Return to Transcripts main page


Anger Grows Over Florida Teen's Death; Republican Race Turns Nasty

Aired March 19, 2012 - 22:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: It's 10:00 here on the East Coast. Good evening, everyone.

We begin tonight "Keeping Them Honest" with a reality check going into tomorrow's Illinois primary, one of the biggest so far. Rick Santorum is making the case that a win tomorrow could be the beginning of the end for front-runner Mitt Romney, that it would pierce Governor Romney's bubble of inevitability as he calls it and pave the way for a Santorum nomination. He says he's in this race all the way.

Today, campaigning in Ronald Reagan's hometown of Dixon, Illinois, Senator Santorum billed his campaign as basically the second coming of Reagan '76.


RICK SANTORUM (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And Reagan ran that insurgent campaign in 1976, and people were saying, why don't you get out of the race? You have no chance of winning. And he fought. He won 11 states in 1976.

I might add, just parenthetically, that if we happen to win Illinois, that will be the 11th state that I have won in this election.


COOPER: "Keeping Them Honest," though, Ronald Reagan did lose in 1976. But the Santorum campaign, whose spokeswoman Alice Stewart joins us shortly, believes in a different outcome in 2012. They put out a 16-point memo called Santorum path to delegate victory. And the candidate has been promising victory for weeks.


SANTORUM: We're doing great. We're in this race. We're in it to stay. We have won in the West, the Midwest, and the South. And we're ready to win across this country.

We feel very good that we're in a position to still win it right out. And if we have to go to an open convention, we like our chances just as well. We are going to win this nomination before that convention. Well, obviously, we're in this to win. If we're going to come out with Illinois a huge surprise win, I guarantee you that we will win this nomination. (END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Here's where it begins to fall apart.

Governor Romney has a 2-1 advantage in delegates so far. And new polling from ARG shows little sign of a Santorum victory tomorrow in Illinois, instead suggesting a Romney blowout. Polls can end up being wrong, though.

Even assuming the complete opposite, even assuming a Santorum landslide which would be a stunning psychological blow to the Romney campaign, there is little chance for Santorum to gain much ground in the delegate count. That's because of the 54 district level delegates up for grabs tomorrow, the Santorum campaign only managed to take the proper steps to qualify to win for 44 of them.

He's already leaving 10 delegates on the table, about 18 percent of the total, no matter what happens. By our calculations, he will have to take 70 percent of the delegates tomorrow and in every single race after tomorrow to get the 1,144 needed for a nomination.

Again, in a moment we will bring in Alice Stewart from the Santorum campaign to make her candidate's case.

But first John King is at the wall with the numbers -- John.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, let's run the numbers. And before that, let me echo what you just said. Organizational shortcomings in Illinois tomorrow leaving some delegates on the table. He didn't make the ballot in Virginia. Senator Santorum had those same organizational problems in Ohio and Tennessee.

If two months from now we're still having this conversation, they may regret that organizational shortcomings. But let's look at where we are here now. As we speak tonight, Governor Romney, after the big route in Puerto Rico, remember Senator Santorum spent two days down there. He wanted to upset Governor Romney in Puerto Rico. Instead Governor Romney gets them all.

Governor Romney is at about 519. That's not quite half way but he's much closer to the 1144 it takes to win. Senator Santorum is in second place well behind Governor Romney, ahead of Speaker Gingrich, Ron Paul running out.

OK, so Illinois is lit up here on the map for tomorrow. I'm going to give you a pretty good case in what many would say as an overly generous case for Senator Santorum going forward. I won't make you go through every state. Let's jump all the way to the head of the process.

If Senator Santorum won everything, won everything, Anderson, from here on out, Governor Romney is getting some of the delegates along the way. Governor Romney would not get the nomination. He would be shy. Senator Santorum would be in second place in the 770 ballpark. Under this scenario, yes, he could go to an open convention and say, I stopped Mitt Romney in the last 20 contests. I'm the guy with momentum. Then he would have a strong argument. However, you just mentioned the Illinois poll. Most people think that's not going to happen. Very hard for most people to see. And I know Alice would disagree with me when she's on in a minute, Senator Santorum carrying the state of New Jersey. That's winner-take-all.

I'm giving him North Carolina here. I'm giving him West Virginia. I'm giving him Indiana. Romney campaign people are watching at home saying no way. This is a hypothetical to be generous to Santorum.

Here's a huge one out here, Anderson, in the west. California. Most Romney people say we will have the organization, we will have the resources to take California. Just give a few states back to Governor Romney including the big contests in Illinois tomorrow. Look what happened. Governor Romney clinches in this scenario. He's at 1199. That would be enough and there are still some other states here.

The Romney campaign thinks, for example, it might beat Senator Santorum in his home state of Pennsylvania. That's an April contest. We'll be having that conversation in a few weeks. But under this very generous scenario, Governor Romney still clinches. Senator Santorum comes up short. He's still in second place. If I could give him California, look at that. If I gave Senator Santorum California under this scenario, Governor Romney would be right at the finish line. Just a little bit over.

So even if Senator Santorum somehow stuns us in Illinois tomorrow, he would have to run the map. As you noted, currently he's winning 20 percent of the delegates. So far of all the delegates allocated, he has won 20 percent. He needs to win 70 to clinch the nomination. He would have to win somewhere in the ballpark of 60-plus to deny Governor Romney and then to go to the convention with an argument. But I will stay here. Maybe Alice wants to play with the math a little bit.

COOPER: Yes, no doubt about that. John, stay right there. I want to bring in Santorum spokeswoman Alice Stewart.

Alice, thanks for being on the program. You heard John King say Senator Santorum would have to win over 70 percent of the delegates to clinch the nomination. Is that realistic? Do you believe that's going to happen?

ALICE STEWART, SANTORUM CAMPAIGN SPOKESWOMAN: We're optimistic at the way the delegate math will play out for us.

I'm not disputing John. He is the undisputed heavyweight champion when it comes to counting these delegates. But we have some delegate counters that are looking at this a lot differently. And the difference between us and Romney now stands around 124 delegates.

You also have to factor into the equation there are many bound and unbound delegates that are still out there on the table. Typically, as you know, those will go to the more conservative candidate, not a moderate like Mitt Romney. We're also looking at it. John is looking at the numbers just straight on. We're looking at the possibility and the very likely scenario that we're looking at states like Florida and Arizona will do away with the winner take all strategy of all the delegates going to the winner and do with a proportional allocation of the ballots.

And, also, in Iowa and Missouri, we're also banking on the fact that they will look at the ongoing contests, and not just the initial beauty contest. And with that, it narrows the gap between us and Romney, has us about 124 behind.

And while it will be very difficult, it's certainly not impossible for someone to achieve 1,144 prior to Tampa.

COOPER: John, does that math make sense to you?

KING: Does it make sense to me? I -- Alice is a friend and I respect her opinion. No, because you're asking for so many different things to happen. In this wacky year we have lived through is it possible? Sure. But essentially you're asking for some of the states that have already votes to go back and redo their rules. You're asking for -- Alice makes the point about the unpledged delegates.

Many of them are Republican National Committee members or members of Congress and the like of that. And if they were going to come to Senator Santorum's way, my question would be why haven't they done so already? Alice has a point that if he goes into the convention with a lot of momentum, that would change things. But the test, Anderson, is they just made a huge risk, two days off the trail in Illinois, to go down to Puerto Rico, they paid the price for it. Now the polling shows him down 14 points in Illinois.

If Senator Santorum can surprise us tomorrow in Illinois, we can start having this conversation. The challenge for Senator Santorum or Speaker Gingrich, as we discussed last week, they have to start beating Governor Romney in the places where he is favored like Illinois, and they don't just have to beat him. They have to beat him by a lot to get the delegates because of the rules.

You essentially have to start beating him 70-30 or 60-40 --

COOPER: Right.

KING: -- to start making up the delegate math. Is it impossible? No. Is it improbable? Yes.

COOPER: Alice, let me ask you. Let's talk about the idea of a brokered convention. Senator Santorum again raise that specter today. If he ends the delegate hunt in second place, why would he be the party's choice in an open convention? Why wouldn't they side with the voters and choose the candidate with the most delegates, even though the delegates fell short of the required 1,1`44?

STEWART: Well, for the very reason that we're here. While Mitt Romney has more money, more name I.D., and a longer time in running for president, he is not energizing the base. He is not sealing the deal.

He shouldn't be up against the ropes like he is against Rick Santorum, who doesn't have the money and the name I.D. that Mitt Romney has. But he is. And we get to the convention, as we said, and John agrees, there's more of the grassroots, conservative base of the party, they will be the ones at the convention, and they will rally behind the conservative candidate, not the moderate candidate we have in Mitt Romney.

And that's what we expect to happen at the convention.

COOPER: But all along, the conventional wisdom has been that Gingrich and Santorum are splitting the conservative vote. If you take a look at this poll that asked Gingrich supporters who they would vote for if he bowed out of the race, 40 percent said they support Mitt Romney, 39 percent said your candidate.

Doesn't that spell trouble for your candidate and the belief that conservatives will rally around him if and when Gingrich drops out or if they get to a convention?

STEWART: There are a lot of polls along that very line. And many of them do show that a majority of the Gingrich supporters would come to Rick.

And what we're also seeing is what we're calling for is the conservatives, the Tea Party, the grassroots of the party to rally behind the conservative candidate in Rick Santorum. We're not asking by any stretch of the imagination for Speaker Gingrich to get out. We're asking conservatives of the party to rally behind Rick. And that way we can certainly take on Mitt Romney head on.

We're looking for this to be a two-man race, which it will be sooner rather than later. With that, we will see that Rick will energize the base. He will rally the conservatives and the Tea Party groups. And he certainly is the person to take on Mitt Romney, because with Mitt Romney we take the key issues off the table. We take Obamacare off the table, we take cap and trade, we take the Wall Street bailouts.

Those issues are off the table. We can't go head to head with Barack Obama with the important issues of the day not being able to be discussed.

COOPER: John, briefly, the polls in Illinois right now, where are things looking?

KING: Right now in Illinois you showed the one off the top. Governor Romney had about a 14-point lead, 44-30. Senator Santorum has generally over-performed his poll numbers so I go into tomorrow having lived through the past few months, saying let's let the voters vote and see. But you'd have to say, advantage Romney going in, he comes out after Puerto Rico.

The short-term calendar, the state of Louisiana, that's a battleground Santorum should be able to win. We'll have to see that one. Then the map tends to favor Governor Romney.

Anderson, the challenge for Senator Santorum is to surprise us tomorrow in Illinois if he's going to have a feasible chance. And then when you move on to places like Maryland, he needs a very big win in Louisiana, he has to have a huge win next month in his home state of Pennsylvania.

It's not that it's impossible. It's just that right now he's won 20 percent of the delegates so far. What is it to lead us to believe he can get 70 percent?

COOPER: Right.

KING: Or close to that to take it to the convention in the future. But you know what, that's why we count the votes every Tuesday and beyond.

COOPER: And we will do that tomorrow night.

Alice Stewart, I appreciate you being here. John King as well.

A reminder, stay with us tomorrow night as the Republican candidates slug it out in Illinois. Our coverage begins at 7:00 p.m. Eastern with "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT," 8:00, a live edition of 360. Wolf Blitzer will join us for that, John King as well, the entire CNN political team. We will be on again at 10:00 for another live edition of 360 counting the votes.

Let us know what you think. We're on Facebook, Twitter @AndersonCooper. I am tweeting throughout the hour.

We're talking a lot on Twitter right now about the Trayvon Martin case. The 911 tapes of Trayvon Martin being shot have been released. The unarmed teenager was shot dead by a neighborhood watch captain. The question is do those tapes cast real doubt on the shooter's claims of self-defense? We will talk to Trayvon Martin's father and the family attorney and our legal team, Jeffrey Toobin and Sunny Hostin, next.


COOPER: "Keeping Them Honest" tonight on the killing of 17-year- old Trayvon Martin, shot dead by an armed neighborhood watch captain named George Zimmerman in a Sanford, Florida, gated community.

Zimmerman is yet to be charged with anything because in the words of the local police chief -- quote -- "We don't have anything to dispute his claim of self-defense."

"Keeping Them Honest," from everything we have heard today, there is something, the 911 tapes of the incident. They seem to show that Zimmerman did not flee or even simply stand his ground, as Florida's deadly force law permits, but that he pursued Trayvon Martin with a .9-millimeter pistol. Martin remember was on his way back to his dad's fiance's condo to watch the NBA All-Star Game. He was not armed. He was carrying a bag of Skittles and an iced tea. He was wearing jeans, white tennis sneakers, and a hoodie. As we mentioned, we have 911 tapes of the incident which we have kept in sequence, but edited for time and the appropriate content. They start with George Zimmerman's call apparently from his car near condo complex's gates.


GEORGE ZIMMERMAN, FLORIDA: This guy looks like he's up to no good or he's on drugs or something. It's raining and he's just walking around looking about.

911 OPERATOR: OK, this guy, is he white, black, or Hispanic?

ZIMMERMAN: Yes. Now he's coming towards me.


ZIMMERMAN: He's got his hands in his waistband. And he's a black male. Something's wrong with him. Yes. And he's coming to check me out. He's got something in his hands. I don't know what his deal is.

911 OPERATOR: OK. Just let me know if he does anything. OK?


ZIMMERMAN: ... an officer over here.

911 OPERATOR: Yes, we have got them on the way. Just let me know if this guy does anything else.

ZIMMERMAN: OK. (EXPLETIVE DELETED) they always get away.


COOPER: Well, what Trayvon was doing was heading back to where he and his father were staying. His family says he may have been listening to music on his iPhone and not even aware Zimmerman was watching.

They claim Zimmerman pursued Trayvon. And as can you hear in the 911 tape, Zimmerman admits it.


911 OPERATOR: Are you following him?


911 OPERATOR: OK. We don't need you to do that.


(END VIDEO CLIP) COOPER: In fact, dispatchers told Zimmerman not to even get out of his car. Police, they said, were on the way.

That advice was for Zimmerman's safety and Trayvon Martin's. Under Florida's lethal force law, Zimmerman could have stayed where he was, stood his ground and as long as he reasonably believed his life was in danger fired in self-defense. But as you heard there, he apparently did neither.

He followed Trayvon Martin and about 100 yards away from where Trayvon was going to meet his dad confronted him. The moment is captured in another 911 call, this one from a neighbor who hears shouting outside.


911 OPERATOR: OK. And is it a male or a female?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It sounds like a male.

911 OPERATOR: And you don't know why?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't know why, I think they're yelling help, but I don't know. Just send someone quick, please. God.

911 OPERATOR: Does he look hurt to you?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can't see him. I don't want to go out there. I don't know what's going on so --



911 OPERATOR: So you think he's yelling help?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. There's gun shots.

911 OPERATOR: You just heard gun shots?


911 OPERATOR: How many?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just one. He just said he shot him. Yes, the person is dead laying on the ground.

911 OPERATOR: Just because he's laying on the ground --



COOPER: Trayvon Martin died of a gun shot wound to his chest. George Zimmerman is free while state authorities determine what to do next. Federal authorities today said they're monitoring the case. The shooting has set off nationwide protests over deadly force and race.

Shortly before airtime, I spoke with Trayvon Martin's father, Tracy, and the family's attorney, Benjamin Crump.


COOPER: Mr. Martin, first of all, I'm so sorry for the loss your son.

When you hear these 911 calls, what goes through your mind? What do you think?

TRACY MARTIN, FATHER OF VICTIM: It's heart-wrenching because those actually were my son's last words. And to hear his last words being cries of help is devastating. And it tears me apart as a father.

COOPER: You have no doubt that's his voice crying for help?

MARTIN: I'm sure that that's his voice. I'm positive that's his voice.

COOPER: Police say this man Zimmerman had blood on the back of his head, on his face. Have they said anything to you about how it got there, if it was his blood or your son's blood? Have they given you details?

MARTIN: They told me that it was an altercation between the two individuals. But the details, they didn't give them to me.

COOPER: As you know, the father of Zimmerman gave a statement to "The Orlando Sentinel." He said: "The media reports of the events are imaginary at best. At no time did George follow or confront Mr. Martin. When the true details of the event become public, and I hope to be soon, everyone should be outraged by the treatment of George Zimmerman in the media."

He's saying he did not follow your son. But very clearly in these 911 calls, the police say are you following him and he says yes. And the police say we don't need you to do that.

MARTIN: Exactly.

Yes. George Zimmerman's father is -- I guess he's being a father and trying to protect his son. It's obviously that -- he hasn't heard the 911 tapes. And if he did, he must have heard a different version than what the world has heard.

COOPER: Mr. Crump, in your dealings with the police, with the local police, do you think they have investigated this fully? Do you think they have taken this seriously?

BENJAMIN CRUMP, ATTORNEY FOR TRACY MARTIN: I don't. I don't, Anderson. I think from day one they didn't. And those 911 tapes tell a big part of the story. But it doesn't tell the whole story. For instance, they get to the scene, Trayvon is dead on the ground. And they don't even run a background check on the person who killed him. But, number one, if it was Trayvon Martin who was the trigger man, they would have arrested him day one, hour one on the spot. He would still be sitting in jail now.

COOPER: You have no doubt if it was Trayvon Martin who had shot a white person, that Trayvon Martin would be in jail, that if it was any African-American who had shot a white person, that person would be a suspect, would be in jail?

CRUMP: Absolutely, Anderson. They could say self-defense all they want and everything. They would still be arrested and put in jail.

But I have to say this one other point, Anderson. And that is if Trayvon Martin was white, don't you think they would have ran the background check of George Zimmerman no matter what he said?

COOPER: Mr. Martin, let me ask you, because one of the things when I heard that 911 tape that immediately got my attention is one of the earliest things Mr. Zimmerman said. He says this guy looks like he's up to no good or on drugs or something. He's a black male. Something's wrong with him. He's coming to check me out.

So the idea that Mr. Zimmerman thought there was something suspicious about your son, your son was wearing white sneakers, jeans, and a hoodie, which I have to tell you, I wear that every single day of my life when I'm not on camera. And I don't think anybody even if they didn't recognize me, would have said I look suspicious and I was wearing the exact -- I wear the exact same thing your son was wearing. To you, is that just a matter of race?

MARTIN: I think it's just -- it's a matter of profiling, which I think that's an issue that Mr. Zimmerman himself considers as someone suspicious, a black kid with a hoodie on, jeans, tennis shoes. But as you said, thousands of people wear that outfit every day. So what was so suspicious about Trayvon that Zimmerman felt as though he had to confront him?

COOPER: Well, Mr. Martin, again, I'm so sorry for your loss. The words seem incredibly hollow. But we will continue to focus on this. I appreciate you talking tonight. And Mr. Crump as well, thank you.

MARTIN: Thank you very much.

CRUMP: Thank you very much, Anderson.


COOPER: Let's dig deeper now with legal analyst and former federal Sunny Hostin and Jeffrey Toobin.

Jeffrey, you say this case just makes you want to scream? JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: This is a 17-year-old kid who went to buy Skittles and came back dead, period. That's what this is about.

However, the Florida law is so peculiar and so protective of people who shoot people, that I am not surprised that Zimmerman has not been arrested and I'm not sure he's going to be arrested, because I think the law is basically an invitation to use deadly force under basically any circumstance. It allows disproportionate use of force. It says that you if you feel threatened, reasonably threatened, even without a gun, you can use deadly force in response.

COOPER: But even if you have pursued that person, even if you have gotten out of your vehicle?


SUNNY HOSTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Even though it's a very robust law and very broad, probably the broadest law out there in terms of stand your ground laws, bottom line is there's always that exception, Jeff. And you know that. If you are the first aggressor and if you're pursuing, you can't avail yourself of the self-defense claim.

That is so very clear. Had this been in any other jurisdiction, he would have been arrested and charged with a homicide.

TOOBIN: Well, I think that's -- well, I don't know.

The problem here is, we don't know what happened between the 911 call, where he says stay away and the altercation.

COOPER: Right.

TOOBIN: I mean, that's a lot of time.

COOPER: Trayvon Martin's father is sure that's his son calling out for help. That hasn't been confirmed by eyewitnesses at this point.

TOOBIN: But how they wound up next to each other is just not clear.


HOSTIN: Well, it's clear that he pursued him.


TOOBIN: He said he did. He said he was going to.


COOPER: But he also claims in the 911 tape that Trayvon Martin is approaching his car.


HOSTIN: But he runs away. Because Zimmerman says on that 911 tape, on one of them, he is running. He's running away. And that's what we tell our kids all the time, stranger danger. You run away. I tell my son that. If somebody's approaching you, you feel unsafe, you run. He did the right thing.


COOPER: We don't know if Trayvon Martin identified this guy as a neighborhood watch person. We have no idea.

TOOBIN: That's why I think it's important to reserve judgment for awhile and let an investigation go forward. This was a residential neighborhood. There could have been people who saw what went on here.


HOSTIN: But it's been a month. This happened February 26. I think in any other jurisdiction with the same set of facts, perhaps with a different race attached to the parties, this -- there would have been an arrest. It's flooring me.


COOPER: A young male with a hoodie and white tennis sneakers -- look, I'm wearing white tennis sneakers now and blue jeans. This is literally what I wear every day.

If it was a white male walking in his neighborhood, would this guy Zimmerman been saying this person looks like they're on drugs and suspicious?

HOSTIN: I doubt that.

TOOBIN: When the lawyer said if Trayvon had been the shooter, is there any chance in the world he would not be in custody at this point? The answer is no.


TOOBIN: But I just think -- I have been looking into this today. There are a bunch of Florida deaths where someone with a gun shot an unarmed person and as a result of the stand your ground law, there was no prosecution.


HOSTIN: And that is true, but the exception of the first aggressor still stands and applies in Florida. And I can't believe that the investigators are saying that there's nothing to dispute the self-defense claim.

COOPER: Do you think there will be an arrest? HOSTIN: I hope there will be an arrest.


TOOBIN: I just don't know. I hope we learn more about the circumstances, because there's a lot we don't know. And this is -- I mean, it's just a sickening story, because this little young kid is dead.


COOPER: Carrying Skittles and iced tea.


TOOBIN: Skittles and iced tea.

HOSTIN: That's right. And he was unarmed, clearly.

COOPER: Sunny, appreciate it, Jeff Toobin.

We will continue to follow this, obviously.

Former Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour is finally speaking out publicly about his controversial pardons of convicted killers, not speaking to us, but he's at least speaking. What he's saying? Well, We're "Keeping Them Honest." That's next.


COOPER: Tonight, former Mississippi governor Haley Barbour is finally speaking out about his controversial pardons. Not to us. We've been asking him on the program now for weeks. We asked him again just today.

Yesterday, though, for the first time in weeks he addressed the pardon controversy in an interview that ABC's "This Week" posted on its Web site.

Here's what he said when he was asked if it was a mistake to not consult victims and their families before issuing the pardons.


HALEY BARBOUR, FORMER GOVERNOR OF MISSISSIPPI: The family that complains the most in 2010, came and met with my lawyers about this, because they knew that, if this man successfully completed his time at the mansion, he had zero infractions in the 19 years he was in the penitentiary, he had been a minimum security prisoner for years, as were all of these guys. But they were told by my lawyers if this guy successfully completes, he's going to get pardoned.

And if they had complained to me, it really wouldn't have changed anything. This last set of inmates, they had been in the penitentiary or incarcerated an average of 20 years. No judge could look 20 years down the road and say that one is going to be OK and that one's going to still be bad. That's why we have the power of pardon. Because we really do believe in second chances for people who get rehabilitated or redeem themselves.


COOPER: Well, one of the inmates who Barbour says has redeemed himself is this man, David Gatlin. In 1993 he shot and killed his estranged wife, Tammy Gatlin, while she was holding their baby son. The Ellis family says they were never consulted about Gatlin's pardon, despite repeated requests to meet with the governor.

Gatlin also shot Randy Walker, who was his wife's friend. Walker nearly died. The governor did not consult him either. Randy Walker joins us now.

Randy, when Barbour refers to, quote, "the family who complains the most," you think he's talking about you?

RANDY WALKER, SHOT BY PARDONED MURDERER: Definitely. And, you know, I'm a grown man. I'm perfectly willing to take responsibility for everything I say. He doesn't need to say the family. My name is Randy Walker. The Walker family is complaining the most because we're outraged. And we're not ready to roll over and die.

COOPER: So he says while you've met with lawyers, you said, yes, you met with a lawyer of Barbour's, but the issue of pardons never came up.

WALKER: No, the issue of pardons didn't come up at that point. We were talking to one his lawyers named Lucien Smith. We met with him in April 2010. And what we discussed was in the Department of Corrections inmate handbook, it says clearly that no inmate convicted of murder or serving a life sentence is eligible to be a trustee, period. That includes the governor's mansion.

So we met with Lucien and asked what we need to do to have that trustee status revoked. And that's what we talked about. It was a very short meeting. He referred us to Christopher Epps, the director of the Mississippi Department of Corrections. We had a meeting with him. And I think you have some documentation and letters that went back and forth between the attorney that we had helping us write letters and stuff like that. And you can see what we talked about was trustee status. Not a pardon.

COOPER: So is Barbour lying or mistaken? What's going on, when he says you were told that Gatlin would be pardoned if he successfully completed the trustee program?

WALKER: We were never told that David Gatlin would positively be pardoned at the end of Governor Barbour's term. We were never told that.

The only time a pardon ever came up was after we -- after we had gotten that last letter I think you got there that's from July from David Scott, saying that the trustee status wouldn't be revoked. And then we started pursuing phone calls, trying to get in to see the governor about, you know, maybe possibly stopping the pardons or whatever so we could get our say in.

COOPER: Right.

WALKER: But our focus at that point was just to get the trustee status revoked.

COOPER: When you hear the governor say that, if you had complained to him, it wouldn't really have changed anything, how does that make you feel?

WALKER: Well, I mean, if you go back and look at the timeline, Anderson, he talks -- he thinks, because he didn't attend any of these meetings, he doesn't know what was discussed. He's kind of shooting from the hip, and his facts are grossly incorrect.

You know, he's just -- no, I wouldn't say -- I don't think he's lying. I just think he's confused. And I would like him to name the lawyers, plural, that we met with, and I'd like you to have guys to interview them.

COOPER: Well, we'd certainly like to do that. I mean, all along he has said, "Well, look, you know, these are crimes of passion. And therefore we believe in redemption. And our experts say these people aren't likely to commit another murder like this."

All the experts we have said, look, just because someone commits a crime of passion doesn't really indicate anything. And frankly, from what I know about what Mr. Gatlin did you, and to his wife, this wasn't a crime of passion.

WALKER: No. It's far from a crime of passion. When somebody's looking at you and following you around the night before. Then you're not where he expected you to be the next morning, so he drives around and hunts you and finally finds you. And then he stops himself and goes and buys fireworks to cover up the sound of gunfire.

He had plenty of time to stop. He spent the night in Mississippi that night. I mean, there's just so much stuff here that's premeditated.

And for Haley Barbour to say that there's nothing I could say to him that would change his mind, what if -- and I haven't been. I want to say this as just a what if. But what if David had contacted me some way and said the day I get out of jail on this pardon, I'm going to kill you and your family?

Now, you think if I hadn't been able to get to a meeting with Governor Barbour and told him that, that would still not have changed his mind? He can't say that nothing I could say would change his mind because he didn't give me the chance.

COOPER: We should say we also reached out to Lucien Smith, the attorney, to do an interview, without any discuss on that.

Randy Walker, we'll continue on this. I appreciate, again, talking to you. Thank you, sir. WALKER: Thank you, man. We appreciate you covering this. I want to say, "It's a win for us already," because tonight there are no governor -- there are no trustees at the governor's mansion.

COOPER: That's a big change, because it's been a long time. That's a long tradition there. Again, Randy, thank you very much. We're going to continue to follow that.

We're following other stories tonight. Isha Sesay is back with a "360 Bulletin" -- Isha.

SESAY: Anderson, the ongoing violence in Syria is moving closer to the center of power. Fierce fighting between rebel and government forces broke out today in the Damascus neighborhood that's home to embassies, security buildings and houses of top aides to President Assad. Activists say at least 34 people were killed across Syria today.

Southwest France is on high security alert following a deadly shooting today at a Jewish school in the city of Toulouse. A gunman on a motorcycle pulled up to the school and opened fire, killing one adult and three children, before speeding away.

Frightening moments for passengers aboard a cruise ship along the Vietnamese coast, collided with a container ship in heavy fog. This animation details how it occurred. Passengers said they were knocked off their feet but Oregon there were no reports of injuries. Both ships have sustained quite a bit of damage.

And Anderson, in England, Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, was at a hospice for children praising the staff for the work they do. There you have it. Your roundup of royals news.

COOPER: Isha, thanks very much.

We've got a 360 investigation tonight on tax refund fraud. Stealing billions every year from unsuspecting victims. You could be one them. See how identity thieves are getting away with it right now, next.


COOPER: Tonight a 360 investigation on just how easy it is for identity thieves to steal your hard-earned tax refund. It's a problem so big and difficult to track, the IRS does not even know how much money it's actually paid out to criminals already.

Now, right now at this very moment you could be a target of this fraud. Someone could be filing a tax return in your name using fake income information and collecting the refund on a debit card. It's happening across the country. Some police departments say the IRS isn't doing enough to stop it. Randy Kaye investigates.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a known gang member. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Put your hands on the car.

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): We've just rolled up on what police say is evidence of one of the biggest and easiest frauds in America to pull off. A crime hidden on a piece of plastic. A debit card.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's got the cards. He just purchased them it looks like.

KAYE: Those debit cards, police say, are used to take advantage of fast tax refunds from the IRS.

Here's how it works. The thieves are stealing those refunds by stealing people's Social Security numbers from insiders at hospitals, doctor's offices, even car dealerships. Any place where you have to give your personal information.

They then use the stolen information to go online and file a tax return, making up the income the person earned for the year. The IRS then puts the refund money on a debit card purchased by the thieves.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: See, this is what they're buying. See, green dot money cards, Target. He went to Target and spent 600 bucks. And he paid with a debit card.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What'd you get? A thousand dollars for Christmas in gift cards?

KAYE: Police say the man they pulled over, who's already facing identity theft charges in another case, is a known member of the infamous Money Avenue Gang, which specializes in this kind of fraud. Not surprisingly, he's in no mood to talk.

(on camera) I'm just curious what you do for work that you drive such a fancy car.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know nothing about that.

KAYE: You don't know nothing about that? Can you tell me if you know anything about identity theft happening around here?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know nothing about nothing.

KAYE: Are you involved in any of the tax fraud?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know nothing about nothing.

KAYE (voice-over): Detectives Craig Catlin and Ralphie Fester of the North Miami Beach, Florida, Police Department will later charge him with buying these gift cards with stolen tax return money.

Police say here's the same guy on video at Target, using a debit card in someone else's name with the money from a fraudulent tax refund on it. And police say he used that debit card to buy those gift cards that were on the front seat of the car. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Come on, man.

KAYE: He's arrested for marijuana possession. But police later charged him with grand theft in connection with tax refund fraud.

(on camera) How easy is it to do this?

DET. CRAIG CATLIN, NORTH MIAMI BEACH, FLORIDA, POLICE: They're so easy it's like the federal government putting crack cocaine in candy machines. It's that easy.

KAYE: The criminals cash in those debit cards as quickly as possible, showing off their riches with expensive luxury cars. They flaunt fancy watches, diamond pendants worth $55,000, and other jewelry, this one inscribed with the words "money hungry."

Just a few hundred miles north up in Tampa, police estimate the fraud approaches a staggering half billion dollars in the last two years.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's over 2,000 in cash.

KAYE: Just one example of what is happening nationwide.

Police Chief Jane Castor says the IRS efforts to curtail it aren't working.

POLICE CHIEF, JANE CASTOR, TAMPA POLICE: I don't think that I have ever seen this magnitude of fraud that is just wide open. It's wide open. There just doesn't seem to be much begin done about it.

KAYE: For its part, the IRS identified $6.5 billion in tax refund fraud related to identity theft last year.

CASTOR: I'd like to hear the other side of that equation, too. An estimation of how much got through.

KAYE: That's what we wanted to know too. Just how much fraud has gone undetected? After weeks of asking, the IRS's deputy commissioner, Beth Tucker, couldn't give us an answer.

(on camera) So just to be clear. You can tell us how much has been caught. But the IRS can't say how much of this fraudulent money has ended up in criminals' hands.

BETH TUCKER, IRS DEPUTY COMMISSIONER: We process 140 million tax returns at IRS on a given year. We're doing a balancing act. Because one thing we want to do is get refunds out to the hands of legitimate taxpayers as quickly as possible and with as little intrusion. But for the actual size of the problem, we probably need to get back to you with a number.

KATE (voice-over): We're still waiting on that number. Typical says Tampa mayor Bob Buckhorn, who is furious with the IRS.

(on camera) Has the IRS disappointed you and your city? MAYOR BOB BUCKHORN, TAMPA, FLORIDA: I don't know. I haven't seen them. As far as I'm concerned, they're missing in action. They have not been helpful. They have not been a player. They have not taken responsibility for their side of the enforcement.

KAYE: Is the IRS missing in action in Tampa? What's your response?

TUCKER: No. The IRS is not. In fact, we have significantly increased the amount of resources we've devoted to identity theft which is a heinous crime.

KAYE (voice-over): Just one week after our interview, the IRS sent a team to meet with Tampa and North Miami Beach police officials.

Law enforcement tells us there's a simple solution to curbing much of the fraud. Don't allow the refunds to be put on debit cards.

KAYE: Why hasn't the IRS stopped that?

TUCKER: Not every taxpayer has a bank account. And so the debit cards that are issued by a third-party provider are a legitimate way for taxpayers to get their refund.

KAYE: And the fraudsters, they know time is on their side. The faster the IRS sends out the returns, the sooner they get some hard- working taxpayer's cash.

BUCKHORN: It's an underground epidemic. It's taken the place of street level drug dealing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are these your cards?

BUCKHORN: It is a very, very scary proposition.


COOPER: So Randi, where is the guy we saw arrested in your story? Is he still on the street?

KAYE: No. In fact, he is in jail awaiting a court date. But he hasn't yet entered a plea, Anderson, for the marijuana possession or the grand theft.

And as far as the victim in that case, her identity, her information was out there because her purse had been stolen. So somehow her information ended up in his hands. It's that easy.

COOPER: What about all those victims? How do they get their refunds?

KAYE: It is such a nightmare for them, because the burden is really on them. They have to now prove to the IRS that their identity was stolen, and that someone filed taxes in their name. And this can take up to more than a year for them to get their refund back. Now, the treasury inspector general says that the IRS isn't realistic about giving victims a time frame. He's also criticized the IRS for even the improvements that they've made. He says they've fallen short.

The good news, Anderson, is that the victims do eventually get their refund. The IRS pays twice: once to the fraudster and once to the victim. But it is a nightmare of a process you have to go through.

COOPER: Yes. That's unbelievable. Randi, appreciate it. Randi, thanks.

One last note for you: You can see more of CNN's investigation into tax fraud Sunday night at 8 p.m. Eastern.

Video of the TSA patting down a 3-year-old boy in a wheelchair is getting a lot of attention, it's easy to see why. We'll have the story behind the disturbing pictures, next.


SESAY: I'm Isha Sesay with a "360 News & Business Bulletin."

Some breaking weather news: a tornado (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Texas area. It touched down about 25 miles southwest of a central Texas city. No reports of injuries or damage. The twister, part a long line of dangerous weather in the area.

People who know bales say they're stunned he's accused of slaughtering 16 civilians in Afghanistan. In a statement, his wife extends condolences to the victim's families.

And the owners of the Mets have settled a lawsuit over the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme. They will pay $162 million to the trustee in charge of getting the money Madoff stole. They invested in Madoff's firm but say they never knew it was a scam.

And a video of a TSA agent patting down a 3-year-old boy in a wheelchair has gone viral. The boy's father recently posted the video, which was shot two years ago. Last September, the TSA changed its rules on how agents search children.

Now back to Anderson.

COOPER: Isha, thanks.

Coming up, there is petty theft. And then there's potty theft. "The RidicuList" is next.


COOPER: Yes. It is time for "The RidicuList." And tonight we're adding a toilet caper that's been perpetrated upon the good citizens of the Denver metro area. A man has been arrested for allegedly stealing toilet parts from at least 18 businesses in and around Denver, Colorado. Police say the guy hit office buildings, a movie theater, grocery store, hospital, university, and restaurants including a Taco Bell. Take it away, KDVR.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's back to business as usual here, but the thief did inconvenience customers needing to take care of business.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We started calling him the Crapper Scrapper.


COOPER: The Crapper Scrapper. How much fun do you think the police had fun coming up with that nickname? Now, I would have gone with something, I don't know, a touch more elegant: Ye Olde Tanker Yanker, perhaps. But Crapper Scrapper, that works, too.

Now, when toilets are the story (ph), usually those guys from "Jackass," they're the prime suspects. Bam Margera (ph), band of merry men, once stole all the toilets in his father's house. And potty mouth hilarity ensued.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's water leaking on my hand. Come on, (EXPLETIVE DELETED) That's disgusting.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Leak it into the damn tub already.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's nothing you can do. You can't (EXPLETIVE DELETED) in the hole.



COOPER: Ah, youth. Seems kind of funny when it's a made-for-TV prank. Not so funny when you're at a Taco Bell in Denver, you just scarfed down four chalupas and a 64-ounce Pepsi, and suddenly you realize you've been foiled by the world's worst comic book villain, the Crapper Scrapper.

So this point you may be asking, Anderson, what praytell, is the Crapper Scrapper's modus operandi? Why must he steal those toilets? Well, for the oh-so-precious toilet metal, of course. And it turns out the guy is a plumber, so he knows exactly what he's doing.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Police say he shuts off this water then steals the metal plumbing from toilets and urinals, selling them for scrap. The money he got was little. Perhaps 30 to 40 bucks at a time. Compared to the cost to his victims.


COOPER: Yes. The high cost of holding it. Not to mention the cost for replacing all those toilets. So much paperwork.

This toilet plundering spree went on for almost two months. Toilets all over the metro area were rendered useless. It was a scourge on the city, really. But the people of Denver seem to be taking it in stride.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: People say it stinks.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You go into a bathroom and you can't flush. He's stealing the toilet paper, probably too.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Inconvenient at best.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I wouldn't be too happy. I need to use the bathroom.


COOPER: So in a perfect justice system meets septic system moment in crime fighting, the Crapper Scrapper was finally busted when someone saw him leaving a restroom with toilet parts sticking out of his bag. With the end of this crime spree, I think it's safe to say the citizens of Denver are relieved.

That's it for us. Thanks for watching. "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.