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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
John Edwards Facing Indictment?; Mitt Romney Announces Presidential Campaign
Aired June 2, 2011 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone.
Tonight, we begin with breaking news about John Edwards. There are reports that the former presidential candidate is likely to be indicted tomorrow on criminal charges. The other possible scenario, Edwards and the Justice Department will agree on some sort of a plea deal.
The charges stem from money given to Edwards' mistress, Rielle Hunter, who became pregnant with his child. Now, prosecutors have contended the money, which came from two of Edwards' political backers, should have been considered campaign donations and therefore reported.
Edwards' lawyers say the funds were gifts from old friends intended to keep the affair a secret from Elizabeth Edwards, who of course you know died of cancer back in December.
We're going to get to the legal and the political implications in moment, but, first, Joe Johns lays out how all of this mess began.
JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): John Edwards the politician, remember him?
JOHN EDWARDS (D), VICE PRESIDENT CANDIDATE: We have much work to do because the truth is we still live in a country where there are two different Americas.
JOHNS: But as it turned out, Mr. two Americas here had two very different faces himself, and one of them wasn't very pretty. People close to him said it was the face of betrayal, betrayal of the people closest to him. His late wife Elizabeth, his supporters, his staffers, his contributors.
Granted Edwards was a promising politician at first, successful democratic senator from the south, telegenic guy, rich trial lawyer, but a spokesman for the poor, smart but home grown. Talked such a good game, he got picked up as John Kerry's running mate in 2004.
SEN. JOHN KERRY (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I have chosen a man who understands and defends the values of America. JOHNS: But it didn't work out, so next election cycle Edwards jumped into the race for the white house, once again. By early 2008 --
EDWARDS: It's time for me to step aside.
JOHNS: He was out but not before getting entangled in a messy relationship with a woman named Rielle Hunter, she eventually gave birth to Edwards' child. Edwards at first denied having the affair and then denied being the father, but last year, he finally admitted it.
The story reached a sleazy low point when a videotape surfaced that is reported to show Edwards and Hunter having sex. The tape wound up in the hands of former Edwards staffer Andrew Young, who turned it over to a court after Rielle Hunter filed a lawsuit.
It took eight months before Edwards' wife, Elizabeth, suffering from terminal cancer, learned the extent of the affair. And before she died last year, she went public with her feelings in a book and numerous TV appearances.
ELIZABETH EDWARDS, WIFE OF JOHN EDWARDS: I wrote in it, maybe it was that 30-year investment that I had in my marriage. Maybe I could not separate the flawed man before me from the boy I fell in love with in 1975. It does not matter now.
JOHNS: The death of Elizabeth Edwards might have been the end of the story, except for the fact that there has yet to be a full public accounting. Edwards raised $49.3 million in campaign money in his bid for the White House, where some of it came from and where it went has been carefully scrutinized.
Rielle Hunter worked for the campaign and got paid as a videographer. Questions have been raised whether any of the federal campaign funds donated to support Edwards might have been used improperly, misreported, not reported at all, or used to keep the affair quiet. Andrew Young said he was persuaded to claim Rielle Hunter's child was his own, and that he went to great lengths as Edwards' aid to help conceal the affair.
ANDREW YOUNG, FORMER EDWARDS STAFFER: This was John Edwards' idea from the beginning.
JOHNS: Which brings us back to the golden boy, a once rising politician with so much promise. Something like this could never have been part of the plan.
COOPER: An extraordinary rise, an extraordinary fall.
Chief political correspondent Candy Crowley joins me now, along with national political correspondent Jessica Yellin and senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin. Jeff, obviously, the point of a grand jury is to keep things secret. On the other hand, the indications that this case is coming to a head tomorrow are coming from a source that CNN feels comfortable relying on.
How strong is the case against John Edwards and what in particular are they looking at?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, this is a really paradoxical situation, because the facts are so incriminating at the human level.
Here he is. His wife is dying of cancer. He has this affair. They construct this ridiculous story that Andrew Young, the aide, is the father. And they get all this money together to give to Rielle Hunter. That's a very ugly, unappealing story.
What is unclear is whether it's a crime, because this is potentially a violation of the Federal Election Act, and the federal election laws are rarely used in criminal prosecutions. And whether this money was a campaign contribution or simply a ruse to take -- to deceive his wife, having nothing to do with this campaign, that's the factual and legal question that, if there's a trial, will be probably the central issue in the case.
COOPER: So, he could go to trial theoretically, if he's in fact charged tomorrow, and argue that, well, I wasn't misusing this money. I was using it to protect my sick wife.
TOOBIN: Exactly, in that he's saying, look, this wasn't a campaign contribution. This money from Fred Baron, who is a Texas trial lawyer who has since died, Bunny Mellon, who is an heiress in Virginia, this was money that I was using to try to keep my family together in some -- in some way, that this money had nothing to do with the FEC, it was never part of the campaign, this is not a violation of the campaign laws.
It's not a crazy argument. A jury is unlikely to feel any sympathy for Edwards, but, as a legal matter, he may have a point.
COOPER: Jessica, in political circles, is there any prediction whether Edwards, if he's charged, would go to trial or whether he would try to get some sort of a plea deal?
JESSICA YELLIN, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, there are two things.
People who know Edwards well describe him as a fighter. This is a guy who was a courtroom attorney himself, and he likes to take challenges head on and he has experience staring down the demons and winning.
So he has that kind of personality that thinks he can beat it. But his defenders say, a little bit different from what you and Jeff are discussing, that there was no "I" in any of this, that John Edwards didn't even know this money was being exchanged and that the Justice Department, if they're charging him and basing this on his word vs. Andrew Young's word, and that's unprecedented, and they would argue that this is basically prosecuting John Edwards, if it comes to that, for being a really bad guy to his wife, and banking on the fact that a jury will dislike him so much that they will do something unprecedented.
Now, the problem is, the Justice Department, if they charge him, obviously they -- that's a good enough case or they have a strong case. And juries aren't going to be that friendly to this man who nobody really feels that fondly toward right now, and John Edwards is smart enough to know that in front of a jury, he's going to have an uphill climb right now.
COOPER: Candy, what's so extraordinary about this case, though, and about this whole saga is just how close this man came to power, not only as a vice presidential candidate, but as a presidential candidate, and just the chutzpah of not only having the affair and having a child, but -- and continuing to lie about it, but even when he had his big confessional interview on television, coming clean, I think it was to ABC News, he still continued to lie in that interview.
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, politics is full of people where chutzpah is just given new definition every day.
And this certainly is one of them. And we have seen this in any number of scandals that come up, regardless of whether about sex with another woman or money or any other form of cheating. It kind of comes out bit by bit, because, in the end, there's something in the atmosphere around a politician that makes them believe that they're invulnerable to this sort of thing.
So, it's not unusual. I think we're always sort of struck and start out every story like this and saying, oh, they couldn't have been that stupid. And then it turns out they were that stupid.
And so I think the other thing that we have to keep in mind here, though, when we're discussing the possibilities with John Edwards, because I talked to someone who is close to him, who knows him, doesn't know what he's decided to do -- I will add that -- that says he does have three young children, two by Elizabeth, and one by Rielle Hunter.
To have this -- have yet a court proceeding that puts all of this into the court records may not be something he's willing to do as the surviving parent of two of those children. So there's a lot on the table here, and certainly Elizabeth is right -- I'm sorry -- Jessica is right in that he is known as a fighter. He's a fierce courtroom lawyer.
On the other hand, he's also a parent, as this friend pointed out. So, again, without knowing what kind of decision has been made, they just threw that into the mix.
COOPER: So, Jeff, if -- if -- yes, go ahead, Jeff.
COOPER: He could lose his law license, correct?
TOOBIN: Well, see, that's that -- there are two big issues at play when you have a plea bargain in a case like this.
One is do they have to serve prison time, because that is obviously something people are always very concerned about. But perhaps even more important, as I think you started to say before I interrupted you, the question of will he have to sacrifice his law license.
And that is actually a very complicated question that varies state by state in terms of which crimes require you to be disbarred. Sometimes, you can be suspended. The -- when I was a prosecutor, I happened to prosecute a bunch of lawyers. And it's a very big part of a plea negotiation. And there are various ways you can handle it.
And I am certain that Greg Craig, who is the former White House counsel to President Obama, that, if a negotiation is going on that may stop an indictment, his law license is very important, because being a lawyer -- look, I think we all know John Edwards is not going to be a politician again, but he is very interested in practicing law again. And that is going to have to be dealt with in any plea negotiations.
COOPER: Jessica, do we know what time tomorrow we will learn exactly what's happening?
YELLIN: It's all very fluid, because what is really happening is that there are going to be meetings. We will find out if they have decided on a plea deal or not. There's no court appearance scheduled.
So it's sort of one of these stories that's going to unfold and we will find out as we see people moving and walking. The one thing I would point out is that there are a lot of nervous politicians as well, Anderson, because don't forget that the Democratic National Convention is happening in North Carolina next year.
So it would be a pretty unfortunate picture for the Democratic Party if you were to have the 2004 vice presidential candidate on trial in the same state that you're having your big celebration for your party convention. It's an unfortunate picture. I don't think that anybody's worried that John Edwards and his future taints the entirety of the Democratic Party. It kind of reminds people why they don't like politicians in general these days.
But it is an un -- would be an unfortunate coincidence. And so there are a whole lot of people, both close to the Edwards family and worried about those kids and worried about the future of the Democratic Party, who are hoping he takes a plea deal.
Jessica, thank you, Jeffrey Toobin as well.
Candy, stick around. We're going to have more from you in just a moment, talking about Sarah Palin and Mitt Romney today.
Let us know what you think about it. We're on Facebook. You can follow me on Twitter @AndersonCooper. I will be tweeting tonight, if I can.
Up next: Sarah Palin takes her bus tour to New Hampshire on, what do you know, the same day that Mitt Romney is there to announce he's officially running for president. She says it's entirely coincidental. Do you believe here? "Keeping Them Honest."
And another relative of the 13-year-old boy found dead in Syria, little Hamza -- we have been reporting on him for days, reportedly tortured by the regime -- he is speaking out, a family member speaking out. Remember how Hamza Ali al-Khateeb's father and uncle -- or what appeared to be their uncle and father -- spoke on state TV yesterday, praising the country's dictator. Well, a relative speaking out now has a twist on that story -- all of that ahead and more.
Also, Isha Sesay is following other stories for us tonight.
Isha, what are you following?
ISHA SESAY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, major drama in the Casey Anthony trial today. Jurors hear about the incredibly intricate lies Anthony told the police and also get to listen in on visits she had with her family while in jail. Details are coming right up.
COOPER: "Keeping Them Honest" tonight, Sarah Palin, the former Alaska governor and vice presidential candidate, created a lot of buzz today by just happening to have a stop on her so-called "One Nation" bus tour in New Hampshire, where it just so happens Mitt Romney was making it official. He is seeking the Republican nomination for the White House in 2012.
But on the day when Romney planned on grabbing all the headlines, well, Palin did him one better and showed up in, you guessed it, New Hampshire. No big deal, Palin said. She called it coincidental. Then maybe we should call it a happy coincidence for her, because it gave her a chance to take some serious shots at Romney.
We will more on that in a moment from Candy Crowley. As for the accusations she attempted to steal the spotlight from Romney, here's what she told reporters today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARAH PALIN (R), FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR: If he personally would be offended by me stepping foot in a state that he's in, I wouldn't do it. But I don't believe that Governor Romney is offended at all that we happened to have on our schedule a stop to meet the good people and have some good New Hampshire food.
QUESTION: You're not trying to drown him out?
PALIN: Not at all. No, not at all. And, truly, if he were to be personally offended by being in the same state, I wouldn't do it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, today, when Romney was asked how he felt about Palin also being in New Hampshire, he said had no problem with it, telling reporters -- quote -- "That's terrific."
Now, Palin's called her East Coast bus tour covering hundreds of miles through six states and Washington, D.C. a family vacation -- among the stops, the battlefields of Gettysburg, Independence Hall in Philadelphia, and the Statue of Liberty.
But some say this is actually one big campaign rollout or certainly one big publicity tour or a way to keep her name in the spotlight. Political observers note she started this tour on Sunday to raise money before the Federal Election Commission's deadline at the end of June.
She says, no, that was not part of her agenda. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PALIN: It truly isn't the purpose of this trip, is to test the waters or to have some kind of quasi-exploratory committee or group here going on. No, it's to highlight America's history. We're very thankful to have this opportunity to get to travel around and remind Americans what our foundation is.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, it's a history lesson of sorts, she says, for all of us, a history lesson, not -- repeat -- not about publicity.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PALIN: It's not about me. It's not about a publicity-seeking tour.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, word of advice: If you're not looking for publicity, you might want to avoid this guy. That's right. She of course had dinner with Donald Trump earlier this week at a pizza shop in New York City's jampacked Times Square.
There are also questions about their mode of transportation, the bus itself. Palin has an explanation for that as well.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PALIN: This isn't a campaign bus. This is a bus to be able to express to America how much we appreciate our foundation, and to invite more people to be interested in all that is good about America, and to remind ourselves we don't need to fundamentally transform America. We need to restore what's good about America.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Not a campaign bus, Palin says, but the giant bus is painted one -- on one side with the words "One Nation, Sarah Palin."
And there's also this painted on the bus, a plug for her SarahPAC Web site. And when you go to the Web site, here's what pops up immediately, a chance for you to donate to her PAC.
Whether she runs for not, Sarah Palin is doing whatever she can to raise a lot of money. And as we touched on moments ago, she also took a failed swipe at Mitt Romney just before he announced his candidacy for the White House in the first primary state, New Hampshire.
Romney himself also took some sharp swipes today at President Obama.
With all the "Raw Politics," here's Candy Crowley.
ROMNEY: Appreciate your help.
CROWLEY (voice-over): He is the heaviest hitter in the Republican field right now, and Mitt Romney came to play.
ROMNEY: Now, in the third year of his fourth-year term -- or his four-year term, we have more than slogans and promises to judge him by. Barack Obama has failed America.
You know, if you want to create jobs, it helps to have actually had a job, and I have.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
CROWLEY: He excoriated all things Obama, foreign and domestic, including the president's health care plan, not unlike the one Romney signed as governor of Massachusetts, an uncomfortable similarity he tossed off in a single line.
ROMNEY: Not perfect, but it was a state solution to our state's problem.
CROWLEY: From hay bales to hot dogs, the trappings were pure Americana -- on the banner beneath his name, the words, "Believe in America."
ROMNEY: President Obama's European answers are not the solution to America's challenges.
CROWLEY: Romney's economy-centric bid comes amidst a trifecta of discouraging headlines: home prices dipping downward again, a skittish stock market, a stubborn jobless rate -- good timing for an opposition launch -- or maybe not so much. Look who else showed up in New Hampshire, also playing rough, with a swing at the Massachusetts health care plan.
PALIN: Health care plan, in my opinion, any mandate coming from government is not -- not a good thing. So, obviously -- and I am not the only one to say so, but that there will be more of the explanations coming from former Governor Romney on his support for government mandates.
CROWLEY: Sarah Palin says it is just a big coincidence she arrived in New Hampshire in the middle of Romney's speech, insists there is nothing political about her foray into this first-in-the- nation primary state, and sees no reason Romney should be offended.
And as he ladled out chili, he didn't seem to be.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you think about Sarah Palin being in the state today?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Here you go.
ROMNEY: That's terrific. New Hampshire is action central today.
CROWLEY (on camera): Your health care plan won't sell with the Tea Party.
COOPER: Joining me again from New Hampshire, Candy Crowley. Also with us tonight, Ari Fleischer, former White House press secretary for President George W. Bush. You can follow him at Twitter.com/AriFleischer.
Ari, does anybody -- do you actually believe that it's just a coincidence that Sarah Palin ended up in New Hampshire today?
ARI FLEISCHER, FORMER GEORGE W. BUSH WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I do think, Anderson, that's entirely conceivable. Sarah Palin is utterly unconventional.
She doesn't have your usual cadre of political handlers around her who are tracking the other candidates and doing the opposition research. And what Republican candidate would go to New York City or Philadelphia as part of a Republican primary?
So, I do think it's possible that that's what she is doing. And if she did do it on purpose, who cares? So what? Politics is like that. I think Rudy may have been there for that reason. That's part of what happens if you have 10 people running for office and a lot of them are going to be in Iowa and New Hampshire at the same time.
COOPER: And do you believe this isn't about publicity for her or keeping her in the headlines, that this just is a family vacation where she's going around to significant monuments and having pizza with Donald Trump?
FLEISCHER: I think it's impossible to be Sarah Palin today without getting publicity for virtually anything she does in the public arena.
So if she decides that she wants to take a tour to visit Americana, I think it's going to happen. Unless and until the day comes when she says, I'm not running for president, that's the only day the press will start to back off of her, because there's such a keen interest in her and has been really since John McCain picked her. So, that just comes with being Sarah Palin, no matter what.
COOPER: Candy, do you think it was just a coincidence that she ended up in New Hampshire?
CROWLEY: Well, let me -- look, I don't know if it was a coincidence or not. I don't think so.
She told folks that she was going to come for a clam bake in the evening. It turns out that she showed up in New Hampshire in the middle of Romney's speech. Now, she was several miles away from him, but nonetheless.
And if you want to take a family vacation, even if you're Sarah Palin -- I don't know if you can see this bus behind me, but you can go in a station wagon and not attract this kind of attention. She didn't have to tweet it.
So this was something that she wanted. It's not just that we're following her around because we happened to meet her on a street corner. She tweeted it. She's running around in this gigantic bus that says "One Nation" and "We the People." So this is not a family vacation she wanted to keep quiet and be a private citizen about.
FLEISCHER: I agree -- I would agree with that.
FLEISCHER: But there's no crime in seeking publicity. There's nothing wrong with that if you're a public figure, and it comes with Sarah Palin.
CROWLEY: No, no.
CROWLEY: So, the question was, did -- right.
COOPER: Right. There's no crime in it.
COOPER: But then to say that that's not what -- there's no crime in it, but then to say you're not doing that, I mean, then that sort of raises -- then, either of you, if you call her on it, then you're the jerk who seems like you're pressuring her.
It's one thing to do it, sure. But to say you're not doing it, then it sort of seems odd to me.
FLEISCHER: Yes. I think Sarah Palin has always had a twisted relationship with the press, and part of the twist is from the press' side and part of the twist is her giving it right back. And so she plays this unconventional game about publicity and -- but I don't think it's all guile.
I think there's a part of it that she says, I just want to go on a family vacation and do these things. And because she's proud of America and she wants to promote who she is and her PAC, she has a bus. She's not like you and me. And she's going to do things in an unconventional way.
I'm still not convinced she's running for president, which I think is what the real question is here.
FLEISCHER: And if she is, I'm still not sure that she can run and do very well at all.
COOPER: Candy, you spoke with Mitt Romney.
COOPER: Sorry. Go ahead, Candy.
CROWLEY: I was just going to say, on that score, I spoke to people that came to watch Mitt Romney that weren't necessarily -- hadn't signed on to supporting him, who don't believe that Sarah Palin is going to run. So there's a lot of skepticism out there that she's actually going to get into this race. Sorry. I just wanted to button that up.
COOPER: Well, Candy, why does Romney think this time around he will get the nomination, when he couldn't four years ago?
CROWLEY: Timing is everything.
They truly believe inside the Romney camp that a year from November, when voters go to the voting booth, there's going to be one thing they're going to vote on, jobs and the economy, and jobs insofar as they fit into the economy.
They think that he has a resume, particularly the business side of his resume, which they want to stress, that is uniquely qualified to go up against a sitting president and say he has spent way too much money, he's gotten too few jobs for it, I'm the person who can solve problems.
They describe him as a data geek. He likes to see how the numbers add up. He likes to problem-solve. So they are selling him as a business guy who understands how America works, and he can get America back to work, and they just think that the timing is right this time.
He is the best-known name currently officially in the race. He has tons of money. He's a very smooth politician, and he's learned a lot along the way. They think that this is his time, that his time and his skills match up in this presidential cycle.
COOPER: Ari, it's obviously still very early in the nomination -- in the whole cycle of this, and others may still enter the race that we don't even know about at this point.
But where do you see Romney in all this and is it going to boil down to the economy, and, if so, how does that play to Romney's strengths?
FLEISCHER: Well, one, I don't think there's any front-runner in the Republican primary, not Mitt, not anybody. It's that wide-open.
And with this many candidates, it's almost anybody's guess who can win with a slender plurality. In Iowa and New Hampshire, that can mean 19 percent or 20 percent of the vote gets you a win in Iowa, gets you a win in New Hampshire.
Mitt Romney's strengths are exactly what Candy says. She nailed it. It's his economic background in a year in which the economy is the primary is. His biggest problem is his flip-flops, when he changed positions on a couple key issues, and for Republicans, abortion and gay rights issues, from his position as governor to when he ran in 2008. It's a character issue about, will he hold steady on things that are important, or will he change to shift with the prevailing tides?
He's going to still have to overcome that.
COOPER: And you think among Republican voters, that's the bigger issue, rather than the -- his version of medical care, of insurance bills when he was in Massachusetts?
FLEISCHER: Well, that kind of plays into the same thing. Who is he and what does he stand for fundamentally? What are his un -- abiding, his unchanging principles?
He's now sort of walking away from -- well, not sort of -- he's walking away from the health care bill to a considerable degree on the federal level. It's a hard circle to square.
But because the economy is the preeminent issue, he does have a chance to do that. Every candidate, you will find, both on the Republican and on the Democrat side, has their balance sheet of pluses and positives. And the purpose of a campaign is to emerge with the most positives. And that's what this Republican field is going to test. I have never seen it so wide-open.
COOPER: Yes. And a fascinating day it was today.
Candy Crowley, thank you very much. Ari Fleischer as well, thanks a lot.
Still ahead, breaking news out of Yemen, new -- some really disturbing news, incredible pictures, new signs that the crisis spiraling out of control, the country edging closer to civil war. We will have the latest on today's bloody street battles ahead. We will talk to Fareed Zakaria.
Also, the Syrian boy who has become the symbol of revolution, Hamza Ali al-Khateeb, 13 years old, murdered by the regime, reportedly tortured, mutilated in horrible ways. Well, a relative, a family member, now speaking out about his death, and the story the family member is telling is very different than the one that his -- person reported to be his father, and uncle, said on Syrian state television yesterday.
Plus, a riveting day in the Casey Anthony trial, as jurors hear the recordings Anthony's lawyers fought to suppress.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everything that is coming out of your mouth is a lie, everything. And unless we start getting the truth, unless we start getting the truth, we're (INAUDIBLE) two possibilities with Caylee. Either you gave Caylee to someone that you don't want anyone to find out because you think you're a bad mom, or something happened to Caylee, and Caylee's buried somewhere or in a trash can somewhere, and you had something to do with it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Thank you. Welcome back. We've got more breaking news.
A new crackdown in Yemen. Very disturbing day of violence there. It's Friday morning now in the capital city of Sanaa. Witnesses say gunmen on the street are firing on anti-government protesters in Change Square. There are also snipers on roof tops.
One protester said it's a very tense scene, and they fear government troops might arrive any moment.
There's also new video of the bloodshed in the southern city of Tase. We want to caution you: this isn't something young children should see. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: We found this video on YouTube. The injured and the dead being carried away. Government troops continue to fire on protestors, not even letting them carry away victims. We can't independently confirm the reports. (AUDIO GAP)
And new developments on the Syrian boy, Hamza, 13-year-old boy whose killing has emboldened that country's opposition movement. We've been following the story now for several night, because we think it's important not only that the world know what's happening in Syria but also what's happened to this boy in particular, representative of so many who are still in custody and have been killed.
Thirteen-year-old Hamza used to look like this before he was taken by security forces on April 29. Now, the family didn't know where he was for about 20 days or so. Today we learned just what Hamza faced during that time from a relative. We're not giving any more details about the relative to protect that relative's identity.
The relative says that Hamza was held at a security forces prison. A family member went to the prison, saw him alive and well; begged for him to be released. They said come back in two days, and they would release him. But the relative says security forces were angry that they found him. The relative says they tortured Hamza for those two days. When they returned to the prison, the relative says security forces told Hamza's parents he was at the hospital.
A warning: the next image you're going to see of Hamza is what they saw at the hospital. It's difficult to look at but shows you what the regime reportedly did to him.
This is what Hamza looked like when he was returned home. He had multiple gunshot wounds and bruises, along with cigarette burns covering his body. And reportedly his penis had been cut off.
However, the Syrian regime says that never happened. A medical examiner who did the autopsy spoke on state TV, government-controlled TV. He said there was no torture or violence and what you see is simply the result of a body decomposing. He would only say the boy's death was the result of three gunshot wounds. As for who shot him, no word on that.
Now, Hamza's family took those images that we showed you. The relative says the night the family got Hamza's body, his father was arrested and taken away b y security forces. In a stunning twist, as we reported last night, the father and uncle showed up on Syrian state TV, praising Syria's president. The first person you'll see in this video is Hamza's father from Syrian state television.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): What can I say? Best president ever. Thank God he gave us everything we ever asked for. The first thing is, the president promised us reforms, and God willing, they will come soon, tomorrow or the day after. I mean, these reforms are for the citizens, so they have been well received. And we were very happy with the president. The president is very close to the people, and he has offered them a lot. And he has said, God willing, he will give even more.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): The Syrian nation doesn't care to listen to outside media. We received Hamza from the general hospital in Daraa. And the reports were from all legitimate medical reports.
The official report and his picture was written by the attorney general. There were four reports and investigations. The president addressed the committee today to fully investigate the issue in order to get the truth. It's like he's his own son. There's nothing more to say.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): He considers him his son. He wants to be sure of the words we are hearing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Hamza's relative, who again, we're not naming for that person's own protection, says that Hamza's father and uncle said all of that because they were threatened. The family was threatened.
Joining me now is Fareed Zakaria, host of "GPS" here on CNN and editor-at-large of "TIME" magazine.
You know, Fareed, I mean, not only can a regime like this kill a 13-year-old boy and mutilate and torture him, they can also force the family of that boy to even deny what happened to their son. I mean, it is a -- it's just a double blow. It is particularly insidious.
FAREED ZAKARIA, HOST, "GPS": It's completely Orwellian, Anderson. It is something -- you couldn't write this in the pages of the worst atrocities of Stalin or even Hitler. It is precisely this kind of implication: get the victims and their families implicated, force them to confess. These are classic totalitarian methods.
This regime is probably the most brutal of all the dictatorships in the Middle East, and you can see precisely why. Because it is trying to force this kind of mass confession, this kind of implication in its own thuggish behavior. And it uses plenty of pressure, too.
Remember, this is a regime, the father of the current president, Bashar al-Assad, faced an uprising from an Islamic movement about 15 or 20 years ago and killed, reportedly, 20,000 people in the town of Hamaa and then bulldozed the town, bodies and all to destroy the threat.
COOPER: And -- you know, the frustrating thing for many watch thing around the world is the sense that there's not much, perhaps, that the United States or the international community can do. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had some of the strongest words for Syria's dictator, Assad.. I want to play that for our viewers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: The legitimacy that is necessary for anyone to expect change to under this current government is, if not gone, run out. If he cannot end the violence against his own people, take meaningful steps to start a process of reform, then he needs to get out of the way.
COOPER: This is a regime which really can hold on for a long time.
I think it can hold on, unfortunately. It has the army behind it. Certainly the officer corps of the army, the Assad family comes from a sect that is about 10% of Syria, a small sect, regarded by most Sunnis as heretical.
So these know that democratic Syria, there's not much of a -- Going to go down fighting. And they have the army, they have what money they need, and they can be very brutal.
You know, there are two forms of control in the Middle East. One is mass bribery, and you've seen the monarchies do that, doling out money.. The other is really brutal mass repression. And you see that Gadhafi sort of tried that. But the Syrians are doing that in full force. It is really a testament to the spirit of the Syrian people, that despite these incredible crackdowns, these protests keep popping up day after day.
COOPER: It's extraordinary, and they're still speaking out. I talk to them almost every night on this program and it just -- I find it so moving, their strength and their bravery in the face of this slaughter.
Let's talk about Yemen. A very different situation there. A very difficult situation in terms of U.S. policy. The U.S. has supported the president there, though they now -- the dictator there. They now are basically saying he should step aside. What is going on? We're seeing, basically, this country almost on now -- it seems like on the brink of civil war.
ZAKARIA: That's absolutely right. And it is the most difficult challenge for the United States because the immediate danger the United States faces remains, of course, from al Qaeda. Al Qaeda in Yemen, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, is probably the strongest al Qaeda cell, al Qaeda branch outside of the Afghan-Pakistan region, and they are gaining strength in Yemen.
What has happened here is President Sali, facing these challenges at home, has drawn his army out of all the peripheral parts of Yemen into the centers where you're seeing the video. What that means is he has ceded large parts of the country to al Qaeda.
And so it's a very tense, difficult situation. Yemen is, in any place, a pretty unstable place. John Brennan, the president's counterterrorism adviser, has gone to Yemen, and I think the United States is trying to broker some kind of exit strategy for President Sali that remains some stability. We want to see President Sali go. We don't want al Qaeda to take over Yemen.
COOPER: It's not an easy balance to get. Fareed, appreciate it. Thanks for joining us tonight.
Coming up, another dramatic day in the courtroom as the jury in the Casey Anthony murder trial gets to see jailhouse visits between Casey and her family. We're going to play you a lot of those videos, because just the lies she tells her family and law enforcement are simply extraordinary. Here she is talking to her brother.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CASEY ANTHONY, ON TRIAL FOR MURDER: All I want is to see her again. To hear her laugh, to see her smile. And to just be with our family.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: And obviously, we now know she was dead at the point she was saying that. Also, the man convicted of kidnapping Jaycee Dugard and holding her captive for 18 years learns his fate.
COOPER: In "Crime & Punishment" tonight, another dramatic day of testimony in the Casey Anthony trial in Florida.
Anthony, of course, is charged with murdering her 2-year-old daughter, Caylee, in 2008. She's also charged with misleading police. And today, jurors got to hear a taped police interview from back in July of 2008.
Now, on the tape, Casey is called out on the lies that she told police when they were trying to find her missing daughter, lie after lie after lie. Among other things, she lied about where she worked and where a supposed babysitter lived, Zanny the nanny.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We need to find out from you where Caylee is. This right now has just -- this has gone so far downhill and become such a mess and it's very simple. We just need to end it.
CASEY ANTHONY: I agree with you. I have no clue where she is.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sure, you do.
CASEY ANTHONY: If I knew in any sense where she was, this wouldn't have happened at all.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The caretaker, the nanny, that's not the truth. Because we went to the apartment complex. There's no person that lived there by that name.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Jurors got to hear recorded visits Casey had with her brother and her parents when she was in jail but before Caylee's body was found. Remember, the defense is now saying that Caylee was never missing, that she drowned in the family pool and Casey and her father covered it up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CINDY ANTHONY, CASEY'S MOTHER: Everybody is looking for her. Are we going to be able to find her, do you think?
CASEY ANTHONY: I hope we can, Mom. Now, I didn't get a chance to ask Lee.
CINDY ANTHONY: Can you look up a little bit more? Raise your eyes up a little bit. There you go. Look straight up so I can look into your eyes, darling. Thank you. You know I need to do that. It's okay to cry, Casey. It's all right.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Earlier I spoke with criminal defense attorney -- well, actually, I spoke with Jean Casarez, who's been inside the courtroom, covering the trial for TruTV's "In Session," and with Vinnie Politan, anchor for "In Session" on HLN.
COOPER: Jean, it's remarkable when you hear the series of lies that Casey Anthony has told: to her family, to authorities in the tapes that were played today. You were in the courtroom. How did the jury react to that?
JEAN CASAREZ, TRUTV'S "IN SESSION": They're so intense, Anderson. They're not really taking notes at all. They've got their notebooks. They've got their pens and pencils. But they've got monitors right there next to them, and they are intensely looking at either transcripts, if it's an audio version, or they're looking at video of Casey Anthony with her parents in jailhouse visits.
COOPER: Vinnie, how do you think it went for the prosecution today?
VINNIE POLITAN, HOST, "IN SESSION": Today was a very, very good day, because it was all about the character of Casey Anthony. This is a woman who, it's very clear to everyone now, cannot tell the truth. She is just an outright liar.
But the other part of it is, on this videotape she's speaking with her mom, Cindy. This jury saw Cindy Anthony break down on the stand. She's absolutely tortured by the loss of her granddaughter, Caylee.
And there's Casey Anthony, who knows that Caylee is dead, just lying to her mom. You know, torturing her further. And I've got to think the jury looks at this woman and says she can't tell the truth and doesn't care about her mother, how callous can someone be. And that impact is not going to be lost on this jury, Anderson.
COOPER: But Jean, as you know, being a liar doesn't make you a murderer. In terms of the prosecution's case that they presented so far, what is their strongest evidence?
CASAREZ: Well, their strongest evidence I think is yet to come. It's going to be what's in the trunk of that car, allegedly, according to the prosecution. Because we're only hearing that Casey Anthony had the control, the custody, the possession of that car.
And inside the trunk, there is a hair that prosecutors say had the band of decomposition on it. It was from a deceased person, either Caylee, Casey or Cindy, and two of them are alive. And then, also the chloroform, in immense levels, according to the foremost expert of decomposing bodies. And then you have a silhouette that may be from biological materials and the outline of a small, young child.
COOPER: And Vinnie, the prosecution also played videos of jailhouse visits by Casey Anthony's parents. I just want to play that for our viewers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CASEY ANTHONY: You've been a great dad, and you've been the best grandfather. Don't for a second think otherwise. You and Mom have been the best grandparents. Caylee has been so lucky. Caylee was so lucky to have both of you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: You know, obviously, Vinnie, the defense has been trying to portray Casey's father as a villain in all this, saying that he sexually abused her from age 8, I think. How did this video play?
POLITAN: Well, this -- what's going on here, people are looking at this interaction. And again, if Jose Baez and Casey Anthony are accusing George Anthony of being this child rapist, there's Casey Anthony, talking to her dad, telling him, "What a great grandpa you are. What a great dad you are."
I mean, my goodness. They know she doesn't tell the truth. I think that will make them question the allegations of sex abuse even more by the way she's interacting with her father there.
COOPER: It's still, though, Jean -- you know, without an actual cause of death, it still could be a circumstantial case, right?
CASAREZ: Exactly. And when you look at the elements of murder, the jury has to say beyond a reasonable doubt that Casey Anthony caused the death of Caylee. How are they going to do that?
COOPER: Well, Vinnie, the defense has added a grief counselor to their list of witnesses. What's that about? Trying to explain Casey's behavior, the going out and partying in the photographs we see?
POLITAN: Absolutely. And here's what we're talking about, because this is the hand that the defense has been dealt. They can't get around it. It's so well-documented with photographs, videotapes, audiotapes of her lying, and of her out doing things, like getting a tattoo, "bella vita," "the beautiful life," on her shoulder while she knows her daughter is dead. Going out to clubs, ignoring the situation.
What they've got to do is give the jury some reason to believe that her daughter is dead, it happened accidentally, and she's acting this way not because she's cold, callous, sociopath but because she's someone who has this defense mechanism to deal with trauma. This is what she was taught. This is how she grieves. This is how she reacts when she's in a traumatic situation like being sexually abused or the accidental death of her daughter. That's what they'll argue.
COOPER: Vinnie Politan, appreciate it. Jean Casarez, as well, thanks so much.
COOPER: Up next, more courtroom drama. Jaycee Dugard's kidnapper stole her childhood, holding her captive for 18 years. Well, today they found out how much time they'll serve.
Also ahead, new details about the tornado that tore through Springfield, Massachusetts.
COOPER: And Isha Sesay has some of the latest stories we're following with a "360 News & Business Bulletin." Isha, what have you got?
ISHA SESAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, the couple that stole Jaycee Dugard's childhood was sentenced today in California. Phillip Garrido will serve 431 years to life in prison. His wife, Nancy Garrido, 36 years to life. The couple kidnapped Dugard nearly 20 years ago and held her captive in their back yard from age 11 to 29. Dugard was repeatedly raped by Garrido and gave birth to two children during her captivity.
About 400 people are in shelters in Massachusetts after at least two tornadoes store through the western part of the state. Officials say four people died and about 200 went to hospitals with injuries.
Google reportedly says a hacker attack targeting U.S. officials appears to have originated in China. The phishing scheme was aimed at stealing Gmail passwords from hundreds of people, including senior government officials. U.S. officials say they are investigating these very serious allegations.
And Anderson, check this one out. A Prince Edward Island fisherman has caught...
SESAY: ... a very rare, yes, blue lobster. In his 35 years of fishing, he said he never saw one in real life before. CBC is reporting that one in 4 million lobsters is blue. So I guess...
COOPER: Wow, I never even heard of that. That's incredible.
SESAY: I know. So that lobster must have been pretty lonely out there, standing out.
COOPER: Must have been. Yes. Isha, thanks very much.
I want to thank -- I'm in Toronto tonight. Want to thank everybody in Toronto for being so friendly and having such a great city and giving me such a great day. I'll be back in New York tomorrow. More news at the top of the hour. We'll be right back.