CNN CNN


 

Return to Transcripts main page

ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT

Interview with Representative Chris Smith; Pleading for Help; Auto Bailout

Aired May 3, 2012 - 19:00   ET

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


ERIN BURNETT, HOST: OUTFRONT tonight a blind activist trying to flee China calls directly to the U.S. Capitol. The man who answered the phone OUTFRONT tonight.

And new details coming out about the moment just before the encounter between George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin. We have those for you.

And Herman Cain, has he lost his mind? Let's go OUTFRONT.

Well, good evening, everyone. I'm Erin Burnett and we have breaking news tonight, an extraordinary scene on Capitol Hill today. The Chinese activist at the center of the firestorm between the United States and China interrupted a hearing, cried out for help. Chen Guangcheng, the blind Chinese dissident who sought refuge in the American Embassy in Beijing called into an emergency hearing about his case and pleaded through a translator as you can see the call right there happening, asking specifically to speak with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I really fear for my other family members' lives. And they have installed seven video cameras and even with the electric fence.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: Now, all of this comes after a whirlwind day of developments that forced the United States to explain why Chen accused this country of pressuring him to leave the Embassy. Now after initially saying he wanted to stay in China, Chen now says he needs to leave the country for his safety. That put U.S. ambassador to Beijing, Gary Locke, on the defensive.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GARY LOCKE, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO CHINA: This was his decision and he indicated to us what he wanted as conditions before he would leave the Embassy. He had the option of staying in the Embassy for years, if necessary.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BURNETT: Congressman Chris Smith spoke to Chen today. He was overseeing that committee hearing on human rights. He was on the other end of that line and he is OUTFRONT tonight. Good to see you, sir.

REP. CHRIS SMITH (R), NEW JERSEY: Thank you very much, appreciate it.

BURNETT: Yes, obviously we just saw some video of you there as the translator was telling you what Chen was saying. How did that call come through? We were saying it sounded like he asked for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Did he basically go through the State Department switchboard and ended up with you? How did this happen?

SMITH: No, that didn't happen. Actually Pastor Bob Fu (ph) from China aid set up the phone call. I had been trying for days to get in touch with Chen Guangcheng and he actually made the contact and then we put it, obviously, to the microphone so all could hear some of his comments. He is very, very concerned about his welfare. But even more so about his family, his wife, his extended family, his nephew as well as people like Hu Peirong, the woman actually brought him in her car to the Embassy. She is -- has disappeared. She may be under house arrest. Nobody knows for sure.

BURNETT: Right.

SMITH: But she is in a terrible, terrible situation and we're very concerned about her.

BURNETT: What else did he say? Obviously you're talking about we heard some of what he said on the microphone. What else did he say?

SMITH: Well he's also concerned that even though there seemed to be an agreement, and I am very concerned myself that it was never -- or apparently was not written down as to what safeguards he and his family were given and who enforces it. There was a hurry-up effort it seems to me, to get him out of the Embassy. You know, I heard the ambassador say he might stay there for years, but with Hillary Clinton and her entourage coming in, to get this all done, signed, sealed and delivered before this big summit.

BURNETT: Right.

SMITH: My thought is that this should have been done painstakingly slow to ensure that if he wants to come to the United States, if he wants asylum for himself and his family, that we leave no stone unturned in order to do that.

BURNETT: All right, well, thank you very much, Congressman, we appreciate it. And this is something you know I've been hearing from a lot of people, which is the U.S. rushed this through and made some serious mistakes and your diplomats are saying that. Now we spent the day today talking to Chinese dissidents who found refuge in the United States and Canada and spoke firsthand about what it's like to be at the center of this kind of drama.

We also wanted to find out what actually went down at the Embassy when Chen went there. I've been to the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, the new Embassy. It is huge. It's an impressive and a new building. It's our second biggest Embassy after Baghdad and it has the most sophisticated anti-bugging technology in the world. That's part of the reason why they built it. It's only a few years old.

The security firm Lawrence Livermore designed its counter surveillance. Now I couldn't bring my BlackBerry in, take photos, even in a mundane unmarked areas and there really were no exceptions to that rule that we experienced. Now, a person with intimate knowledge of the Embassy today told me in the center of the compound, which is essentially like a college campus, you've got six or seven big buildings, some of them classified, some unclassified, there's essentially a Motel 6 style building. That's where the U.S. Marines who live at the Embassy stay and that is where Chen Guangcheng stayed as well.

And I'm told by sources familiar with U.S. diplomatic relations with China they say that they have never heard of a situation where a Chinese dissident was given refuge in the U.S. Embassy and then released back into the Chinese streets until now. So what will happen to Chen? OUTFRONT spoke to Wei Jingsheng (ph), a Chinese man who was jailed for 17 years for promoting democracy and criticizing the government. Now, the Clinton administration negotiated his release in 1997.

He was talking to our producer Susie Sue (ph) in Mandarin today recalling the jail guard approaching him in his cell saying you've got two choices. Stay in prison here for the rest of your life or leave immediately for the U.S. It was a quick choice he had to make, out of the blue. He chose the latter. He has lived in this country ever since, but he says he longs to go home. Now, he says he's indebted to the United States for his freedom but he is critical of how Chen was treated by the U.S.

This is what he said. We've obviously translated it for you. Quote "I think the U.S. government didn't handle this well. They were clearly in a hurry to come to an agreement." And asked what he thinks Chen's future in China will be he said, quote, "It's unimaginable what will happen to Chen if he stays in China. The Chinese government will find ways to punish him." And diplomatic sources seconded that telling me today that the Chinese government will likely deal with Chen in a very quote "hard-handed way" perhaps sending him to a remote location for house arrest.

I was told, quote, "Every day is an embarrassment for senior Chinese officials right now." Keep in mind they're ready for the biggest change in power in that country since 1949. Saving face is important. The U.S. didn't get this right either, obviously rushing Chen's release ahead of Secretary Clinton's visit and sending a desperate man to what could be a terrible fate.

OUTFRONT tonight Stan Grant in Beijing and Jim Frederick international editor for "TIME" magazine. They have a cover story on this. It's called "The People's Republic of Scandal" and I've got it right here. It's a great read. OK, great to have both of you with us.

Let me start with you, Stan. I know you talked to Gary Locke today, the U.S. ambassador. You also had another chance to speak with Chen. What -- do you get a sense of what's going to happen here or is this going to be in limbo and Chen may just, quote unquote, "disappear"?

STAN GRANT, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I can tell you what is happening right now, Erin, and that is that a man who's in fear of his life, in fear of the safety of his family, is right now in a hospital, surrounded by Chinese guards who are not even letting U.S. officials in to see him. That's his situation. At the same time he's calling into the U.S. congressional hearing. He's speaking to us and saying over and over again get me out of here.

Yesterday when he spoke to us, he appealed directly to President Obama saying please, sir, do everything you can to get me and my family out of this country and to safety in the United States. Now, this is someone who's heard directly from authorities back in his village saying they are waiting there in his house with weapons if his family is in fact sent back there. So this is a very, very desperate man right now and very, very concerned about how this was rushed through in the Embassy. He says he didn't have all the information and he was being urged to leave the Embassy. Now he regrets doing so, Erin.

BURNETT: And Jim, this does seem that this was bungled. I mean is that your sense in your reporting?

JIM FREDERICK, TIME MAGAZINE INTERNATIONAL EDITOR: Oh, yes, this was handled very badly. It was a lose-lose situation in which the United States in an attempt to make sure that this diplomatic meeting concluded on schedule on Thursday. It seems like they made a lot of choices, a lot of quick choices and maybe a lot of bad choices. Chen is in a very bad spot and this could be very bad for the Obama administration.

BURNETT: And do you think the president is going to be forced to end up speaking out on this? I mean whether he wants or doesn't want to, obviously that is a huge diplomatic question for the president of the United States to speak.

FREDERICK: Yes, I don't think he can stay silent on this because this has ballooned into a much larger issue. I think this is going to come back to haunt the administration because I think you know over history, history will judge this as a rush to make sure that something happened, and it turned out it wasn't the right thing.

BURNETT: And Stan, what can you tell us that Chen is talking about? Obviously he's in the hospital you know (INAUDIBLE) senior diplomatic officials have been telling me maybe he'll stay there for a little while, while both sides try to figure out what the heck they're going to do here. But you know we were just hearing from Congressman Smith about the woman who drove him to the Embassy that she's missing. I mean how many people are currently involved in this, perhaps facing repercussions from Chinese authorities right now, from your reporting?

GRANT: This is a really interesting issue, because we actually spoke to Hu Peirong, that's the lady who brought him to Beijing. We interviewed her late last week. About an hour after we spoke to her, that's when she was taken away. She hasn't been heard from since. We spoke to another activist friend of Chen's who actually took him to the U.S. Embassy. Again, a couple of hours later, he was taken away and questioned. Later he was released. There was an incredible image yesterday of a man standing outside the hospital, demonstrating in favor of Chen and in front of television cameras, security there came and dragged him away forcibly.

That tells you something. That tells you that despite the talk of the deal between China and the U.S. here is a man who is holed up in this hospital, surrounded by security who do not even care what the rest of the world sees or thinks. They were paid to lock people up and drag people away with impunity.

BURNETT: Final word to you, Jim. I mean the Bo Xilai story --

FREDERICK: Yes.

BURNETT: -- is obviously a part of this, too. I mean there are serious issues going on in the Chinese government.

FREDERICK: Yes. And as you said they're looking forward to a smooth transfer of power, but these two scandals, Bo Xilai and Chen have knocked the narrative off course, both internally and around the world. People are wondering if the Communist Party actually knows what it's doing or has its act together. And more than anything else, you know the Communist Party is just trying to get through this because they're panicked.

BURNETT: Well, all right, well, thank you very much. It's (INAUDIBLE) amazing moment in history just to watch all of this happening. Thanks very much to both of you.

"OutFront Story 2" is next.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BURNETT: Still OUTFRONT adult sex slaves.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This man is luring (ph) these women through Internet sites. He started prostituting them.

BURNETT: Cain's cocky stance.

(SCREAMING)

BURNETT: All this OUTFRONT when we come back.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BURNETT: Ahead OUTFRONT, new evidence in the Trayvon Martin shooting. We have some new details of what happened in those exact moments when George and Trayvon met and a look inside Herman Cain's head.

All right, our second story OUTFRONT, tonight the FBI pleading for more women to come forward. It's an extraordinary sex trafficking case out of California that authorities are calling tragic.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CATHERINE KRAMER, FBI SPECIAL AGENT: What was so tragic to me is people that are down on their luck, sometimes they turn to the Internet, you know, because they want to find a relationship where they think someone is going to take care of them. And in this particular instance, we find somebody who is, you know has -- or allegedly is intentionally luring them in because he knows that he's going to use them and prostitute them out for his own personal gain.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: Thirty-six-year-old Rashawn Kevin Porter (ph) has been indicted under slavery statutes for sex trafficking and forced labor for getting women to fall in love with him before turning them into prostitutes. Porter (ph) found his victims on websites which include Craigslist and SeekingArrangements.com. You've seen the founder of that on this program before.

He wined and dined them for months at a time and then turned them into prostitutes. Now Miguel Marquez has been following this story for us OUTFRONT. He joins us now. And Miguel, this is pretty incredible, especially these sites that he's used. I know you've talked about five victims coming forward. The FBI says there's more. How many more do you think?

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They believe as many as 12, 13, perhaps 14 women out there that were taken in by this guy. It is absolutely stunning that he was able to take these women for months at a time, sometimes over a year he would groom them and turn them into prostitutes. But the FBI really -- or local police here in California really want to hear from these other women because this trial is set to go -- to start in June -- Erin.

BURNETT: And so Miguel, what -- how -- how exactly -- we were talking a little bit about how he operated and how he worked, but what more have you found about how it goes from wining and dining to turning someone into a prostitute?

MARQUEZ: He worked hard at it. He was -- from all accounts he was a very charismatic man. He would literally put ads on Craigslist or on "Seeking Arrangements" looking for dates essentially. He would lure them in. He would convince them it was love, that it was a monogamous relationship, that he was the only one for them. That they could trust in him.

In some cases it took months. In one case it took a year and a half before he started allowing these women -- or making these women go on nonsexual dates and then it morphed into sexual dates. At one point they were locked into a Motel 6 literally days on end for months at a time turning tricks for as little as $100 for 15 minutes.

BURNETT: All right thanks very much, Miguel. Appreciate it.

And last night Mitt Romney's senior adviser said his candidate has been consistent on his views on the auto bailout, but does it add up -- next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BURNETT: Coming up OUTFRONT, some developing news in the Trayvon Martin case, and the unpredictable Herman Cain, the way I love it, live in living color.

All right, first our third story OUTFRONT, GM reported $1 billion dollars in earnings today for the first quarter of the year. It was a nice profitable quarter in a row. Three years after the government bailed the company out Mitt Romney's position on the bailout is still -- well still being debated. So remember this. Mitt Romney wrote an op-ed titled quote "Let Detroit Go Bankrupt". That was back in 2008.

Now, newspaper editors write the headlines so he did not choose that one but it still haunts him today, because it implied that while he thought everything Barack Obama was doing was wrong. Now if he had a problem with the way his position was characterized in that headline, he didn't say so publicly. But at a debate here on CNN earlier this year, he explained, well frankly using the same words that he used in that op-ed, his point of view.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: My view with regards to the bailout was that whether it was by President Bush or by President Obama, it was the wrong way to go. I said from the very beginning they should go through a managed bankruptcy process, a private bankruptcy process. We have capital markets in bankruptcy. It works in the U.S.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: Now, Mitt Romney's senior adviser Eric Fehrnstrom is saying that President Obama followed Mitt Romney's advice on the bailout. So is that true or is Mitt Romney trying to have it both ways? John Avlon joins us, columnist for "The Daily Beast", Reihan Salam and former speechwriter for President Clinton and Michael Waldman all with us now. So let me just ask this question, Reihan first exactly how we stand here because obviously Mitt Romney when he wrote that op-ed he did use the words managed bankruptcy.

That's what he used in the CNN debate. So now but it sort of sounds to me like hey now that people like the bailout and think it worked, I'm going to say that it was my idea. But when I had this headline saying I hated it when a lot of people didn't like it, I was cool having people think that I thought it was terrible. REIHAN SALAM, COLUMNIST, THE DAILY: Well look this is the problem in politics with anything that requires more than three sentences worth of explanation. He backed a managed bankruptcy process and we saw a managed bankruptcy process. We saw a process, however, that many people think was not managed terribly well, that rewarded some creditors over others --

BURNETT: Right.

SALAM: -- and that rewarded the UAW in a way that was actually pretty inappropriate. So I think that that's the concern. The idea is that if you had a clean managed bankruptcy process, you could have had a company on a sounder footing, but also a company that wouldn't have as huge an advantage over Ford as GM does now. If the taxpayers had been less generous, you might have had a somewhat different outcome. But I think you're absolutely right to say that, look, this is a problem when you have to explain a complex idea in a complex evolving situation, that's always going to be politically difficult.

BURNETT: Right and it's interesting John Avlon, I mean (INAUDIBLE) the same words. These aren't words most Americans are used to but this -- I can boil this down pretty simply. Barack Obama managed the unions in a very different way than Mitt Romney would have managed the unions. This is a union question.

JOHN AVLON, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: It's a union question downstream, but when Mitt Romney wrote that op-ed with the headline "Let Detroit Go Bankrupt" he was placing a bet on a certain argument that was being made at the time --

BURNETT: Right.

AVLON: In the fall of 2008 Bush started with the bailouts, Obama continued, stopping that freefall so they got to a place in managed bankruptcy. There's a clear contrast. He said if these bailouts occur, kiss the American auto industry goodbye and everyone can see that that's far from being what happened. In fact the American auto industry is back. And when all of a sudden Eric Fehrnstrom, who came up with the etch-a-sketch line, all of a sudden says that actually Obama followed Romney's advice, you've got a fundamental problem. Politics is perception and this does not pass the smell test.

BURNETT: That does seem to be the problem. I think a lot of people actually perceive Mitt Romney to basically say let them go under, let all the jobs be gone, which to be honest he did not say. But that nuance is -- it requires a couple of sentences, as Reihan said.

MICHAEL WALDMAN, BRENNAN CENTER FOR JUSTICE, NYU: Although even the experts and the people in the auto industry will say that without the federal money there would have been a liquidation if they had gone bankrupt. But this -- you're right that this is a big problem for him because when a politician is faced with either a position that's unpopular or something they wish they hadn't done, they had (ph) to kind of figure out what to do with it --

BURNETT: Right.

WALDMAN: And so here he says that the auto bailout he opposed he was really for. But on the other hand Obamacare, which really was his idea, he says he was against. It's -- you know it's a challenge politicians faces all the time. FDR was -- gave a speech for a balanced budget when he ran for president the first time. Then he did the new deal. He (INAUDIBLE) -- he said figure out a way to reconcile what I did with that speech from Pittsburgh --

BURNETT: He didn't even live in the world of blogs and all that kind --

(CROSSTALK)

SALAM: Etch-a-sketch Roosevelt --

(CROSSTALK)

WALDMAN: The guy said deny you were in Pittsburgh.

(LAUGHTER)

AVLON: But it does come down to that, right? I mean you know as another statewide Massachusetts elected once said I voted for it before I voted against it. This is the problem that Romney finds himself in and it's compounded by that history of reversals on issues that has dotted (ph) himself (INAUDIBLE) time he was governor and running for president.

BURNETT: One final thing about where the polls are today. It seems -- how much of this is going to come down to it doesn't really matter what we see in the popular vote (INAUDIBLE). It just comes down to the Electoral College --

(CROSSTALK)

BURNETT: (INAUDIBLE)

AVLON: Yes, it's state polls in 12 key swing states and we are still in the third inning of a long ball game, so don't put too much stake in them. But you know they are indicative of the way the trends are going. And so they're worth watching. But everyone keep a sense of perspective. You know I mean just save everyone's suspense, for the next couple of months the headlines are going to be polls are tightening. Because guess what, they're going to because Mitt Romney is going to be (INAUDIBLE) the general.

BURNETT: Yes.

WALDMAN: And some of the states that you might not think would be close or might be strong Romney states are looking at least right now like they're strong for President Obama, such as Virginia where I saw one poll saying he was up by eight points. It's really interesting what's happening in all the different -- in all the different states, which don't necessarily add up to the same tightness of the race that you see in the national polls. BURNETT: You know what; no matter who ends up winning, tighter polls are fun. It's fun to talk about it. It's fun to debate it and we'll all have fun with it. All right, thanks to all three of you, we appreciate it.

"OutFront Story 4" is next.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BURNETT: Still OUTFRONT, bin Laden's last words.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We need to kill President Obama. We need to kill General David Petraeus.

BURNETT: Cain's cocky stance.

(SCREAMS)

BURNETT: All this OUTFRONT in our second half.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BURNETT: Welcome back to the second half of OUTFRONT. We start the second half of our show with stories we care about, where we focus on our own reporting from the front lines and we have breaking news tonight.

The Chinese activist at the center of the firestorm between the U.S. and China interrupted a hearing on Capitol Hill. He called in, a translator was there. He cried out for help. Chen Guangcheng, who is the blind Chinese dissident who sought refuge in the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, called in about his case, pleading, asking specifically to speak with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Congressman Chris Smith was the man on the other end of the line, chairing the committee. He spoke to Chen and then he spoke to us.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. CHRIS SMITH (R-NJ), CHMN., EXECUTIVE COMMISSION ON CHINA: He is very, very concerned about his welfare. But even more so about his family -- his wife, his extended family, his nephew. As well as people like He Peirong, the woman who actually brought him in her car to the embassy. She has disappeared. She may be under house arrest, nobody knows for sure. But she is in terrible, terrible situation and we're very concerned about her.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: Another developing story, the San Diego medical examiner has officially ruled former NFL linebacker Junior Seau's death a suicide. The 43-year-old died yesterday of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest. Seau spent 20 years in the NFL playing for the San Diego Chargers, Dolphins and Patriots. And a top House Republican leaked a resolution today in a move to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt to Congress. House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa accuses Holder of failing to cooperate with the investigation into the controversial Operation Fast and Furious. It was a weapons sting where federal agents allowed Mexican drug cartels to get illegal guns.

At the center of the investigation, weapons tied to the operation were found at the site of a murdered border patrol agent.

Now, our sources on the Hill tell OUTFRONT today that GOP leaders have not made a final decision on whether they will put this to a vote in the House.

One major activist investor did a search into the Google a CEO background and didn't like what they found. It's actually forced Yahoo! to admit it made an error on its CEO bio. The bio said Scott Thompson graduated from Stone Hill College with a bachelor's degree in accounting and computer science. Those are two nice things for the CEO of a major tech company, but the problem is he actually doesn't have a degree in computer science.

According to the investor's research, Stone Hill College didn't even award computer science degrees until four years after Mr. Thompson graduated. We're trying to get to the bottom of whether that was inadvertently or something more serious in terms of the oversight.

Well, it's been 273 days since this country lost its top credit rating. What are we doing to get it back?

We told you earlier in the week that homeownership was at a record low. Maybe that will help people buy because mortgage hit a record low, 3.84 percent, according to Freddie Mac, 3.84 percent refi.

New details tonight in the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon martin.

Now, according to some reporting from the "Orlando Sentinel," George Zimmerman told police that the Florida teen was circling his SUV while he was on the phone with the 911 operator. Now, Zimmerman told investigators that he rolled up his window to avoid a conflict. But what's interesting is we went back to the tapes to listen, and he didn't mention any of this to the 911 dispatcher.

Prosecutors say there are inconsistencies in his story. A volunteer neighborhood watchman also told police that Martin covered his mouth during their fight and the teen reached for his gun while they struggled on the gun.

Defense attorney Mark O'Mara wasn't available to comment to us. The lawyer for Trayvon Martin's family says it just doesn't add up.

Paul Callan is a former prosecutor. Mark NeJame is a criminal defense attorney and they are both OUTFRONT tonight.

Good to see both of you. Paul, I want to start with the 911 call, so we can play. Obviously, that "Orlando Sentinel" as I said, reporting that George Zimmerman said that Trayvon Martin was circling his SUV but here's what he said to the dispatcher.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

GEORGE ZIMMERMAN: These (EXPLETIVE DELETED), they always get away. This guy looks like he's up to no good or he's on drugs or something. Something's wrong with him. Yes, he's coming to check me out. He's got something in his hands. I don't know what his deal is.

DISPATCHER: Are you following him?

ZIMMERMAN: Yes.

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

ZIMMERMAN: OK.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

BURNETT: Now, Paul, I mean, I don't know how much detail comes into these calls. He doesn't use the words circling his SUV. He doesn't talk about, but he says he's coming over to him. Is this an inconsistency between the 911 call and what he's now saying to officials?

PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL CONTRIBUTOR: Well, inconsistencies are the building blocks of the prosecutor's case here --

BURNETT: Right.

CALLAN: -- because there's a charge they use in criminal cases called "falsus in uno", false in one thing, false in everything.

So, the prosecutor is going to say you can't believe the self defense claim because he's lying about what happened at the SUV. Now, is this an inconsistency?

Defense lawyers will say it's not inconsistent. He said he was coming at me, he's checking me out. He doesn't use the word "circle" so it's not an inconsistency.

So, I think O'Mara probably can get around this particular claim.

BURNETT: Mark, what's your sense? Do you think that this is something, as Paul said, maybe seeming inconsistent but the defense attorneys could get around?

MARK NEJAME, CNN LEGAL CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I've been endlessly frustrated by the misinformation that's come out. We've been on this nonstop investigating, talking to a variety of sources. I don't believe that the discovery, which was going to come out next week. We're only five days away, six days away from really all the discovery -- the first wave of discovery coming out. I don't believe that we're going to see that in the discovery. If we do, yes, then it could be argued one way or another. If not, then it's just more misinformation that's being fed by these anonymous sources to the public. All that I've been able to discover so far, that's not what the discovery is going to show that was said.

BURNETT: What will it show then? Or what can you tell us about that?

NEJAME: As I understand it, that there is -- and we've got a minute and 10 seconds that we're all going to have to figure out and figure out what happened in that one minute 10 that still remains cloudy and questionable. What -- as I understand it, there was -- there was -- somehow they got together, there was clearly an altercation, and then sadly there was a fight to the death, because we know already what's come out from the bond.

There was stippling, there was close powder burns, and we know they were back and forth in some sort of engagement. We also know that a defense witness is apparently out there which says Trayvon was on top of Zimmerman. But, again, until we see the discovery, a lot of this is conjecture.

I think that there was clearly an altercation, there was a fight for the death and we need to figure out who started it and then whose voice -- which is to me one of the largest things in this case -- whose voice was crying for help, was it Trayvon or was it Zimmerman? Whose ever voice was crying for help, they were likely not the attacker?

BURNETT: Are we going to be able to figure that out, Paul? Obviously there's been different voice analyses done and we've heard different conclusions. But is this something that will be able to be conclusively proven?

CALLAN: Well, you know, it's interesting because some of the press accounts today said that in one of the statements Zimmerman allegedly made, he said that Trayvon martin had covered his mouth during the struggle, covered Zimmerman's mouth, and yet police are saying that you can clearly hear someone saying "help me, help me" it doesn't sound muffled, so there may be a claim by the police that this indicates that Zimmerman is lying about that.

But I think in the end, we're getting bits and pieces. We don't know how accurate it is. You know, the one thing I'd really like to know --

BURNETT: What?

CALLAN: -- we have Zimmerman in the SUV, Trayvon Martin is approaching him according to his statement. Where is Trayvon Martin's body found ultimately with respect to the SUV? Is it very far away? Which would indicate he had to get out and then follow for an extensive period of time.

I think that would be an important factor that you would look at ultimately. So, you know, but these are a lot of details that we don't have right now and we won't until all the discovery is released.

BURNETT: Right. It's unclear how far away he was found, Mark. I know we were told or at least George Zimmerman has said that Trayvon disappeared, I guess he went looking for him. It's unclear sort of, you know, who -- we're still trying to figure out who was the initial aggressor here.

Still, so many people have the question, Mark, shouldn't this have been something George Zimmerman was charged with right away? Does anything support what actually happened, which was had there not been some sort of hue and cry, we would never in America have heard of this and he would be living a normal life?

NEJAME: Well, the way that is handled in Seminole County, Florida, is that it's the state attorney who ultimately decides whether the Sanford Police Department or any of the other agencies in Seminole County will, in fact, have somebody arrested on a homicide charge. So I think that this becomes -- and this becomes part of the issue, why we need to fill in that one minute 10 gap to really piece this together.

We've worked really hard to do that. I've got a great sense of what I think occurred.

But the reality of it is, is that question respectfully needs to be pointed to the state attorney' office and we need to figure out what was there, because ethically they're not allowed to proceed if they don't believe in good faith they can have probable cause. We need to know what those facts were that made them come to that decision.

CALLAN: And Florida has this strange law, the "Stand Your Ground" law, that puts self defense on a pedestal and says to the police you can't make an arrest unless you can disprove at the time of the arrest the claim of self defense. That doesn't exist in a lot of other places and I think that's why there was no arrest that night in Florida.

BURNETT: All right. Thanks to both. Appreciate it.

Well, Herman Cain, presidential candidate, business executive, and the man behind some strange ads and rabbit murders. Yes. What are you thinking, Herman Cain?

Get ready, you're next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BURNETT: Last night, "The Scream" you see it here, by Edvard Munch, sold for an auction record. You might have heard about it, $119.9 million. Very specific, because obviously that includes the commission. But all in, I mean $119.9.

I just want to put the price tag so you can get a sense. It sort of makes me want to scream. It blows away the previous record of $106.5 set by Picasso's "Nude, Green Leaves and Bust" in 2010. Now, the buyer is officially anonymous of "The Scream," but sources tell me that it is an American.

And even with the rise of the oligarchs from Russia, wealth in the Middle East, Americans still dominate the art market. Not as much as used to, the art news most recent list of top collectors in the world, four are Americans. That's 40 percent. In 2008 it was six, so it's down. But still, the biggest single area.

We're seeing a lot more buyers, frankly, coming from the Middle East. One name on the top 10 is the Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al Thani, he's the emir of Qatar, natural gas mother lode. His wife, you see her here, this woman, Sheikha Mozah Bint Nasser Al-Missned. Now, she's a beautiful woman.

And like many wives in Middle Eastern leaders, she's also very high profile. The glamorous Sheikha Mozah frequently seen at charity events, speaking engagements. They call her the Jackie Kennedy of the Middle East, and you can see that, right?

She's very active in the art world -- which brings me to my number, $250 million. That's how much sources tell me she spent on this, Cezanne's "The Card Players". She literally wrote a check and did the deal. I have a source who was there.

A lot of people don't know who did this, but I am told she was the person with the $250 million, literally there, write the check and hand it over. It is the most expensive piece of art ever sold.

Now, let's check in with Anderson Cooper with a look at what's coming up on "A.C. 360" -- Anderson.

ANDERSON COOPER, HOST, "A.C. 360": Erin, thanks very much.

Yes, we're keep them honest and digging deeper into the numbers and the facts behind the trumped-up notion of the war on women. This MoveOn.org ad claims that House Republicans are forcing a choice between low student loan rates and women's health funding. We're going to speak with the executive director of MoveOn.org, ask him about the facts behind this ad. We're not talking about the general idea of a war on women, just specifically this new ad.

Also ahead on the program, the stunning death of a retired marine. His name is Kenneth Chamberlain Sr. This is video of him being tasered by police. Police later broke down the door, fired nonlethal bean bags and then shot him dead. Today, a grand jury decided not to indict the officer who fired the lethal shot. We'll speak with Kenneth Chamberlain, Jr. about his father's death.

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

BURNETT: All right. Anderson, looking forward to all of that.

And now to our "Outer Circle" -- we reach out to our sources around the world and we begin tonight in Pakistan. A trove of never- before-seen letters by Osama bin Laden give us new insight into his mindset just days before he was killed last May. It's 175 pages of letters that were among the documents found in his Abbottabad compound. They were just declassified today.

Nic Robertson has looked through them and I asked him what they tell us about bin Laden.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Erin, the image created by these documents is of CEO struggling to control his sprawling empire. It's under attack from drone attacks in Pakistan. He's trying to reel in recalcitrant commanders, leaders telling them to stop attacking Muslims or he'll go public with his criticisms.

There are petty jealousies in there, an al Qaeda rising star, Anwar al-Awlaki. Bin Laden disses him by saying he's no good for leadership because he hasn't served the battle front. Also this billionaire son striving to get cash for al Qaeda, prepared to send a senior level commander halfway around the world on a dangerous mission to raise a quarter of a million dollars.

So, this is the image of somebody who was under pressure from inside and outside of his organization, Erin.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: All right. Thanks to Nic Robertson.

And now we go to Greece. There are just three days left until parliamentary elections. Polls show, though, that the opposition to the government's austerity measures is getting support from mainstream parties and could bring extreme fringe parties like the far right, anti-immigrant Golden Dawn into parliament for the first time.

Matthew Chance is in Athens and I asked him what role some of these smaller and more aggressive parties are going to play.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Erin, interesting shifts taking place in Greece. Parties who have traditionally led this country have seen their popularity plummet and those previously considered to be on the lunatic fringe, the neo- Nazis, the communists, are gaining in opinion polls. Now, of course, many of them, as you say, are opposed to the austerity measures implemented by Greece to keep it in the euro.

Now, no one is expecting the extremists in this country to take over, but their rise is having an impact. Firstly, we're seeing mainstream parties taking much tougher positions on things like immigration. And secondly, some of those fringe parties are now likely to get into parliament, so that even if the mainstream can hang on, there may be many more anti-austerity voices in this parliament building behind me with which to contend -- Erin.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: Thanks very much to Matthew Chance. Interesting view of what can happen in bad economic times. Austerity in Greece as, well, put us in a very tough position. You can see real radicals rising.

And that brings us to our fifth story OUTFRONT: Herman Cain. Now, what does he have to do with this? Well, he has a strong position on debt and he is, of course, the former presidential candidate. And before we get to the serious part, I wanted to show you a little of what he's been up to. He's been putting up some eyebrow raising ads, here's a couple.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED KID: This is the average American taxpayer. This is an average American taxpayer feeding big government.

(SCREAMING)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: He's also out with a new book about his famous 9-9-9 plan, here it is and of course, Herman Cain is OUTFRONT today.

Hey, good to see you, Mr. Cain.

HERMAN CAIN (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you, Erin. The last time I saw you it was at a presidential debate. It's good to see you again.

BURNETT: Yes, it was.

All right. Let me ask you, sir, about these videos. Now, obviously, you're trying to use humor or shock to make a point. We showed one there obviously. We also have showed our viewers, before the one, about the stuffed rabbit being shot, the goldfish dying.

Why are you choosing these over-the-top violent ads? What's -- what do you think you're getting out of it?

CAIN: Well, they're not violent -- the gold fish didn't die, the rabbit was a stuffed toy and this is intended to cut stuffed toy. Trust me. It wasn't a real rabbit.

BURNETT: This is an important distinction. Thank you, because I was concerned.

CAIN: Yes. No, I mean, you said earlier I murdered a rabbit. No. It was a toy.

BURNETT: That was when I first did the segment. I did. I just say you murdered a rabbit.

CAIN: Our tax code is 99 years old this year. And the thing about it is we all have been complaining about the tax code for decades, but we have not been able to get Congress and the president to change it. So I am creating a grassroots movement around 9-9- 9because it became so popular when I was a candidate and it is still popular.

And the subtitle is "An Army of Davids." We are going to have to get rid of this insane, complex, sick tax code with the people putting enough pressure on Congress. That's why I have created this series of ads also to cut through the clutter.

BURNETT: All right. And, obviously, I know you believe in 9-9- 9. I wanted to just read you a quote. Larry Summers, obviously, worked for the president, but a very respected economist has said and I quote, "A country that pursues austerity to the point where its economy is driven into a downward spiral does its creditors no favor."

Even though you want to redo the tax plan, do you agree with that statement?

CAIN: I do agree with that statement, but that's two separate problems. One problem is how we raise revenue. The other problem is how we contain spending. That's two separate problems. We have to first get this economy growing at a robust rate and exchanging the tax code -- throwing out the current tax code is the best way to do that and at the same time, address the issue of how we stop this runaway, out of control spending. Two separate problems that I'm addressing with the book "9-9-9," and "Army of Davids," one of the biggest domestic challenges we have.

BURNETT: And I want to ask you in a moment how you're going to be doing this during the election season. But, first, I want to ask you this -- you're passionate about this. You made it your cause.

Will you work with, if he's reelected, President Obama, on this issue? Would you be an emissary, an evangelist for this if he were to say, look, I want an overhaul in tax reform?

CAIN: The answer is absolutely, yes. But he'll have to start with the premise to throw out the current tax code. See, Erin, it doesn't matter who is president. I will work passionately with whoever is the president if they start with that premise. Rearranging the chairs on the deck of the Titanic won't work, we have tried that for decades.

So, if President Obama were come to me today and say that he wanted to adopt 9- 9-9, I would work with him. I'm on a mission to replace the tax code for the good of the American people and for the good of this country.

BURNETT: And I want to ask -- you made a few endorsements since you dropped out. You were -- I was also with you the day, Mr. Cain, when you talked about the American people. I just wanted to play something for you. Here you go.

CAIN: Yes.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CAIN: My unconventional endorsement is the people. We the people of this nation are still in charge. That's who I'm endorsing.

I hereby officially and enthusiastically endorse Newt Gingrich for president of the United States.

I will support whoever the nominee is, and it looks like Mitt Romney is going to be that nominee and we do need to get behind him.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: All right. Now, before you respond, I want to play this about you said about Mitt Romney's tax plan, which it does have a "9" in it, as in 59 points. Here it is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CAIN: The 9-9-9 plan that I have proposed is simple, transparent, efficient, fair, and neutral. My question is to Governor Romney. Can you name all 59 points in your 160-page plan and does it satisfy that criteria of being simple, transparent, efficient, fair, and neutral?

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: All right. He laughed. Are you -- are you for real about him? Are you going to work hard for Mitt Romney? You know, if he endorses the principle of tax reform, but doesn't come out on 9-9- 9, are you still going to be fighting for him?

CAIN: Yes. And the word rotating endorsements is a misnomer. It's an evolving endorsement. And I have said all along I will support whoever gets the Republican nomination. And secondly, the fact that he has not adopted 9-9-9 is started with the premise yet, I'm still going to support him.

We have talked and we have talked to his staff. But, yes, the process is what it is. And when you are in the competition to get the nomination, yes, you go constructively against some of the people that you're working with.

But in the end I will support Mitt Romney, who is the presumptive nominee for the Republican Party.

BURNETT: A quick final here, I just wanted to ask, well, what do you think of this? Let's just -- let's play this so you can hear this.

(VIDEO CLIP PLAYS)

BURNETT: Does the president have what it takes? Have a (INAUDIBLE)

CAIN: Well, he's OK. But, you know, I have been a vocalist most of my life as sort of a vocation. I do it for fun. And that clip that you played was when I first became CEO of Godfathers Pizza, and the Omaha Press Club did that event and asked me to do that song.

And I thoroughly enjoyed it because I do have a sense of humor. And quite frankly, I have a pretty decent voice for singing.

BURNETT: Yes, you do. I think everybody would say that and the president would agree. I think he'd say yours is better than his. But he did a pretty good job there.

CAIN: He did OK. Yes, he did.

BURNETT: Thanks, Mr. Cain. Good to see you.

All right. Still OUTFRONT, Iceland has a secret weapon. E block is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BURNETT: The president and Herman Cain started singing and we got a little heavy. But the Iceland story is so good and so salacious that frankly I'm going to make it short. We're going to save it for tomorrow, along with the president's response to the April jobs numbers, with the Obama campaign, right here live at 7:00.

We'll see you then as always.

But, right now, Anderson Cooper is ready to go.