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"Fast & Furious" Fallout; "Foxy Knoxy" Murder Appeal; Syrian President Stands Firms; Casey Anthony Trial Halted; "Pure Evil" Gets 20 Years; From President's Aide to Enemy; Fake Obama's Act Cut Short

Aired June 20, 2011 - 16:00   ET


BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Brooke Baldwin. The news is now.

After weeks in seclusion, the president of Syria makes a rare speech. No negotiation, no dialogue, just a warning to the people he says are really behind the bloodshed.

She's the American convicted of killing her roommate during a drug fueled sex game. But now as Amanda Knox appeals the conviction, witnesses come forward saying they have evidence she's innocent.

And just minutes from now, the astronauts taking the last shuttle into space --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Three, two, one.


BALDWIN: -- are scheduled to arrive at Kennedy Space Center, and what they do over the next 72 hours will make history.

Plus, she tried to hire a hit man to kill her husband.

All that crying, yes, that was fake. Now as she learns her fate, her husband reveals how she tried to take him down many times before. We're on the case.


BALDWIN: And welcome back inside the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

CNN has learned that a big head is about to roll over Fast and Furious. That is the federal government gun operation we told you about on Friday. It allowed criminals to buy hundreds of high powered weapons and ammo in Arizona.

Now, the theory was to, in Fed speak, let the guns walk over the border in Mexico and trace them to their final destination, that being drug cartels and other bad guys down there.

But listen to what one ATF agent, one Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agent, who worked in Mexico City, tells CNN.


DREW GRIFFIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The only way you're going to find those guns in Mexico is where?

RENE JAQUEZ, ATF SUPERVISORY AGENT: At crime scenes. At the death -- at the side of somebody who's dead, at a gun battle between the police and the bud guys, in which either the bad guy was killed and his gun was left at the scene, or used during the commission of a crime in which the gun was left behind.


BALDWIN: Now, some ATF agents say they objected to the gun sales, but higher-ups stopped them from arresting the gun buyers. These whistleblowers call Fast and Furious -- and I'm quoting here -- "dangerous and deadly," and a catastrophic disaster.

I want you to watch what they just told Congress at a very heated, very fiery hearing just last week.


PETER FORCELLI, ATF SPECIAL AGENT: We weren't giving guns to people who were hunting bear. We were giving guns to people who were killing other humans.

JOHN DODSON, ATF SPECIAL AGENT: Rather than meet the wolf head on, we sharpened his teeth, added number to his claw -- all the while we sat idly by watching, tracking, and noting as he became a more efficient and effective predator.


BALDWIN: And now, just this afternoon, here comes the fallout. Let's go to Washington to Jeanne Meserve, our homeland security correspondent.

And, Jeanne, whose head is about to roll here?

JEANNE MESERVE, CNN HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, we expect the acting head director of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, Kenneth Melson, may be going soon. According to two senior law enforcement sources who spoke to our producer, Terry Frieden, he is expected to resign under pressure. The timetable here is not clear, but this may happen within the next day or two.

It's a result of all the attention focused on this program, Fast and Furious, which not only allowed weapons to walk into Mexico, but the icing on the cake was when two of the weapons associated with this program showed up near the body of Brian Terry. He's a border patrol agent who was killed just a few miles from the Mexican border, Brooke.

BALDWIN: But, Jeanne, might this go beyond the ATF? I mean, there was a Republican congressional staff report saying that the program was authorized not only at the highest levels of the ATF but the highest levels of the Department of Justice here. Might other people be forced out?

MESERVE: Well, some people might, but we just don't know what the upshot of the investigations are going to be. Right now, the inspector general of the Department of Justice is looking at this, as well as the congressional and ATF investigators are still looking at this. All of those investigations are still in process, although we certainly heard Republican members of Congress say last week that higher-ups in the Justice Department had to know about this. We do not have any specific information about that yet, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Did anyone really think that they could track these guns once they walked, once they got down to Mexico, and then use the information to prosecute a massive gun-running operation?

MESERVE: Well, we heard those whistle blowing ATF agents say last week up on Capitol Hill that, yes, that was the intention of the program. That what they wanted to do was bring down the really big fish. But that hasn't happened at this point in time, and the whistleblowers claimed that they really never would be able to make a case -- having let those weapons walk, not having traced them to their final destination.

BALDWIN: Jeanne Meserve --

MESERVE: But we certainly have not seen a prosecution.

BALDWIN: -- we will be following it with you if that acting director does indeed leave his post. Jeanne, thank you so much from Washington.

MESERVE: You bet.

BALDWIN: And if it's interesting, if it's happening right now, you are not to see it. "Rapid Fire," let's go.

A big, big noisy debate happening right now in New York. This whole thing is about same-sex marriage, and it's getting very, very intense. Listen to this.


BALDWIN: And the New York Senate is deciding whether to approve New York Governor's Andrew Cuomo's bill. The governor says it will give same-sex couples the same benefits and the same protections that straight couples currently have. It is just one New York senator away from passing this thing.

In Texas, wildfires are spreading with 12 new fires reported just since yesterday. That brings the number of big fires there to at least 20. The Forest Service says some 500 homes are threatened at this point, 163 are already evacuated.

And across the country, more than half have already burned this year than in all of last year.


BALDWIN: And down they go, the red and white smoke stacks no longer part of the Riviera Beach skyline there in Florida. Crews imploded the stacks and boilers of this oil-burning plant that had provided power to south Florida for nearly 50 years. And as you saw, they're gone in mere seconds.

Watch it once again with me.

The demolition clears the way for construction of a new natural gas power facility.

Over to Nebraska, where storm chasers captured this frightening video of what appears to be a funnel cloud there touching down in the southwestern part of the state yesterday. In fact, there were several tornado reports last night. Fortunately, no injuries, no major damage reported. More strong storms, as Chad was mentioning last hour, are in the forecast today.

And some sad news for Hollywood today. Reality star Ryan Dunn is dead after a single crash this morning near Philadelphia. The 34- year-old, best known for his role in the popular "Jackass" movies, is believed to have been behind the wheel. Police found Dunn's car in the woods and say Dunn and his passenger died as a result of injuries sustained in that accident.

A manhunt is underway in New York after four people are gunned down inside this Long Island pharmacy. It happened during a store robbery just yesterday morning. Two of the dead were store employees, including a 17-year-old girl who was supposed to go to her high school prom Wednesday. Police have a picture of the suspect after he was caught on store surveillance.

It is a case that could affect your company and your paycheck for years to come. The Supreme Court makes a huge decision on this discrimination lawsuit against Walmart. That is ahead.

But up next, Amanda Knox faces decades behind bars for the murder of her roommate. But as she appeals the conviction, a couple of witnesses are coming forward, and they say they have evidence to prove Knox is innocent. In fact, they say they even know the real killer. I'm going to speak live with the spokeswoman for Friends of Amanda Knox. Don't miss this.


BALDWIN: And I have here a copy in my inbox, a copy of the letter from who will now be former congressman of New York, Anthony Weiner. You know, he resigned officially, announcing it last Thursday. I just want to read this to you.

He says, "Dear Secretary Perales and Governor Cuomo, I hereby resign as a member of the House of Representatives for New York's ninth congressional district effective midnight, Tuesday, June 21." That would be tomorrow night effective. "It has been an honor to serve the people of Queens and Brooklyn."

And again, the House is out today. Presumably, that will be read tomorrow. And it will go into effect, his resignation, midnight tomorrow night.

Could a convicted child killer and a mobster help free an American student serving time for the murder of her roommate in Italy? Both prison inmates told an Italian court over just this past weekend that Amanda Knox did not kill Meredith Kercher. But they told different stories about the killer's identity.

Take a look at this witness. This is Mario Alessi. He is serving life in prison for a crime that shocked Italy. Alessi snatched an 18-month-old boy from his home and killed him.

Alessi is serving time with Rudy Guede, one of Knox's codefendant. And Alessi says Guede told him that Knox was not in the house when Guede and a friend showed up with the intent of having sex with Kercher. According to this inmate, Alessi, Kercher's throat was slit as she fought Guede's friend who was holding her down with the knife.

Later, a mobster testified that his brother killed Kercher and confessed to him about it.

So, let's go to Anne Bremner. She is a criminal defense attorney and also a spokesman for this group, Friends of Amanda Knox.

Anne, good to have you on.

Let's just begin her. This testimony is potentially huge here. How might this weekend's testimony be a turning point in Amanda Knox's appeal?

ANNE BREMNER, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, it is huge, and it could be a huge turning point, Brooke, as you stated because Rudy Guede, the real killer, the lone killer, said back before Amanda's trial on Skype, where the police overheard it, that Amanda wasn't there. She was innocent. That didn't go into trial.

But, now, it's corroborated by a witness. And he's in for a horrific crime.

But inmates, you know, these chattering inmates overhear each other and he confirms what Guede is saying now, which is she's innocent, she wasn't there. I don't even know Raffaele Sollecito, her supposed co-defendant. So, it's huge.

As for the mobster, that could be incredibly helpful or just incredible, but the bottom line on that is he came forward to the authorities a long time ago, and they wouldn't hear from him. So, it goes to show the bias in the underlying investigation with that latter witness.

BALDWIN: But as we're talking, Anne -- we're talking about prison inmates. As we just mentioned, Alessi snatched an 18-month-old boy from home and killed him, 18 months.


BALDWIN: How are prison inmates reliable witnesses? I mean, in terms of credibility, lackluster at best at times.

BREMNER: Well, I mean, we used to say, as prosecutors in the crimes committed in hell, you don't have angels for witnesses. But, the fact is, inmates are in prison for a reason. And he's a notorious criminal. One of the lawyers in the case for Meredith Kercher showed a sign of the boy and said, do you remember him? We do. And the judge kiboshed that essentially.

The fact is that's who inmates talk to. And oftentimes, we have information from fellow inmates as we do here. But it's corroborated by what he said a long time ago and corroborated by the fact that Amanda Knox and Raffaele are innocent.

BALDWIN: As part of the group you're part of a spokesperson for family and friends of Amanda Knox. You're in touch with her parents. How are they? And how's Amanda?

BREMNER: She's -- this has been three birthdays, four Christmases in prison. She's only 23. They're holding up as best they can. I heard from part of her family today, and they're hopeful, very hopeful about yesterday, even more hopeful with the DNA and forensic evidence we're going to hear about shortly.

But what a long haul. I mean, you send your child off abroad, and she never comes back. It's every parent's worst nightmare. But they spend every month -- they've got members of the family there. They rotate. And they'll do this from here to eternity to protect their daughter and get her home to Seattle.

BALDWIN: They do alternate. They do see her periodically, I know. You know, given the past case and looking ahead, how hopeful are they? Realistically, Anne, that she will be able to come home?

BREMNER: I think for the first time they are hopeful, really hopeful. There was a little glimmer of hope before the verdict, but those jurors were exposed to media. They weren't sequestered. The trial wasn't fair. The prosecutor, of course, was convicted of abuse of office, and there was no forensic evidence -- no hair, no fibers, no DNA, no blood, nothing to connect Amanda.

But, now, we've got the forensic evidence coming up with an independent review, which is going to show that she's innocent.

CNN had a fabulous piece on the evidence, as you know, and the lack of evidence. So they're very hopeful. And, finally, the prosecutor now says himself that he cannot place Amanda Knox in the murder room. That too is huge.

BALDWIN: Well, you mentioned it. We're committed to covering the case all the way over there in Perugia, Italy.

Anne Bremner, we'll be in touch. Thank you so much.

BREMNER: Thank you, Brooke.

BALDWIN: He is accused of ordering the murders of hundreds and hundreds of people, and blood continues to spill in the streets. Now, after several weeks, Syria's President Bashir al-Assad shows his face and has a stern warning for protesters. Also, find out who he's blaming for those killings.

Hala Gorani is here. We're going to go "Globe Trekking" with her, next.


BALDWIN: "Globe Trekking" now, turning our attention overseas.

We want to talk about Syria. That is where more than a thousand of people, possibly hundreds more have reportedly died in the streets, in public spaces just in the last few months. People either rising up against the government or on the other side, trying to keep the uprising down and quiet.

Hala Gorani, we've missed you. Good to have you back on the sofa, "Globe Trekking."


BALDWIN: We know that the president of Syria, Bashir al-Assad, went on state television again today and apparently hasn't much changed his stance. I mean, might we ever hear any kind of solid specific concessions from him?

GORANI: Well, for those hoping that his tone was going to change today, it was his third speech. And what's interesting, Brooke, is that President Ben Ali of Tunisia, was today sentenced in absentia, to 35 years in prison, and President Mubarak, both gave three speeches before they were ultimately forced out of power.

The expectation with Syria is very different. There's no expectation that in the immediate future Bashir al-Assad is going to be forced from power.

However, it did -- according to analysts, according to those who have listened very carefully to his first two speeches -- he appeared a little more nervous. He appeared more serious, no joke cracking, as he had in the first speech. He blamed the unrest, however, once again, on saboteurs. He called for a national dialogue. He called on Syrian refugees on the Turkish side of the border, of whom there are more than 10,000, to come back home.

But, then, immediately, we saw on YouTube videos uploaded, one that we believe was shot in a suburb of Damascus, of demonstrators saying, "President Bashir al-Assad, you're a liar."

BALDWIN: Well, we've had correspondents --

GORANI: And that's the video I was just referring to.

BALDWIN: This is the video. We've had correspondents. You've talked to Phil Black, and I've talked to Phil Black, you know, in these refugee camps. These people are essentially saying, reacting to this message, that it's an empty message, empty promises. They say they don't feel safe enough to go home.

Yet, are we hearing anything from European leaders or U.S. leaders after this?

GORANI: We are. The French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe today said Bashir al-Assad has reached the, quote, "point of no return." This was in the foreign minister's meeting in Luxembourg. We heard from the White House, Jay Carney, the press secretary, saying concrete action is needed, not just words. We heard from the State Department spokeswoman, we're just not buying it when it comes to claims that saboteurs are responsible for what's going on in Syria.

The big question here is, how weaken is this regime? You have to remember that this is very unlike Egypt. The leadership in Syria is controlled by a minority sect, the Alawites.

They have placed at the top of the military their own people. The military leadership is going to hold on to power because, if they lose, they have everything to lose. It is the rank and file from within the majority sect, the Sunnis.

Now, if there is any kind of split among the rank-and-file, that's where we might see some change in Syria, but not before we see chaos and more violence.

BALDWIN: And, again, to underscore, you were there. You tried getting in. Arwa Damon got in and got out.


BALDWIN: Why is it they continue to refuse our requests?

GORANI: Well, I think for obvious reasons. This violence that is unfolding in certain cities, if you have day to day, hour by hour coverage, and you get the side of the story from those people who say they are the victims, who say they are being targeted by the military and security forces, then, of course, it makes the official line coming from the government much, much harder to believe, even though their credibility has certainly gone down quite a bill over the last few months -- as we've certainly been able to hear from witnesses themselves who left the country or who've been able to talk to us over Skype or whose videos they've uploaded on YouTube.

BALDWIN: OK. I just wanted you to explain the answer. Thank you, Hala Gorani.

GORANI: We're still hoping. All fingers crossed.

BALDWIN: We keep trying. Thank you very much.

And now, we are getting very close to hearing how much campaigning cash President Obama and his Republican challengers have scored so far. And not only can the numbers make or break a campaign, but they could show who's the biggest threat. That's next.


BALDWIN: Time now for your "CNN Equals Politics" update. Let's go to our chief political analyst, Gloria Borger, with the latest here.

And, Gloria, we know the president wants to get to that $1 billion number in terms of fund-raising. Think he'll make it? Picking up the pace?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, he is picking up the pace. And, you know, lucky for Obama, he doesn't have any opponents that are going to try and get some money. And when you're president of the United States, you get to take a trip down the road to Washington, D.C., to one hotel, and do two fund-raisers in one night. It's very cost effective use of the president's time, at which kind of the minimum price for a seat is around 10,000 bucks.


BORGER: So -- yes, and I bet there won't be an empty seat. So it looks like the president is going to be on his way.

Whether he raises $1 billion remains to be seen. Last campaign, $750 million. I think no Republican is going to get close to that. We'll see.

BALDWIN: Will the campaign cash numbers, Gloria, from both the president and also the GOP --

BORGER: Right.

BALDWIN: -- White House hopefuls we'll get at the start of July -- why are they so important?

BORGER: Yes. We get those numbers at the end of the month. And people kind of look at the numbers, and they look at the credibility and the viability of a candidate. You see, it will important, for example, to see if Newt Gingrich was actually able to raise a lot of money given the fact that his campaign essentially imploded. We'll see how much Mitt Romney has raised. He seems to be the front-runner in the money raising category. Whether Tim Pawlenty is actually everybody's second choice.

And also, as you know, we've got Jon Huntsman getting into this race, and, you know, he is somebody who is not only wealthy on his own, but lots of people I talked to today say he will be able to raise money.

BALDWIN: And we should be hearing from him later on in the week, correct?

BORGER: Yes. It's going to be very interesting. He announces tomorrow.

And I've been talking to a lot of Republicans who watched our Republican debate and said, you know what, Tim Pawlenty didn't do so well. Maybe Jon Huntsman will be the alternative to Mitt Romney.

It'd be interesting. Two Mormon candidates fighting each other out. We'll see.

BALDWIN: Tomorrow is the day for him. We'll be watching. Gloria Borger, thank you.

Coming up here: a verdict could come very soon in the Rod Blagojevich retrial. Find out where he goes once it does.

Also, the Supreme Court makes a decision that could affect your job, could affect your paycheck.

Plus, more and more kids, perhaps yours, getting food allergies. And experts say they know why.

And get ready for big changes online, changes that will affect how you surf the web. "Reporter Roulette" times four, next.


BALDWIN: Here we go. We have nearing a verdict in the Blagojevich retrial. A lawsuit against Wal-Mart coming to go a screeching halt on the Supreme Court. Kids' allergies may be even worse than we thought, and the Internet is about to change. Time to play "Reporter Roulette" on this Monday.

And Ted Rowlands, want to begin with you there in Chicago. You're there covering the second corruption trial of former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich. And this is the second trial for him, who is accused of basically trying to sell President Obama's former Senate seat.

What was the prosecutor's case, Ted, against the governor this go -round?

TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Last time, Brooke, the jury came up with one conviction out of 24 charges, and afterwards they talked to the prosecutors and the defense, and the jury said it was just too complicated for them on all of those other charges.

So, this time around, the prosecution made a concerted effort to dumb things down a bit, if you will, especially in their close. The prosecutors took their time in laying out the groundwork with what they believe is a clear case against Blagojevich. They dropped a few of the charges. He's now facing 20 charges.

That said, it is still very complicated. There are ten wire fraud charges. The jury is now into their sixth day of deliberation. They have about an hour to go today, and still no verdict. So we'll see if their strategy worked when it does come time for an actual verdict in this case. But you might want to -- many people expect that it will be a split verdict. The odds of them coming together on all 20 of these charges would be considered a long shot, especially now that they've been at it for six days.

BALDWIN: So, Ted, let's read between the jury tea leaves. One more day to deliberate. This is already day six, as you mentioned. Good news or bad news for the former governor?

ROWLANDS: Well, you know, one could argue that it's good news because there might be some disagreement. But if you look at the amount of work this jury has to do, it would make sense it would take them a fair amount of time. There are 20 different charges. They have to go through each one of them.

A lot of these charges have a corresponding audio recording of Blagojevich on the phone. So, there's a lot of work to do. And if you look at the other trial, took that jury 14 days before they came up with their split verdict, basically a deadlock. One could argue it's great for the defense because it's not clear-cut. But who knows? They do have a lot of work to do and to get through it, if they're doing due diligence, which they seem to be doing.

BALDWIN: What would happen here after the verdict, Ted?

ROWLAND: Well, Blagojevich will come back to the courthouse and hear the verdict. If he's guilty, he won't be remanded into custody. Likely -- he's out on a bond now. He'll likely be out on bond until the sentencing date. He still also has the one conviction to be sentenced on at that point. If, of course, if he is found guilty on any of these charges, then he probably would be remanded into custody after sentencing.

But when the jury verdict is read, if he's guilty on any or all of these 20 charges, likely the judge will -- it is his choice -- but likely the judge will allow the former governor to go home and then return for the sentencing.

BALDWIN: Like you mentioned, it could still be a couple of days. The last trial, 14 days of deliberations. Ted Rowlands for me in Chicago. Ted, thank you.

Next on "Reporter Roulette, Alison Kosik is at the New York Stock Exchange, talking about how the Supreme Court today, Alison, made a huge decision. This is really the end of the line for this massive gender discrimination case against Wal-Mart. The lawsuit potentially t involved 1.5 million current and former workers.

And it's an important distinction to make here, this was a return not necessarily because the Supreme Court disagreed with the lower court's ruling but just simply. this was just too broad a case.

ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Exactly. Exactly. This ruling came down after the fact that so many of these potential women plaintiffs, Brooke, had so many different circumstances. So, it really wouldn't be fair, the court said, to lump them into a single lawsuit. The justices said, you know what, there has to be a common thread through all of them. And the Supreme Court says, you know what, there isn't.

The court said there is no significant proof that Wal-Mart had a general policy of discrimination. With all this in mind, they went ahead and threw out the lawsuit.

BALDWIN: OK, so now this goes case by case basis, I suppose, at the lower court level. But with regard to Wal-Mart, huge win for them. But had they lost, they would have lost big.

KOSIK: They would have lost big, you said it. They would have lost in the billions of dollars. Think about it. A class action lawsuit means more plaintiffs, means bigger liability, and this would have been the biggest class action case dealing with jobs in history. Now, every woman kind of has to go fight individually.

Now, they can branch off into smaller groups and try lawsuits that way, but you know what? This may wind up flooding the lower courts more, or this could prompt these women just to back down because it can be really intimidating to take on Wal-Mart by yourself or even in those small groups. Not to mention very expensive as well, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Alison Kosik, appreciate it.

Next on "Reporter Roulette," senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the study published in pediatrics suggests more kids suffer food allergies than previously thought. And as some parents can attest, these reactions can be very, very severe. Miss Cohen, you bring me food again. We're talking allergies. How widespread is this, first of all?

ELIZABETH COHEN, SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: It had been thought from previous studies it was maybe around two percent to five percent. And this study, which is a really big study, says it's more like eight percent. And nearly 40 percent of these kids had severe reactions, things like trouble breathing.

BALDWIN: I'm guessing yes, skip on certain foods you have here. But there have to be certain foods that trigger specific allergies.

COHEN: They saw certain foods coming up over and over again. So, for example, 25 percent of these kids with allergies -- allergic to peanuts. Right? No surprise. I know my daughter's class is a no peanut class.

Shrimp - I'm sorry, shellfish was 17 percent. And milk constituted 21 percent of the allergies. So those three foods are a huge chunk of the allergies.

BALDWIN: So, the obvious why? Why are we seeing the increase?

COHEN: No one quite knows, but there is a theory, which some people I've heard call the cleanliness theory, which is that today parents are often, really crazy, like, about wanting to make sure their kids don't get anything dirty on their hands, or if a food falls on the floor, they throw it away instantly. And that maybe we're keeping our kids too clean. They don't get exposed to germs, so their bodies doesn't learn how to sort mount an attack against them --

BALDWIN: We don't have the resistance.

COHEN: Right. It's a theory because we live in a cleaner world than we once did. And that allergies in, for example, some developing countries are much, much more unusual because those kids are exposed to everything

BALDWIN: OK, are you buying that?

COHEN: You know, I think there's something in there. I really think there's something to it because there's so much evidence that shows that kids that are exposed to more germs and dirt are said to have allergies less frequently.

BALDWIN: So, the three second rule we were talking this morning, I guess, parents don't adhere. It's more like pick it up, don't eat it.

COHEN: I think it depends where it falls and what it is and your child's situation. But I must say as a parent, I don't always adhere to that rule.

BALDWIN: Yes. Elizabeth Cohen, interesting. Thank you very much. Keep those peanuts away, I guess.

And just when you got comfortable navigating the Internet, get ready for change. Coming up next here on "Reporter Roulette," Silicon Valley correspondent Dan Simon in San Francisco. Dan, what is the deal here?

DAN SIMON, CNN SILICON VALLEY CORRESPONDENT: Well, the deal is that the Internet Corporation for Names and Numbers -- yes, there is a body that regulates this stuff in terms of domain names on the Internet -- they have decided they are going to open up the floodgates and say that the end of the dot com era is over. So, essentially you could have a dot whatever you want. You could have a dot Brooke Baldwin.

So, but it will cost you, Brooke. It will $185,000 -- $185,000 to get that, plus $25,000 a year to maintain it. So it's definitely for the well-heeled businesses and obviously individuals who have a lot of cash in their pockets.

BALDWIN: All right, Dan Simon. I can't promise I have that kind of money, but if I wanted to register a dot Brooke Baldwin, is there a very narrow window in which I can register?

SIMON: You have to do it between January and April of next year. And this could be complicated stuff because you could have 65 characters in these domain names, and also you might have competition between various companies and industries. For example, the apple industry might want dot apple. Well, the Apple computer company presumably would want it as well. In that case, there would be an auction, and it would go to the highest bidder.

BALDWIN: So, bottom line here, is this about people want to go get more creative and getting bored with dot coms, or is this really about money?

SIMON: You know, I think it's about both. I think this governing body saw the need for it, that it would open the doors for more innovation. And also it's going to generate a lot of cash and allow them to do some more creative things on their end.

It could be a bit complicated. But don't look for this to happen probably until the end of 2012, Brooke.

BALDWIN: $185,000. Not cheap, my friend. Dan Simon for me in the Silicon Valley bureau. Thank you very much.

And that is your "Reporter Roulette" times four today.

So, the judge in the Casey Anthony murder trial abruptly ended today's session after lecturing both sides here. Prosecutors and defense attorneys. We're going to tell you why, next.


BALDWIN: A college baseball standout from Florida will not face rape charges in the Bahamas. His name is Garrett Whittles. He and a couple of friends had been accused of sexually assaulting two teenage girls at the Atlantis Resort last December. Now, at the time, video security cameras disputed what the girls claim, but authorities in the Bahamans ruled today that evidence in the case does not support the prosecution. Wittles had been looked at by Major League Baseball teams but was passed over in this last draft.

The judge in the Casey Anthony murder trial wanted to keep things moving along, so the case could go to the jury by the end of this week. But suddenly this morning, this judge stopped the trial until tomorrow.

Let's go to Sunny Hostin "On the Case" here. And Sunny, why did he do it? Why the sudden recess?

SUNNY HOSTIN, LEGAL CONTRIBUTOR, TRUTV: Well, I think the judge thinks the attorneys are playing games, Brooke, and this is not the kind of judge you play games in front of. At the beginning of this trial -- rather before this trial, pretrial -- the judge said, if you're going to have any experts take the witness stand, these experts have to be deposed. And in addition to that, an extra layer he imposed was they also had to file reports with each other. He wanted to avoid what he calls trial by fire, trial by ambush, trial by surprise.

Well, this morning the defense was going to call a witness to the stand who had not been deposed by the prosecution because his report didn't contain any opinions. But he was apparently going to testify to some of those opinions on the witness stand today. Jeff Ashton, the prosecutor for this case, was infuriated. Indicated that he would be filing sanctions against this attorney, Jose Baez, and the judge just had enough. They all went back into chambers. We don't know what happened in the judge's chambers. We can assume that they certainly got put in their places, Brooke. And then by mutual agreement they decided to stop the trial until tomorrow morning, 8:30 a.m.

BALDWIN: This judge is not messing around because we also know the judge signed an order --

HOSTIN: No, he's not.

BALDWIN: -- barring the release of the jurors' names. Why do that, Sunny?

HOSTIN: I think that's smart in this case. I mean, this case has received such media attention. He certainly doesn't want anyone trying to reach out to the jurors until after this is all said and done. We're talking about till after a possible recommendation for the death penalty should she be convicted.

He has a lot of rules in place, and this is just one of those ways hat he is trying to really ensure that this trial doesn't become even just sort of, I guess, more exposed than it's already been.

BALDWIN: More of a circus, and we're all waiting for Casey Anthony herself to take to the stand. We'll be watching and waiting for that.


BALDWIN: I do want to move on to case number two because, while we were all tied up last week with this case, Anthony Weiner's resignation, there was another case that came to a close.

We covered this before. Dahlia Depolito, she was sentenced to prison for trying to hire a hit man to kill her husband. In fact, let's look here. We'll remember this video. Let's watch.




BALDWIN: Depolito, who's being comforted by police, crying at this crime scene. Folks, she staged the whole thing to convince that her husband was dead.

She was also caught on camera hiring an undercover police officer who posed as a hit man. Sunny, we know Depolito got 20 years. Is that a long sentence for a crime like this?

HOSTIN: She gets the academy award for that performance, doesn't she?


HOSTIN: It certainly is a long sentence. I mean, 30 years is the maximum, 4 years is the minimum. But the judge took into account what you saw just now, the video, the fact that she premeditated this, that she planned this out.

He called her just pure evil, cold hearted and bottom line is she gets two years, I believe, credit for time served, and that means, we'll probably see her released in about 18 years. And her mother asked for leniency. She did not speak, but 20 years in prison, pretty long sentence.

BALDWIN: Well, given her theatrics and her academy award winning performance there, did police go to unusual lengths, Sunny, to catch her?

HOSTIN: I think they did. I mean, we were calling this, right, Brooke, the reality defense case. I had never seen anything like this.

They actually put a sting operation together, and she thought that her husband had, in fact, been murdered so kudos really to the police because it was a prime piece of evidence in the case against her.

BALDWIN: I remember you talking about it. Kudos indeed. Sunny Hostin, thank you very much.

HOSTIN: Thanks, Brooke.

BALDWIN: The next Republican jumping into the presidential race has a big advantage over his competitors. He actually worked for President Obama in the White House.

Now, one of the president's former aides is telling CNN why Jon Huntsman's criticism is surprising. That's next.


BALDWIN: Tomorrow former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman will announce he is challenging the president come 2012. Now members of President Obama's inner circle are coming out. They're speaking out about Huntsman's time in the White House. Here is Candy Crowley.


CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Texas Congressman Ron Paul can pack the House with passion so he frequently win straw polls like the one this weekend at a Republican Leader Conference in Louisiana.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ron Paul, 612 votes.

CROWLEY: But look who plays second, even the vote counters seems surprised. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jon Huntsman, 382 votes.


CROWLEY: Jon Huntsman is a former Republican governor with a bipartisan twist to his resume.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I know him because he was President Obama's ambassador to China.

CROWLEY: As Huntsman prepares to officially launch his campaign, his former buddies on team Obama just want to hug him to death.

DAVID AXELROD, SENIOR STRATEGIST, OBAMA RE-ELECTION CAMPAIGN: When we were in Shanghai, we got a chance to talk, and he was very effusive.

This was in the fall of 2009, about what the president was doing. He was encouraging on health care. He was encouraging on the whole range of issues.

CROWLEY: With no imagination whatsoever and the help of President Obama's top political consultant, you can hear how an Obama- Huntsman race would play out.

(on camera): Do you think that Barack Obama has had a failed presidency?

JON HUNTSMAN (R), FORMER UTAH GOVERNOR: On the economic side, there are no signs of success, very little.

CROWLEY: You think it has failed on the economic side?

HUNTSMAN: Failed on the economic front.

AXELROD: That is -- that is in conflict with what he communicated to us in 2009. If he had suggestions on the economy, he had an excellent opportunity to suggest them then when we were all together in China.

I think what has changed is not his view of the economy, but his view of his own chances to win the nomination. I understand. That's politics. He's a politician, and he sees an opportunity.

CROWLEY (voice-over): Huntsman also favors civil unions for same-sex couples, entertained, but did not enact the idea of mandated health care insurance, thinks the U.S. ought to get out of Afghanistan, and believes in the science of climate change. You think Democrats will be rough on Huntsman, sample a Republican?

JOHN SUNUNU (R), FORMER U.S. SENATOR: Everyone knows that Jon Huntsman has weaknesses on some substantive issues, but the fact that he served in a Democratic administration makes it a little tough in a Republican primary, and he understands that himself.

CROWLEY: But you're acting like it's a nonstarter. SUNUNU: He fawned over Obama to the point where he sounded like he should have been on MSNBC.

CROWLEY: In a political world, bipartisanship is nice in rhetoric. It can be darn toxic in the primary season. Candy Crowley, CNN, Washington.


BALDWIN: And now to Wolf Blitzer with a look at what you and the sit room team are working on for your show today. Wolf, what do you have coming up?

WOLF BLITZER, THE SITUATION ROOM: We've got a lot more coming up on Jon Huntsman, who's going to announce tomorrow in front the Statue of Liberty. The Statue of Liberty will be behind him that he wants to be president of the United States. The pros and cons, what he brings to the equation, we're going in depth on that.

Also a lot more coming up on what's going on in Libya, Syria right now. We're getting new information as far as Syria is concern about Iran and what Iran's up to. Our own Barbara Starr is standing by. We're going to bring in her live right here in "THE SITUATION ROOM."

A lot coming up, Norm Coleman, former Republican senator from Minnesota, he knows a lot about these two guys from Minnesota who want to be president of the United States.

A woman, Michele Bachmann, who's the congressman from Minnesota, and Tim Pawlenty, the former governor of Minnesota so we've got a lot to talk about.

BALDWIN: Wolf, we'll see you in a couple minutes. Thank you so much, sir.

And he's not President Obama, but apparently plays one on television. Did you see what happened when this impersonator spoke to the crowd of Republicans there in New Orleans?

They yanked him off the stage. Find out what it was he said and the real story behind this guy next.


BALDWIN: Wanted to turn this around quickly for you. This is from chaser This is Elm Creek, Nebraska. Severe weather, possibly funnel cloud, don't know. We're keeping our eye on the severe weather there in the Midwest.

Certainly, Wolf and possibly Chad Myers will be all over it the course of the next two hours. Keep your eyes and ears to us here at CNN.

I do want to move along and get to "Political Pop." This is one of those days we can tell you we're a little ahead of the curve on "Political Pop."

It was weeks and weeks ago when we started talking about Obama impersonator Reggie Brown. Just this past weekend, he went from honorable mention to the center of attention. Joe Johns is here with more on this. Joe, talk to me. Who is Reggie Brown?

JOE JOHNS, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, Reggie Brown first caught our eye weeks and weeks ago, as you said, with this remix of a notorious BIG rap video, and this is something that we thought was very funny, played very well.

But we weren't the only people really who sort of looked at this thing and thought it was good. We also noticed over at Fox News, those people brought him in and had him debate Ron Paul. It's all because he looks so much like the president and can really sort of mimic his mannerisms.

Well, this weekend at the RLC, he is brought in to be a comedian and tell jokes. Next thing you know, he's told essentially to get off the stage, and the question is why? Obviously, from our perspective, we'd like to know that.

The answer apparently is that he was telling racially-tinged jokes that were said to be inappropriate. Let's just sort of listen to one of them.



REGGIE BROWN, OBAMA IMPERSONATOR: My favorite month is February, Black History month. See, Michele, she celebrates the full month, and, you know, I celebrate half.


BALDWIN: OK, so he got yanked, right?

JOHNS: He got yanked and the point for the RLC was these were inappropriate jokes, they said. But we talked to people we actually had on the ground --

BALDWIN: We had people in the audience, did we not? What did they say?

JOHNS: Well, I mean, their point of view was these jokes actually were laughed at. The racially-tinged jokes were laughed at by the people in the audience, but when he started talking about people like Mitt Romney or Michele Bachmann and some others, that's when the people at the RLC actually stepped in and said, you got to go.

BALDWIN: Well, we've got to go as well. We were going to do a little thing on the golf summit. If you haven't read the papers, president and the speaker of the House, they won. We'll just leave it there. Joe Johns, thank you so much. We'll watching tonight at 7:00, you're in for John King on "JK USA." That is it for me. Now to Wolf Blitzer. "THE SITUATION ROOM" starts right now.