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Interview With U.S. Ambassador to United Nations Susan Rice; Zimmerman's Attorney Requests New Judge; Secret Service Scandal

Aired April 16, 2012 - 22:00   ET


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

We begin tonight with breaking news. A major new development in the Trayvon Martin case. The attorney for George Zimmerman who's charged with second degree murder in shooting death of Trayvon Martin has filed paperwork to request a new trial judge.

Mark O'Mara is asking the circuit court judge to recuse herself because of a possible conflict of interest. This is where it gets a little complicated. O'Mara became Zimmerman's attorney after being recommended by Mark NeJame, who CNN recently hired as a legal analyst. That's Mark NeJame and we have seen him on our air. He's an Orlando lawyer. He's also the law partner of the judge, Judge Recksiedler's husband.

Their firm turned down the case when Zimmerman asked them to represent him. They referred him no Mark O'Mara who filed the recusal file today. He joins me now.

Mark, thanks for being with us.

Earlier this afternoon, you filed the motion to recuse the judge. Are you confident your request is actually going to be granted?

MARK O'MARA, ATTORNEY FOR GEORGE ZIMMERMAN: Yes, I do. The way the rule is set up is once the presentation is made by verified motion, the court should grant it. She could have an inquiry if she wanted to. I don't think she will. I think she will go ahead and grant it and move it the case on to another judge.

COOPER: Were you surprised she didn't recuse herself? She brought this up the other day. Whether or not there was conflict of interest, someone could argue there is the appearance of a conflict of interest.

O'MARA: Exactly. And there is an opportunity for the judge to do that.

However, also, the rules provide it's the attorneys that present the motion to the judge. If it's reasonably well founded and sworn to, it will be granted. It could be by the judge initially but us doing it through motion is just as well.

COOPER: Also today CNN along with a number of other news organizations petitioned the court to reverse an order sealing court records in Zimmerman's prosecution, an order you requested last week. Why do you feel the records should be sealed?

O'MARA: Well, my initial concern is that I knew there was going to be information flowing into the court file that included witnesses' names, telephone numbers, addresses. It actually had some information about Trayvon Martin in there as well.

My concern is with the publicity this case has gotten so far and with the interest from all sorts of people that there may be concern for some safety to some of those people should addresses be given out.

COOPER: If personal information about witnesses or individuals attached to the case were redacted from the records and the records were released in that form, would that be acceptable to you? Or is this part of wanting to -- because when I talked to you a couple days ago, you said you wanted to kind of dial down the pressure or the focus on this. Is that part of this?

O'MARA: Yes, it is. I mean, it's an overall philosophy of trying to keep the information flow concentrated within the court system. It's much better handled there.

Again if information like this, even a police report with names on it gets out, then my concern is they're going to be spoken to. They're going to be questioned. There's going to be four or five different statements from this one witness, let's say. Then we have to sift through all of that to try to get to what is the truth.

COOPER: How often are you in communication now with George Zimmerman and how is he doing?

O'MARA: Daily basis. At least a couple times a day. And again he's doing well physically. He wants out. He is certainly frightened as to what's going on. He's very concerned with the process. But I think he understands it.

COOPER: You said he's frightened about what's going on?

O'MARA: Well, he's...


COOPER: I'm sorry. Is that the word you used?

O'MARA: Yes. Frightened.

COOPER: OK. In terms of your actual meetings, are they face to face or are they over the telephone?

O'MARA: Face to face and over the telephone. I saw him earlier this afternoon, spoke to him again on the phone. I try to get to see him at least every couple of days, particularly during the time he's in. Hopefully he will be out soon.

COOPER: You have a bond hearing coming up this Friday. What do you think the likelihood is he could actually get out?

O'MARA: Well, a bond scheduler says it's a no bond status until a judge reviews it. When the judge reviews it, he does or she does what we call an author inquiry.

Basically, with a case where you're going to try to keep somebody in pretrial, which I would consider pretrial punishment, because they have not been convicted of anything yet, then the court has to look at it in a case like this decide the proof is evident and the presumption great. Proof, of course, evidence. Evidence, look at Webster's I guess for a good definition of what evident is, but it certainly would seem to be corroborated, unopposed, undeniable.

And then the presumption of guilt has to be great. Our case law has interpreted that standard, the standard to apply in an author inquiry to be greater than beyond a reasonable doubt. So if the judge follows the law, the judge would have to make a determination that the proof of guilt is evident -- I'm sorry -- yes, the proof is evident and the presumption is great.

I'm hoping that the judge is not going to decide that. And we will get him out on Friday. Of course, maybe for the last day or two, I'm going to be able to argue ignorance because I haven't seen the discovery yet. I hope to see some of it before Friday so I can be properly prepared for the hearing and know determine what the state is going to present and maybe rebut it.

COOPER: If he did get out, are you concerned about his safety?

O'MARA: Very concerned about his safety. The concern, of course, is once we get him out, and I believe he deserves to be out. And I need him out for our defense purposes, is we need to keep him safe.

Again, there's been a lot of emotions that have come forward in this case. And some of those emotions are showing themselves in bad ways. And I'm just hopeful that we can get him out, keep him safe, and then give me the time to do my job.

COOPER: Mark O'Mara, appreciate your time. Thank you.

Let's talk about what today's legal filings mean for the trial ahead. Joining me now, criminal defense attorney Mark Geragos and CNN legal analyst and former federal prosecutor Sunny Hostin.

Mark, given the possible conflict of interest, do you think the judge should have recused herself from the case?

MARK GERAGOS, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, I don't know if she should have. She obviously had to disclose it. I think now the paperwork's been filed, I think she will recuse herself.

She's in a no-win situation. If she rules for him, somebody's going to say, well, you know, there's a connection because the husband referred the case over. If she rules against him, they're going to say, well, the husband's firm turned him down. Why be second-guessed? The easier thing here is to just take herself out of the mix.

COOPER: Sunny, you said there's another reason O'Mara might want her out.

SUNNY HOSTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, bottom line is, this is a very new judge. She hasn't presided over a homicide case. She's only been on the bench a little over a year. She's sort of the X-factor. Mark O'Mara doesn't know her. He would know the other three judges.

They have been on the bench for a long time. This is sort of a win/win. This is a boon for him because she just got assigned to the case randomly. Now he gets the chance to probably be in front of judges he's been in front of before. And that's a very good place for an attorney to be.

COOPER: Mark, the sealed court records, does that help one side, the prosecution or the defense, more than the other?

GERAGOS: I always think, frankly, that sealed court records help the defense because generally what you're sealing is the prosecution's records. The defense records are generally in the defense lawyer's file. You don't necessarily, until you file a motion, put in things like your theory and other kinds of witness statements, things like that.

So what you're trying to prevent from getting out there is prosecution evidence. And a lot of times the evidence that is put in by the prosecution into police reports, probable cause, statements, things like that, are stuff that may never reach a courtroom. And in a case like this, that is super sized, you don't want it out there. You don't want us discussing it. You don't want everybody parsing it.

We mentioned this last week when you were interviewing some of the witnesses. You start to get witness statements out there and people start talking about it and things of that nature. That never helps the defense.

COOPER: Do you think they will reverse that order to seal the records?

HOSTIN: I think so. Florida with the sunshine laws is really transparent especially the court system. I think your questions to Mark O'Mara were really so good, Anderson, I wonder sometimes if you don't have a law degree.


COOPER: Oh, stop trying to butter me up.



GERAGOS: Yes, I was going to say the same thing, but I didn't want to suck up to you.


COOPER: OK. All right.

HOSTIN: But the bottom line is they can redact witness names. They can redact a lot of the information that is of great concern. So I would imagine that in looking at the standard, there's no doubt that a lot of this information will be made public but in a redacted form.

COOPER: Mark, explain to people who -- you know, having no legal background, I'm always a little surprised by when a lawyer says I haven't asked my client at this point about what happened that night.

Mark O'Mara says he's waiting for whatever evidence the prosecution has for him to look at to see what he's dealing before he talks to his client about that. Explain why that would be. I mean, my instinct would be instantly, tell me what happened. But why is that not a good idea?

GERAGOS: Tell me everything.


GERAGOS: I tell that to clients all the time when they come in. I say, look, before I start questioning you, before I start grinding you, I want to see what the prosecution has. It's very simple.

It's based on the fact that the prosecution has the burden of proof. It's not a civil case where you're fighting over money and each side's got to tell their story. This is a criminal case. The prosecution's got the burden of proof. I want to know what they have. Before I start grilling the client, I want to see what the prosecution has, and I'm going to learn their case and know their case as well as they do, and then I'm going to go to my client and basically start to cross-examine him basically on what he knows or what he doesn't know.

COOPER: Is there a danger for a defense attorney to hear too much from his client or her client?

GERAGOS: Absolutely. Because let me give you a perfect example. If I start my client asking my questions before I know the discovery, my client then has told me something. I'm locked into that.

At a certain point, I cannot ethically put that client on the stand if the client is going to -- his memory's going to evolve. He's going to remember something he didn't know before. If I suspect that he's not telling the truth, I'm betwixt and between and am conflicted.


GERAGOS: Yes, there's a real problem with that.

COOPER: By not asking your client at this stage of the game you are protecting yourself as well as your client, really.

GERAGOS: Well, I'm protecting the client more than anything else. Protecting myself is the last of my worries. What I want to make sure is I understand the prosecution's case, that I hold them to their duty which is proof beyond a reasonable doubt. And that I'm not making it easier for them.

COOPER: Do you think, Sunny, he will get bond? Do you think he will get out?

HOSTIN: I think so.


COOPER: On Friday? Like this soon?

HOSTIN: If it's on Friday, yes. If you look at the standard, it's pretty clear that the judge -- that the state has to prove that he should be held. And then the judge can still release him if he isn't a flight risk. He isn't because he turned himself in. If he is a danger to the community, that is a tougher question. If he has ties to the community.

I suspect there will be some sort of bond situation here. Depends on whether or not he can meet the requirements, because they should be pretty stringent.

COOPER: Mark, do you agree with that?

GERAGOS: I agree. I think that if you take a look at the law, he should get bail. Whether he gets out is a completely different question. Because I don't think, frankly, he's got the wherewithal or the means to post any kind of significant bail. I mean, pretty much we face this situation all the time in the courts. Somebody gives you bail, but you don't have the wherewithal to bail out.

COOPER: Mark Geragos, appreciate your expertise, Sunny Hostin as well, thanks. Let us know what you think. Follow us. We're on Facebook, Google+, follow me on Twitter tonight @AndersonCooper. I will be tweeting in the hour ahead.

Plenty of buzz online about the people who were supposed to be protecting President Obama during his trip to Colombia, and they're accused of partying with prostitutes. What happens in Cartagena certainly did not stay in Cartagena. The investigation is growing. We have got new developments tonight ahead.


COOPER: "Raw Politics" now. New developments in the Secret Service prostitution scandal. Sources telling John King the investigation now involves 11 Secret Service employees and 10 Defense Department personnel. All of whom were supposed to be protecting President Obama on his trip to Colombia.

All 11 Secret Service members have had their security clearances revoked and they're all under investigation accused of bringing prostitutes back to a hotel that was secured for members of the American delegation. Again, that's 11 Secret Service employees and 10 from the Defense Department. Today an embarrassed chairman of the Joint Chiefs had this to say.


GEN. MARTIN DEMPSEY, JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF CHAIRMAN: We let the boss down. Because nobody's talking about what went on in Colombia other than this incident. So to that extent, we let him down.


COOPER: Joining us now with more late details, chief White House correspondent Jessica Yellin.

What is the latest you're hearing about this incident?

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, the details are a little bit sordid for these guys. It happened two days before the president arrived. According to multiple government officials, the people involved ranged in experience from relative newcomers to nearly 20-year veterans.

We're told they went out in separate groups on Wednesday night. Then one Secret Service agent let a prostitute stay overnight in his room. Then there was a dispute over payment. The hotel called local police. Police filed a report. That report went to the American Embassy. You can see where this goes. The embassy alerted Secret Service headquarters and it all unraveled from there.

COOPER: How big -- it's obviously embarrassing for the Secret Service, totally distracted from the summit in Colombia. But how big a deal is this in terms of potentially compromising presidential security?

YELLIN: You know, the Service maintains the president's security was never compromised because these guys routinely lock up sensitive documents and the president wasn't even in the country yet. But the real question is what if?

I have spoken to many former agents in the last few days. They say one thing they're taught specifically is to avoid prostitutes for fear of possible blackmail even years down the line, when an agent could be promoted into the president's protective detail.

And having personally traveled with the president, I'm most surprised they would bring these women back to a staff hotel where White House officials would be staying in a few days.

COOPER: I want to bring in journalist Ronald Kessler, author of "In the President's Secret Service."

Mr. Kessler,you say this is the biggest scandal ever to hit the Secret Service. How did this happen?

RONALD KESSLER, AUTHOR: Well, since I broke the story, of course it's the biggest.

(LAUGHTER) KESSLER: But it is a symptom of the lax attitude of Secret Service management.

We saw that come out in the fact that the Salahis were able to crash the White House state dinner. In my book "In the President's Secret Service" I reveal dozens of examples of corner cutting by management. Allowing people into events without magnetometer screening, for example. It's just like letting people into an airplane without magnetometer screening. That alone is shocking.

COOPER: You put the responsibility at the Secret Service director, Mark Sullivan? You're a critic of his?


Obviously these people engaged in egregious behavior and did compromise themselves so they could be blackmailed. But I think that when people on the ground see that the boss really doesn't care, is sort of winking and nodding, is lax and is overworking them and is showing favoritism, one example they don't even insist on regular physical fitness testing or regular firearms requalification testing.

Sometimes they will ask agents to fill out their own test scores on these things, which is just dishonest. They are also not keeping up to date with the latest firearms. One example of what goes on is that when Dick Cheney's daughter Mary Cheney was under protection, she would try to get her agents to take her friends to restaurants.

They're not taxi drivers. They refused as they should have. But she threw a fit. Because of this she was able to get her detail leader removed by Secret Service management. So what does that tell the agents on the ground? It tells them if we do our job, we might be removed.

And that's what happened with the Salahis. You had Secret Service uniformed officers who knew that they were not on the guest list and a third also was not on the list, Carlos Allen, a story which I also revealed. And yet they ignored that. Why? Because they were afraid that, gee, if they turned them away, and it turned out they were supposed to be on the list, the management would not back them up.

All this culture filters down and I think led to this really scandalous situation.

COOPER: Jessica, the president has indicated he'd be very angry if these allegations were confirmed. Do you expect he's going to personally have more to say on this? Or is the White House kind of eager to move on?

YELLIN: Eager to move on definitely.

They'd rather focus on their policy agenda obviously and the body language at the White House is for now at least this can be handled by the Secret Service. But let's be honest, this is an election year. The president has to demonstrate leadership. This is the same head of the Secret Service who was in charge when the Salahi scandal happened.

He's been there since 2006. The Service has to handle this quickly and decisively to insulate the White House from any political fallout here if they don't want the president to eventually intervene.

COOPER: Ron Kessler, appreciate you being on. Jessica Yellin, as well, thanks.

Tonight, this is what the cease-fire in Syria looks like. The latest in the Assad regime's broken promises to stop the killing. We will talk with U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, who has no problem called Assad basically a liar. The big question is what's the U.N. and the U.S. going to do about it? That's next.


COOPER: "Keeping Them Honest," one of America's top diplomats using very blunt language tonight about Syria's murderous regime, acknowledging what we have been reporting night after night, said that thousands of Syrian murder victims, which is what they really are, murder victims, won't be forgotten. And their killer won't get away with it.

Tonight I spoke with U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice. She told me the regime there has lied to the world about slaughtering victims. The biggest she says is the dictator himself Bashar al-Assad. Here he is on the left, in Homs, the day he promised to abide by a six-point U.N. plan to pull out tanks and troops, to stop the shelling, to stop the killing.

There on the right that very day, video of his forces pounding other parts of that same city. That day, March 27, 57 Syrians died mostly in Homs, according to opposition figures. The regime then killed hundreds more between then and April 12 when the cease-fire went into effect. "Keeping Them Honest." Today four days into that cease-fire as U.N. monitors arrived in Syria, the opposition is reporting 55 people killed. That's Homs today.

Bombardment continues. U.N. Commission on Syria today reporting it's seriously concerned about reports in Homs and elsewhere of government forces using heavy weaponry against the population.

The video claiming to be from yesterday in Homs. You can hear large explosions, the whine of incoming heavy artillery. You can also hear and see it's a big bombardment with explosions coming just seconds apart. Today's U.N. statement acknowledges violations as well on the part of opposition forces.

In this video, there appears to be an exchange of gunfire going on between sides. However, opposition fighters don't have much more than AK-47s and RPGs, rocket-propelled grenades, the Syrian army that has been Homs and Idlib and the Damascus suburbs, the Syrian army that still has tanks like this one today in Homs.

Assad, remember, promised to pull tanks and troops out. As always, we can't independently verify what you're seeing, when the video was taken, exactly where. But by now, no one seriously doubts it.

The U.N. commission today recognizing what you're seeing is the ugly truth and has been for a long, long time -- quote -- "The commission also hopes that the cease-fire will contribute to putting an end to the gross human rights violations it has been reporting on over the past six months" and that we have been documenting for more than a year now.

However, in all that time, the Assad regime has yet to keep really a single promise. I spoke about all the broken promises tonight with America's ambassador to the U.N., Susan Rice.


COOPER: So, Ambassador Rice, in November last year Syria agreed to an Arab League plan to halt the violence. They kept on killing. March 27 of this year, Assad agreed to this six-point U.N. peace plan. The same day 57 people were killed, according to activists. This past Tuesday when Syria was to pull troops out of urban centers, they say 101 people were killed. On Thursday when a proposed cease- fire was set to take effect, apparently another 77 people were killed. Why should anyone believe at this point anything this regime says?

SUSAN RICE, UNITED STATES AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: There's every reason, Anderson, to be exceedingly skeptical, and the United States certainly is. The Russians and the Chinese who have been protecting Assad in the Security Council for many, many months, however, have in the past couple of weeks stepped up the pressure on Assad. And I think it's as a result of that that he even agreed to the Annan plan and began a cessation of violence, which did hold largely for a couple of days, Thursday and Friday.

He resumed the shelling of Homs on Saturday and has continued and intensified.

So really the onus remains on Assad and those who are protecting him to ensure that he does, in fact, defy his pattern and begin to uphold his commitment.

The U.N. monitors, the first handful of whom have gotten on the ground, are not in the position to enforce anything, nor is that their mandate. Their role is simply to observe and verify a cessation, provided that the parties -- particularly the government -- actually adhere to their commitments, which thus far they don't seem to be.

COOPER: The Syrian government maintains that the cease-fire was broken by, quote, "armed terrorists." And they say the campaign of violence by them has, quote, "hysterically escalated" since the cease- fire was supposed to go into effect this past Thursday. You deal with Syrian representatives all the time. I have had them on this program, and they have said things that are just not true. they have lied. they have said things which are demonstrably untrue time and time again. Do they have any credibility to you? I don't know even if you can say that, whether they think--

RICE: No, they don't. And let's be plain. You're right. They have lied to the international community, lied to their own people. And the biggest fabricator of the facts is Assad himself. His representatives are merely doing his bidding and under probably some not insignificant personal duress.

But no, words, as we have said repeatedly, are meaningless. The actions are what matter, and the actions thus far have continued to disappoint.

COOPER: I don't know if you can answer this question, but what is it like to deal with people who are not telling you the truth on a daily basis and -- I mean, how do you deal with that?

RICE: Well, Anderson, you would not be surprised that in diplomacy and national security matters and foreign affairs, the truth is not always the currency of choice for some of the countries we have to deal with. Fortunately, they are the minority. But they're some of the greatest troublemakers.

But that's why we don't take anybody at simply their word when they are abusers of human rights or states that have used violence against their own people or their neighbors. We have to hold them to their actions, and we have to apply meaningful pressure that has a viable prospect of potentially changing their behavior.

COOPER: At what point does military intervention of some sort become inevitable or a real possibility?

RICE: I don't know at what stage anything becomes inevitable in this business, Anderson. The reality is that these are very, very complicated circumstances. Syria's even much more complicated, for instance, than Libya.

There isn't unity in the region among the Arab countries or the neighbors for any kind of international intervention. They're differing views even among the internal and external opposition. The Security Council, as you know, has been divided with Russia and China opposing sanctions much less military intervention.

And indeed the context on the ground is much different. Whereas in Libya, the opposition controlled a major swath of territory beginning with the major city of Benghazi and were able to push out from there. There's no such degree of unified control on the ground nor is there a degree of a unified military command within the opposition.

So many of these factors are different. Plus the fact that there are many powerful countries in the immediate neighborhood and beyond that are determined to back one side or the other to the hilt, which raises the stakes quite dramatically in terms of consequences for the region.

COOPER: Just finally, one question on North Korea. You spoke today to the U.N. Security Council, saying it strongly condemns North Korea's missile launch attempt. After that failed attempt, Mitt Romney said, and I quote, "Incompetence from the Obama administration has emboldened the North Korean regime and undermined the security of the United States and our allies." How do you respond to that?

RICE: Well, that's just completely wrong. What has happened over the last many years, in the past prior to this administration was North Korea would behave badly, and they were rewarded for their bad behavior with being taken off the terrorist list or food aid or what have you.

This administration has given North Korea nothing. And they won't be getting food aid as a consequence of violating their agreement.

Instead, we've imposed the toughest sanctions to date on North Korea. We just enhanced them today in the Security Council with an agreement that not only strongly condemns the missile launch, but threatens further measures should there, in fact, be any further launches or nuclear test. And indeed today imposed additional sanctions.

So the message that this administration has sent is, again, you will be judged by your actions not your words. There will be no rewards for bad behavior. And if you break commitments, not only will you get nothing, you'll get increasing pressure and international isolation. And that's what we have proved yet again today.

COOPER: Ambassador Rice, I appreciate your time. Thank you.

RICE: Thank you.

COOPER: We're following a number of other stories tonight. Isha is here with a 360 Bulletin -- Isha.

ISHA SESAY, CNNI ANCHOR: Anderson, a trial is underway in Oslo, Norway, today for the man accused of going on a shooting and bombing rampage last summer that killed 77 people. Anders Breivik told the court that he acknowledges what happened, but pleads not guilty, because he was acting in self-defense. The trial's expected to last ten weeks.

In Oklahoma today, pleas of not guilty were entered by a judge for two men charged in a murder spree this month. Jake England and Alvin Watts are accused of going into a predominantly black section of Tulsa and shooting to death three people and wounding two others. They also face hate crimes charges.

Also in Oklahoma, a sixth person has died as a result of injuries sustained in this weekend's series of tornadoes. All of the deaths occurred in Woodward, Oklahoma. Dozens of twisters touched down in ten states across the Midwest and the plains.

The Space Shuttle Discovery has been mounted atop a 747 at the Kennedy Space Center. Tomorrow it will make its final trip. It will be flown to Washington and its new home at the Smithsonian.

And Anderson, check this out. Nature at its most fantastic. This is a fire ball erupting today on the left side of the sun. NASA refers to... COOPER: Wow.

SESAY: I know. NASA refers to it as a giant prominence. That was accompanied by a solar flare. NASA says the eruption was not aimed at us.

COOPER: It's crazy.

SESAY: Is that not the coolest thing you've seen today?

COOPER: That is -- yes. That is probably the coolest thing.

SESAY: I know you don't see a lot of cool things, but that is truly a cool thing.

COOPER: That is amazing. And also the image. Like, did they just happen to be -- are they rolling on that all the time? Did they know it was going to happen?

SESAY: I'll have to ask my people to check that.

COOPER: Please do.

SESAY: But that is magnetic plasma you see there.

COOPER: Well, I knew that. No, I didn't.

SESAY: I know you didn't.

COOPER: That's magnetic plasma? I don't even know what that means. That's really cool.


SESAY: What?

COOPER: The other cool thing today that occurred is congratulations. You have a new program on CNNI that launched.


COOPER: So what time is it on, for folks who have CNNI?

SESAY: Three thirty p.m. Eastern. We launched today. And it was a great start. So thank you so much for making it -- now I'm going to get all emotional, and I'm going to cry. And you're going to ruin my make-up.

COOPER: Well, it's well deserved. Congratulations.

SESAY: Thank you.

COOPER: Speaking of international news, did you cover Pippa Middleton today on your show, Isha?

SESAY: Well, you know, I passed on that one. COOPER: Really?


COOPER: Well, you're very highbrow. We decided to cover it. The sister of the Duchess of Cambridge may be in trouble with the French police, and the royal family -- the person she was with pointed a gun at photographers. It was a big to do as they say. We'll have that story ahead.


COOPER: Pippa Middleton, Prince William's sister-in-law, may be in trouble tonight with the French police and the royal family.

Since her debut at the royal wedding, serving as her sister Kate's maid of honor, in a dress that got rave reviews and attention around the world, Pippa, for the most part, has been a model of good behavior.

The constant attention, though, and the paparazzi have not gone away. They've only increased. And over the weekend in Paris, Pippa Middleton was photographed in a convertible with three male friends. The driver was holding a gun, pointing it at -- seemingly at the photographer.

A lapse in judgment by any measure, but actually, it might be much worse for Pippa Middleton. I talked earlier to international business correspondent Richard Quest.


COOPER: So Richard, Pippa could actually be facing criminal charges and possible jail time for this, right?

RICHARD QUEST, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Oh, no question about it. The allegations are extremely serious. And if you look at the pictures from "The Sun" newspaper, you see quite clearly there, one of the people in the front of the car pointing what's alleged to be a gun. We don't know whether it's real or fake.

But then the French, that wouldn't matter one way or the other. All the others in the car could also be charged with offenses.

Now, depending on the exact nature of the offense they will be charged with, it could be anything from two years to seven years. But that is at the upper end and the extreme end.

And this will all now be decided by the police, which will put the facts before an examining magistrate, who will then decide whether charges should be -- should go forward.

But the important thing is here, besides the folly of what they were up to, the important thing is the anguish and angst that this has raised in France and in Paris, where of course, the country is still reeling from some grotesque serial murders. COOPER: And to the royals, is this a big deal? I mean, have they put out a statement or anything like that?

QUEST: Absolutely not a word, which tells and speaks volumes. They will be working out what to do.

On the one hand, Pippa is not a member of the royal family as such. Her sister is married and is part of the royal family.

So the royal family, Buckingham Palace, will not comment at this stage. Pippa's spokesperson hasn't commented at this stage. Everybody is -- my gut feeling is everybody is waiting and watching to see how this plays out.

COOPER: She's got a lot of attention, obviously, in the United States, Pippa Middleton has, since the wedding. Is she as big a source of interest over there?

QUEST: The picture editor of "The Daily Mail" newspaper is quoted as saying he gets 400 photos a day. Now, unlike the Duchess of Cambridge, who has now got royal security, she -- when she goes somewhere, it's carefully controlled -- she is within the royal bubble. And although she has a lot of attention, she enjoys the protection. Pippa Middleton is on the outside of that.

And it must be -- although she's had this for some years, it must be quite dramatic. She now knows -- she is suffering in some ways the sort of attention that Diana post-divorce had. No security, no protection. Free-for-all for the paparazzi. Open day for anyone that wants to go after her.

In that scenario, this is the sort of thing that happens. Frankly, she hasn't put a foot wrong so far. This is the first. She's probably got a bit of grace as a results of it, but the warning signs are there.

COOPER: Fascinating. Richard Quest, thanks.

It's worthwhile to note that 15 years ago this August, Princess Diana died in a car crash in Paris while being chased by paparazzi. Strictly speaking, Pippa Middleton is not a member of the royal family, as Richard said, but paparazzi are not known for splitting hairs. She's become one of their favorite targets. Gary Tuchman reports.


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At the highly anticipated royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton, all eyes were not only on the bride but on another Middleton: Kate's younger sister, Pippa.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have to say the look of Pippa Middleton, my word.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I know, I know, I know. Drop dead gorgeous.

TUCHMAN: The rave reviews for Pippa Middleton's dress and her figure turned her into an instant celebrity and a paparazzi favorite. The tabloids began calling her "her royal hotness." The photographers stalking her wherever she went.

Shortly after the wedding, personal pictures of the 28-year-old began to leak out to the press, including this photo showing her in a bikini while on vacation in 2006 with her sister and Prince William. A photo of Pippa sunbathing topless on that trip was also made public.

Later photos from a private party showing Pippa dancing in her bra were also leaked.

Everyday tasks for Pippa like walking to work or going to get coffee, also became photo ops for the paparazzi. The photo editor at London's "The Daily Mail" would see 400 a day of Pippa cross his desk.

The fascination with Pippa extends into all area of her life. Her clothes, hats, boyfriends, rumored boyfriends, and sometimes even her lack of boyfriends.

And while she's tried to avoid the paparazzi, she's been gracious in the few times she's actually spoken to a reporter.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Pippa, how are you doing? How's the race been so far?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tiring? Did you prepare for the race?

MIDDLETON: Yes, I did prepare.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How much? How long?

MIDDLETON: Couple of weekends.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. So are you a good skier? From one to ten?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So what time did you plan for?

MIDDLETON: To get around in time.


TUCHMAN: The constant attention began to take its toll. And in January, Pippa threatened to take out an injunction to stop what she called harassment by photographers, saying it was causing her serious distress and anxiety.

But the paparazzi continued to follow her. And this latest incident will certainly mean one more thing. More photographers following a woman who clearly doesn't want that.

Gary Tuchman, CNN, Atlanta.


COOPER: And Isha's back. It seems totally unfair that they're hounding this young woman, and she has no protection -- you know, no protection from the royal family at all.

SESAY: Yes. I know. Indeed. I mean, she's really left at the mercy of the British paparazzi, which is relentless. And as we see, I mean, they're going after her, because they have access to her, unlike her sister. Plus, I think because they don't have the access, it makes Pippa all the more valuable. And really, we're seeing them, you know, approach her and follow her the way they followed Diana. She's in a really uncomfortable spot.

COOPER: And, of course, it's people's fascination with her that fuels the desire for the magazines. It fuels the photographers. So everybody plays a role in this.

SESAY: Yes. And she's good looking. You know, she's good looking. She's, you know, she's got the look. She's got the connections. She's mixing in very high-power circles, exclusive circles. And people want those images. And, you know, paparazzi and scandal and that kind of media is very popular in the U.K. still.

COOPER: You'd think the royal family would give her some protection or something. I mean...

SESAY: You would think. But she is not a royal, Anderson.

COOPER: Well, I know. But she's suffering because -- anyway.

SESAY: I know. I'm totally with you. But protocol is protocol.

COOPER: Oh, right. Right, right, right.

SESAY: Oh, tally-ho.

COOPER: Right, right, right. Bangers and mash.

SESAY: What's bangers and mash?

COOPER: I don't know. The only other thing I could think of, that popped into my head. All right.

SESAY: Good-bye.


Here's a real scandal. Government official spends close to a million dollars in taxpayer money on a lavish conference in Las Vegas, and he gets a big bonus. He faced angry lawmakers on Capitol Hill today. And so did his former boss.


REP. JASON CHAFFETZ (R), ARIZONA: When you see this widespread abuse of money and then you, as the former administrator, said, well, they were entitled to it. That's where there's frustration just steaming out of our ears.


COOPER: Hear more of the testimony when we come back.


SESAY: I'm Isha Sesay with a "360 News & Business Bulletin," starting with a follow-up in that stage collapse that injured and killed dozens last summer at the Indiana State Fair. Sugarland was set to go on.

Jennifer Nettles says she was never asked to delay the show. When asked if she felt responsible for the fate of her fans, she answers, no, saying, quote, "It's not my responsibility or my management's responsibility to evacuate fans in case of danger."

The lawsuit claims Sugarland knew about the approaching weather and could have delayed or cancelled the show.

A heated exchange today at a congressional hearing about a General Services Administration conference in Las Vegas in 2010 that cost $800,000 in taxpayer money. Former GSA head Martha Johnson resigned over the controversy. Today she was grilled about a $9,000 bonus that GSA official Jeff Neeley received after he organizes the Vegas event. At a time there was a freeze on federal pay.

When she was asked if she thought he was entitled to the bonus, the Republican Congressman Jason Chaffetz erupted.


CHAFFETZ: I think that's the fundamental problem that America gets and that government doesn't get. There are a lot of good federal employees who work hard. They're patriotic, and they're frugal with their money.

But when you see this widespread abuse of money, and then you as the former administrator said, "Well, they were entitled to it," that's where there's frustration just steaming out of our ears. It is totally unacceptable.

And for the president of the United States to look the American people in the eye and say, we have a pay freeze in place, while you're going on bonuses or going on trips, it's totally unacceptable.


SESAY: Republicans in the Senate have blocked President Obama's Buffett rule, which set a minimum 30 percent tax on millionaires and billionaires. The Senate vote was 51 to 45, mostly along party lines. In a statement after the vote, President Obama said Senate Republicans once again chose tax breaks for the wealthiest few Americans at the expense of the middle class.

And three men face charges after allegedly stealing a penguin from Sea World in Australia, bragging about it online, and posting pictures it on Facebook. The penguin was found last night, was apparently not hurt and is now back at Sea World -- Anderson.

COOPER: Brace yourself for some serious cuteness. There's a clouded leopard cub sleeping and enjoying a scratch after his feeding. Aww! He was born just over a month ago at the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium in Tacoma, Washington. These kind of leopards are endangered. We surely wish this guy well.

SESAY: He's loving that.


SESAY: Life is good.

COOPER: All right. Coming up, a real heartbreaker for rock music. Somebody stole a bunch of guitars from Tom Petty and his band. "The RidicuList" is next.


COOPER: Time now for "The RidicuList." And tonight we're adding the unknown perpetrator or perpetrators in the Petty theft from the world of rock. Some bonehead stole five guitars from Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. Five guitars, including Petty's vintage 1967 blond Rickenbacher; a 1967 Epiphone; a '65 Gibson S-G. Sounds like I know a lot about guitars. Doesn't it? I don't. The pictures and the descriptions are on the band's Web site.

Anyway, the guitars were stolen from a sound stage in Culver City, California, where the band has been rehearsing for a tour that starts next week.

It's just so wrong, people. You don't steal from Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. You don't steal their guitars. That's like stealing Picasso's paint brushes, Hemingway's typewriter. It's like stealing Kristen Wiig's doll hands from the Lawrence Welk sketches on "SNL." Oh, I love Kristen Wiig.

The point is, artists need their tools. And Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers' tools just happen to be these badass guitars. Exhibit A, the song "I Should Have Known" it from the 2010 album, "Mojo."


COOPER: See. That just wouldn't work without guitars, would it? W

What do the thieves think they're going to do with them anyway? They'll get caught if they try to sell them. Maybe they got the idea from when the band covered The Birds' "So You Want to be a Rock and Roll Star."

TOM PETTY, SINGER (singing): So you want to be a rock and roll star. Do what I say. Just get an electric guitar and learn how to play


COOPER: There was a line, "Get an electric guitar and learn how to play." Perhaps he should have specified, get your own electric guitar.

And P.S., just because you stole their guitars, doesn't mean you're suddenly going to be able to play like Mike Campbell. That's right, Mike Campbell. I know my Heartbreakers.

There's been a lot of fretting over this guitar case. But it also could have been worse. In 1999, Sonic Youth had all their equipment stolen: guitars, amps, drums, everything. Same thing happened to Radiohead in 1995. They had to borrow instruments from Soul Asylum on tour.

Some of these stories do have happy endings. Peter Buck of REM actually got his beloved guitar returned to him after it was stolen in 2008.

And Yo Yo Ma even got his $2.5 million cello back after he forgot it in the trunk of a taxi.

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers offered a $7,500 reward, no questions asked, for information leading to recovery of the guitars. So here's hoping they get them back. Because it's a senseless crime that has literally rocked us to the core.

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