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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT

Interview with Rudy Giuliani; Gay Marriage Views

Aired February 23, 2012 - 19:00   ET

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


ERIN BURNETT, HOST: Gas prices jump as Iran's nuclear standoff with the west continues. One of Iran's most outspoken critics, Rudy Giuliani, is here with his plan to contain Iran.

And the judge's decision in the honeymoon murder trial, did an Alabama man murder his wife? And the United Nations today accusing Bashar Al-Assad of crimes against humanity, we're going to take a look inside the mind, the psychological, of Syria's dictator.

Let's go OUTFRONT.

OUTFRONT tonight, Iran taking a toll. Gas prices overnight jumped 3.3 cents a gallon on fears Iranian oil, which is the world's fourth biggest stash of crude, could be disrupted. Now if Iran made good on its threats to halt oil supplies, which it's promised to do in response to rising international pressure on its nuclear program, it would hurt consumers around the world.

Jim Bianco (ph) of the OUTFRONT "Strike Team" says it would send the United States into another recession with gas prices possibly hitting $4.75 a gallon, but the move would also devastate Iran. Sources tell us that 80 percent of that nation's economy is linked to oil and natural gas. So will Iran do this? Will it come to this? Rudy Giuliani was mayor of New York City during 9/11 (INAUDIBLE) career fighting terrorism and he comes OUTFRONT tonight. Good to see you, Mr. Mayor.

RUDY GIULIANI, GIULIANI PARTNERS CHAIRMAN AND CEO: Nice to see you Erin.

BURNETT: So let me just start with this issue of the rhetoric here ratcheting up. Do you think that it's going to get to the point where Iran feels threatened enough to do something like shut off its crude oil supplies?

GIULIANI: I do. I think it will -- I'm not sure they will because it does have a devastating impact on them.

BURNETT: Yes.

GIULIANI: They're very good at threatening. The threat I think you have to take as a real one and as we ratchet up the pressure on them, they may very well take that step to try to see what kind of pressure they can put on us and we're just going to have to be ready for it. But I mean the reality is we have to look at the bigger picture. A much more dangerous, much more difficult situation for our economy and our national security would be a nuclear capable Iran. That would be a couple of decade long problem with nuclear weapons in the hands of irrational, crazy people, which was the nightmare of the Cold War.

BURNETT: Let's just take one step back because obviously they feel threatened. They say they're going to close the oil. The U.S. threatens -- you can see how this just becomes sort of self-fulfilling --

GIULIANI: Right.

BURNETT: -- but is a lot of this still beating the drum? It's election year. Remember last election year John McCain, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran, Hillary Clinton was talking tough. Until -- the president until recent days was tough. The media has been talking a lot about it, the candidates. Is this really rhetoric? Everyone's hot and bothered.

GIULIANI: Yes, yes, it is -- it is rhetoric and it's jacked up 20 degrees, 30 degrees, but it's also real.

BURNETT: But it is real.

GIULIANI: In other words -- if this were not an election year or let's say next year when Obama is the president or Romney or Santorum, the issue will still be there because this country seems to be determined to become a nuclear power and they have made statements that indicates that they are crazy and irrational. They want to destroy Israel. They set off this scheme to have a Saudi Arabia ambassador killed in the streets of Washington, looks like they're killing Israelis around the world. They've done that before and they've killed Americans around the world. They've killed American soldiers in Iraq. I mean this is a -- this is a truly dangerous regime. This is a real issue.

BURNETT: How would we know how close Iran is to getting a nuclear weapon? I mean how do we even evaluate such a thing? Intent is one thing. Being on the process is a totally different thing.

GIULIANI: Yes. You know I don't think that's 100 percent accurate science. I think it's a lot of intelligence, a lot of reliance on Assad, a lot of reliance on Israeli intelligence, a lot of reliance on Middle Eastern intelligence. A lot of countries that haven't come out hate Iran, fear Iran --

BURNETT: Apparently (INAUDIBLE) are very important --

(CROSSTALK)

GIULIANI: You just look at WikiLeaks and you look at Saudi Arabia, of course they were going to kill the Saudi Arabian ambassador.

BURNETT: Right. GIULIANI: They probably have killed some Saudi diplomats already, so we get a lot of information you know behind the scenes, so I think we have a pretty good indication that they are nuclear capable.

BURNETT: So here's the question though because obviously people are looking back in Washington and around the country, polls say Americans don't want a nuclear Iran. They would support military action to prevent it, but it does feel in a lot of ways a lot like Iraq. People are saying well they have this, they want to do this and we did, we went in last time on that.

GIULIANI: Right.

BURNETT: It was bad intelligence --

GIULIANI: Right.

BURNETT: -- and a lot of Americans think it was a huge mistake. So eventually, is the United States, the people, going to have to take it on faith that if America strikes, they strike without knowing --

(CROSSTALK)

GIULIANI: We need leadership and I think the president, President Obama has made this much more complicated by being such a weakling with regard to Iran. You know a couple -- a month ago he writes a letter to the Ayatollah, asking the Ayatollah to talk to him. It is absurd writing a letter to the Ayatollah. It's like writing a letter to Hitler. It is nuts. Instead what he should be doing is convincing the Iranians that he is serious that if he had to he'd bomb the hell out of them and they should believe this. In fact the best way he's going to avoid bombing them is convincing them in their heads that he's capable of doing it.

BURNETT: OK. But say he did that. Let's say he did that. Then Iran looks at this, a trillion dollars being cut from the defense budget, the American people that are tired of war, a country that spent a trillion dollars in Iraq and Afghanistan over the past decade.

GIULIANI: Maybe he shouldn't have cut it --

BURNETT: That's a country that doesn't have the will --

(CROSSTALK)

BURNETT: -- in Iran's view perhaps to go in.

GIULIANI: Maybe he's a president without a strategy. Ronald Reagan wanted to destroy the Soviet Union, so what did Ronald Reagan do? He didn't reduce the military by 20 percent. He increased the military by 20 percent. He convinced the Russians and the Soviets that he might bomb them and then he pointed cruise missiles at them and put the names of the cities on the cruise missiles.

And then he leaks little statements like make my day, you know, and you look at the biographies of that day. Even Gorbachev who said Ronald Reagan spent us into oblivion. Those people in the Soviet Union had no idea what Ronald Reagan was going to do. He had the ultimate leverage. This president has given away all leverage by begging to negotiate.

BURNETT: So you're not saying the United States should strike --

GIULIANI: You know who said that? You know who said that? Four years ago who predicted this? Hillary Clinton at the debate --

BURNETT: There wasn't --

GIULIANI: -- when he said --

BURNETT: Yes.

GIULIANI: -- I'll talk to him, I'll -- she said irresponsible, immature and dangerous.

BURNETT: Well see if you can explain a little bit on the president's changing tone in Iran? In November I was actually over in the United Arab Emirates when the U.S. drone went down over Iran.

GIULIANI: Right.

BURNETT: It was a big story then. The president soon after said quote, about the drone, "we have asked for it back. We'll see how the Iranians respond." Now he was widely criticized --

GIULIANI: Please, please give us back the drone, Mr. Ayatollah, please give me the drone back. That really helps, right?

BURNETT: All right, but he got tougher Mayor Giuliani. He got tougher --

GIULIANI: Oh yes, really tough.

BURNETT: Here he is at the Super Bowl.

GIULIANI: Oh, wow, really tough.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're not going to take any options off the table and I've been very clear that we're going to do everything we can to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon and creating an arms race, a nuclear arms race in a volatile region.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GIULIANI: Here are the words that had to come out of his mouth, magic words, if I have to, I'm prepared to bomb them. He never said that, he's never said -- I will put (INAUDIBLE) --

BURNETT: Options on the table -- (CROSSTALK)

GIULIANI: He can't say the word bomb them. We need a president who can say the words bomb them and actually can do it if he has to in order to protect us from Iran becoming a nuclear power and most importantly, they have to believe that our president will do that to them. All of a sudden, that will change. We are the largest military in the entire world.

BURNETT: Yes.

GIULIANI: They are a small, tiny little military power compared to us. It is ridiculous they're pushing us around this way. That is because we have a president that has no idea how to exercise leadership.

BURNETT: But wouldn't it potentially escalate then? I mean Iran has leverage. They've got the Straits of Hormuz --

GIULIANI: It's already escalated --

BURNETT: They may have (INAUDIBLE) and some might say it's irresponsible to talk about bombing another country.

GIULIANI: No, I'm using -- I'm using their administration. They have this case in Washington in which the Iranian government paid money to have the Saudi Arabian ambassador killed. I don't understand how the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff can say that Saudi Arabia is a rational actor in light of that. I can't understand what he's thinking about when he calls them a rational actor --

BURNETT: Martin Dempsey did say they were rational actor --

GIULIANI: That's crazy. They're not a rational actor. They want to -- they deny their Holocaust. They want to destroy Israel. They want to attack us. They kill our soldiers and they want to kill the Saudi Arabian ambassador in the middle of our capital. I'll give you 10 other things. How about we take them at their word? They're crazy. They also held American hostages. They'd be certainly prepared to do that again. We -- this has already escalated.

BURNETT: You don't think sanctions will work? By all accounts they seem to be crippling. I was in Iran a year ago -- people were complaining that food prices were going up because the government couldn't afford subsidies because of the sanctions.

GIULIANI: In the history of diplomatic affairs sanctions have worked and not worked. I can't say sanctions won't work. I can tell you if sanctions were backed up by a credible possibility that the American military would be engaged and will destroy their nuclear facilities that sanctions would become much more effective.

BURNETT: Final question on Iran, what about just letting them get a nuke?

GIULIANI: I -- BURNETT: I mean we become obsessed over this line in the sand. Maybe --

GIULIANI: Here are two reasons why. The irrational part that I told you about, the big nightmare of the Cold War was the irrational (INAUDIBLE) nuclear weapon. Secondly, Iran's propensity for supporting terrorism, the largest supporter of terrorism in the world, they don't have to attack us. They can hand off the nuclear material to terrorists. They could arrange much more effectively what they tried to do in Washington, D.C. except it could be a nuclear weapon and then set that weapon off in London, in Paris, in New York and then lie about it.

They are very good at lying. They're killing Israelis right now and lying about it, so they are supplying terrorists with weapons. These people now have nuclear stuff and they think they can give that to terrorists and lie their way out of it because America needs proof beyond every reasonable doubt before it does anything because we have a president who can't act. They become a very dangerous force.

BURNETT: Before we go, will you endorse by the election or tonight?

GIULIANI: I won't do it tonight. I'm in a state of confusion about who to endorse --

BURNETT: A state of confusion.

GIULIANI: Like a lot of other Republicans I like some things. I don't like other things. But I will eventually yes do that.

BURNETT: Are you concerned about someone like a Rick Santorum and you're a pro-choice Republican --

GIULIANI: Yes, I am.

BURNETT: He's someone who says not even in the case of rape or incest --

GIULIANI: I endorsed Rick and supported him when he ran for the -- for the Senate. He supported me when I ran for mayor. I understand how to put that where it belongs. I like Rick's approach to foreign policy. I like Rick's approach to the economy. We have big differences on social issues. That's why I'm a moderate Republican. That's why I couldn't get nominated if I ran --

BURNETT: But is -- are you concerned that that's a problem for the Republican Party?

GIULIANI: Sure --

BURNETT: Opening the window for a real third party to come in --

GIULIANI: Absolutely -- absolutely. I'm concerned about how do we get back to northeast as a voting block when we seem to be not modern (ph) enough on social -- I'm not just talking about abortion and --

BURNETT: Well Chris Christie, let's take him on gun control. Nationally, that's a real problem, but in this area it's pro-gun control, right --

GIULIANI: Right -- right.

BURNETT: That's a problem on a broader (ph) ticket --

GIULIANI: I think the biggest problem right now I think abortion you can work out. You know I don't like abortion. I'd rather not see abortions. I'd like to work to reduce the number of abortions. I think a woman has a right. I think the gay rights issue is a big -- is a more current one.

BURNETT: Yes.

GIULIANI: It's a more current one right now and I think that -- I think beyond all the religious and social parts of it, it makes the party look like it isn't a modern party. It doesn't understand the modern world that we live in.

BURNETT: So should they just say it's up to individuals --

(CROSSTALK)

BURNETT: -- and stop saying you're against gay marriage.

GIULIANI: (INAUDIBLE) states. How about that? That's a nice solution for us. We're a state's rights party. Let states decide what they want and different states will have different conclusions about this.

BURNETT: All right. Well Mayor Giuliani, thank you so much. Good to see you, sir.

GIULIANI: Thank you very much.

BURNETT: Glad he brought up gay marriage; we're going to have more on that in a moment. And a dramatic end to the trial of a man accused of murdering his wife on their honeymoon and the president blasting the Republicans as he defends his energy policy and yes, a very angry Chris Christie today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: I used to be a prosecutor. I know a (INAUDIBLE) too, but I'm not going to be cross examined by you this morning.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BURNETT: Well we have some breaking news right now. The Maryland State Senate just approving a bill to allow gay marriage. It is the eighth state to do so, obviously, very relevant in light of what you just heard Mayor Giuliani say.

John Avlon joins us now, a former adviser to Mayor Giuliani when he was in the mayor's office --

JOHN AVLON, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Yes.

BURNETT: -- of course running for president, David Frum also joins us and Jonathan Cowan, Democratic strategist. OK, great to have all of you with us, let me start with you, David Frum, the quote here from Rudy Giuliani. "Issues like gay marriage make the Republican Party look like it isn't a modern party. Let the states decide."

DAVID FRUM, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: He's certainly right about his fears and they are especially powerful in these past 10 days where Republicans have wasted so much time in this debate over contraception. The contraception argument is maybe even more painful than the abortion and gay rights argument and it's painful not just because of the threat it expresses toward the liberty of people and women especially, but because if the polls are right, about 30 percent of young Americans have postponed having a child they want because of these hard times.

So it's not that people are using contraception in order to have a party. They're using contraception because they face a bleak economic future and they want children and are postponing them and Republicans are debating not the bleak economic future that causes children to be postponed --

BURNETT: But the contraception --

FRUM: -- but the contraception they use to postpone --

BURNETT: And contraception is a key point. I wanted to play this though. We played it coming into commercial (INAUDIBLE). Governor Christie this morning on "Morning Joe" tangling with "Washington Post" columnist Jonathan Capehart, this is pretty good. Here it is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president and the Justice Department have made it clear that they believe that the so-called Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional. They're not supporting it in any of the court cases going through the federal court system. As president of the United States would you support --

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would you support that?

CHRISTIE: He's told his lawyers --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would you support that?

CHRISTIE: He's told his lawyers --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Governor Christie, would you support --

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hold on --

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey Jonathan --

(CROSSTALK)

CHRISTIE: First of all, I used to be a prosecutor. I know a (INAUDIBLE) too, but I'm not going to be cross examined by you this morning. Secondly --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm having fun trying.

CHRISTIE: I know -- and you're going to lose, so let's just move on because --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would love for you to answer the question.

CHRISTIE: Here's the answer to the question. Let's have the president of the United States show some courage. Come on this program, we'll get to the camera (INAUDIBLE) camera and state his position. He won't because he wants to have it both ways. I'm not looking to have it both ways. I vetoed the bill.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: Jonathan, let me ask you this question. Does Chris Christie have a point? The president said originally marriage is between a man and a woman. Now, he says his views are evolving.

JONATHAN COWAN, PRESIDENT OF THIRD WAY: No. I mean Governor Christie has a lot of great things about him, but in this instance, it's just being ridiculous. First of all, the president of the United States has made very clear that he supports repeal of DOMA and that's a huge deal. Secondly, he said my position is evolving because he understands what Giuliani said earlier on the show that Americans want to allow gay couples to make the same commitment that every other couple makes. That's the modern position and it's one both parties should take. Governor Christie --

BURNETT: It is different than the term, marriage though. I mean is he dodging the definition of marriage?

COWAN: No, the president's been very clear about this. He said I support repeal of DOMA, which is a huge deal and a major step in the road towards getting marriage in this country, but he doesn't currently support marriage. The president and Governor Christie are wrong about that, but Governor Cuomo, Governor O'Malley and others are right about it.

The future of this country, governor -- Mayor Giuliani is right -- the future of this country is going to be that we are on a journey where most states if not all states ultimately have marriage for gay couples. That's because allowing people to make that commitment is exactly the right thing to do.

AVLON: The challenge that Rudy set out was for the Republican Party to modernize. And that's a challenge they should take seriously. He represented a brand of urban Republicans and the big question confronting them is are we going to advance the rhetoric, the ideals of expanding individual freedom every place except in people's personal lives? That is ultimately untenable. So it really does say look, whether it's you know Rudy's state by state solution or rebuilding the big tent to allow for greater ideological diversity within the Republican Party, that's (INAUDIBLE) connect to the millennial generation and to expand in the maps, so you've got New York Republicans against (ph) you. You have northeast Republicans --

BURNETT: And he talks about losing the northeast.

AVLON: That's right.

BURNETT: All right, well the president today mocked Republicans. I want to talk a little bit about energy because this is very interesting. The president talking about his energy plan and mocking the Republicans for making gas prices at the pump a campaign issue.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Last week, the lead story in one newspaper said, gasoline prices are on the rise and Republicans are licking their chops. That's a quote. That was the lead, licking their chops. Only in politics do people root for bad news.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: All right. Here's President Obama back in St. Louis, Missouri on June 11th, 2008, talking about his rival for the presidency, John McCain.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: When we're paying more than $4 a gallon for gas, the man who rails against government spending wants to spend 1.2 billion on a tax break for ExxonMobil. That isn't just irresponsible. It's outrageous.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: What do you say, Jonathan?

COWAN: Well, look. Somebody in your team does excellent research in putting those clips together.

BURNETT: Yes, they do.

COWAN: I'm sure the White House doesn't love your research staff. That said look every political party whenever gas prices are going up and they're the non-incumbent party, they make -- they try to make an issue of this and in the end, elections -- presidential elections just aren't decided on gas prices for two reasons.

First of all it's only one of many indicators about the state of the economy and secondly, traditionally, for example in the last decade, gas prices spike in the summer, but then start coming down in the fall, and so there will almost certainly be a downward trend in gas prices taking them off the table in this election.

BURNETT: (INAUDIBLE) did he have some points in this energy plan? Now it's been more of the same, these are points that he's made before. He wants more alternative energy. He's not in love with drilling. I mean there's nothing quote, unquote new in this plan --

AVLON: Well he's expanding. I mean they're expanding a process for more drilling in the Atlantic, a new -- a deal with Mexico. They are expanding permits for nuclear power. So it's a step towards what John McCain called the all of the above approach. We don't fight this war towards energy independence one hand tied behind our back, but it's an important political issue because energy independence, the idea of it, the ideal of it. Becoming less dependent of foreign oil, that's incredibly important especially Independent voters (INAUDIBLE) economically. It's important towards national security as well.

BURNETT: David, I was joking today that every energy plan in recent American history has been a eunuch energy plan. I mean how many sound bites can you pull from Reagan to Carter to George Bush saying we're going to be energy independent.

(CROSSTALK)

BURNETT: -- years you know and then it never happens.

FRUM: No, but that's wrong. Energy brings out the worst in President Obama. It's really the one of the places where he is both, least most foggy in his thinking and most deceptive in his practice. The United States has made tremendous progress toward energy dependence. Consider this fact. In the year 1995, Americans used less oil than they did in the year 1978. Not less oil per person, not less oil per car, less oil.

There's a big decline in oil use, not a big decline, there's a real decline in oil use over that period. Oil use is sensitive to price. So for the president on the one hand to say it's -- I -- me -- I love low gasoline prices. And at the same time to say I want to move away from oil, the thing that moves you off oil is high prices and that is what the president's policy is.

But he pretends that with government grants, he can invent a magic motor that will deliver some alternative energy that is cheaper than gasoline, which is the cheapest oil -- cheapest fuel there is. Oil and coal, those are the cheapest fuels. If you don't want to use them, you're going to have to pay more and having a carbon free economy, having energy independence that means paying more --

BURNETT: OK, that's true but --

FRUM: And the president won't ever say that. In fact he says the opposite and it's very --

BURNETT: Well OK, but to be fair, right, if he puts out something that would encourage development of alternative energies. He doesn't say I'm going to encourage algae versus windmills right, but any alternative energy right now, you're right. They're all more expensive than traditional fuels, but if you subsidize them now, they'll get cheaper and cheaper and one might end up winning --

(CROSSTALK)

FRUM: No that's --

(CROSSTALK)

FRUM: Sorry -- that may be true. It may be wrong, but -- and why the government -- the government makes a terrible venture capitalist. If you want to get off oil here's what you do. You tax the stuff. You make people pay more and then you encourage substitution --

(CROSSTALK)

BURNETT: Oh, no, more tax at the gas pump.

COWAN: Yes I don't agree with David's premise.

(CROSSTALK)

COWAN: The president --

(CROSSTALK)

COWAN: The president's thinking on this is not foggy. It's crystal clear. There's more drilling going on now. He's articulate in all of the above strategy. They're actually made serious investments in clean energy, some of which are going to pay off in the long run. They set very high CAFE standards so we raised the miles per gallon, et cetera, et cetera. This has been a center piece of their administration. They've taken it head on. We made no progress under President Bush for eight years on energy. We're now starting to move in the right direction. The president's thinking is spot-on, on this.

AVLON: One of the signs that silly season is upon us is that we already have presidential candidates promising they can magically return gas to 2.50 a gallon or something like that.

BURNETT: Are you referring to Newt Gingrich --

AVLON: I am indeed.

(CROSSTALK)

AVLON: And look and there should be a third rail around that. When there's that kind of naked pander to the American people in election season it's predictable. It's also -- it's absolutely -- you can't back it up.

BURNETT: A naked pander.

AVLON: So you're done. A naked pander bear -- so you're done if you do that kind of pandering to the American people. We should see through it. We're smarter than that.

FRUM: There are three things we want in energy policy. We want cheap energy. We want clean energy and we want secure energy. And you can have any two, but no more than two. You can't have three. And if the president is not foggy, then I'm afraid he's being deceptive because he implies that you can have three and you can't. Take -- choose your two, choose your priorities, and accept that that means the third falls off the table.

BURNETT: All right. Well thanks very much to all three of you. We appreciate it. We'll see what will happen on this gay marriage issue. It's going to become I think even more and more important as these candidates continue to go down the path towards the nomination.

Well a surprise move by the judge in the trial of the man accused of killing his wife on their honeymoon and the NFL isn't responsible for the suicide of a former player. His family says yes and they have filed a lawsuit against the league. They're OUTFRONT in an exclusive interview tonight.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BURNETT: We start the second half of our show with stories we care about, where we focus on our own reporting, do the work and find the "OutFront 5".

First, Iran, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani joined us tonight for an exclusive interview. He's been sharply critical of the Obama administration's handling of Iran and just a short time ago said the rhetoric has increased, but it's justified.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GIULIANI: It is rhetoric and it's jacked up 20 degrees, 30 degrees, but it's also real. In other words --

BURNETT: But it is real --

GIULIANI: It this were not an election year or let's say next year when Obama is the president or Romney or Santorum, the issue will still be there because this country seems to be determined to become a nuclear power, and they have made statements that indicate that they are crazy and irrational.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: U.S. and North Korean envoys met in Beijing today. The negotiations have been extended into a second day. This is the first time officials have met since the death of former North Korean Dictator Kim Jong Il. One of the topics being discussed is food aid. Gordon Chang, author of "Nuclear Showdown: North Korea Takes on the World" tells OUTFRONT North Korea wants that food aid and that's why talks have been extended.

Number three, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's health is raising serious questions over his ability to seek reelection. Chavez announced he's heading to Cuba to undergo surgery to remove a lesion, one that he said himself is likely to be malignant.

Phil Gunson of "The Economist" is in Caracas. He tells OUTFRONT that if Chavez's health were to force him from power, or if he were to die before the elections this spring, the regime would be mortally weakened. He added that if the democratic opposition took power in January, they would restore relations with the United States immediately.

Number four, the Obama administration is defending the killing of American terrorists. In a speech at Yale, Pentagon general counsel Jay Johnson defended the United States' actions, citing a 2004 Supreme Court decision. I had the opportunity to ask Defense Secretary Leon Panetta about killing a terrorist, that's Anwar al-Awlaki, you may remember, the American citizen killed by a drone in Yemen who was an American citizen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LEON PANETTA, DEFENSE SECRETARY: If you're a terrorist, you're a terrorist. And that means that we have the ability to go after those who would threaten to attack the United States and kill Americans. There's no question that the authority and the ability to go after a terrorist is there.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: It has been 202 days since the United States lost its top credit rating. What are we doing to get it back?

Well, jobless claims were unchanged today at 351,000, but the four-week moving average, that's the real indicator of the job market in this country, is the lowest level since March 2008.

Well, the family of NFL great David Duerson filed a lawsuit today, holding the league responsible for his shocking suicide last year. The two-time Super Bowl champion shot himself in the chest. And just before he took his life, he sent a text message to his ex- wife, asking her to donate his brain to science.

The lawsuit alleges that the league knew that the serious repeated body blows that Duerson suffered while he played for teams like the Bears, the Giants and the Cardinals led to the brain damage which ultimately led to his death.

Helmet maker Riddell Inc. is named in the suit.

Duerson son Tregg who is filing the lawsuit said what the doctors found proves the link between his death and the injuries he received while playing in the NFL. Tregg Duerson and his attorney Bill Gibbs are OUTFRONT exclusively tonight.

Thank you both for being with us.

And, Tregg, I wanted to start with you.

The story about your father is a very disturbing story for everyone to hear. What did you find out about your father's brain?

TREGG DUERSON, DAVE DUERSON'S SON: Well, Boston University provided the findings on the study of my dad's brain in about early May. And through those findings, they concluded that he had chronic traumatic encephalopathy, also known as CTE, which is caused by repetitive traumatic hits to the head.

BURNETT: And had you seen, you know, in recent years, it affects his behavior, him complain about it? How did it change the person that he was?

DUERSON: Yes, they -- they were able to conclude they think the disease took affect around the age of 40 and that there was a slow deterioration process, where that eventually withered him away to the man that he was at 50. What we noticed we saw as a family was his temperament changed. He was easily reason to anger. He had trouble with short-term memory.

And also, he noted that he had blurred vision problems, as well as spelling issues.

BURNETT: Bill, the lawsuit against the NFL says, and I just want to read it here, quote, alleges that the NFL, quote, "embarked on a propaganda scheme designed to mislead NFL players and retirees. What exactly does that mean in English?

BILL GIBBS DUERSON FAMILY ATTORNEY: Beginning in 1994, the NFL created a committee -- a committee of five physicians known as the Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Committee. And this committee from 1994 through really 2009 published and stated publicly that there is no linkage between hits that one takes during an NFL career and later life cognitive or mental health issues.

This statement and scheme is directly contrary to absolutely everything that knowledgeable physicians were publishing on the topic.

And the NFL has been said to be engaging in a scheme similar to what the tobacco industry engaging in, in saying that smoking does not cause lung cancer. For years and years and years, this misinformation campaign was absolutely blatantly wrong. And as a result, Dave Duerson did not seek the appropriate medical care and counseling that candidly, would have saved his life.

BURNETT: It seems like a lot of people are wondering just whether football, as the way it is played, is something where these kinds of head injuries could be prevented. It would just seem to be a very serious question. I just want to note for viewers, we called the NFL. They said they hadn't seen the lawsuit yet. Your lawsuit Tregg, so they couldn't give us a comment on their direct response. But you I know were a former football player. You played at Notre Dame.

What's your feeling on that? Isn't that it goes along with the game? That you're going to get these kinds of serious injuries?

DUERSON: Right. I think the game is inherently dangerous and inherently aggressive and that concussions are part of the game. But I do think with the proper procedures and policies in place, we can reduce the amount of concussions and also reduce the amount of times that players hit their most vulnerable. That being when they sustained a concussion in the past and did not give themselves enough time to heal before going back and returning to play, and perhaps the sustaining another concussion, which leaves them vulnerable to developing the disease.

BURNETT: Well, Tregg and Bill --

GIBBS: And that's really --

BURNETT: Yes?

GIBBS: I'm sorry. That's just -- that's a by-product of this lawsuit, is that, hopefully, it will raise awareness to the millions of kids that play youth football, the millions of kids that play high school football. The hundred of thousands of kids that play college football, and NFL players, that they need to take these injuries very, very seriously and allow their brains to recover before they continue to play.

BURNETT: All right. Well, thanks very much to both of you. We appreciate you being with us.

Well, judges made a surprising move in the case of a man accused of killing his wife on their honeymoon. That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BURNETT: So, a dramatic end to a murder trial. This is the trial of Gabe Watson, an Alabama man accused of killing his wife while they were honeymooning, diving in the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. Now, the case against him was thrown out today. The judge ruled there was lack of evidence.

Paul Callan and Sunny Hostin are back to talk about this. This is a high profile trial. We've been covering this on the show.

Paul, judge said prosecution had no case. You feel vindicated, legally.

PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL CONTRIBUTOR: I do because I said there was no case the last time we discussed it. The judge -- this, by the way, judge, Tommy Nail, tough former prosecutor, a lot of integrity. So, I think the prosecutor in this case never saw this coming. But the judge said, hey, where's the motive? You're trying to introduce evidence of motive that doesn't exist. Here's one --

SUNNY HOSTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: The prosecution never has to prove it in a murder case. You know that.

(CROSSTALK)

CALLAN: They don't. But here's -- but, Sunny -- Sunny, here's what they did. This was amazing. The prosecutor -- the prosecutor tried to prove that Watson took an engagement ring off the body of his wife in the funeral home. And the judge said, wait a minute, I did the same thing with my grandmother. Was he supposed to bury his wife with an engagement ring on?

HOSTIN: That's true, but here's the thing and why this is so remarkable, Erin. These motions for judgment of acquittal are perfunctory. Every time I ended my case as a chief prosecutor, the defense attorney made that motion. They are always denied, rarely granted.

And the standard is, you've got to look at the evidence in the light most favorable to the government, drawing all the inferences in favor of the government. That's a very high standard.

I think that this case should have gone to the jury. That's our system. And so, when you look at the prosecutor in this case, when you hear him, he's shell shocked because it never happens. And I don't think it should have happened in this case.

CALLAN: Sunny, what evidence was there to go to the jury?

Here are the two motives, OK?

BURNETT: Forget motive. What would be --

(CROSSTALK)

CALLAN: There's no motive, OK?

Well, the insurance policy, which was in the father's name, by the way. He never inherited the insurance policy. So then how does the accident take place? There are no eyewitnesses to it. They try to do a re-enactment which was not admitted in evidence. So where's the proof that he actually did this to his wife?

HOSTIN: There were certainly a lot of rulings that weren't in favor of the government.

(CROSSTALK)

CALLAN: Where is the proof? Where is the proof in the end?

HOSTIN: There were diving experts --

CALLAN: Who said what?

HOSTIN: -- who said that a person who is a diver, a rescue diver, should have known better. There were pictures.

CALLAN: And he served time for that. He served time for that.

HOSTIN: And he did, and he admitted to negligence. He already admitted to taking part in her death.

CALLAN: But not to an intentional murder.

HOSTIN: That's right.

CALLAN: Not to an intentional murder.

HOSTIN: But it's remarkable. It's extraordinary. This just does not happen.

BURNETT: Yes, to be dismissed.

All right. Well, thank you both very much. Interesting end to a long saga.

Let's check in with Anderson Cooper.

Anderson, what do you have coming up?

ANDERSON COOPER, HOST, "A.C. 360": Erin, we're keeping them honest tonight in "360." Potential turning point in Syria's war against its own people. Sources are telling CNN opposition forces are being armed by a number of Arab countries. Secretary of State saying today world opinion is not going to stand idly by. We'll talk it over with Christiane Amanpour and Fouad Ajami.

Also, crime and punishment tonight, the mystery murder of -- or death I should say, of a reality show producer found dead on his hotel balcony in Uganda. Is one person who may have answers is in a coma, not able to talk. We'll have the latest in these details. There was drug use found.

Those stories and tonight's "Ridiculist" at the top of the hour, Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Anderson, thanks. See you in a couple of minutes.

And there are more than 100 dead in Syria today. And the United Nations has accused Bashar al Assad, the president, of crimes against humanity.

And Reid Hoffman made almost a billion dollars by investing in one company, actually almost $2 billion and then he invested in about 80 others. But all made billions and billions and billions. But you know what? He said you can do it, too.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BURNETT: And now to Syria where opposition groups are reporting over 100 people died in fighting today. Security forces are continuing their shelling on the city of Homs.

Now, the United Nations today ratcheted up the pressure, accusing the highest levels of Syrian government of committing crimes against humanity. One man suspected of being on the list is Syrian President Bashar al Assad.

But just who is that man there? Who is Bashar al Assad?

Dr. Jerrold Post is considered a founding father in the field of political psychiatry. He started clinical personality profiling at the CIA.

Well, thanks so much for being with us, sir. We really appreciate it.

Bashar al Assad ended up being the heir apparent to his father unexpectedly. His older brother was -- died in a car accident. How did that play a role in who he is and how he's leading right now, do you think?

DR. JERROLD POST, DIR., POLITICAL PYSCHOLOGY PROGRAM AT GWU: Well, he never expected to be the leader of Iraq. He had -- in fact, he was in post-graduate training in ophthalmology in London when his brother died and his father then summoned him back. His older brother was this charismatic, macho kind of person, loved fast cars, was a womanizer.

In contrast, Bashar was a rather soft, gentleman and was widely, widely concerned with the fact of could he stand in his giant father's shoes?

BURNETT: I'm curious in a recent interview -- Bashar al Assad said that the military forces are actually not his forces, and that he doesn't own the country. And a lot of people have dismissed that as complete and utter B.S. But you're saying there could be some truth to it.

POST: Yes. In many ways, it may be his younger brother who is much more like his older brother, Basil, who is in fact directing the extent of the brutality against the Syrian citizens. May be that his father had him as the civil face of the government in leaving the power with his younger brother.

BURNETT: His younger brother is the head of the republican guard, right?

POST: That's correct. That's correct. And it would be a historical analogy. His father, Hafez, who was a brutal man, the extent of the violence in Hama where some 10,000 to 20,000 people were eliminated was probably carried out by his younger brother Rifaat. So, there's this historical parallel.

BURNETT: Oh, that's fascinating. Well, do you see similarities when you look at the profiles of Bashar al Assad or Mahmoud Ahmadinejad or Kim Jong Il, Gadhafi? I mean, is there something that these people have in common?

POST: I don't see much in common actually between Bashar and these other dictators who are brutal to extreme. What is interesting with Bashar is the fact that he really had no other model. But unlike these other individuals who really powers unto themselves, he has the family looking over his shoulder, he has the military looking over his shoulder, and he has to keep proving himself as worthy of this position.

BURNETT: All right. Well, thank you very much, sir. Appreciate it.

Well, the founder of LinkedIn, you know the Web site you go to and you want to make professional contacts, the founder made $1.7 billion when that company went public. And he's also in Facebook and some other names.

And tonight, he comes OUTFRONT to explain how to make bets like those.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BURNETT: Sears was once the biggest retailer in America. The company has been around for 119 years. Today, it said it lost $2.4 billion last quarter.

But don't despair because American companies are not on the decline. Facebook already rumored to be valued at $100 billion. And that's just one example.

Our "IDEA" guest tonight, Reid Hoffman, invested in Facebook at the beginning, along with 80 other start-ups like Groupon, Flickr, Zynga, and his own company LinkedIn, which personally netted him more than $1.7 billion when it went public.

He just wrote a book called "The Start-Up of You." And in the second part of our interview, tonight, he talks about how he picks his bets.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

REID HOFFMAN, COFOUNDER, LINKEDIN: It's never 100 percent, but you basically kind of go, OK, does this person have a vision? Are they an entrepreneur you would back? They are persistent, they're curious, they learned, they're aggressive, they have an understanding of the product area. And is this a need for hundreds of millions of people and there's a path there?

BURNETT: Right.

HOFFMAN: If so, take the bet.

BURNETT: So, the person matters. HOFFMAN: Very much.

BURNETT: I mean, you are investing in the person.

HOFFMAN: Earliest stage, it's 80 percent of the person, although you still have to be playing in a zone that's interesting.

BURNETT: OK. Zone that's interesting, 100 million people.

HOFFMAN: Yes.

BURNETT: How the heck can you tell when something is going to be successful for that many people?

HOFFMAN: It kind of comes down to these designs of human ecosystems. Is it an ecosystem that will work in small scale? Is the mechanism by which it will grow, is that going to work? And the kind of levels ago, would that be a really coherent, essential piece of people's lives?

And if so, then you take the bet. You're not always right, right? But you take the bet.

BURNETT: I think about the areas that you're in -- Zynga, the game company, Farmville, Mafia Wars, you are an investor in the company now in public. And so, people like to play games online. That's one category. And you got the category killer there.

Look at LinkedIn, people want to get jobs online linked together. Category killer LinkedIn, you are there.

Look at Facebook, you are an investor there, people being social -- category killer. Although, Google Plus, obviously, is coming on strong.

What else is left? I mean, I guess that's the whole point, right, that you have to pick who has a vision of coming up with another silo that no one thought of? What is it?

HOFFMAN: For example, last fall, I invested in Edmodo, which is social networks for K-12, students and teachers, which I don't think LinkedIn applies to. I don't think Facebook applies to it. And yet, it's a fundamental part of human existence, right?

And so, you look at that and you go, oh, actually, I can see how everyone could be using this. I could see how it would be good for every individual and great for the whole ecosystem. OK. I want to make that bet.

BURNETT: And do you believe everything is global? I mean, we hear about Arab spring and obviously, Facebook, social networks, Twitter played a part on that. LinkedIn is obviously a very global company.

By definition, when we talk hundreds of millions, it sounds to me like this has got to be something that works in the U.S. and it's got to work in China.

HOFFMAN: Well, if it's hundreds of millions, you can have hundreds of millions without China, Twitter and Facebook as prime examples.

BURNETT: Yes.

HOFFMAN: But you have to be global.

BURNETT: Right. Do you hit a glass ceiling without China eventually? I mean, you know?

HOFFMAN: Well, there's a lot of people in China. It's an interesting market. So, but it's, you know -- I mean, you hit a glass ceiling eventually on the planet, too.

So, you get to hundreds of millions. And it's a vibrant ecosystem, that's a massive business. I want to invest in that business any day of the week.

BURNETT: Is the United States the best place to find those entrepreneurs with passion, people with ideas, people with drive?

HOFFMAN: I believe so.

BURNETT: U.S. more than anywhere else?

HOFFMAN: U.S. more than anywhere else. I mean, look, there's great stuff happening in China. There's great stuff happening in Brazil. There's some great stuff happening in India. And occasionally very interesting stuff happening in Europe.

And so, for example, my last investment is a company called Wrapp. It's out of Stockholm.

BURNETT: I like it you said occasionally, something comes out of Europe. Poor Europe.

HOFFMAN: Well, we love to see more of, but it's --

BURNETT: Yes, they have had their challenges.

So, back in the day, when did you first get into Facebook?

HOFFMAN: Very first round.

BURNETT: Very first round?

HOFFMAN: Yes.

BURNETT: Which was when? I mean, how long? HOFFMAN: So, what happened is Sean Parker called me about it. I said OK, this is interesting. I actually think Peter should lead it. So, we should go do a meeting with Peter.

BURNETT: Peter Thiel?

HOFFMAN: Yes, Peter Thiel. And I'll co-invest.

BURNETT: And what made you what made you see that 80 percent person, 20 percent product, I'm in, in that case back then?

HOFFMAN: Well -- so, I hadn't met Zuckerberg yet. But the product was amazing, I heard good things about him. And part of the meeting was for me to get a sense of, you know, Zuckerberg myself.

And Parker I've known earlier from Plaxo, and I knew that Parker had a very good sense of consumer Internet products. And so, I was like, OK, you know, I love the products. Parker tells me the guy is good. I have heard other really great things, let's do a meeting.

And it was a very easy meeting.

BURNETT: And what do you think about where it is now? I mean, you are not going to talk about the pricing of the IPO which -- I'd love to ask. Would you buy the IPO?

HOFFMAN: I would take a look at it seriously but I can't comment on it.

BURNETT: You can't comment.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BURNETT: Well, we tried. For more of my interview with Reid Hoffman, including how it transformed him from becoming somebody with no money to somebody with a lot of money, go online to our blog. We are back tomorrow at 7:00 and 11:00, as always.

"ANDERSON COOPER 360," though, starts in a couple seconds. Have a great night.