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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
JPMorgan's Massive Loss; Interview with Senator Bob Corker; Iranian Nuke Program; Interview with Senator Dianne Feinstein; Trayvon Martin Case; Romney Leading Obama in New Poll
Aired May 14, 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 next, the losses at JPMorgan, the number getting bigger today. The Dow took a hit and a high level executive lost her job.
And possible new evidence of Iran's suspected nuclear weapons program. Today there's a diagram. We show it to the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Senator Dianne Feinstein OUTFRONT tonight.
And new details just released about the case against George Zimmerman, the man charged with killing Trayvon Martin. Let's go OUTFRONT.
Good evening, everyone and OUTFRONT tonight we have breaking news. The market today dropped about 125 points, thanks to Greece and JPMorgan. Deepening trading losses at the bank today. The total losses for America's biggest bank, at this moment we can tell you could now be $4 billion. Just on Friday we were telling you it was only three billion and you may have seen reports the day before that it was two billion. And JPMorgan is about to face a firing squad here in Washington. At the bank today heads started to roll.
The first out was the woman at the top of the chief investment officer, Ina Drew (ph). She made $30 million in compensation in the past two years. It's unclear at this time how much of that may be clawed back related to recent competition reform. We're also just hours away from a more public showdown. CEO Jamie Dimon will be facing shareholder fire in person at the company's annual meeting in Tampa.
Jamie likes a fight but you can bet that he is not thrilled about the timing of this. There will be a lot of tough questions from shareholders and here in the halls of the Senate there's an investigation in the works. Senator Bob Corker, Republican from Tennessee, is the man who called for the hearings and he's OUTFRONT tonight. And good to see you, Senator.
SEN. BOB CORKER (R-TN), SENATE BANKING COMMITTEE: Good to be with you, Erin.
BURNETT: All right, so what do you want to find out?
CORKER: Well I mean this is an interesting point in time. Rules are being promulgated right now that affect all of these things. And the question is under current laws that have been passed, if they're fully in place, was this in fact a proprietary trade or not, which is something we don't want to see happening in these institutions, or was this really a legitimate hedge that would take place within an institution. We've been getting a lot of, you know, this has evolved.
We had a lot of conversations this weekend with the examiner in charge at the OCC that oversees JPMorgan. And we got one piece of input that's evolved, that sort of walked back away from that and I guess at the end of the day this is very complex. This is certainly no threat whatsoever to JPMorgan as far as it being --
BURNETT: Well it's small relative to their assets.
CORKER: Yes, this is two months worth of earnings to them, but the issue is there are a lot of rules that are being created right now and whenever you have especially something this high profile it's going to affect the outcome --
CORKER: -- of what's actually happening right now in Washington.
BURNETT: But you're saying looking at the top accountants and auditors who are looking at this right now they still are not able to determine whether it was proprietary, i.e., should not be happening under the new rules --
BURNETT: -- or legitimate?
CORKER: And those rules aren't in effect yet.
CORKER: The question is what's really happened here and do we have laws that affect what's been happening. There's some very specific language in the Volcker Rule that really -- that talks about hedging and it talks about aggregate, it talks about unique trades and the fact is nobody yet has been able to determine whether this is something that could stay in place or not.
BURNETT: So -- but JPMorgan itself, I mean is it possible you could do something about the bank? I mean you talk about it being small for that bank, and it is. And some people say, oh, well that's a sign that the system is strong. But then you could look at it and say why is the bank so big. It's 45 percent bigger in terms of assets, 2.3 trillion in assets. That's 15 percent of the U.S. economy, JPMorgan and it's 45 percent bigger now than it was right before the financial crisis, just to be clear.
BURNETT: I mean is that OK?
CORKER: Well I mean that is a whole different issue. And you know there was resolution language that I actually spent a lot of time on myself that you know you create the opportunity to wind -- you have the ability to wind down an institution that fails. But again, that's a whole separate issue --
BURNETT: Right. But you could make the argument it isn't because you could say well if it were smaller, Jamie Dimon would have known what was going on opposed to --
CORKER: (INAUDIBLE) so here's the question. Under Volcker --
CORKER: -- is this something that is legitimate after Volcker is fully implemented? A lot of people are saying yes. Secondly, there are people who say that this couldn't have happened if you had the Glass-Steagall (ph) regime in place.
CORKER: The OCC -- the OCC has categorically said that's not true, this could have still occurred. And if you had -- if you downsize the institutions, this kind of trade could still occur.
CORKER: So I think what we need to do is understand you know how this -- how this occurred. It was all on the banking side, not on the investment bank side. And do we have policies that appropriately deal with this? So this is, again, very unique, very specific, very complex.
CORKER: And we only had one hearing on the Volcker Rule prior to making it law.
BURNETT: Although -- I hear you, but I mean unique and specific, I feel like we hear that every time there's a big trading loss. They are all unique and specific. That's why they keep happening.
CORKER: Yes. No, no, no, look --
BURNETT: That's the problem.
CORKER: I mean and let's think about it. I mean human beings do bone-headed things. In a business like this, things like this are going to occur. We need to make sure we try to regulate properly. But the best antidote to this is to have capital requirements that are sufficient. And as we mentioned earlier, this is a very large institution.
CORKER: The riskiest thing they do is to make a loan. And what we need to ensure is that capital requirements are strong enough. And in this case, obviously, way beyond that.
BURNETT: Now, you're speaking for reform so I don't mean to imply that you're not. But your top contributor was JPMorgan Chase. Individual and PAC (ph) donations, $61,000. You're up for re- election.
BURNETT: Do you feel conflicted? Do you feel that you're more likely to be sympathetic listening to Jamie Dimon because he gives you a lot of money?
CORKER: I mean -- you know my race last time was a national race that was huge. There were people who contributed from all walks of life and the same is true this time. I was the first person who called for a hearing here, so I don't think that's the case at all and I know it's not the case. And, no, I don't feel conflicted at all. Look, I tell these guys when they come in, I just had this same conversation with Jamie Dimon recently and a group of other people here I'm not a friend of banking.
I'm not a foe of banking. What I want to see is that we have capital markets -- that we have capital markets in this country that function appropriately, that we have a financial system that meets the needs of an economy like we have in the U.S. and I just want to see it work in the appropriate way. One of the biggest setbacks we've had to our economy is the crisis in this financial system that sets us back years.
CORKER: So look I just want to make us -- I want to make sure that we have good outcomes here. And what -- and senators are not basing judgments on this or things that they believe to be perceptions, but the reality of what's actually happened in this case and hopefully a hearing will help us do that.
BURNETT: All right, well Senator, thank you very much. Senator Corker of course joining me here in Washington. Now let's check in with John Avlon in New York. John, what are your thoughts? I'm curious just overall about your thoughts about lobbying dollars going from industries to committees that regulate those industries.
JOHN AVLON, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well look the growth of lobbying over the past decade in particular has been a real problem. Many people point to it as a cause for not just the increased spending we've seen but things like the lobbying that has watered down the Volcker Rule. Much of it was pursued by JPMorgan Chase. So lobbyists do have their thumb on the scale and it's a growing problem in Washington. And it's contributed to a lot of the frustration that people feel at home, the sense that Washington isn't working. Lobbyists are an important reason -- part of the reason why.
BURNETT: So do you think, John that we'll be able to get reforms or what's your sense?
AVLON: Well, look, follow the money. That's one of the tougher things to do, but certainly in this specific case calling for a hearing is a step in the right direction. The question is, is it not just about asking regulators what went wrong but bringing members of JPMorgan Chase and of course this is all complicated by the fact that JPMorgan Chase has been the responsible bank and they've been powerfully arguing against regulation, against the Volcker Rule. Well, that argument is going to be a lot tougher to make going forward as we find out this loss isn't two billion as they said last week, but now four billion perhaps or higher. This is a complicated position they find themselves in of their own making.
BURNETT: Yes, absolutely of their own making and as we said completely avoidable as well. John Avlon thank you.
And ahead, Senator Dianne Feinstein, chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, joins me to talk about evidence of a possible weapons test, explosive test for a nuclear weapon in Iran.
And President Obama slamming Mitt Romney for his time at Bain Capital, calling the Republican a job-killing vampire on the same day he well had lunch with a private equity titan to raise money. Tonight Romney fires back.
And hangings and decapitations. We're going to take a look at what could be the biggest threat to this country. It's not in the Middle East. It's across our southern border. We'll be back.
BURNETT: Our second story OUTFRONT, countdown to an Iran showdown. There is new evidence today that Iran is moving forward with a nuclear weapons program, just as talks are getting under way to convince the country to stop its suspected program. Negotiators from the International Atomic Energy Agency today left the Iranian mission in Vienna in silence. Usually you know they'll take the opportunity -- you see the cameras there -- to talk to them to say something. They said nothing.
The IAEA is in the middle of its first talks with Iran in three months. The latest report from the agency, of course you may recall, said there were quote "strong indications" of possible nuclear weapons development. Indications like this picture from The Associated Press in today's "Washington Post". Now let me just explain exactly what you're looking at here because I looked at this and said what is this? Something that could be in my backyard. It's a drawing of what's believed to be a nuclear explosion containment chamber hidden at a secret Iranian military base perhaps near a site called Parshan (ph) that the government in Iran has refused weapons inspectors access to.
Experts say a chamber like this is what you use to test a nuclear weapon. And we talked to them. They confirmed that. Important to say, though, that this picture is not a picture that we have confirmed the authenticity of. There are, though, new signs that the economic sanctions against Iran are working. Take this story on the front page of today's "Washington Post". Quote "Iran unable to sell oil stores it on tankers." Literally they're storing it on tankers, turning off the GPS on the tankers so that -- because it's against maritime law to do so because they don't want anyone to know where the tankers are (INAUDIBLE) they're trying to sail into ports and just find anyone to buy their oil. So earlier today I spoke to Senator Dianne Feinstein. She is a key leader in the Senate on national security issues, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee and I began by asking her what it will take to reach an agreement with Iran.
SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D-CA), SENATE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE CHAIRWOMAN: I think all of us pretty much know what the parameters of an agreement are. And I think we also know the window is closing, that Israel is quite adamant that this is an existential threat, that she will not let Iran achieve a nuclear warhead and that means all kinds of unpredictable military actions.
BURNETT: When you say everyone is on the same page about a deal, I was talking to Prime Minister Netanyahu a couple of weeks ago and he said he would allow no enrichment, none at all, not even the three percent that you would be using if you were using nuclear power for medical use or things like that. That doesn't really seem to be the same page as the United States, though, right? I mean would --
BURNETT: The United States would accept a little bit more, right?
FEINSTEIN: I don't think that's the United States' position. I think its confined enrichment to five percent, limited to the medical isotopes. Move anything above five percent out of the country or secure it --
FEINSTEIN: -- have full transparency and 24/7/365 day-a-year access for the IAEA to all these sites. And then be willing to also talk about other things, which is what the Iranians have wanted to do. I am hopeful. In my view it's the best chance of a solution. Of course this is the P-5 (ph) plus one, so it's a unique bargaining agent, you might say.
BURNETT: When you talk about access, I want to ask you about Israel in a second, Israel issue, but access. I have this picture which I know is -- it looks a little strange. The Associated Press obtained this from a government that is skeptical of Iran's honesty in its nuclear program and they say this is a chamber used for testing explosives for nuclear weapons. We did make some calls today and experts said indeed this would be consistent with that, but we haven't independently verified the source government. Supposedly it's at the Parshan (ph) site though, which is the site the IAEA has not been able to --
BURNETT: -- get access to after repeated requests. How big of a problem is this?
FEINSTEIN: Well, number one, I've never seen that picture. It could be from anywhere so I don't know where it's from, so a comment would be useless. I can say this. The decision as far as our intelligence is concerned is that Iran has not made the decision to enrich to military grade uranium. Now, having said that, there's no comment on whether they have speeded things up so they could get to that position --
FEINSTEIN: So that if a decision was made, it could go more quickly.
FEINSTEIN: So I mean I think that's what's out there. There's one other thing. The sanctions are biting. They're biting deeply. Additional sanctions will go into play with the Central Bank. And so by June or July, the sanctions should be approximately full tilt.
BURNETT: Iran is going to ask for the sanctions to be rolled back. Don't put those really tough sanctions that Europe was going to be putting on this summer, don't do it, because we've made progress. That's what they're going to ask for. Is there any way you think that the United States at least would say, OK, we don't have to put that extra round of sanctions on, or is that something that must go forward to get the final deal done.
FEINSTEIN: Well, this is just my view.
FEINSTEIN: My view is that sanctions should not be lessened until and if there is a final deal concurred in by all.
BURNETT: And that leads me to Israel where you said the U.S. and Israel aren't necessarily on the same page in terms of what level of enrichment to allow. Prime Minister Netanyahu telling me nothing. You're saying the U.S. would allow up to five percent. How is the U.S. and Israel going to bridge that gap? Because if they say zero we say five and they strike, we're going to be involved.
FEINSTEIN: Well, there is a strong difference between the United States and Israel. There also is a strong likelihood that if Israel were to attack, the United States would be drawn into what would become rapidly another war with Iran that could have catastrophic consequences throughout the Middle East. And one of the things that we don't do well is follow through on figuring out if you do this and they do that, then what happens? Do we support Israel? Israel is close to us. Obviously we're going to back up Israel.
FEINSTEIN: Then, is it war? And then what do the rest of the Middle East do?
(END VIDEOTAPE) BURNETT: Is it war, the big question that everyone has to be thinking very much about here in the Senate and Washington and in this country over the next few months.
Next on OUTFRONT prosecutors filing new evidence just this afternoon. (INAUDIBLE) actually crossing right now, regarding the shooting of Trayvon Martin and the case against George Zimmerman. And the president goes after Mitt Romney and his record at Bain Capital. Plus, we're going to go inside the drug wars from Mexico. And amazing statistic, did you know that 90 percent of the cocaine in this country comes from Mexico, and 70 percent of the guns that are used in Mexican drug crime come from right here in the U.S.? We'll be back.
BURNETT: New evidence coming to light tonight in the murder case against George Zimmerman. He of course is the neighborhood watchman who's admitted to shooting Trayvon Martin. Now, the "Orlando Sentinel" reported late this afternoon that the special prosecutor's office filed an eight-page preview of their case with the county clerk. Now, in it nearly two dozen primary witnesses are listed.
There's also some never-before-seen video and more than 50 recorded audio statements that the state plans to use at the trial. Coming OUTFRONT on this story, our legal analyst, Mark Nejame and Mark obviously I know you know a lot about this. Can you tell us who are some of the witnesses and obviously everyone is going to go what, a new video, I feel like we've all seen these videos so many times. What is this new video?
MARK NEJAME, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, we have a lot of things coming out but it's just the beginning. You're going to see a lot more coming out over time. I think there's about 18 police officers from the Sanford Police Department who are on the witness list. There are 67 CDs coming out that will have a lot of information on it. And there's two videos, as I understand it, one from the 7-Eleven and one from the clubhouse. So we're going to be getting a whole bunch of new information.
I'm not sure if some of the most important information is coming out in this first wave though. The autopsy reports I think are going to be extremely relevant. An enhancement of the 911-tapes is extremely relevant. And knowing where everybody was, the proximity of where the shooting occurred, the clubhouse, the car, where he was staying, all those are important pieces that I don't know if those are going to come out in the first wave. I'm anxious to see if they do.
BURNETT: And why would they come out in waves? Why would you wait -- just because literally they don't have it all together or is this standard procedure? I mean how much more do you think there is and when will we get it?
NEJAME: Well, it's entirely possible that they're just not completed -- they have not completed everything yet and they're not going to turn it over until in fact they are. And if I could, you had indicated earlier that all this was information they were planning on using. Not necessarily, in Florida we have very open discovery laws. And if in fact there's something that's favorable or unfavorable, it still needs to be turned over to the defense and then a determination will be made if one side or the other plans on using it and if it's even admissible in court. So there's a very open discovery --
BURNETT: Oh OK.
NEJAME: And everything has to be turned over.
BURNETT: All right I didn't know that and we just found out that Zimmerman's lawyer got the discovery package, you know, late tonight, so presumably he's just going through it, presumably going to try to block all of this, the video for example, something that the American public would want to see. But to block it from going public. Will he succeed?
NEJAME: He'll have an uphill battle, that's for sure. We have very -- as I said, very open not only discovery, but "sunshine" laws in Florida. So he'll have to make an argument that the public's right to know is far outweighed by the public policy of protecting the safety of some of these witnesses because of the possibility of some death threats or injury or harm coming to some of these witnesses, to possibly being harassed and witness tampering. One would imagine that he would try to bring that out to show that some public safety outweighs the public's right to know. It will be an uphill battle.
BURNETT: Yes. Mark, how in the world are they going to find a jury that isn't full of people that have opinions on this case? I mean everyone in this country has an opinion on this case.
NEJAME: Well everybody who's watching CNN has an opinion on the case but that doesn't necessarily mean that everybody is in fact watching it. It's interesting to find that those of us who follow matters such as this, it's water cooler talk, and we all follow this and are interested in it. But there's many people who in fact don't follow these matters, then the challenge becomes are those really people you want to have on a jury who really remains so utterly misinformed, but that's what happens.
BURNETT: All right especially when they live in the area. All right thanks very much to Mark. Appreciate it.
Ahead, 49 mutilated bodies dumped in Mexico, an absolutely horrific act. We're going to talk about that, tell you exactly why it's happening and why it could be the biggest threat to this country.
And the president going negative, attacking Mitt Romney. We'll be back.
ERIN BURNETT, HOST: 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, first, JPMorgan making some changes after taking a massive loss on trades. The chief investment officer, Ina Drew, the first person out. She made more than $30 million in the past two years. She headed the unit that has lost what could be now $4 billion.
Tomorrow, CEO Jamie Dimon will be answering shareholders at the company's annual meeting in Tampa.
Number two, a group representing Palestinian prisoners has reached a deal with Israel to end a hunger strike. That strike began all the way back April 17th. The announcement of the deal sent crowds to the streets of Gaza to celebrate.
Two thousand prisoners were protesting their treatment in Israeli prisons. The deal covers things like when a prisoner can be moved into solitary confinement and will allow family members to visit. There are over 4,500 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails tonight.
Sixteen billion dollars -- well, that's the size of California's deficit. And it's nearly twice as big as Governor Jerry Brown estimated four months ago. If he were running a bank, he'd be facing some problems right now.
But today, he said he wants to cut state payrolls by 5 percent and hike taxes on the wealthy.
I asked the senior senator, Dianne Feinstein, about the crisis and she brought up one specific individual.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D), CALIFORNIA: I was reading about one high- tech executive that because of capital gains was going to leave his citizenship and move to -- or become a citizen of Singapore.
BURNETT: Yes, the Facebook guy.
FEINSTEIN: Yes. Well, I say let him go. I can't think of anything more disloyal to do, candidly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: The man's name is Eduardo Saverin. He's 30 years old and was the founder of Facebook. Reports say he'll save $60 million in taxes by becoming a citizen of Singapore, which has no capital gains tax.
Well, Yahoo!'s CEO is out. Scott Thompson resigned over the weekend after it was revealed he didn't have the computer science degree that he claimed. We took a look through the latest SEC filings and here's what he'll get. No severance but he will get to keep the $7 million he recently collected in cash and stock.
Yahoo! has named Ross Levinsohn the interim CEO, currently the head of global media for Yahoo!
Well, it's been 284 days since the U.S. lost its top credit rating. What are we doing to get it back? I asked (INAUDIBLE) in the air, I'm sitting here in the Senate, where is everybody?
Our fourth story OUTFRONT: one of the biggest threats to this country and it's much closer than a lot of people think. You know, you think of, you know, the Middle East somewhere or you think of China. But, no, it's Mexico.
And investigators are trying today to identify 49 bodies that were found mutilated beyond belief and recognition. Stuffed in plastic bags in a small town of San Juan, yesterday. That's less than 100 miles from the American border. The bodies are 43 men and six women were found headless with no feet and no hands. They are victims of Mexico's Los Zetas drug cartel.
More than 47,000 people -- 47,000 people, just think about that for a minute -- have been killed in Mexico since President Felipe Calderon launched an offensive against drug cartels in 2006. Ninety-nine have been killed in brutal fashion like what I just described in just the past month, as the two biggest cartels, Los Zetas and Sinaloa fight for control of Mexico's border with the United States.
Why do they fight for control of that border? Because the drug wars are continuing. Ninety percent of the cocaine that enters the American country and it comes through Mexico. It's also the main supplier of marijuana and meth in this country.
So the question is what else is getting into the United States that we don't know about?
Jay Ahern is former head of the border protection and now a principal at the Chertoff Group; Hipolito Acosta is a former undercover INS agent and author of "The Shadow Catcher."
Appreciate you both taking the time.
Jay, let me just ask you, it seems like the violence is getting much, much worse. What I just described with the heads and the feet cut off, this is brutality at a level that I think is very hard to imagine, but it appears to be at this point, dare I say common?
JAY AHERN, FORMER HEAD OF U.S. CUSTOMS AND BORDER PROTECTION: Yes, I think when you actually take a look, Erin, the numbers may be closer to 50,000 since December of 2006 when President Calderon really started to take the fight to the cartels. We've seen it start to level a little bit in the last few months. Leveling is really a statement of choice here, that about 1,000 killings per month. But the gravity and the heinousness of the killings this past few days really shows as far as how aggressive and how ruthless these individuals are. Beyond just the beheadings, the cutting off the arms and legs sends a strong signal.
BURNETT: It certainly does.
Polly, how -- is this really about controlling -- who's controlling the drugs going into the United States? I mean, this is still a question of U.S. demand and supply that is not necessarily from Mexico but transiting through Mexico?
HIPOLITO ACOSTA, FORMER UNDERCOVER INS AGENT: Yes to both of your questions.
BURNETT: Polly, sorry, go ahead.
ACOSTA: I think what you have -- I'm sorry. What you have are two cartels that are actually fighting for a very lucrative route, and I think this violence is going to continue. Jay was talking about sending a signal and I think it sends a strong signal to anybody who would oppose the cartels in that particular area.
I think the violence is going to continue during the next few months. We have a presidential election coming up in Mexico and I think some of the cartels are positioning themselves to make sure that they control this particular areas for a number of reasons.
BURNETT: And let me ask you, Jay, about something else. I don't know if everyone remembers but obviously there was a plot that the United States government alleges was put forth by the Iranian government using an Iranian-American in Texas who was hiring a Mexican drug cartel to commit an assassination that would have killed civilians right here in Washington, D.C.
We also, of course action heard from Air Force General Douglas Fraser, who testified on whether there was other terrorist activities going on in Mexico to get into the United States, and here's what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEN. DOUGLAS FRASER, COMMANDER OF U.S. SOUTHERN COMMAND: Those organizations are primarily focused on financial support to organizations back in the Middle East, but they are involved in illicit activity. And so that is the connection that we continue to look for, as we watch in the future, that connection between the illicit activity and the potential pathway into the United States.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Jay, how big of a risk is this, the Hezbollah or other terrorist activities could be working with drug cartels to get into the United States?
AHERN: Well, I think one of the things that's important to recognize, these are criminal organizations and they certainly will diversify what their level of criminality is, whether drugs today, weapons tomorrow or a need to move high-valued targets across the border. Certainly, that was a great piece of work by the federal agencies specifically doing drug investigations and actually uncovered the individual who was contemplating an assassination attempt.
But, clearly, these are criminals, and they're going to do anything they can for a profit going forward. BURNETT: Polly, one thing I find hard to understand here, and especially with all the coverage in this country on the whole Fast and Furious controversy, there are 6,600 licensed gun dealers in the United States within 100 miles of the Mexican border, 70 percent of the guns recovered from Mexican drug activity had originated here in the United States.
We're the ones arming this whole problem, right?
ACOSTA: Well, you know, but let's understand one thing. The guns were going into Mexico way before Fast and Furious occurred, whether we would have had Fast and Furious or not. I think that the -- frankly, the Mexican government needs to stand up and stop blaming the United States for arming them.
They have -- they need to address the issue of the cartel that say they have in Mexico and certainly we work very closely with foreign governments to stop the illegal flow of weapons in any direction. But I think that weapons were long available in Mexico before Fast and Furious. I think that the efforts that our government is doing to stop that flow is commendable because our agents work very hard to stop that flow of weapons into Mexico.
BURNETT: Jay, do you think it's fair to say that the biggest threat to the United States could be from our southern border, whether from drug wars or from other terrorist organizations? You know, I was in Laos a year ago and a Mexican drug dealer had been with someone I was with doing a deal for drugs coming from southeast Asia, so it's certainly more than Colombian cocaine now.
AHERN: Sure it is. But, I think, Erin, let's put a couple of things in perspective. Certainly when you aggregate the amount of cartel deaths, again action 47,000 or 50,000, it's more than any other loss of life anywhere else on the globe so that poses a significant threat.
Let's also focus on some of the facts that occurred the last few years as well. When you take a look at the apprehensions along the Mexican border coming into the United States, last fiscal year was 340,000. That's down 53 percent from 2008, and one-fifth in 2000, when it reached the tied of 1.6 million coming across the border.
So when you actually take a look at the fence being built, the deployment of additional agents, personnel and technology, there's a higher degree of control on the border today. That's not to say that 300,000 is an adequate number to apprehend, we need to do better. But I think the key to continue to make sure we protect the country is to continue the strategy of not only controlling our own border, but Mexico needs to control the borders coming into their country from Central and South America where all of those drugs originate.
BURNETT: All right. Thanks very much to both of you. This is going to be an issue we're going to cover a lot more of on this show.
And coming up, President Obama's brand new attack ad accusing Mitt Romney of killing -- we'll tell you what.
Plus, turmoil in Greece and the domino effect that might hit us right here at home.
BURNETT: Apple and Exxon are in bed together and we're going to explain exactly, well, why this marriage has occurred. That's coming up in just a couple of moments.
But now, our "Outer Circle" where we reach out to sources around the world.
And we begin tonight in Greece. Talks to form a government failed, and that leaves the state of Greece's government and economy in complete and utter chaos. This is crucial for the rest of the world. New elections could happen in June but no one is sure.
And with no government to manage the economy and no one to pay the debt or pay anybody that works for the government, there is a real possibility that Greece leaves the euro. You may say so?
Well, Matthew Chance is in Athens and I asked him what the consequences would be for the rest of Europe and the world if Greece goes vamoose.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Erin, the truth is we're in uncharted waters. One of the main effects immediately it's going to have to Greece is that the country will run out of money. It won't be able to pay its bills, its pensions, its state workers' wages -- none of these things that a country needs to survive will be need to be paid.
It will have to print its own currency, the drachma. That currency is like to drop through the floor when it comes to its valuations against the euro. So, Greece would set itself on a path to a great deal of poverty and economic hard ship.
The other impact Greece crashing out of the euro may have is the impact of contagion. If Greece crashes out of the single currency, what's to stop other debt-laden economies like Ireland, like Spain, like Portugal, like Italy from doing exactly the same thing? Up until now, this big European project of getting all these countries together, these diverse countries together, diverse economies together and bringing them all under the umbrella of a single currency has been something that's really dominated European politics. If that ends, if Greece exits the euro, that whole project comes to an end and it potentially puts the European Union and the cohesion of the European Union under threat.
And so, you can't really overstate the significance of what Greece is deciding right now, which direction it will go in -- Erin.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much to Matthew Chance. Of course, Europe the biggest trading partner for America. So if it falls, major job losses and another deep recession would happen here.
And now, let's check in with Anderson. Anderson is in a Turkish refugee camp near the Syrian border.
Anderson, obviously, you're going to have a special show tonight. Tell us a little bit about it, Anderson.
ANDERSON COOPER, HOST, "A.C. 360": Yes, Erin, we're in one of many refugee camps along the Turkish/Syrian border, now home to 23,000 Syrians -- men, women and children. The reason we came here is because for 14 months, the regime of Bashir al Assad has lied about what's happening in Syria. We came here because for 14 months, the regime of Bashir al Assad has tried to silence the voices of the people who are living in these camps and the people who have had to flee Syria.
Tonight, we want you to hear their voices. We want you to see their faces and hear their stories and hear what they have had to live through for the last 14 months. The children that they have seen arrested by the regime, tortured by the regime, parents who got the mangled bodies of their children return to them in the dead of night. Children who have seen their parents shot to death on the streets of Syria simply for asking for reforms, asking for basic freedom that we all take for granted.
So, tonight, we're going to be telling you their stories and you're going to hear their voices and see their faces to find the truth of what is happening inside Syria -- Erin.
BURNETT: All right, Anderson, very much looking forward to seeing you in just a few moments there.
Our fifth story OUTFRONT, it's the economy finally. Well, maybe. But at least in this ad.
Obama and Romney trading jabs on issue number one. First up, a new Obama ad rolling out in five battleground states which calls the private equity firm that Mitt Romney founded a job killer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, OBAMA CAMPAIGN AD)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They made as much money off it as they could, and they closed it down, they filed for bankruptcy without any concern for the families of the communities.
JACK COBB: It was like a vampire. They came in and sucked the life out of us.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was like watching an old friend bleed to death.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: The Romney camp is not hanging back, rolling out its own video attacking the president's record on debt, announcing plans for a speech on the deficit tomorrow and, I have to say, sending e-mails and finding private phone numbers of members of the media to send or their P.R. people to send their stats on jobs. So, fighting back hard.
CNN contributor David Frum, John Avlon in New York, and Michael Waldman, former head of speechwriting for President Clinton also joins us.
OK, great to have all of you with us.
BURNETT: You said that that's a pretty tough ad.
DAVID FRUM, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: That is a pretty tough ad. But I wonder whether it really counts as a pivot to the economy. What exactly is President Obama proposing to do? I mean, if private equity really is bad, if it does more harm than good, it's free to operate in the Obama administration. President Obama isn't proposing to do anything to restrict private equity.
So, all he is saying is you are a bad man. He is not offering an economic critique. And he's not offering an economic alternative.
BURNETT: OK. Do you buy that spin, Michael?
MICHAEL WALDMAN, BRENNAN CENTER FOR JUSTICE, NYU: Well, I think that part of this is in a sense kind of a brush-back pitch. Romney is going to say I've run a big company, I have a successful record and so I can make the critique against President Obama and his record. And this is saying, you know, when one thing when Governor Romney talks, he talks about success and we ought not penalize success.
And to a lot of people the way he says it sounds a little smug. I think there's a real unease that people have apart from the specifics of Bain, let alone the ad, an unease with the kind of the financialization of the economy that leads to manufacturing firms being hollowed out and that sort of thing.
So I think, look, it's certainly not subtle and it's not unexpected.
BURNETT: Not subtle and not unexpected. But John Avlon, certainly something the Romney campaign is afraid about.
Let me just go back to emphasizing the point they literally called members of the media on their private cell phones and got their numbers to try to make the case for how Bain Capital and private equity creates jobs. So they're afraid.
JOHN AVLON, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Yes. Well, look, I mean, this attack left a mark back in the Republican primaries. Remember, you had Rick Perry saying this isn't venture capitalism, this is vulture capitalism.
But I think, you know, this is not even an economic ad. This is an attempt by the Obama camp to draw an early contrast to define the candidate further as a person. It is a personal attack, a personal characterization about values underlying the economy, rather than anything aiming to provide a prescription for how to solve this problem. BURNETT: Speaking of how the president wants to be seen. So, today, he gave the commencement address at Barnard College. And I watched it, and I watched the introduction to him. It's very laudatory. This is a women's college.
So, David, we know he's trying to build a case to get women's votes. But at best it split. CBS poll came out today, Mitt Romney is leading among women 46 to 44 percent. I want to emphasize that's within the margin of error, but still.
FRUM: You know, it's kind of a screwy poll, I have to say. Among other things, one of the questions it asks, are you less likely to vote for the president because of his stance on same-sex marriage.
Well, they have 43 percent of Americans saying I'm less likely, even though Republicans disapprove of the president 90-10. So, they've gone from saying, I will absolutely never vote for the president, too. I will double absolutely never vote for the president.
I don't know how meaningful that is. I wonder the gender gap is usually about 10 points. So if it's shrunk to two, that is true. That would be colossal news. It's also possible the polls make mistakes.
BURNETT: Well, and we have many polls coming out everyday.
John, what's your case?
AVLON: I do get the sense, as David does, that this is a bit of an outlier. That said, it could be on the leading ledge of the other shoe dropping with the regard to the political consequences of the president's decision to back gay marriage. We're seeing troubling gaps, not just among independent voters, but also self-identified centrists.
Those trends should make the Obama camp very nervous as they look to future polls.
BURNETT: And one thing that could make you very nervous, Michael Waldman, is what came out of this same poll in terms of independents. Mitt Romney now leads independents, according to the CBS poll, by 43 percent to 36 percent. That's well -- that's no margin of error.
WALDMAN: Well, again, if the numbers for women or the numbers for independents on election day are on this poll, then it's president- elect Romney. But it is a bit of an outlier. The one bit of good news for President Obama in that poll, interestingly, was that independents and women and young people were more likely to be supportive of the president's stance on same-sex marriage than other voters.
You never know entirely -- it's true. This could play out in a bad way for him or in a good way. Remember during the 1960 campaign -- we all read about, I should stress, wasn't actually playing attention then. We read about John F. Kennedy's outreach to Martin Luther King's family and the kind of surprising impact that that had. These social issues are not as straight and linear and easy to predict as sometimes the economic indicators are. So this will have ripples. But we don't know in which direction the ripples will go.
BURNETT: All right. Thanks very much to all three of you. We appreciate it.
Ahead, Apple and Exxon sitting in a tree K-I-S-S-I-N-G. Who does that upset more? Apple people or the Exxon people? But they are. And we'll tell you why, next.
BURNETT: So today while we were looking at the market selloff I checked out the two biggest companies in America. It used to be for years that there was one company and everybody else. And that one company was ExxonMobil. But now ExxonMobil, a company that many people love to hate, is a distant second.
One of the nation's most prestigious journalist has just written a book on Exxon called, "Private Empire: ExxonMobil and American Power." It talks about the Valdez spill and deals with corrupt governments.
I spoke to the book's author Steve Coll about what we as Americans should like about Exxon.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEVE COLL, AUTHOR, "PRIVATE EMPIRE": I do think they bring out the rule of law wherever they go. They want a world that is stable and safe for oil and gas drilling. One of the ways they promote that is by evangelizing about the importance of the rule of law. And they enforce a universal system of contract.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: All right. So those are pretty good things -- probably not good enough.
Brings me to a company that everybody loves to love, Apple. Nine months ago, it was the second biggest company in America. It is now number one, and by a huge margin.
Measured by market cap, Apple is more than 1/3 bigger than Exxon, worth more than half a trillion dollars, half a trillion dollars. Look at the iPad in your hand, half a trillion dollars.
With the surge has come scrutiny of keeping money off shore to avoid U.S. taxes, of offshoring too many jobs, of using materials like, which is sometimes mind by children. Apple said it's working to address some of these things. And it is a company seen as the best of America to children around the world.
But you know what's interesting? I asked Steve Coll about whether Apple and Exxon had anything in common. He said absolutely. And let me list to you what he said. They're both closed systems. Neither of them like to be written about. They don't have an open door policy for the press. And they have a culture that's strong but set directly from the top.
I thought he might have laughed. But it seems there's a lot alike about Exxon and Apple.
So, here's to being proud that American companies are the leaders in their fields and they hope to continue to become better companies not just bigger ones.
Well, tomorrow, I'm spending the day here in Washington at the 2012 fiscal summit. It's an issue that will define the power and greatness of our country. This year, the Bush cuts expire, the $1.2 trillion in super cut takes effect. The debt ceiling needs to be raised. These are just a few of the things that could send like lemmings off a clief.
Former President Bill Clinton, Treasury Secretary, Alan Simpson, Congressman Paul Ryan, and speaker of the House, John Boehner, are all going to be together. You'll see Speaker Boehner tomorrow at 7:00 p.m., because I'll be with them. We've been looking very much forward to that.
Thanks for watching, look forward to seeing you again live from Washington tomorrow.
"A.C.360" starts now.