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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
Lawyers Drop Zimmerman; Santorum Concedes
Aired April 10, 2012 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking news tonight, a bizarre development in the Trayvon Martin case. George Zimmerman's defense team drops him as a client today. Also Rick Santorum suspends his campaign for president. Are the Republicans finally uniting behind Mitt Romney? And a Florida baseball manager is punished for saying he loves Fidel Castro. Let's go OUTFRONT.
Good evening. I'm Brooke Baldwin in for Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight breaking news. The lawyers for George Zimmerman, the man who shot and killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin say they are no longer communicating with their client and in a very bazaar and strange and might I add surprising news conference this afternoon the lawyers say they are dropping George Zimmerman.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CRAIG SONNER, FMR. ATTORNEY FOR GEORGE ZIMMERMAN: I still believe that he was acting in self defense that night. Nothing that I have said about him or this case has changed in any way. I just can't proceed to represent a client who doesn't stay in contact with me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: Craig Sonner and Hal Uhrig say the last time they spoke to the volunteer neighborhood watchman it was just this past Sunday and that he is no longer answering their calls. But as of 1:30 p.m. Eastern today George Zimmerman did update his Web site, posting a statement that claims his innocence and seeks donations to his defense fund. Let me read the statement for you.
He is writing here quote, "I am attempting to respond to each and every one of my supporters personally. The support has been overwhelming in volume and strength." He goes on. "I thank you all and ask that you permit me the time to respond to each one of you personally. Once again, thank you."
George Zimmerman shot and killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin back on February 26th and claims it was in self defense. Martin's family says he racially profiled their son and demands his arrest. I want to bring in Roland Martin and Paul Callan here to talk a little bit more about this you know fill in the adjectives, shocking, surprising, bazaar news conference held on behalf of these two attorneys.
Let me begin you with you. Have you ever in your career Paul Callan, heard of this happening? They're saying essentially they haven't been in contact with their client so done. PAUL CALLAN, FMR. NYC HOMICIDE PROSECUTOR: It is utterly and completely bazaar although I must say I have heard of it happening. Usually the lawyer says to the judge there is a missing witness in the case, Mr. Green. All right, the lawyer hasn't been paid and therefore he's withdrawing from the case. And I'm betting in this case because he started a Web site. He's raising money. He's never even met with these lawyers so I don't think they are being paid and I think as a result of that they are dropping out of the case waiting for the big gun to come in to represent Zimmerman.
BALDWIN: So you think there's --
CALLAN: I think you'll se somebody well known probably step into the case and assume representation at some point in the very, very near future. I don't know who that is, but that's what it is looking like to me.
ROLAND MARTIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I'll tell you I spent -- when I was in Orlando a couple of weeks ago --
MARTIN: -- I talked to several different attorneys and they said that major lawyers down there have been waiting and salivating at the opportunity to get involved in this case.
BALDWIN: So they're swarming. They are salivating.
BALDWIN: Interesting --
CALLAN: And in this case I mean he has never physically met with these lawyers.
BALDWIN: Never physically met with the lawyers and I believe when they said today the last time their communication with George Zimmerman was Sunday that might have even been via text message.
MARTIN: (INAUDIBLE) coming to the studio I called Joe Oliver (ph), his friend, who's been all over television.
BALDWIN: He's been defending George Zimmerman.
MARTIN: Right. He hasn't talked to George in two weeks. He said quote, "I feel like he is wrongly being advised". He also said that he is making some bad decisions. He said quote "I am comfortable in saying that the authorities know where he is at if they need to get to him". He also talked about the flight risk because Ben Crump, the attorney for Trayvon Martin's family, said the family is concerned he could be a flight risk.
Joe said he doesn't have the funds to be a flight risk but then he also went on to make it perfectly clear that I sent him a text today saying you are making some bad decisions and said it is not going to work in your favor and Joe said one of the reasons he hasn't been on television because he doesn't want to keep rehashing the same thing, but also he said I can't represent him as a friend as a media adviser if he won't even talk to me. He talked to his father a week ago, hasn't talked to George Zimmerman in two weeks.
BALDWIN: So he sent -- Joe Oliver (ph) sent George Zimmerman this text --
MARTIN: Today saying --
BALDWIN: Did he get anything (INAUDIBLE)?
MARTIN: No, he said he has --
MARTIN: -- not gotten a response from him. He hasn't talked to him or he hasn't returned a text in two weeks.
BALDWIN: So Paul Callan, you are saying and you two are in agreement that potentially some big gun attorneys are about to swoop in take in this case. In the meantime and even though now we are talking about George Zimmerman as a former client of these two gentleman, was it at speaking of ethics, was it unethical for them to come forward and hold this news conference about someone they had been representing potentially you know speaking in a -- I don't want to say defamatory way, but you know in a way that wouldn't perhaps put their client in a nice light?
CALLAN: I have a real problem with the attorneys doing this and I think --
BALDWIN: You do.
CALLAN: -- they may have an ethical problem because look at the tenor of the entire press conference. First of all, why are they holding a press conference to say we are not representing him? And when you come away from the press conference it sounds like Zimmerman is a bit of a flake. He doesn't even talk to his own attorneys. They don't know where he is. I mean don't you want to be presenting the defense that Zimmerman is a stable human being who made a proper but difficult decision to defend himself. Instead they make him look like a flake. A lawyer is supposed to act to the benefit of the client --
BALDWIN: Even if this is a former client.
CALLAN: Even if it's a former client.
CALLAN: That's why you're just supposed to hold a press conference and say I'm out of the case. That is what Linda Kenny Batten (ph) did when she withdrew from the Casey Anthony case. Bruce Cutler, when he was representing Phil Specter just said we've had strategic decisions and withdrew. A lot of high profile cases --
(CROSSTALK) MARTIN: How you have a father who is a judge, a mother who was a clerk in the court. I mean you come from a legal family and so you have got to be asking the question, where is his family in all of this? You would think that they would be saying George, sit down, shut up. We know the law. Listen to us and so talking to Joe Oliver (ph) and listening to these attorneys sounds like he is pretty much freelancing out there and so it certainly makes for just a crazy development.
BALDWIN: What do you make of his attorneys also at one point they said maybe he is suffering from post traumatic stress disorder. They mentioned PTSD --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) out.
BALDWIN: He said he is losing a lot of weight, perhaps he's very unstable. What do you make of that?
CALLAN: Well, I -- you know when you think about this you have these attorneys who have never actually met with him. He by the way says --
BALDWIN: You're still marveling at that --
CALLAN: I'm marveling at it because he actually made the statement, he, Zimmerman saying they are not my attorneys but they have given me legal counsel. Now I don't know. That's sort of a mixed message, but nonetheless, for them to say he is suffering from these conditions. I mean this is the outline of a defense in a criminal case, potentially a murder case. You don't do this. It's not in the client's interest.
MARTIN: Even Joe Oliver (ph) said that he has not met with him personally and so you are saying wait a minute, you are hearing all of these stories. You're getting them all on the phone. If I'm somebody's that close friend and I'm an attorney surely I'm having a face to face.
BALDWIN: Where is he -- where is he and perhaps you guys can come back and say you called it, some big dog attorneys are going to swoop in, perhaps, and until them there are so many questions --
CALLAN: Well if they can find Zimmerman --
BALDWIN: If they can find him --
CALLAN: You know which is really the crazy thing -- getting back to the father being a judge -- you know what a judge would say to his son? Sit down with an attorney right now. You are in the middle of this fire storm.
CALLAN: And where is Zimmerman --
BALDWIN: Gentlemen stand by. We are now getting Ben Crump. He is the attorney representing Trayvon Martin's family. I was actually just speaking with them just a short time ago. He joins us now OUTFRONT tonight and Mr. Crump, let me begin with the family here who you have been very closely in touch with obviously. Were they watching today's news conference, the news conference given on behalf of George Zimmerman's attorneys? What was their reaction?
BENJAMIN CRUMP, ATTORNEY FOR TRAYVON MARTIN'S FAMILY: Yes ma'am. As the lead attorney for the parents of Trayvon Martin and with our other lawyers we all watched the press conference. And as I told Roland earlier it was just surprising to us. And after the press conference his parents turned to me and said they don't know where this guy is at. And that is the issue. They don't know where the killer of Trayvon Martin is at. He is unaccounted for and they are really concerned about that because they do worry about him being a flight risk. They worry about if he is ever going to be brought to justice for killing their son.
BALDWIN: You know we hear from Sanford police. They say they do know where George Zimmerman is, even though he is apparently not exactly in contact with anyone else. Do they buy that and are they still fearful that despite the fact that police know where is he, he could still flee?
CRUMP: Well with this sporadic conduct on behalf of George Zimmerman, we think he is a flight risk. We found out today he is not in the state of Florida. The lawyers say they don't think he will leave the country, but again, they haven't met him. As we were telling Roland Martin we are really concerned about this because how does this impact the prosecution going forward? If he is -- charges are brought, is he going to face the charges or is he going to flee?
BALDWIN: Wait Mr. Crump --
CRUMP: It is a real troubling matter.
BALDWIN: Am I hearing you correctly that you are hearing that he is not in Florida? Is that what you just said?
CRUMP: Yes. We heard that he is not in the state of Florida.
BALDWIN: Where are you getting that from?
CRUMP: Well we picked that up from the press conference. They said he -- they know where he is at, but they -- they know where they think he is, but they're not sure.
BALDWIN: They're not sure. Let me bring in Paul Callan. Go ahead.
CALLAN: If he is out of the state of Florida or if there is a danger that he is going to leave the country this would cause the prosecutor to move much more quickly in lodging charges if that's the direction she's going to go in because she has got to go to court, get an arrest warrant and you're going to want to grab him while he is still grabble. So this could be an important factor that prosecutor Angela Corey would be looking at if he's available. MARTIN: And to the audience remember, he has not been arrested, so it's not like they have -- he has to be in contact with authorities. He's not under any kind of watch.
BALDWIN: Not wearing an ankle bracelet, et cetera --
CALLAN: Until a warrant is issued by the court he is free to go wherever he wants.
BALDWIN: Final question to you, sir, Ben Crump, and that is if George Zimmerman, wherever he is, if he is watching tonight what message would Trayvon Martin's parents have for him?
CRUMP: Well the same message they had all along, why did he shoot and kill their son. Their son was unarmed trying to get home and they've always asked that question of George Zimmerman. The only thing they've asked for the police and the state attorney is arrest him so the wheels of justice can start going forward and a judge and a jury will decide this matter. They only want simple justice, nothing more or nothing less, Erin.
BALDWIN: It's Brooke, but thank you Ben Crump. Thank you, Paul, Roland. Gentlemen, thank you and I want to remind everyone Ben Crump and Trayvon Martin's family will be guests on "PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT". That is 9:00 p.m. Eastern Time. Do not miss that.
Meantime, what a day it has been. Rick Santorum, big news there, suspending his presidential campaign, so is Newt Gingrich next? Also House Majority Leader Eric Cantor is in damage control mode today following a story we did on this show. We're OUTFRONT on that one last week. Also a woman lied to the world about being in the World Trade Center on 9/11, all false, and her lies didn't stop there.
BALDWIN: What a day it has been. Huge political news tonight, Rick Santorum suspending his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination -- here he was.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICK SANTORUM (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We made the decision to get into this race at our kitchen table against all the odds and we made a decision over the weekend that while this presidential race for us is over for me and we will suspend our campaign effective today, we are not done fighting.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: CNN has now learned that final decision was actually made last night and what it does is it now clears the way for Mitt Romney pretty much his all but certain candidacy against President Obama come this November -- Romney applauding Santorum's decision tonight. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He will continue to have a major role in the Republican Party and I look forward to his work in helping assure victories for Republicans across the country in November.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: A couple of big questions, one being who gets Santorum's supporters mainly made up of evangelical blue-collar voters? And will he endorse Romney and help him campaign as we look forward to November? Joining me now to talk about the road ahead we have Paul Begala, John Avlon and Reihan Salam. Gentleman, welcome tonight.
Reihan, to you, timing-wise we know you know he was in and out of the hospital with his daughter, Bella. Also you have the primary coming up in his home state. Was this move just to save a little face?
REIHAN SALAM, COLUMNIST, THE DAILY: I think that there is a lot to it. I think this was an exhausting grueling campaign for him. I think it took away -- took him away from his family. And on top of that he had a very, very big mountain to climb in terms of winning Pennsylvania. So I think that all of those things taken together made this a very sensible decision for Rick Santorum and his family.
BALDWIN: So both family and political.
SALAM: Yes, absolutely.
BALDWIN: Do you agree with that? John Avlon we know that Santorum, he called Romney before his announcement. We've also learned that Romney has now asked for this face-to-face meeting and Santorum said yes to that. We don't know exactly when that will happen. But once it does, looking in the tea leaves what do you think will -- what will happen afterward? Are we smelling an endorsement potentially?
JOHN AVLON, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Almost definitely at some point. But it was striking today that Rick Santorum found time to mention the sweater vest that came the sort of symbol of his campaign, but not to mention Mitt Romney by name. But look, I think this was, as Reihan said, this was about saving face and not potentially losing his home state because losing your home state not only is that devastating but that would really hurt him going forward with the party. This way he gets out with a degree of grace.
He says he can represent the conservative wing of the party going forward and in that face-to-face meeting it won't just be a conversation about an endorsement, which almost certainly will come, but probably negotiating for speaking slots at the convention and that sort of thing. But Santorum comes out of this very surprising campaign that he'd run. If you told us six months ago that he would be the last serious candidate standing people wouldn't have believed you, so he's run an incredibly strong campaign and something to be proud of.
BALDWIN: OK, so sweater vest aside and I know some people who will miss that, Paul Begala, so you know John makes a point he did so with grace, but it's also his presence on the trail has been a gift for the Obama administration, right, the way he has pointed out Mitt Romney's weaknesses.
PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Absolutely and it's actually honestly a gift to Mitt Romney. You know President Clinton from whom I worked used to quote Ben Franklin frequently saying we should thank our foes because they point out our flaws. And the biggest flaw that Santorum pointed out in Romney is this inability to appeal to blue-collar working people. The Reagan Democrats who are the key to any Republican majority.
Romney has never been able to reach out to them. And in fact Santorum has given plenty of fodder for the Democrats to use against Romney especially on this issue of releasing his taxes. Here it is the week of April 15th Santorum was killing Romney on this issue and frankly we've got it all on videotape. You're likely to see it.
BALDWIN: But you are saying that was also a gift for Romney? I hear you laughing, John Avlon, but how is that a gift for Romney?
BEGALA: Well Romney now knows what he has got to correct and he still seems unable to do it. He is not a dumb man. Mitt Romney is a brilliant guy and yet he knows he can't get blue-collar votes. Even Rick Santorum you know a guy who lost his own state by 18 points the last time he ran, even he was beating him among blue-collar middle income and lower income Republicans. How do you think Romney is going to do against middle income, lower income independents?
SALAM: Well that was less so in Wisconsin than it had been in earlier primaries and so it certainly seemed as though Mitt Romney was improving his stance among blue-collar Republican voters and I think that you are going to see a general refocusing of the message as we head into general election (INAUDIBLE).
BALDWIN: Let's talk about the message. When you look at the numbers, and I looked in "The Washington Post" this morning, that "Washington Post"/ABC News poll and you see those numbers and yes, President Obama does well when it comes to women but when you look at jobs and the economy it is still sort of neck and neck, the numbers, it was Romney right around 47 percent, Obama at 43. How does Romney, it is a little bit of a lead, Reihan, but not enough.
SALAM: Absolutely and the other issue is that recently Third Way, the centrist Democratic think tank, released a fascinating survey of the voters they refer to as swing independents. And they found that look these voters do favor Obama slightly over Romney, yet here's the deal. They are actually much more responsive to an opportunity oriented economic message than a fairness oriented economic message. And you have the president focusing very tightly on things like the "Buffett Rule".
The idea that the rich aren't paying their fair share rather than an opportunity oriented message. Now it is not necessarily true that Mitt Romney is going to press an opportunity oriented message but if he does, if he managed to figure that out as Paul Begala suggests that he should, suggests that he might learn from Santorum by appealing more to those blue-collar voters then he has a real advantage.
BALDWIN: There is someone out there, John Avlon, who would like to get those voters and that is former Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich. You know he said today he is still staying in. He's going to get those Santorum supporters. You know already sending out an e- mail, hey let me get some money and hoping he's going to get a lot of the supporters form Santorum. But when you look at this recent nationwide poll it actually shows half of Santorum supporters would go to Mitt Romney. Why, why John Avlon is Newt Gingrich staying in this thing?
AVLON: Well, I mean, he is sort of jumping up and down saying I'm still here, I'm still here. I think, you know, Newt Gingrich is playing a bit of poker. He is reading his history books about a brokered convention and hoping that maybe he will get lucky. Maybe there is some opportunity for him to ride this thing to Tampa and maybe things will break his way late in the game.
Look I do think those folks who have been hard core looking for a conservative alternative to Mitt Romney, I think you will see Newt Gingrich's numbers get a slight bump in these state contests going forward because he is the last man standing in effect along with Ron Paul. But I do think effectively the nomination is done today with Rick Santorum dropping out. And that -- Mitt Romney is going to have a lot of time to try to coalesce the support, refocus his message to the general election.
He's got a lot of ground to gain though because in these past four months during this grueling primary fight he has gotten -- he has lost dramatic support among women, among Independent voters. So that is significant and that is the ground game that is going to have to go forward.
BALDWIN: We'll see how that poker game and poker face turns out. You should have seen these two guys snickering in here when you made that comment, John Avlon. John, thank you, Paul, Reihan, thank you all so much. Appreciate it.
BALDWIN: OUTFRONT next the manager of the Florida Marlins is suspended for these controversial comments he's just made. He said how he respects, loves Fidel Castro.
And a violent argument on a New York subway escalates. If you haven't seen the video don't move, an unlikely hero steps in.
BALDWIN: Miami Marlins have been big, big spenders lately. Here's the numbers for you tonight. The team put up 155 million of the $515 million to build this Marlins Park. It has a retractable roof and two salt water fish tanks behind home plate. The team also signed shortstop Jose Reyes to a six-year $106 million contract, but maybe, maybe they should have spent a little bit more money on their domain name. "The Number" tonight, 184,841, that's how many people have visited MiamiMarlins.com at least the last time we checked.
So now we are guessing visitors are trying to get to this site located at Miami.Marlins.MLB.com, but if you just enter MiamiMarlins.com this is what you see a blank site, which states that the domain is privately owned and apparently has been ever since 1997. Come on Marlins spend the cash, buy the site. Speaking of the Marlins their manager Ozzie Guillen is in some trouble today for his controversial comments he recently made. We are going to play some of those comments and his punishment coming up, also ahead, Eric Cantor on the defense after donating to a Super PAC targeting members of his own party.
BALDWIN: We start the second half of our show with stories we care about, where we focus on our own reporting. So, we did the work tonight and we found the OUTFRONT five.
Up first here, George Zimmerman's attorneys say they've lost contact with the client and thus will no longer be representing the man who killed Florida teenager Trayvon Martin. His attorneys are Hal Uhrig and Craig Sonner. Here they are -- announcing this afternoon that they are dropping Zimmerman because they have not heard from him in days.
And his lawyers say Zimmerman called this special prosecutor just today to talk about the case. Angela Corey refused to meet with him without his lawyers. His attorneys also said Zimmerman is no longer in Florida but doesn't say where he is.
Number two tonight, the death of a British businessman in China with links to British spy agency, of Aston Martin luxury car company has officially been ruled a murder. Neil Heywood was found dead in a hotel room in Chongqing in November. But authorities then said he accidentally drank himself to death.
Well, in the months that followed his relationship with high ranking communist party official Bo Xilai came to light, and Britain urged China to take another look at how he died. Well, today, Chinese state media reports Bo Xilai's wife and a family aide have been arrested in connection with Heywood's death and Bo has been stripped of his responsibilities within the communist party.
Number three: three public school employees in Maryland are now millionaires. The self declared three amigos, yes, that's what they've called themselves, three amigos, have come forward, kind of, hiding behind the check there, to claim their winning Mega Millions ticket. Each of the three will get $35 million, that is after taxes.
And by the look of the picture, they want to remain anonymous. But here's what we do know about them. The winners are an elementary school teacher, a special education teacher and an administrative worker. And they all say they are going to keep working. They don't want to retire. That's what they say so far.
There is now just one unclaimed winning ticket out there somewhere in Illinois.
Number four tonight: Best Buy CEO Brian Dunn resigned today, admitted investigation into his personal misconduct. In a statement, here's what the company said, quote, "Certain issues were brought to the board's attention regarding Mr. Dunn's personal conduct unrelated to the company's operations or financial controls, prior to the completion of the investigation, Mr. Dunn chose to resign."
Best Buy has struggled recently, announcing the loss of $1.7 billion during the first quarter of this year. Analysts told OUTFRONT that Best Buy will likely benefit from the new leadership.
And we're counting. It's been 250 days now since the U.S. lost its top credit rating. What are we doing to get it back?
The stock market is not helping. The Dow suffered its worse loss of the year, down 214 points. All three major indexes lost more than 1.5 percent in today's trading.
And now to a story we here have been OUTFRONT on. Sources close to House Majority Eric Cantor say, and I'm quoting, a staff error led to his donation of $25,000 to the super PAC. They're called Campaign for Primary Accountability. That is a controversial group dedicated to unseating incumbent members of Congress, including members of Cantor's own party.
This revelation, yes, it's raising more than a few eyebrows among the GOP and Cantor now is in damage control.
Just this past Friday, OUTFRONT's John Avlon, filling in for Erin Burnett, spoke to the super PAC's founders who praised Cantor and did nothing to tamp down the controversy. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN AVLON, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: You received money from the PAC associated with Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor. You are taking on members of his conference and presumably backing newer Tea Party members against more establishment Republicans. That is definitely taking aside with an ideological and faction fight within the Republican Party.
LEO LINBECK III, CO-FOUNDER, CAMPAIGN FOR PRIMARY ACCOUNTABILITY: We are delighted that the House leadership of the GOP shares our vision of creating real competition for entrenched incumbents. I mean, that's so forward thinking of them. You know, this idea that committee chairs and House leadership ought to actually have to compete for the support of their district. We applaud their foresight.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: They applaud their foresight but I can tell you this -- many House Republicans are certainly not applauding this move.
I want to bring in senior congressional correspondent Dana Bash joining me live there from Washington.
Dana, a staff error? Are the Republicans really buying that one?
DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Look, Eric Cantor has some angry Republicans on his hands, Brooke, first and foremost, because he's a senior member of the Republican leadership picking sides and pitting one House Republican against another.
I talked to one Republican congressman today who told me this is, quote, "dangerous ground." He said this is not what our leadership should be doing, taking out a fellow Republican.
Now, to be fair, some Republicans I talk to say they would give Cantor a pass in this particular case because he is picking sides in a Republican race where he is particularly close to one of them and that is the person who won, Congressman Adam Kinzinger of Illinois.
But the fact that he authorized his money to go to the super PAC also targeting actually more than half a dozen other Republicans is not OK as far as many of his colleagues are concerned, and that's why he has been, as you said, damage control, making calls to many of those members.
BALDWIN: But, Dana, where's what we found. I know that the week before Eric Cantor -- his PAC, made this $25,000 donation, a front paged article about the Campaign for Primary Accountability appeared smack dab on the cover of "The Washington Post". Above the fold, check it out yourself. Got to imagine this is the paper that lands on the House majority leader's front door step, at least on Capitol Hill.
I mean, how could they have not known what this super PAC was up to?
BASH: It's perplexing. I mean, it really is.
But here's what I believe they mean when they say it was a staff error. Look, in politics -- politicians, especially somebody as high ranking as Eric Cantor, is asked by friends and colleagues to do things all the time. And, you know, one House Republican asked him, you know, please give to the super PAC because I am, can you match my donation? He said, sure, I will. He authorized his staff to do it.
It seems that maybe the staff didn't do what they tend to do, is play politicians for themselves. They get these requests and sometimes they say, OK, fine, I'll do it, but their staff puts the kibosh on it. In this particular case, the staff should have seen that the super PAC is also trying to take out some of his rank-and- file Republicans he doesn't want to take out, and they should have not done it, but it happened.
BASH: But it happened, nonetheless.
Dana Bash, thank you. I want to bring in John Avlon.
John Avlon, hat tip for you for being OUTFRONT on this one on Friday. You know, John, on Friday, Eric Cantor's office told you, told OUTFRONT that the money he donated was meant -- for one specific race only, as Dana was alluding to.
Let's take a listen to just part of your interview here.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AVLON: Eric Cantor's office responded and said his PAC did give the $25,000 to your super PAC, your organization, but with the explicit understanding that that money was only supposed to go to support Adam Kinzinger. Is that -- it seems like that is news to you because you said it is one general fund.
LINBECK: It's news to me. I mean, I don't know what their expectation was but I never talked to anyone in their office. I don't know what their expectations were. For us, it came in, it went into our super PAC and we spent it on the activity that was underway.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: And, John, that's very different from what sources close to Cantor are now saying now, which at the tip top are saying this was a staff error. Why are they saying that? Why back track?
AVLON: Well, the back tracking is a bad sign. I mean, blaming something on staff error is the equivalent of saying the dog ate my homework.
Whenever you've got a more detailed explanation initially, which is that, look, yes, we made this donation with full knowledge but it was earmarked for this specific race and now saying, look, we really don't know anything about it, that's a bad sign in the realm of credibility. And it's because it really is making waves.
This particular super PAC targeting incumbents in both parties is notorious on Capitol Hill. So, it's not credible to say they were unaware of it. And so, this is really going to create some problems for Eric Cantor and his conference.
BALDWIN: You know, Dana alluded to this, but I just want to toss the question to you as well. Why would the majority leader in the U.S. House of Representatives ,why would he get involved in a race between two members of his own party?
ALVON: It is a great question. And that is the question a lot of members of the Republican conference are asking right now. Obviously, there is both bad blood against Congressman Manzullo, the incumbent who was targeted, and a loyalty he had committed apparently to support Adam Kinzinger in this redistricting primary that was done.
But what's really creating bad blood surrounding this whole revelation isn't just the donation was made. It wasn't divulged. It wasn't just that when this news was coming out, there wasn't a head's up. It was that instead of just supporting Adam Kinzinger with positive ads in his campaign, that this money ended going to negative ads against an incumbent member of the Republican conference.
And that really will leave a bad taste in people's mouths. That's the kind of thing that confirm a lot of negative stereotypes about Eric Cantor, making his job a little bit more difficult going forward.
BALDWIN: And at a time when Republicans in this election year are calling on some unity, I imagine that has a ripple effect there in Capitol Hill. John Avlon, thank you.
Ahead tonight, a Florida baseball manager punished for comments about Fidel Castro and the woman who wasn't there. Don't miss this. This is an incredible jaw-dropping story about this woman who totally lied about being in the Twin Towers, being a survivor from 9/11.
BALDWIN: All right. The manager of the Miami Marlins, Florida Marlins, unleashing a storm of controversy in the team's new neighborhood of Little Havana, it's where the new ballpark is, after he appeared to praise Fidel Castro in his interview with "TIME" magazine, saying, quote, "I love Fidel Castro. I respect Fidel Castro, you know why? A lot of people have wanted to kill Fidel Castro for the last 60 years, but that bleep is still here."
Those remarks earn Ozzie Guillen a five-game suspension and a long apologetic news conference earlier today where he tried to explain. Here he was.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OZZIE GUILLEN, MARLINS: What I mean in Spanish, when they asked me in Spanish, I wanted to say something, I was thinking in Spanish and I said I cannot believe somebody hurt so many people over the years is still alive.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: Armando Salguero is a columnist at the "Miami Herald".
And, Armando, you're there. Tapping into the outrage I know that I have seen in south Florida and the community there in the last, you know, 24 hours or so. How strong is it and will this mea culpa be enough?
ARMANDO SALGUERO, COLUMNIST, MIAMI HERALD: Well, let me give you some perspective on the outrage. The outrage is akin to someone walking into Vatican City and in the middle of a million Catholics saying, I don't not only believe in God, I love the devil, I respect the devil because the guy has been around for so many years.
BALDWIN: Wow. SALGUERO: That is -- that is the perspective that the Cuban Americans and Cubans and Americans of Cuban dissent have down here, because to them Fidel Castro is the devil incarnate. He is not the benign figure that, you know, passes out (INAUDIBLE) cigars to national leaders around the globe. This is a guy that to them and, in fact, was a terrorist leader, was a guerilla, was a murderer.
And to them was a guy who broke up millions of families, by the way, including my own, and so it frayed nerves. It's a big deal down here and it's a big deal.
BALDWIN: So, Armando, I mean, I think you really did put it in perspective. Given that analogy you just gave, is this five-game suspension enough?
SALGUERO: Well, obviously, he showed a lot of contrition. He not only apologized in one language, he apologized in two languages. I have never seen that in my entire career. He said, "I am sorry, I apologize, I'm embarrassed" at least 52 times during that 46-minute press conference.
You know, I buy it. I think that's going to be enough. We won't know for sure until the people either buy the tickets or don't buy the tickets to Miami Marlins games.
BALDWIN: Let me just -- let's take a little trip down memory lane, because we know Ozzie Guillen is certainly no stranger to controversial comments and I ran to just a couple, taken you back in 2006, he was ordered to take sensitivity training after using a homosexual slur to describe a newspaper columnist.
Two years later, in 2008, he said about Fidel Castro, "He is a bleep dictator and everyone is against him and he still survives, has power. I don't admire philosophy, I admire him." Interesting he said that in 2008.
In 2010, he praised illegal immigrants saying, "There are a lot of people from this country who are lazy. We are not. Prove me wrong. A lot of people want to be on the computer and send e-mails to people. We do the hard work. We're the ones who go out and work in the sun to make this country better."
Just last week, Ozzie Guillen saying, talking about his post-game ritual, "I've got my routine. Game's over, stay in the lobby of the hotel, hotel bar, get drunk and go to sleep."
One more, when the Chicago White Sox won the World Series in '05, he was seen after the game waving a Venezuelan flag, saying "Viva Chavez," in reference, of course, to the president of Venezuela.
How does this current controversy, these most recent words about Fidel Castro, how does that stack up do you think, Armando?
SALGUERO: Ozzie has dropped a lot of bombs. This one is, you know, one of the nuclear explosions I would say. And I would tell you that because he has a history that you just went through, people are wary. People are worried about the next bomb that he drops.
You know, so, again, the contrition, the sincerity, that's all well and good. But I think people are wary of what is going to happen down the road.
BALDWIN: Here is hoping he works well, I guess, with the Florida Marlins and can bring them the series win as he did the White Sox and perhaps other people won't even care I guess what he says. They care about baseball.
Armando, thank you.
Now, let's check in with Anderson Cooper with a look ahead with what you're working on on "A.C. 360".
ANDERSON COOPER, HOST, "A.C. 360": Hey, Brooke.
We got breaking news and exclusive interview ahead. Dramatic news conference today, a strange news conference. The lawyers for George Zimmerman basically quitting. They are no longer representing the man who killed Trayvon Martin. You are going to hear the reasons why on "360". Keeping them honest.
Also tonight, the deadline came and went. But the shelling and the killing in Syria continues, despite the regime's broken promise to pull troops of the besieged cities and the onslaught. I'm going to talk with Senators John McCain and Joe Lieberman who've met with the Syrian opposition, support arming them.
Also, Rick Santorum dropping out of the race. How does that change the run for the White House? Ari Fleischer, Paul Begala weigh in.
Those stories and tonight's "Ridiculist" all at the top of the hour and a lot more, Brooke.
BALDWIN: Looking forward to it, Anderson. Thank you so much.
And now to this -- this is one of the most chilling stories ever to come out of 9/11. Tania Head was just one of 19 people who have been above the point of impact in the South Tower lived to tell about it after being badly burned. Tania witnessed the decapitation of her assistant before coming across a dying man who begged her to deliver his wedding ring to his wife.
Her own survival, she said, was made possible of the thoughts of a beautiful white dress she would be wearing for fiance Dave on their wedding day. Soon after, this woman would learn that Dave, who had been working in the North Tower, didn't make it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TANIA HEAD, 9/11 SURVIVOR: Dave and I met outside the World Trade Center when he stole my cab. So, every year when I go to the site, I bring a New York City cab with me and I put it in the reflection pool so that he knows that I remember.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: Despite that loss, Tania became a beacon of hope. She lobbied to have survivors invited to annual 9/11 commemoration, have them represented in the 9/11 Museum. Even gave Rudy Giuliani, Michael Bloomberg, a tour of Ground Zero.
But Tania you see had a very dark secret. She a wasn't even in the United States on September 11th. It was all a lie.
Robin Fisher and Angelo Guglielmo wrote Tania's extraordinary deception. Their new book is entitled "The Woman Who Wasn't There."
Angelo, who'd been friends with Tania, told me about how they first met.
ANGELO GUGLIELMO, DIRECTOR AND CO-AUTHOR, "THE WOMAN WHO WASN'T THERE": The second we met, she told me her story. I cried.
BALDWIN: You cried?
GUGLIELMO: Yes. I mean, and she only had really like 70 seconds to tell me the story. It was just barely a minute. And, you know, we became friends right after that. Then she asked me to do a documentary based on her group.
BALDWIN: Robin, to you. I mean, Tania really emerged as a well known name within the 9/11 survivors community. She wasn't just a survivor. I mean, she was, what, the president of the survivors network. What else?
ROBIN FISHER, CO-AUTHOR, "THE WOMAN WHO WASN'T THERE": She was. She was everything. She was the ultimate survivor. I mean, she was a widow. She was a victim. She was the leader. She was everything on 9/11.
BALDWIN: When you hear the details of her story and her fiance and the ring that she brought to the man after she got out of the South Tower -- I mean, did you ever stop and question any of the story and her personality? Describe it.
GUGLIELMO: Well, you know, she had a personality that was not unlike a movie star. It was magnetic. She had a magnetism.
She didn't have empirical like physical beauty, but what she did have was this light around her that connected you to her immediately. So she was able to walk into a room and just command presence. All eyes were on her.
And, I mean, we connected to her right away. And so did the press, so did the people in the 9/11 community. It was very hard because as Robin said, you know, she represented a widow and a hero, and almost everything that 9/11 came to represent. BALDWIN: So never at any point in time you said Tania, I'm not so sure about you?
GUGLIELMO: Well, you know, it's a strange thing. You know, she's sitting in front of your camera and you're interviewing her and, you know, she's baring her soul and not for a second did I believe she was anything but an authentic 9/11 survivor.
Her story changed. You know, she was -- she said she had a fiance then a husband. Then it went back to fiance.
BALDWIN: Some holes in the resume?
GUGLIELMO: Sure. Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley, back to Merrill Lynch. And you just said to yourself, well, she was so traumatized that she can't keep her facts straight. And that was common of a lot of survivors. So, you know, you just -- every type of detection you had of her, you overruled because of her trauma.
BALDWIN: You talk about interviewing her for the documentary. And she's telling you stories that you would never think for a second to question that. But you questioned it, who did a little fact checking was "The New York Times".
FISHER: "The New York Times."
BALDWIN: So, this piece comes out. You come to realize that this good friend who I'm sure she bared her soul to you and vice versa, you find out this was all a ruse. Are you in shock? Do you think it's a joke?
GUGLIELMO: Oh, you know, it's hard to believe and it's hard to wrap your head around at first.
You know, you have to keep reminding yourself that she was lying, because it was -- ironically it was the deception that didn't seem real. And then after you sort of come out of that shock, it sort of starts to make sense -- the canceled appointments, the disappearances, the inconsistencies in stories and emotions, the emotional outbreaks.
You start to say, wow. All that mystery that we couldn't figure out is now adding up.
BALDWIN: Did you ever have a chance to see her finally once this all came out and say, who are you and why?
GUGLIELMO: Well, you know, against all odds in a city of 8 million people, I ran into her on the street just days after the tenth anniversary. And the survivors really were still suffering at what she had done. I mean, the shock waves sent through the survivor community for years to come.
GUGLIELMO: And I asked her, how could you come to New York after the tenth anniversary? BALDWIN: How dare you?
GUGLIELMO: Yes. How dare you? And don't you feel a thing for the people that you've hurt? Because it just boggled my mind that there was no contrition, no apology. There was no --
BALDWIN: No apology?
BALDWIN: Not once?
GUGLIELMO: There was no effort to ease their suffering which they were clearly so doing, you know? So, it was incredible.
BALDWIN: Who is she and where is she now?
FISHER: She is -- she's a very wealthy woman from -- her family's very wealthy from Barcelona. She travels all over Europe. She goes from Barcelona. She pops into Manhattan, seems to be living the high life.
I believe at least her therapist told me if she's not scamming someone right now, she will definitely do it again. And she fooled her own therapist. So she's out there.
BALDWIN: And she's not facing any kind of charges because she never profited from any of this. She gave some of her own money?
GUGLIELMO: She gave her own money. She didn't sign any documents. She didn't hurt anyone physically. She did not do anything in the confines of our law that is considered illegal.
BALDWIN: Unreal, right? You can catch the premiere of "The Woman Who Wasn't There," Tuesday, April 17th, at 8:00 Eastern on Investigation Discovery. You can also buy the book as well.
A violent altercation on a New York subway. An unlikely hero emerges who take a bite out of crime.
BALDWIN: Earlier this week, a woman on a New York subway thought a man was following her. So she confronted him which led to this.
(VIDEO CLIP PLAYS)
BALDWIN: Yikes, right? Could have ended worse. But things didn't get too crazy because this happened.
(VIDEO CLIP PLAYS)
BALDWIN: Another passenger eating some chips, steps into the middle, doesn't raise his voice, doesn't get physical, doesn't even break his chip-eating stride. He just stands there, to give the parties involved enough time to cool off.
Not a lot is known about this guy. He's been dubbed the snackman on the Internet. What prompted him to get involved? Why is he eating chips off a popcorn bag? All kinds of questions.
Whatever the answers are, it looks like the city now has a new nonviolent hero. So, thank you, snackman, for teaching us an important lesson. It's always better to have a chip in your mouth than a chip on your shoulder.
That's it for me. I'm Brook Baldwin.
Anderson Cooper starts right now.