why is mcconnell confident come november? because the presidents are issues in midterms elections. barack obama carried one, two, three, count them, four of kentucky's 100-plus counties and one key point, wolf, as you prepare to talk to mr. beavan, this tells you where you find tea party votes in the state of kentucky, if beavan is to pull off a miracle, he has to perform hugely out here where you have more tea party voters up into this part of the state it's more establishment and conservative. again, mcconnell the heavy favorite. tonight, it's personal, wolf. >> it's a new fe no, ma'phenomee republicans are going out of their way to beat back some of these tea party challengers because they are looking ahead to november. >> looking ahead to november and
back to where mitch mcconnell lost close points, bob bennett from utah, so this is personal to him and mr. beavan can tell you about that when you talk to him. looking to november, they believe the establishment candidates have a better chance in november than the tea party candidates. they think, for example, richard murdoch in indiana, todd aiken, some tea party candidates left seats republicans think they could have, perhaps should have won. that's what they think the lesson is this year. there is one question, if kentucky is 50/50 in november and if mitch mcconnell win tonight, will some of the matt beavan voters stay home? mitch mcconnell if he wins needs to move immediately to unifying the republican party. >> i'm going to ask how aggressive he'd be in supporting mitch mcconnell come november. thanks very much. much more on the elections later this hour. we're standing by, the first results will start coming in from kentucky, we're told, in a
few moments. i want to move on to another story we're following. we're getting a detailed look at the nba's legal case against donald sterling. the formal charges make it clear the league not only wants to end sterling's ownership, but his estranged wife's stake in the team, as well. right now we're monitoring a news conference. they are getting ready to hear from the nba commissioner adam silver. he's going to be talking about the nba draft lottery, but reporters are there, he may start answering questions about the sterling scandal, as well. we'll have coverage of that here in "the situation room." in the meantime, let's bring in our panel, jeffrey toobin, cnn's rachel nichols, host of "unguarded with rachel nichols," and cnn don lemon, our anchor. guys, thanks very much. one thing that's jumped out at me, rachel, is that they really want to make it clear in these new documents that have been released by the nba that they don't only want to get rid of donald sterling, they really want to get rid of his wife.
let me read to you from this document. if the nba board of governors sustains the charge, the ownership interests of mr. and mrs. sterling in the clippers will be terminated." so there's no loophole there. they want her gone, as well. >> absolutely. and they talk about the membership of the clippers being terminated. this has caught a lot of people's attention today, they are worried there's going to be no clippers anymore, chris paul is going to be auctioned off to the highest bidder. does not work that way. this is constitutional language within the nba constitution that basically says if membership is terminated, that means that the clippers revert to the stewardship of the nba itself and the nba commissioner. there's an alternate route where they could remove a specific owner from his team, but they are not going that route, because they do not want shelly sterling involved in this team anymore. they've made it clear, players made it clear, they want all sterlings disassociated and that's why that language of the
membership being terminated is used. doesn't mean no l.a. clippers, there will still be clippers games next season. >> jeffrey, today for the first time we heard the specific legal case the commissioners, the lawyers of the nba, how strong of a case do they have? >> stronger than we knew, because leading up to today we knew that the charges were based on the statements that v. stiviano disclosed or recorded and the statements to anderson cooper last week, but in these charges, there is an additional allegation of obstruction of justice, that donald sterling and his associates lied to the nba about their involvement in this whole matter when the nba started investigating, and that's an entirely new separate and additional ground for taking the franchise away from sterling, according to this document. >> the other point they make,
don, i'll let you weigh in on this, he's refusing to pay that $2.5 million fine, that's the maximum fine the commissioner can impose on an owner and they write this in the document. "an nba membership may be terminated on a failure of a member or owner to pay indebtedness owing to the league. this has been violated because has not paid and has stated refusal to pay the $2.5 million fine." they've received a notice of default on this matter so they think that in and of itself is enough to terminate his ownership. >> it is. i don't know how many times i've heard you say this, very often not the crime, it's the coverup. had it just been the tape, just been the tape -- >> don, it's also the crime. come on. >> but listen, he made it -- what i'm trying to say, he made it worse for himself. >> no question. >> also because it mentioned shelly sterling, she may not have been in this documentation
had shelly sterling not tried to get out in front of this. also the statements he made to anderson cooper, that is another thing that they added to this, then the $2.5 million wolf just mentioned, he didn't pay that. that is another thing added on top. each of these things occurred after the actual crime, so yes the crime is bad, but the coverup, i would venture to say is worse because with anderson, wolf, rachel, jeffrey, he knew he was on tape. he knew there was a camera there and he said awful, awful things so that everybody could hear and they knew it was him, so, yes, it is the crime, you're exactly right, rachel, but the coverup is pretty darn bad. >> i do want to add from an nba perspective, i've talked to several of the groups surrounding the ownership groups and there's definitely some uneasiness when it was just the original crime, the recorded tapes. we heard mark cuban come out publicly and say he was concerned about the, quote, slippery slope of an owner
recorded secretly against his knowledge and private utter ranss being used to take away the franchise. they were uncomfortable with that idea. doesn't mean they weren't going to vote him out, but made some people uncomfortable. once the interview aired on cnn with anderson cooper and wasn't secret, wasn't without his knowledge, it was donald sterling looking at a camera and saying terrible things, it sort of released a lot of the ownership groups around the league to say okay, we don't have to worry about this anymore. this isn't something that could happen to us also, because we would never do something that stupid. >> i'll read from the latest document we received, jeffrey, stand by. here's what they say, evidence was destroyed, false and misleading evidence was provided to the nba's investigator and the los angeles clippers issued a false and misleading press
statement." what do you make of that? >> well, it is potentially a violation of the nba constitution. now remember, this is not a criminal matter. the government, the state of new york, the state of california, none of them are involved. this is a private dispute among commercial parties, but it's an agreement that he had to abide by or he gets thrown out. the nba is saying that you violated our constitution and we are a membership organization, we can choose who our members are and who our -- who was out, and you're going to be out. one point i want to make is, the clock is really ticking now, because the nba has said they are going to vote on june 3rd, and clearly i think adam silver has the votes to get rid of sterling, so unless a court intervenes, looks like sterling is out. >> rachel, very quickly, we know the l.a. clippers issued what the nba calls a false and misleading press statement once
the audiotapes were released, but do you know what relevant evidence was actually destroyed? rachel, first to you. >> no, that's fascinating. everybody wants to know what are they talking about, possibly is it additional recordings destroyed and the time table is also interesting, as jeffrey just pointed out, they gave sterling notice and he has these five days to respond. technically, they have ten days before they can hold the board of governors meeting. they are only doing it a few days later and the idea is to hold the hearing and strip donald sterling of his team the day or two before the nba finals start. they want this issue off the table before the biggest show of their league and they also want to be able to look the rest of the world in the eye when adam silver has his state of the union press conference at the nba finals, as the commissioner always does, and say this is it, we handled it. it's going to be interesting to see how this plays out over the next few days. >> hold on, stand by. the commissioner, adam silver,
he's got a news conference on a totally unrelated subject, the draft lottery, the nba, but he's going to answer reporters' questions, i suspect a reporter or two may ask a question about sterling. we'll have that for our viewers. guys, stay with us. also coming up, much more about the election primary coverage here in "the situation room." i'll speak live with the republican challenging the senate minority leader mitch mcconnell. matt beavan is standing by. ♪ (train horn) vo: wherever our trains go, the economy comes to life. norfolk southern.
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reporters' questions. they are talking about the nba draft lottery of college basketball players, but, but, and there's a huge but, reporters could be asking serious questions about donald sterling. we'll monitor what's going on. if he starts answering questions about sterling, we'll go there live. in the meantime, jeffrey toobin, rachel nichols, and don lemon. i'll ask this as a legal expert, jeffrey toobin, one of the things in this document the nba now has summarized, the legal arguments they are making against sterling, and i'll put it up on the screen as this, if the board, nba board of governors, by a three-fourths vote sustains termination charges on the basis of sterling's words, actions, and views, the constitution, nba constitution, calls for the entirety of the los angeles clippers membership in the nba to be automatically terminated."
how do you read that, jeffrey? >> it's the death penalty. it's the provision that says we're going to take your franchise away and it takes three-quarters of the 29 owners who own teams in the nba to say we don't want you in our association anymore. and this is a key point. the nba is not a company. it is not a -- you know, it's not a publicly held corporation. it's an association. and they speak of members. and the owners are members of an association and they can choose to admit people and they can choose to reject people according to their constitution. they say that sterling has violated the terms of the constitution, so if three-quarters of the remaining owners vote, he's out. >> and you know the nba, rachel, you know the inside of what's going on, 29 other owners, do you have any doubt that 75%, three-fourths of them, will vote to terminate his involvement and mrs. sterling's involvement in
the nba? >> i don't have any doubt and i have to credit adam silver for this. he's only been on the job three or four months and the way he's handled this is pretty masterful. immediately in the 24 hours following the tapes, he was good, he was calm, he called for an investigation, didn't give away too much, because he's a lawyer, knew he couldn't say too much to get himself in trouble, but made sure the investigation went quickly, and when he gave that news conference, he laid down the gauntlet to the other nba owners. i asked him at that press conference, have you polled the owners, do you know you have the votes, and he specifically said no. this is a huge departure from his predecessor, david stern never went into a vote before knowing ahead of time he had the votes. adam silver decided he was going to publicly challenge the other owners of nba teams that even if they felt uncomfortable, they had to vote this guy out, public
pressure, pressure from the players has made that a reality. >> don, it's an interesting point rachel makes. going back to that initial adam silver news conference when he banned donald sterling for life from the nba, but he made it clear at that point he wasn't banning mrs. sterling from the nba. she did show up at several clippers games after her husband was banned from showing up at any games. in this new document we have now obtained, adam silver, lawyers for the nba, are making it clear she's got to go, as well. not necessarily banned from attending the game, but she's going to lose ownership of the team just as he will. >> yeah, it's called doing the right thing. that's what he said from the beginning, i'm doing the right thing. he wanted to make sure he did the right thing. as everyone has been saying here, perhaps donald sterling and shelly sterling taken a seat and been quiet, had she been quiet, people may not have known about her plans to keep 50% of the team, she may not have been mentioned in the documents.
wolf, what i was saying before the break, this is what we're hearing from the nba today. donald sterling is going to respond to this, whether it be through his lawyer or what have you. i don't think he's going to go away just because these documents came out from the nba. i think his attorney, one of the best litigate tors out there, fully expected this, but what i also found interesting in the documents when you mention shelly sterling, listen, they both took an oath or are supposed to conduct business through the highest moral and ethical standards and they are against their joint agreement and it is a violation of the contractual duty of loyalty to the league and the league's commitment to diversity and inclusion. both of them, they say, broke these rules that donald sterling signed up for when he agreed to buy this team. >> you've been going to a lot of the games, rachel. how awkward the timing of this
scandal that's been going on right now is it, go cover a miami heat game, for example, how awkward is it, not just for fans, but for the players themselves, hovering over all of this is this awful, awful situation? >> certainly not an accident the timing that tmz released this just as the playoffs were beginning, these tape recordings happened long before that, but this is the time of year there's the most attention, brightest spotlight on the league. i would say it's been a little difficult for players, certainly the l.a. clippers while they were in the playoffs with all these questions and allegations going on and for other players around the league, too. i've been to several games lebron james has been playing and he's been under increased pressure because a lot of people are looking at him in a leadership role, but i do think the way the nba has handled this overall, that includes the player's association, has been admirable. the fact the player's
association has said they were going to boycott has helped make the nba's case. >> hold on, i think adam silver is being asked about this, the commissioner of the nba, let's listen in. >> just ten nba owners who have been meeting on a regular basis to discuss these proceedings, and the timing is laid out in the nba constitution. we're following it to the letter in terms of numbers of days that mr. sterling has to respond and then when the hearing will be held. and as i said, i know we're doing the right thing here. this is an unprecedented proceeding. will there be bumps in the road, presumably yes. mr. sterling on one hand at least in his cnn interview indicated a willingness to accept the judgment of his owner partners, his lawyers are saying otherwise, so we'll see. but this will all get worked out. i know we're pursuing the right course here and doing the right thing. >> next question. >> commissioner, charles gardner
from "milwaukee journal sentinel." tonight begins the leadership for the bucs and i wondered if you could just talk about the process of approving them and what you think they will bring to the league. >> in terms of the process of approving wes and mark, it went very smoothly and very quickly. i've known mark -- >> all right. question of the new owners of the milwaukee bucs, but you did hear adam silver, commissioner of the nba, making it clear they have a path forward. he says it's unprecedented, they are moving forward to get rid of donald sterling as the owner of the clippers. what did you think? >> the ball now really is in the court of the sterlings and their lawyers, because there's an expression, you know, money talks and mere rhetoric walks. not exactly how it usually goes,
but -- >> that was very creative, jeffrey toobin. very impressive. >> they have to decide whether they are going to go to court, because if they don't go to court, sterling's going to lose the franchise. >> jeffrey, i'm surprised you didn't say what he said. as soon as we went to him, he said, i am positive we are doing the right thing. i said that no more than three minutes ago, we're doing the right thing. he's not taking a poll. >> hold on, guys, hold on, guys. there's another question being asked now. >> are you willing to give his attorney and mr. sterling three months to respond, and mrs. sterling, what is your position on her ownership? >> in answer to your first question, no, i'm not going to talk about the specifics of the case. in terms of additional time, the answer has been no. the proceedings and the process is set out in our constitution, something they signed on for when they became owners in the league, and my position on mrs. sterling is that, and i said at the initial press conference, we
haven't focused on any conduct by mrs. sterling. the way the franchise termination proceedings work is that if the primary controlling governor of the team, in essence, is found by three-quarters of the members of the association, the other owners in the league, to have, in essence, you know, done something under our constitution that calls for the termination of his team, all ownership interests are terminated as part of that proceeding. as i understand the position of mrs. sterling's lawyers, in essence, they would say, we accept you can terminate mrs. sterling, but somehow mrs. sterling comes with the team. it just doesn't make sense. i mean, the same way even if you had unrelated partners, if you terminated the franchise, the primary owner, and that owner had several, you know,
colleagues, cronys, who were also owners with him, it wouldn't make sense under our constitution we could then go about selling the team, but those other partners would have to come along. so our position is, once under the constitution, based on mr. sterling's conduct, if the owners ultimately decide that it's appropriate to terminate his franchise, the interest of all owners is terminated. >> what exactly was it that he said to anderson that made his situation worse, in your opinion? >> you know, it's outlined in the charge that we made against mr. sterling. i will say i responded in part right after that interview to particular comments he made about magic johnson, but also to comments he made about african-americans. >> on the left-hand side right here. dave. >> adam, dave bevin, espn los angeles. kind of piggybacking on that last question, you mentioned earlier on when you mentioned the lifetime ban of donald
sterling, you had interaction with him, has that continued at all or by virtue of his public comments in the cnn interview and your statement afterwards, are you beyond that point where you guys can hash it out between man to man? >> well, i'll only say that mr. sterling still owns the los angeles clippers. m mrs. sterling, i understand, through a trust, owns 50%, as well. it's their team to sell. he knows what the league's point of view is, so i'm sure if he wanted to sell the team, you know, on some reasonable time table, i prefer he sell it than we go through this process, so if that's what you mean by man to man, i'm open to that. >> back on the left-hand side. >> mark medina, los angeles daily news. adam, how long do you envision
this transition process regarding the clippers ownership taking? >> well, under our constitution, he has until next tuesday to respond to our charge and then a hearing will take place the following tuesday on june 3rd, most likely here in new york. i envision once we move through that process, that we will then put the team in order, presumably, we will hire an investment banker and we will conduct an orderly process. and we also have a fiduciary obligation to the sterlings to ensure we sell it for the highest possible price and no doubt it's an incredibly valuable asset. >> two more questions. >> adam, what are the right words to describe your feelings that you're getting all the questions about donald sterling and not why we're here or the nba playoffs, that he's dominating coverage