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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Interview With Senator John McCain; New Developments in Trayvon Martin Case
Aired March 28, 2012 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: It's 10:00 p.m. here on the East Coast.
We begin tonight with breaking news, our first look at George Zimmerman in police custody the night that Trayvon Martin was killed. This is a vital piece of the picture because Zimmerman is claiming he fired in self-defense, telling police that Martin came up behind him, decked him with a single punch in the face and began slamming his head on the ground.
Martin's father today called that account "B.S." The family has always questioned Zimmerman's version. Now we have direct visual evidence of Zimmerman's condition for the first time. You can decide for yourself whether the man in the video looks like someone who minutes before had been in a fight for his life.
This police surveillance video first shown tonight on "ABC World News" begins with George Zimmerman being taken out of a patrol car at Sanford police headquarters. He's wearing the same red jacket and blue jeans that he was wearing when he came across Trayvon Martin who was on his way home from the 7/Eleven with a bag of Skittles and an iced tea. Now, the police report says he was bleeding from the nose and back of the head and was examined by EMTs on the scene before being taken in for questioning.
Attorney Craig Sonner, who consulted with Zimmerman, says he believes that Martin broke Zimmerman's nose. We have frozen a portion of the video showing his nose and face so you can look more carefully and decide whether it's consistent with the kind of fight that Zimmerman describes. Granted, it's surveillance video. It's not up close and the lighting is not good and the angle obviously could be better.
But it's full of clues. Here the officer touches Zimmerman's sleeve and then a few seconds later wipes off his hand. Is it blood? That's a question. And then you see here the officer looks at the back of Zimmerman's head. He takes a good look at it. He's clearly looking at something.
The question, though, is he looking at the kind of injury that comes from somebody slamming someone's head repeatedly into concrete? Let's wait for him to look. There he is looking. Now, the officer takes a second look and now so can you. Finally, Zimmerman is taken inside for questioning. We have slowed down the video here so you can take another longer look at Zimmerman's face, his head, whether there's blood on his clothing, grass stains even on the back of his jacket. Remember, ABC News and a local media reporting that a lead investigator that night did not buy Zimmerman's story. He wanted to file manslaughter charges but was overruled by the state's attorney.
Tonight, for the first time, you can see at least a hint of what he saw that night. In addition ABC News spoke to Trayvon Martin's girlfriend about her phone conversation with him just moments before his deadly encounter with Zimmerman. She tells ABC News -- quote -- "He was walking fast when he say this man behind him again. He come and say and say this dude look like he about to do something to him."
She went on to say, "And then Trayvon come and said the man is still behind him and then I come and say, run." She also said that he was scared -- quote -- "Trayvon said this dude looked creepy, he look like he crazy."
Joining us is police veteran Lou Palumbo. Currently he's director of the private security group Elite Group Limited.
Lou, thanks very much. I guess you looking at this surveillance tape, what do you see just in terms of the police procedures, bringing him in, everything look pretty normal?
LOU PALUMBO, FORMER NEW YORK POLICE OFFICER: He was obviously in a state of arrest. He was handcuffed and that is what that constitutes.
I didn't really observe any dramatic physical injuries. If he complained of some, I would suspect especially a broken nose, Anderson, that the law enforcement agency would have offered him some medical treatment, an emergency room, for example.
But I hate to say it in this fashion, but the injuries to this individual to me are almost academic at this point because I think if you look at the timeline from when Zimmerman contacted the police through 911 and they basically instructed him to stand down and he continued to precipitate contact with this young man and the statement and recording of -- with his girlfriend, Trayvon with his girlfriend, he precipitated this.
This young man didn't know who he was. The reality of the situation is, Zimmerman had no authority to approach him, period. He's not a sworn law enforcement, he didn't have on his person anything that might identify him to such. Why would anyone just randomly comply with anyone off the street approaching him?
COOPER: He had no law enforcement training, he is not even in any kind of uniform.
PALUMBO: No training, no experience, no identification. And he also wasn't licensed to carry the weapon in this capacity.
What people don't understand, for example, in Florida, and I work all over the United States, as you well know -- in Florida, you may have a license to carry a concealed weapon. It's a very liberal state. The minute you want to carry that weapon in a capacity of employment, you're required to have another license that allows you to do so. There's more regulation.
The whole issue at this point revolves around the neighborhood watch, and under whose authority did he do this? And quite frankly, if anyone is questioning whether or not he precipitated this encounter, I think you need your head examined.
COOPER: His lawyer or a lawyer who he apparently had consulted with at one point told us he believed Zimmerman had broken his nose and by the time he actually was taken to an emergency room, the wound on the back of his head, which the lawyer said would have needed stitches, had actually begun to heal and so they didn't actually put in any stitches.
In that video, though -- again, it's not good video. It's not a great angle. The lighting's not good. You don't see any indication of blood.
PALUMBO: I saw the video in the waiting room where I was far closer to it than I am in proximity right now and I did not see any injuries consistent with this alleged struggle that took place.
And the other problem he has is that he's alleging that this young man jumped him from behind when there's nothing consistent with the timeline through that evening that would support that.
COOPER: The fact that a lead investigator on the case wanted charges to be brought, what does that tell you?
PALUMBO: That tells you that someone was on the ball. He looked at this thing and he realized that this guy had used what we would consider to be excessive force and he knew that was problematic and he was on the money there, as we all know in hindsight right now.
The law enforcement agency dropped the ball on this. Or I should say, actually, the state attorney or investigator.
COOPER: Right. Because the police turned it over to the state attorney to see whether charges would finally be brought.
COOPER: Again this is the first video that we have been able to see of George Zimmerman that night. Lou Palumbo, I appreciate you coming in.
Thank you very much.
PALUMBO: My pleasure.
COOPER: Yes. Always good to talk to you.
We also want to get some legal analysis on this. We talked to criminal defense attorney Jose Baez and also joining us -- obvious, Jose Baez won an acquittal in the Casey Anthony murder trial. Also, former Los Angeles deputy district Marcia Clark is joining us.
Marcia, again, this video, the first time we are really seeing George Zimmerman. No one wants to make any kind of rush to judgment. There's still a lot we don't know about this case and about the facts of this case. Looking at the footage as you see it, does anything jump out to you?
MARCIA CLARK, FORMER PROSECUTOR: Well, I have to agree with your former guest, Mr. Palumbo. I don't see any injuries in this tape, with all of the caveats he's issued regarding angle and lighting and the distance, et cetera.
Nevertheless, the injuries described by George Zimmerman that made him sound as though he was really -- he should have been on a stretcher are not apparent in this tape at all. He moves freely. He moves fluidly, not like someone that has just been through a beating in any way, shape or form. Someone whose head has been pounded on the pavement as hard as he described, someone whose nose was broken and bleeding, this is somebody that requires immediate medical treatment.
Let me point out one other thing is that police, when they see somebody in that kind of extreme -- or that kind of trouble, the first thing they do, if only for their own protection, is make sure medical treatment is given because otherwise they can be held accountable for any aggravated injuries that occur as a result of him not being treated for his injuries.
It's very significant that, A., he didn't demand medical treatment right away and, B., the police didn't see a need for it either. That tells you a great deal, even if the angle and the lighting as such that we see right now on the surveillance tape doesn't give you everything. The actions and the manner in which this man was treated tell you his injuries could not have been that significant.
COOPER: Jose, as a defense attorney looking at this tape, what do you see?
JOSE BAEZ, ATTORNEY: I don't think you can tell much from this tape. This is an after-the-fact situation where obviously at the scene he was spoken to. He might have been cleaned up there. We don't know the extent of what occurred at the scene, whether he was actually looked at by EMT. If he was, he was cleaned and then put in cuffs and taken away.
How often do you see someone get knocked out, perhaps even in a boxing match and walk back to the dressing room? This after the fact does not tell you much.
COOPER: Lou, if the report had been that his head banged multiple times on we don't know if it was on the grass or on a sidewalk or on the ground, it was described. He seems to be walking pretty fine. Again, we don't know the timeline. We don't know how many hours after the incident or minutes after the incident this is. You wanted to make a point?
PALUMBO: Well, obviously, if the police arrived on the scene and they saw him in any type of battered condition, with a broken nose which would have been consistent with profuse bleeding, and lacerations or contusions to the head, they would have transported him or suggested it.
Marcia Clark made a very good point. Procedurally what we do if you refuse to seek medical treatment, we would make an entry into what we call a memoranda book that you did so we further insulate ourselves. She's right. If we mishandle someone's injury and God forbid they expire, we end up in a wrongful death and under the spotlight. But I don't think there was anything consistent with this individual's injuries from start to finish that lent itself to his story.
I think he bit off more than he could chew and was trying to figure out how he was going to employ damage control.
COOPER: Marcia, is this tape something that would find its way into a trial if there was a trial?
CLARK: Oh, yes. Most definitely.
Anderson, this tape, in my opinion, is very impeaching. And you can say that it was after the fact and other things may have happened. But Mr. Palumbo is correct. There is going to be some indication that he refused medical treatment. I would like to see all of the police reports. The jury will certainly hear what was written in the police reports.
But the manner in which he's moving, the manner in which the police are handling him would be extremely important to show that he was not beaten. That he was lying when he said he was beaten as badly as he was, if indeed he was lying. It's very important proof that you can get there. We will see what ultimately happens with it.
I do think however it's also important to note in the very beginning when this case broke, a lot of us believed, and I think myself included, that police had dropped the ball, had let this guy go, had not pursued all of the procedures they should have to seek his arrest. In fact, they did.
It came out now that we know that a police officer, the lead investigator came in and said I don't believe him, his story doesn't make sense and wanted to pursue a case against him. So I think that as the information unfolds, we have to leave our minds open to the possibility that what we thought in the beginning of this case is not the way it's going to ultimately develop.
COOPER: And, again, it argues for not rushing to judge on either side of this. Obviously still photos would have also been taken by police officers, right?
BAEZ: Well, obviously at the crime scene there would have been still photography. They would have roped it off and conducted a crime scene...
COOPER: Would they have taken still photos though of George Zimmerman?
BAEZ: Not necessarily.
COOPER: Not necessarily.
BAEZ: If he was placed under arrest and formally charged, they would have taken photographs of him.
The thing that was interesting also and I don't really have a full grasp on the laws in the state of Florida, they should have charged him with murder because you can always back off that charge. Why they charge him with manslaughter to me is a little gray unto itself. It was almost to say as if this might have been an accidental type shooting that resulted in his death.
COOPER: That's what the lead investigator had suggested.
COOPER: I want to hear from Jose Baez in just a moment. We have to take a quick break, though. A lot more to talk about on this tape coming up, and we will also be joined by the reporter who broke this story and many other stories in the case and spoke directly to Trayvon Martin's girlfriend.
Let us know what you think. Follow me on Facebook, Google+. Follow me on Twitter right now @AndersonCooper. Let me know what you think of this tape. I will be tweeting.
As always, much more on CNN.com. More on this ahead. We will be right back.
COOPER: Recapping our breaking news tonight, we're getting our first look at George Zimmerman in police custody the night he shot Trayvon Martin. The politics surveillance video was shown first tonight on "ABC World News," and you can see Zimmerman getting out of a police squad car. His hands cuffed behind his back.
He's wearing the red jacket that we have heard so much about, a jacket that did not identify him in any way as a neighborhood watch volunteer. It's the first look we have had of his physical condition that night, the first opportunity to judge for ourselves if he looks like a man who was beaten in what he described as a fight for his life.
Trayvon Martin's parents have always questioned Zimmerman's version of what happened in the moments before their son was killed and we have frozen a portion of the video showing his face and nose. He told police that Trayvon punched him in the nose and then slammed his head into the ground. We don't know if it was the sidewalk, if it was grass or what.
The police report said he was bleeding from his nose and the back of the head. It says he was examined by EMTs at the scene. In this sequence, you can see the officer touching Zimmerman's sleeve and then wiping something off. We're not clear what he's going to be wiping off here. The quality of the video is far from ideal. The lighting, the angle could obviously be better.
He then appears to check the back of Zimmerman's head, or the back of Zimmerman. And then you can see he does the same -- we have frozen this portion of the video. Remember, Zimmerman told police that Trayvon Martin slammed his head into the ground after punching him in the face, punching him so forcefully that it knocked him down.
Finally, Zimmerman is taken inside for questioning. We have slowed down the video here so you can take another longer look at Zimmerman's face, his head, whether you see any sign of blood on his clothing or grass stains on his clothing.
As we have said, Trayvon's family doesn't believe Zimmerman's family. Here's his father, Tracy Martin, today describing what he calls, his language here, "B.S."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRACY MARTIN, FATHER OF TRAYVON MARTIN: He said that Trayvon hit him, knocked him to the ground, got on top of him, put his knees on his arms and pinned him down, put his hand -- put his left hand over his mouth, told him shut the F. up and proceeded to beat him and beat him with the other hand.
Zimmerman then says, Trayvon was -- I mean, Zimmerman was able to unholster his weapon and fire one shot and Trayvon fell back and said, you got me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Tonight we have many potential clues in this tape.
Joining me now by phone is ABC News correspondent Matt Gutman who got hold of the tape.
Matt, you also talked to the woman, the young woman who spoke to Trayvon Martin apparently on the phone moments before the shooting. What you think were the most important things that she told you were?
MATT GUTMAN, ABC NEWS REPORTER: She seems to tell a different version of what we have heard from Mr. Zimmerman's written statement that he gave to police.
She was on the phone with him, 7:12 p.m. as he was trying to run away from George Zimmerman. He talks about this crazy looking guy behind him, this white dude chasing him. He starts running away. He thinks he loses Zimmerman. But then she hears this guy is on my tail again. At some point, Zimmerman confronts. Then Trayvon Martin asks him, why are you following me? Zimmerman says, what are you doing here and the next thing she hears is a scuffle breaking out, she hears what she said was the phone falling to the grass, and then it went dead. She never heard from him again.
So her version seems to contradict pretty significantly the version we hear from Mr. Zimmerman. It seemed it was impossible that Martin actually turned around and tried to attack Zimmerman as he went other his car knocking him out and then as you mentioned slamming his head on the ground.
COOPER: You got hold of this surveillance tape. Have you been told anything by police or from any sources about any injuries that George Zimmerman may have had or allegedly had? Because we have heard prior reports -- go ahead.
GUTMAN: I said the only thing we really know about George Zimmerman's injuries were from his attorney, Craig Sonner, who said that his nose was broken, the back of his head was bloodied. There was similar information on the police report, the original police report that night.
But we never knew the extent of his injuries. We also knew that he never checked into the hospital. He never required stitches for the injuries to the back of the head. Now we can see why because you look at that video and we think we have been able to make out a little bit of a welt on the back of his head, but certainly your assessment of this is correct.
It doesn't look like someone that was beaten within an inch of his life, or beaten so significantly that he needed to draw his weapon.
COOPER: ABC's Matt Gutman, Matt, I appreciate you calling in. Matt broke the story with the videotape the first to get this videotape.
Once again, joining us, criminal defense attorney Jose Baez, Marcia Clark, former Los Angeles deputy district attorney, and police veteran Lou Palumbo.
Jose, in terms of what Matt said, he said that he might be able to see some sort of a welt on the back of the head, how important do you think this tape will be in any potential trail?
BAEZ: Well, I think the prosecutor would certainly use something like that I think is certainly well after the fact.
If this is subsequent to him receiving treatment from EMT -- what's really important here is under the law you actually don't have to sustain these type of injuries. You just have to fear death or great bodily harm. You don't actually have to have great bodily harm to use deadly force in this scenario.
So I don't think first of all, legally it doesn't seem to be highly relevant. However, it does become relevant if you're trying to prove a circumstantial set of facts. But you have to take it with a grain of salt, that this is well after the incident after he's been cleaned up by EMT and after obviously he's well enough to go to the police department. But actually sustaining these types of injuries it's not required under the law.
COOPER: Marcia, it bears repeating again, we don't know the full details of what happened from the time George Zimmerman got out of his vehicle until the time that Trayvon Martin was shot. We have different eyewitness reports. But we don't know exactly what happened yet.
But Jose raises an interesting point, which is that so much of this case, if this does become a legal case, will hinge on what was in George Zimmerman's mind? What was in Trayvon Martin's mind? What were their perceptions? Why was George Zimmerman suspicious of Trayvon Martin and did George Zimmerman fear for his life rightly or wrongly but did he have that fear in his mind?
Those are all things that are very difficult to try to determine in a court of law, no?
CLARK: Well, you know, if you're going to look at it in a very literal sense of reading someone's mind, it's difficult. But when you look at all of the evidence put together, it's less difficult.
For example, what you already have are two interestingly corroborating pieces of information. Number one thing, Anderson, you have the 911 call by George Zimmerman in which the police ask, are you following him? Or he admits that he's following. They say, don't follow him. Then you have the girlfriend who gives an account that seems to actually corroborate that 911 tape.
The girlfriend says this guy's following me and why does he keep following me and, look, he's tailing me again. And when you put these two things together and apparently in the 911 tape, George Zimmerman admits he was following Trayvon Martin. So now you have two pieces of evidence that corroborate each other showing that George Zimmerman was very likely the attacker, was likely the provocateur.
And under the law you are not allowed to provoke an attack and then claim self-defense. In California at least, if you do provoke a fight, and you engage in mutual combat, you cannot use self-defense until you have retreat and given up and tried to calm matters and said you're going to lay down arms or you're not going to fight and the other person then launches an attack.
This is not what happened here by anyone's account, according to even George Zimmerman. He is saying that Trayvon Martin was the one who attacked him but none of the evidence seems to support the fact that Trayvon Martin was the initiator. All of it seems to go, all of it put together, not little pieces, all of it seemed to go to the fact that George Zimmerman was the initiator.
COOPER: Lou, we see George Zimmerman here in handcuffs. Does that indicate that he had been arrested?
PALUMBO: Yes, he's in a state of arrest. That's correct.
But interestingly enough, the state of arrest occurs not just when you're handcuffed but when a law enforcement, for example, deprives you of your right of free movement, you're in the state of arrest. The thing I do want to mention to you that is highly relevant in this case deals with the distance that weapon was discharged from Trayvon Martin.
In other words, if a struggle ensued and the weapon is pressed up against the body of the individual you're shooting, there's burn marks. Forensics can prove unequivocally the distance in which a weapon was discharged from a person.
COOPER: And the angle of the bodies at the time that the weapon was discharged as well.
BAEZ: Absolutely. And that's all part of the information that I'm curious why the police department has not really been a little more forthcoming with. I'm curious to know exactly how far he was when the weapon was fired.
COOPER: Jose, I want to ask you something. Actually a viewer just sent something in to us about a Florida statute, 776-032, says expressly prohibits police from arresting someone who had a reasonable fear of imminent death or great bodily harm. Police may investigate, the statute says, but the agency may not place that person -- arrest that person without probable cause.
Is that true? Do you know about that?
BAEZ: Well, obviously every arrest has to be -- they have to have probable cause. That's a huge part of what's going on here.
You have a law enforcement agency and a state attorney that has established that they don't have enough evidence to reach the level of probable cause. How in the world are you going to get to beyond a reasonable doubt in a situation that happened probably under 60 seconds?
COOPER: But if they have arrested him there, they felt they had probable cause to arrest him, no?
BAEZ: They had enough probable cause probably to detain him. There is no such thing as an arrest for certain instances. But in this case, what they had was enough to detain him, investigate it further and at the end of the day after they had investigated all they could at that moment, they made the determination that they did not have probable cause.
And what's interesting here is law enforcement doesn't need to call a prosecutor to make an arrest in this situation. They felt very uneasy that they were actually were going to release him and to just cover a CYA type of situation, they had someone second off on it, which was an actual prosecutor on call. So I think not only did they make a decision after thoroughly analyzing it, they went ahead and got a second opinion. Now you have all of this political pressure, you have got the president speaking about the case and you have the governor pulling the prosecutor off the case and putting on a special prosecution.
I just don't see a conviction down the line here. I really don't. And to touch on something Marcia said earlier, I distinctly remember hearing on the 911 tape George Zimmerman saying, he's now walking towards me and he looks like he has got something around his waistband. So there's some conflicting stories here.
COOPER: Yes, there's definitely...
BAEZ: Either way you look at it.
So it's really -- we're microanalyzing this, but, remember, this is a decision George Zimmerman had to make in a split second. And to go back and to second-guess it, the way we're doing, it's a luxury that Mr. Zimmerman didn't have.
COOPER: Critics of George Zimmerman say it's not a decision he had to make at all, that it's a decision he chose to make by following Trayvon Martin, if in fact that's what he did. Again, a lot of the facts simply aren't known.
Jose Baez, appreciate you being on, Marcia Clark, Lou Palumbo as well.
A lot more happening around the world tonight to cover, including the Syrian government's broken promises to stop killing its own people and what Senator John McCain wants President Obama to do about it. We are going to talk to Senator John McCain ahead.
We will be right back.
COOPER: Another "Keeping Them Honest" report tonight with a new call for action to stop the killing the action in Syria, slaughter that Syria's dictator, Bashar al-Assad, not only has the absolute power to stop, but slaughter, in fact, that he's already promised to stop on more than one occasion and as recently as just yesterday. No surprise he's not stopping. Senator John McCain says the killing and the lies have gone on too long.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Again, I've asked the question, how many have to die? How many have to die before the United States will take a leadership role in trying to end the mass slaughter that's taking place in Syria?
The people of Syria need to know that we in America are on their side. It matters to them. It matters to them to know that we are on their side, and we are willing to assist him. (END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: We're going to talk to Senator McCain in just a moment. He and some of the colleagues are calling on the Obama administration to help speed the flow of weapons and other necessities to Syria's opposition forces, because today like every day for more than a year now, it was deadly dangerous to be a civilian in Syria.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: The video purports to show a sniper attack on protesters in Aleppo. When marchers got to the intersection, gunmen on rooftops turned it into a killing field. We don't know the exact number of dead or wounded in Aleppo. The opposition says at least 26 people were killed today all across Syria.
Reports of 9,000, according to the U.N., since the uprising began a year ago.
Shelling and gunfire reported today in Aleppo, Iblid (ph) province, Daraa, Hama (ph) and Homs. We should point out here that only yesterday, the Assad regime accepted a U.N. peace plan that included a government ceasefire.
Not only is Assad apparently breaking his commitment today. He was already making a mockery of it on day one. Take a look. The very same day he toured the neighborhood in Homs that his forces crushed, those same forces under his control were shelling other parts of the city, stopping only briefly while the propaganda visit played out.
Senator John McCain has seen the videos. He says he's seen enough. We spoke to him earlier tonight.
COOPER: Senator McCain, you were on this program three weeks ago calling for the United States in cooperation with the international community to have air strikes against the Assad regime to help stop the massacres in Syria. This hasn't happened.
You're now calling on Congress to condemn Syria and push the White House to take concrete action to support the opposition. Do you have any optimism that your resolution is actually going to have an impact?
MCCAIN: Well, I hope so, Anderson. And previous experience in Bosnia, Kosovo, Libya, that with enough pressure that perhaps the United States and other countries will act in an effective fashion, but since you and I talked several weeks ago, several thousand more Syrians have been massacred, slaughtered, women raped, children maimed by this incredibly cruel and barbaric regime.
So I think we will get some progress, but unfortunately, I don't know how many thousands more have to die before we do that.
COOPER: Yesterday the Assad regime says that they accepted the United Nations' six-point peace plan. There have been so many lies by this regime. There have been so many red herrings and diplomatic feints. While they say one thing, they're doing something else on the ground.
Do you have any belief that the regime is going to live up to its end of the bargain this time?
MCCAIN: I do not. And by the way, they made the same commitment to the U.N., as you know, a couple of months ago and didn't do it. Since Kofi Annan's announcement that they had had accepted that proposal, they even crossed over into Lebanon and killed some more people.
There's nothing that you or I or the world would love to see more than the ceasefire, humanitarian assistance.
By the way, notice the U.N. plan does not call for Bashar al- Assad stepping down. That has been the position of the United States and literally every other nation.
But the point is that so far there has been no sign that there has been any adherence to that proposal at all.
And finally, can I say that when Kofi Annan says that we have to have this agreement because they don't want to militarize the situation, that was his words, where has he been?
COOPER: It's well beyond that point.
COOPER: Two other quick questions. One of Syria's key allies is Russia, and you're critical of the Russian government on multiple fronts.
You've also criticized President Obama's off-mike comments to Russia's president this week about President Obama having more flexibility if he's re-elected. That's what he said off-mike.
You say the president is playing, quote, "fast and loose with national security." That's a tough charge. Do you really think the president is putting politics over American safety?
MCCAIN: Well, he referred specifically to political aspect of his presidency, and that is his re-election. He said that he's going to be, quote, "more flexible." No one could interpret that in any way except to say that he'd be willing to compromise from the position that the United States of America has adhered to through several administrations. And the way he reached out to sort of show President Medvedev that he's going to -- you know, wink-wink, nod-nod. And then, of course, Medvedev says that he'll pass that on to Vladimir. And then, interfering in American politics, decides to criticize Governor Romney.
So, look, missile defense is as important part and a cornerstone of American foreign policy. It is defensive in nature. There is no reason to be flexible any more than the present policy, which has been that of several administrations, both Democrat and Republican.
COOPER: One political question. I know you voted against, obviously, the president's health-care bill, but there's also no love lost between you and the Supreme Court. They overturned a key part of your campaign finance bill. You called their actions on that a combination, quote, "of arrogance, naivete and stupidity."
MCCAIN: Good line. Good line.
COOPER: The feeling of a lot of legal analysts seems to be that the court is likely to toss out the individual mandate portion of health reform. Would you welcome that? And if that were to happen, could that actually end up working out against Republicans, giving them one less thing to run on in the fall?
MCCAIN: I don't think so, Anderson.
First of all, I'm not sure, as some people seem to be, that by the nature of the questioning that that means that a Supreme Court justice is going to take one side or the other. You know that they like to ask provocative questions, and they should. So I'm not -- I don't share the confidence yet, but some do.
Second of all, I think that this was one of the signature legislative "accomplishments," end quote, of the Obama administration, and we argued that it was unconstitutional at the time. So if that's substantiated by the United States Supreme Court, I don't see how that could possibly help the president politically. I've seen a number of his minions spinning it the other way, but I just -- I just don't see that.
COOPER: Senator McCain, thanks for your time, sir.
MCCAIN: Thanks for having me.
COOPER: Well, in other news tonight, a small religious school in Montana is facing serious allegations of abuse tonight. Its religious status, though, exempts it from licensing requirements and, therefore, state oversight. And some say that puts students in danger. We're going to have a 360 investigation in a moment.
COOPER: Tonight, part two of our report on disturbing allegations of abuse at a small religious school in Northwestern Montana. Now it's the latest installment in our ongoing discipline -- "Ungodly Discipline" series.
The school facing accusations tonight has been operating for decades beyond the reach of state authorities. It's all perfectly legal, but the question is, is the lack of oversight safe for the students? We'll let you decide.
Here's part two of Gary Tuchman's investigation.
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Bob Larsson is a Christian preacher and founder of the Pinehaven Christian Children's Ranch in Northwestern Montana.
BOB LARSSON, FOUNDER, PINEHAVEN CHRISTIAN CHILDREN'S RANCH: I was raised that way. I don't know if you were. Clean up your plate. Don't waste anything.
TUCHMAN: There are about 40 children and teenagers at the ranch right now. Some have troubled pasts; others have troubled families.
LARSSON: And they know when they come, they sign a form of acceptance for coming that says, "I understand that this is a Christian program. I do believe in God. I believe Jesus is the son of God, and the Bible is the word of God. And I have no objection to being taught along those lines."
TUCHMAN: But many former students have objections to what they recall as physical abuse at the ranch.
JAMES MASON, FORMER PINEHAVEN STUDENT: Choking was to be expected at some point. The nerves under my chin when I went into the Marine Corps were dead.
TUCHMAN: Former student Melissa Stasiuk says one of Bob Larsson's employees...
MELISSA STASIUK, FORMER PINEHAVEN STUDENT: Picked me up under this section of throat here and lifted me up and slammed me down on the kitchen table, and basically held me down and told me that I was a drug addict and I was never going to amount to anything.
TUCHMAN: Some former employees of the ranch say they witnessed such abuse.
LYNNETTE MCCLENAHAN, FORMER PINEHAVEN HOUSE PARENT: I know that it caused extreme pain, because when I saw it, the kids were wrenching and screaming because of the pain of what had happened.
TUCHMAN: Bob Larsson says Satan is behind the more than one dozen former students or teachers we talked to who have alleged physical abuse.
LARSSON: They persecuted Christ, and he was perfect. And I know I'm not perfect, and the Bible says you can expect to have this happen.
TUCHMAN: One of the men accused of physical abuse is long-time Pinehaven employee and house parent, Ned Kent.
(on camera) Some of the kids who are now adults tell us that you used to choke them.
NED KENT, PINEHAVEN HOUSE PARENT: That's totally false.
TUCHMAN: What is it that you did to them?
KENT: Used pressure points to restrain them but...
TUCHMAN: What does that mean?
KENT: You have places on your body where nerve endings are real close.
TUCHMAN: Show me on my body.
KENT: Right here.
TUCHMAN: Show me on my...
KENT: Right there.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): Ned Kent claims he does not do it anymore. But who are the authorities who are responsible for checking out such allegations?
(on camera) Let's tell you a little bit more about Pinehaven Christian Children's Ranch. It is unregulated, unlicensed, unaccredited. Its teachers are uncertified by the state of Montana.
The state is required to oversee public and private schools, but not religious schools. So who oversees Pinehaven? Pinehaven oversees Pinehaven.
Who is responsible to make sure that the teachers are good, your counselors are good, and that the kids behave?
LARSSON: I am.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): Larsson says he has had teachers licensed out of state but not in Montana, which is one of many states where government has no oversight of religious schools. The Montana legislature considered a bill to require religious school oversight, but this former state legislator fought the attempt to regulate Pinehaven.
JEANNE WINDHAM, FORMER MONTANA STATE REPRESENTATIVE: The truth is, I did not know the breadth and depth of what was going on at Pinehaven.
TUCHMAN: But now, former Representative Jeanne Windham is trying to get the legislature to reverse that vote, because she believes Pinehaven has indeed abused children.
WINDHAM: That doesn't sound very Christian to me.
TUCHMAN: Bob Larsson adamantly denies systemic abuse of his students, but he does acknowledge unpleasant moments in the past. A former Pinehaven employee was accused of raping two underaged students. He pleaded guilty and went to prison. Could trained and licensed staff have spotted clues in that teacher's behavior? Could they have helped to prevent or deal with other horrifying situations, such as this one?
James Mason says he was sodomized by a fellow student.
MASON: I was raped. I've never told anybody that. He threatened me with fencing pliers to my throat and to my testicles if I were to ever tell anybody.
TUCHMAN: This is former student Bryan Dare, who says he was also raped by a Pinehaven student.
BRYAN DARE, FORMER PINEHAVEN STUDENT: I started cutting myself. After that, I stole some wire from the shop we were working in. And I cut my inner thighs, because that was the only place that they wouldn't show, they would see it. And I just cut and cut and cut and cut, because it's the only thing that -- pain -- physical pain felt better than the mental pain that I was going through.
TUCHMAN: Two years ago, a sheriff's office detective in Lake County, Montana, investigated abuse allegations against Pinehaven. No charges were filed, but the case files indicate only one alleged victim was interviewed. We talked to the detective's boss, Sheriff Jay Doyle. He was elected sheriff after the case was closed.
SHERIFF JAY DOYLE, LAKE COUNTY, MONTANA: It can be reopened. There are alleged victims out there that may or may not have come forward. And if they wish to come forward and report a crime, we look into it.
TUCHMAN (on camera): What would be wrong if the state of Montana looked over this school?
LARSSON: Because it is an arm of the church, it would be unconstitutional.
TUCHMAN: But do you see it would make some people breathe easier, perhaps some parents, knowing that...?
LARSSON: Send their kids somewhere else. They don't have to send them here.
COOPER: Gary joins us now. I mean, he's correct. Parents don't have to send their kids there. It's not really a great defense, though. TUCHMAN: Right. I mean, there is -- it is real. It's a real statement. It's true. But there are certainly kids we talked to during this investigation who say while they were there, they were never uncensored. They weren't allowed to make phone calls to their parents describing what was happening.
Also there's a woman we talked to who has a child there today, and this woman want her child out of Pinehaven. And that's the subject of part three of our investigation, and I want to show a little snippet of that right now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TUCHMAN (voice-over): Paula Bowen of Olney, Illinois, says without her permission, her daughter Cassie was whisked away more than 1,800 miles to rural northern Montana, to the Pinehaven Christian Children's Ranch. And that's where we met her.
(on camera) What's your name?
CASSIE BOWEN, PINEHAVEN STUDENT: Cassie.
TUCHMAN: Where are you from?
C. BOWEN: (UNINTELLIGIBLE)
TUCHMAN: Cassie's mother says she wants her daughter home, but Cassie is not being allowed to leave.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: So why isn't she being allowed to leave?
TUCHMAN: It's a really unusual story, but basically, a truant officer in their community in Illinois recommended to a judge that Cassie go to Montana. And that truant officer -- and he tells us this -- he's sent at least 29 children over the years from that small area in Illinois to Montana. So basically, that small town in Illinois is a pipeline to Pinehaven.
COOPER: Wow. Fascinating story. We're going to look at that more tomorrow night. Gary, appreciate that.
Bizarre new details tonight in the incident involving a JetBlue pilot who caused absolute chaos on a flight yesterday. New information about how he was acting, what he was talking about before passengers subdued him, as you see there. We'll be right back.
ISHA SESAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Isha Sesay with the "360 News & Bulletin."
New details about the JetBlue flight that had to be diverted because a pilot was acting erratically. A criminal complaint against Clayton Osbon says as the plane was taking off, he said, quote, "We're not going to Vegas." Passengers say he was banging on the cockpit door and shouting about Jesus, 9/11 and terrorists before he was subdued.
The airlines say that Osbon has been suspended and is getting medical treatment. He could face prison time on charges of interfering with a flight crew.
There's already a fight over Tim Tebow going to the New York Jets. Nike is suing Reebok for selling Jets merchandise with Tebow's name on it. Nike says it's the only company licensed to use his name on clothing.
And we might not be alone, not by a long shot. Scientists have estimated how many other planets in our galaxy have the potential to support life. You want to guess the number, Anderson? Tens of billions.
Back to you.
COOPER: The Mega Millions jackpot continues to grow. It's up to $500 million now. But don't bother playing, because we're pretty sure we're going to it. "The RidicuList" is next.
COOPER: Time now for "the RidicuList," and tonight we're adding the Mega Millions lottery, because clearly, that thing is rigged. It's the only logical conclusion, given the fact that we didn't win last night.
That's right. Like so many other people in the 42 states where you can play Mega Millions, the "360" staff caught a ripping case of lottery fever. We pooled our money to buy a whole mess of tickets for last night's $363 million jackpot.
There were a few holdouts. There's always that person who reminds everyone they have a better chance of being killed in a freak vending machine accident, but almost all of us chipped in $5 for tickets, myself included. I'm usually the person who skips out on it, saying about the whole lightning thing.
Actually, for the record, I put in $10, $5 for me and five for Isha. I'd ask for it back, but I don't want a pocket full of pens or pounds of shillings or a half penny or Bob or whatever they have over there. I don't want to get repaid in bangers and mash coupons.
The point is, somehow we did not win the Mega Millions. Nobody did, actually. So now the jackpot is up to about $500 million for Friday's drawing. I don't know if we're going to play again. We're all kind of, frankly, still reeling from the shock and disappointment. I actually felt really good about our chances.
Technically, yes, you're more likely to die due to melting pajamas. We lose more producers that way. It's just so hard to resist the lure of that jackpot. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You have to be in it to win it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're in it how many times?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Twenty-three.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I hope that it's someone that really needs the money and it's somebody that, you know, regular.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just one. It only takes one to win. This is a lucky store. Mark has the lucky tickets.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Retirement. Early retirement.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's more money than you can spend and that you can even imagine.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: See, none of those people won either. But it could be worse. You could have thought you won the millions and then found out that it was just a big mistake. That's what happened recently to hundreds of people who played the lottery in Denmark, including this guy.
Three hundred people were told they won, like, $50 billion. Then they got e-mails an hour and a half later, saying, "Oh, yes. You actually got only about 50 bucks."
The lottery blames human error. They might as well have just sent those people an e-mail with the subject line, "Easy come, easy go." And then just a gigantic clip art middle finger.
So what is it that draws us to participate in the lottery, when the odds of winning the Mega Millions are about 160 -- 176 million to one.
Think about it: you have a better chance of becoming a professional athlete, the president of the United States, an astronaut or a saint. But playing the lottery is all about dreaming. It's about optimism in the face of mathematical improbability.
I never did well in math anyway. You have a better chance of seeing a UFO today.
I don't mean ever, I mean today than winning the mega millions. But with the jackpot now at a record breaking $500 million, most people don't want to take that infinitesimal risk of being the only one left at work splashing around in a sad little puddle that used to be the office pool.
That's it for us. Thanks for watching. "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts now.