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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Jesse Jackson Jr. Battling Mood Disorder; Fast and Furious Indictments
Aired July 11, 2012 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone. It's 10:00 here on the East Coast.
We have got breaking news about congressman Jesse Jackson Jr., who hasn't been seen in weeks. There is word tonight after more than a month of utter silence about Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr.'s medical condition. There's been a lot of rumors as well as reporting that's just flat-out wrong about what's been going on with the congressman.
Well, tonight, his doctor says he's being treated for what's described as a mood disorder. Our Kate Bolduan is working her sources. She's going to join us shortly. We're going to try to get to the bottom of this. It's very unusual obviously for a sitting member of Congress to disappear for weeks without any explanation.
But before we get to that, we have a 360 exclusive.
Now, for months, as you know, we have been covering the investigation into the Fast and Furious gunrunning operation. Tonight, the mother and cousin of slain Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry, the man you see right there, who was killed in connection with the gunrunning operation, they are speaking out on this program, speaking out for the first time since the indictments were unsealed on Monday charging five people in the shoot-out that resulted in the death of Agent Terry, the shoot-out which happened in December of 2010.
Now, two guns were found at the scene of Terry's murder, guns that months earlier, the U.S. government allegedly knew and allowed to be bought by known criminals. Four of the five men charged in Agent Terry's murder are still at large, presumably in Mexico. We have pictures of just three of them.
Federal authorities are offering up to $1 million for information leading to their arrest. Again, Brian Terry's mother and cousin joining us exclusively in just a moment.
But first, though, "Keeping Them Honest," there's question tonight about why the Justice Department waited eight months to go public with the charges.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. DARRELL ISSA (R), CALIFORNIA: I applaud what they're doing, but I condemn the timing. It's very clear the timing has everything to do with the House of Representatives holding Eric Holder in contempt.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Congressman Issa went on to call Monday's announcement another example "of using politics over good policy."
"Keeping Them Honest," we asked senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin, a former federal prosecutor himself, about the timing of this. He said an eight-month gap between indictment and press conference is unusual, but Jeff said there may be good reasons to keep indictments sealed that long, such as the one laid out by the U.S. attorney who's handling the case.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LAURA DUFFY, U.S. ATTORNEY: When we are conducting covert operations, it benefits us to have the names of the defendants that we are looking for sealed and not available to the public.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: So were there good law enforcement reasons to keep these indictments sealed for eight months? Possibly. Was there also a political or public relations component to Monday's announcement? Also very possible.
We have no clear answer to Chairman Issa's allegation tonight, nor for this allegation leveled by Issa and Iowa Republican Senator Charles Grassley. They say the ATF has now put these two Fast and Furious whistle-blowers, Special Agents John Dodson and Pete Forcelli, under the supervision of a boss who allegedly threatened to take them down.
In a letter to the Justice Department's inspector general, Issa and Grassley make the case that Dodson and Forcelli's supervisor, a man named Scot Thomasson, had it in for the pair. "He stated we need to get whatever dirt we can on these guys, the whistle-blowers, and take them down."
The letter also cites another incident in which Thomasson allegedly said "ATF needs to F. these guys."
With us now are Brian Terry's mom, Josephine, and his cousin, Robert Heyer.
Appreciate both of you being on with us.
Josephine, first of all, our condolences for the loss of your son. I can't imagine what this has been like, what these last two years frankly have been like, more than two years now.
I wanted first of all to get your reaction to the recent indictments the U.S. attorney announced in San Diego.
JOSEPHINE TERRY, MOTHER OF BRIAN TERRY: I think it's a good thing. And I'm pleased the way everything is going and I think Laura Duffy and her team are really doing an excellent job. And I think something good is going to come out of this.
COOPER: Robert, has anyone from the Department of Justice given you an indication as to why the indictment is just now being unsealed?
ROBERT HEYER, COUSIN OF BRIAN TERRY: Well, if you mean the Department of Justice, we talked with Laura Duffy and her team of prosecutors. We don't talk much with the Department of Justice in Washington.
And we have been consulted by U.S. attorney Laura Duffy and her team of prosecutors over the past year. They even flew to Detroit to brief Brian's parents, Josephine and Kent Sr., on the status of the case. As we understand it, this investigation has been ongoing with the primary goal of apprehending these four fugitives, and that is the reason that it has been delayed in being announced.
COOPER: Josephine, as you know, Congressman Issa has been investigating all of this for some 18 months in his committee. We have talked to him on this show a number of times.
There's been a lot of political back and forth over Fast and Furious, a lot of allegations from the left and the right. Are you following that investigation very closely? And do you worry that people are playing politics at all with this?
TERRY: I think that the death of my son is being saddened by -- from politics to racism. And that's not what it's all about. It's about getting justice for my son and nothing else.
COOPER: Josephine, what do you want people to know about your son?
TERRY: Brian was just an all-American kid growing up.
He was fun to be around. He was a very positive person. He always liked to be around positive people. He had friends that are true, true friends and are still true friends now. And he was just a person that he always wanted to make a difference. And he used to always tell me he wanted to make a difference. And I think all this coming out in the open with the Fast and Furious, I think he is making a difference.
Robert, how soon did you, the family, start to understand what had gone on, the backstory of how these weapons ended up in the shoot- out? When did you start to be informed about this? Because it sounds like a lot of people knew about it maybe before your family knew about it.
HEYER: Well, that's exactly the case, Anderson.
You know, through leaked e-mails, through the whistle-blowers. The family did not know that the weapons found at the murder scene were tied into an ATF gun trafficking investigation which eventually became known as Operation Fast and Furious until two or three months after Brian's death.
COOPER: Wow, two or three months.
HEYER: That's correct. Even then, it wasn't a government official that gave us that information. It was the whistle-blowers going to the media and the reporters presenting this information, and then the congressional investigators looking into it and providing information to the family.
And that was a very disappointing aspect. And no one has ever apologized to the family for that or ever explained why that was the case.
COOPER: Josephine, I mean, losing a son is the worst possible thing for a mom, for a parent. To hear that there was this whole other aspect to it, the guns involved that were supposed to have been tracked and to have not been told that for months, what went through your mind when you heard that?
TERRY: I couldn't believe it. I was devastated.
I just thought it was something that happened. And when all of this came out in the public, I was in awe. I just couldn't believe that this had happened.
COOPER: For you, Josephine, what's the most important thing now moving forward to happen in terms of the legal aspects of this? I mean, you want justice obviously for your son.
TERRY: Yes, I do. That's about the most important thing. I want answers and I want to know why and I don't want it to happen to anybody else's son.
COOPER: Robert, are you satisfied with the way the investigation has been going, because, again, there has been a lot of politics, a lot of accusations back and forth, a lot of political maneuvering. How you do you see it?
HEYER: Well, Anderson, this has become a very partisan issue. And it shouldn't be. This is about right and wrong. Operation Fast and Furious, everybody concurs, was a flawed operation in concept and execution.
It was wrong. It was a huge public safety concern and it remains a huge public safety concern. And just as Josephine said, our worst fear is to open up the paper or to read a news story where another Border Patrol agent has been killed or injured with an Operation Fast and Furious weapon.
COOPER: You're still worried those guns are out there? HEYER: They're still out there. There were over 2,000 weapons that flowed from gun dealers in the Phoenix area over a 15-month period, and it didn't end until Brian was killed.
And that's when the operation was put to a halt. And that's just truly a shame. You know, there's now stories out there that say ATF did not intentionally want to walk weapons. Well, that's baloney. All right, they could have shut down this operation at any time due to public safety concerns. All right?
ATF agents in Phoenix, in headquarters, they do not work for the U.S. attorney's office in Arizona, all right? The U.S. attorney's office, yes, they prosecute the cases that are brought to them by ATF, but at any time, they could have shut this case down.
And they knew that straw buyers were coming in, young kids, 20, 21 years old, on public assistance with shopping bags full of cash to buy weapons for $50,000, $75,000. And these weapons, 100, 200 AK-47s at a time were moving out the doors of the gun shop.
COOPER: Without any way to track them down in Mexico?
HEYER: Well, and, again, that's what the whistle-blowers were saying at the time. These agents that raised their concerns to management said we can't allow this to happen. And they were told discontinue the surveillance, let these guns walk.
They're legal purchases is what they were being told. And our point is, it shouldn't have happened. Although these were legal purchases, everyone knew that this was straw buyers working for the criminal element, namely the cartels in Mexico, and these weapons were going to flow to the criminal element, creating a huge public safety concern.
It ended up with on December 14 the men that got into the firefight with Brian and his team that night were carrying weapons from Operation Fast and Furious. They ended up killing Brian that night.
COOPER: And you're setting up a foundation, the family set up a foundation to honor Agent Terry. Our viewers can find that at HonorBrianTerry.com.
Josephine, I understand there is going to be a station named after your son?
TERRY: Yes. The Naco station in Bisbee -- I think it is Bisbee. They just built a new station. And that was where Brian worked and did all of his BORTAC training in that. And September 18 will be the dedication in the Brian Terry Naco Station.
COOPER: Well, I'm so appreciative for you both coming on and talking about your son and talking about this investigation. We're going to continue to follow it and we hope justice is finally done. Josephine, thank you so much. And, Robert, thank you very much.
HEYER: Thank you, Anderson.
TERRY: Thank you.
COOPER: Let us know what you think. We're on Twitter right now @AndersonCooper. I will be tweeting in the hour ahead.
We have also got the breaking news we're covering. As we told you, the office of Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. is finally giving some details about the medical issue he's facing and where he is right now. Tonight's developments, also knocking down some rumors we have been hearing. Details on that ahead.
COOPER: We mentioned the top of the hour, we're following breaking news. Late word tonight we just got about Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr.'s medical condition. The Illinois Democrat, son of the Reverend Jesse Jackson, has been on medical leave from Congress for more than a month now.
Just before airtime, his office released the following statement from his doctor -- quote -- "The congressman is receiving intensive medical treatment at a residential treatment facility for a mood disorder. He's responding positively to treatment and is expected to make a full recovery."
Today's statements followed weeks of speculation today, calls on the Jackson family from fellow Democrats to go public.
Kate Bolduan is following all the fast-breaking developments and joins with now.
Kate, do we know what that means? A mood disorder?
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It seems to be vague. It's a vague detail. We don't really know. That could fit into many categories, Anderson. There's more detail to come on that, we hope, but there has not been a lot of information surrounding the congressman and his condition to this point.
That's why the rumors and speculation have been flying for weeks now since he's taken his leave of absence really from Capitol Hill all the way back to Illinois in his district, so much so that even following the doctor's statement that you just read, his chief of staff, Rick Bryant, made a point to add, he says, in addition, the rumors about him being treated for alcohol or substance abuse are not true.
He's really trying to tamp down the rumors that have really been flying about what has been going on with the congressman. As you mentioned, the pressure has been mounting, even among fellow Democrats for the congressman and his family to come forward and disclose more detail about what the congressman has been facing because it's been pretty much an information blackout.
Listen here to two Democrats who themselves said it was time to come forward. Listen here.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. STENY HOYER (D-MD), HOUSE MINORITY WHIP: People get sick. And when people get sick, they miss work. Everybody in America understands that, but I think the family would be well advised to give his constituents as much information as is appropriate.
SEN. RICHARD DURBIN (D-IL), MAJORITY WHIP: His health is the number one priority. As a public official, though, there reaches a point where you have a responsibility to tell people what you're facing and how things are going.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: And as you see right there from the senior senator from Illinois, Dick Durbin, you're not going to find anyone who isn't sympathetic and feeling for the congressman and his family.
But obviously everyone is just wishing him the best and for a full recovery, but this information is really big news coming out that they're finally disclosing what he's dealing with.
COOPER: Yes, members of the Congress take medical leaves all the time. I guess this is different just because there was really no information on what it was and he's been gone since June 10.
BOLDUAN: Absolutely. It's just really the mystery surrounding it all. Not only has he been taking the leave of absence since June 10. I have been talking to people on the Hill and he hasn't really even been seen in committee meetings since late May.
So it was really this information blackout that we were hearing from Democrats. I mean, you know, Capitol Hill is leaky like a sieve, so the fact that absolutely no one was hearing any details was very concerning a and a real mystery. I mean, even senior House Democratic aides were kind of critical of this information blackout and the fact that no matter what you're dealing with, you do need to tell your constituents how you're dealing with it, right?
COOPER: Yes. Kate, appreciate the reporting. Thanks for the update.
"Raw Politics" now. Mitt Romney's bid for the African-American vote, he went looking for support at the NAACP's convention today in Houston. Members welcoming with applause, but turning sharply skeptical at some of his claims that if elected he would do more for African-Americans than President Obama has.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If you want a president who will make things better in the African-American community, you're looking at him. You take a look. (END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, the crowd taking I guess you could say mild exception to that claim, you can interpret it for yourself, but getting worked up a lot over this comment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROMNEY: I'm going to eliminate every nonessential expensive program I can find. That includes Obamacare. And I'm going to work to reform and save...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: I wouldn't characterize the reaction. You can describe it for yourself. On FOX News, Governor Romney Claimed he has got hidden strength among African-American voters.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROMNEY: I spoke with a number of African-American leaders after the event and they said, you know, a lot of folks do not want to say they will not vote for President Obama but they are disappointed in his lack of policies to improve our schools, disappointed in urban policy , disappointed in the economy, 14.4 percent rate of unemployment among African Americans today.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: He says he found hidden support. If you look at the poll numbers, it is hard to find any evidence of hidden support among African-Americans.
For perspective, John McCain got 4 percent of the African- American vote in 2008. Latest polling shows just not much difference today, just slightly more frankly for Mitt Romney.
Let's dig deeper now on how this may play out in November. Here's John King at the magic wall.
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, imagine you're running a race at the track and you get to run a lap or two before your opponent gets to start the race. Or the game is football and you're spotted 15-, 16-point lead before the game even starts.
That is essentially what is happening because of President Obama's lopsided advantage among African-American and other minority voters. Let's take a look at African-Americans, the key battleground today as Governor Romney went to the NAACP.
Look at this from 2008, 13 percent of the electorate, African- Americans. It's the most solid part of the president's base, and 95 percent of the African-American vote voted for then Senator, now President Obama. Only 4 percent for John McCain.
Governor Romney is doing a bit better, but even his team would concede not good enough among African-Americans. Why does that matter? Let's go down to North Carolina and take a look. Because the African-American vote is critical in many of the most important battleground states.
Nearly a quarter of the electorate in North Carolina, 20 percent in Virginia, double digits in Pennsylvania, Florida, Michigan and Ohio. If the president is getting 95 percent of this chunk of the vote in those states, guess what? It puts Governor Romney at a big disadvantage in very important states.
Now add in other minorities, this is where you see how this is such an advantage for the president, 13 percent of the electorate African-American. The president is getting 95 percent of their votes, 10 percent Latinos, that will even be higher. That's the 2008 number. The president gets two-thirds. Others, Asians, Native Americans, the president is getting two-thirds.
If you add all of this up, 28 percent of the electorate, that's where essentially you get a 15 or 16-point lead for President Obama. The only way to offset that is for Governor Romney to try to dent those numbers a bit, but then to win huge among the white vote, limiting the president to say 38 percent at most among whites to have a chance to win -- Anderson.
COOPER: All right, John, thanks. Interesting to look at that.
Let's turn now to Cornell Belcher. He's a Democratic strategist and a pollster for the Obama 2012 campaign. Also Romney campaign adviser Tara Wall. Appreciate both of you being with us.
Tara, I want to go back to the governor's speech at the NAACP. He said afterwards he had expected a rocky reception from the crowd. Obviously Republicans haven't always gotten a warm welcome from the NAACP. But John McCain used a very different tone in talking about candidate Obama four years ago. He got a pretty good reception from the crowd then.
Do you think if the governor had taken a similar approach, his policy message may have gotten a different or frankly better reaction?
TARA WALL, ROMNEY CAMPAIGN SPOKESWOMAN: Well, his policy message actually got overall a good reaction. There were snippets, as you played, that did elicit negative reaction in one or two occasions.
But overall there were a number of occasions where his policies actually did elicit applause, an ovation and general consensus of agreement. So I think he absolutely has a message that appeals. I think the bigger question or the bigger headline that should be addressed and that is the stark kind of elephant in the room, if you will, is the fact that President Obama wasn't there to address the crowd.
And I think there was disappointment that he wasn't there to address some of the issues that Governor Romney did, such as an unemployment rate in the black community of 14.4 percent, that just jumped last week, in this last week alone and in fact, since 2008, has increased by 40 percent. So when you have Governor Romney, who as the NAACP welcomed and accepted and admitted that he was walking in -- he was very courageous for coming and presenting,
I think that he was absolutely strong and solid and assertive and at the same time, listened and made sure that all Americans, should he become president, all Americans including the black community understand how he is and his message and his policies are distinct and will help to kick-start this economy, grow jobs again, and get us back on track.
COOPER: Cornell, I have read some, you know, African-Americans worrying the president may be taking their support for granted. As Tara just mentioned, you look at unemployment rate, much higher than the country as a whole. The national rate held steady last month. The African-American rate rose.
Could that dampen support, and do you think Mitt Romney made any inroads?
CORNELL BELCHER, OBAMA CAMPAIGN POLLSTER: Well, let's go back to Governor Romney at the NAACP.
Look, NAACP is one of the most storied and oldest civil rights organizations in this country. Every American today, America is better today because of the NAACP. You know, you had a lot of not just Democrats but conservatives after Mitt Romney's speech saying that Mitt Romney seemed to be purposefully antagonistic towards the NAACP.
WALL: That's absolutely not true.
BELCHER: And when you look at sort of what he said...
BELCHER: Well, it's not me. It's David Frum.
I didn't interrupt you. Please don't interrupt me.
So, he was purposefully antagonistic towards the NAACP. The question becomes, you know, why was Governor Romney using the NAACP as a prop to have a conversation or to prove a point with conservatives who still don't trust him? Because clearly he wasn't there to give a conversation to try to reach out and gain more support among that civil rights conversation.
WALL: That's absolutely false.
BELCHER: He was there as a prop and he was antagonistic toward that organization in a way that was... (CROSSTALK)
WALL: Absolutely false.
COOPER: Let him finish, and then you can talk.
WALL: Sure. But it is false.
BELCHER: Going to the point that John made, it's also from a strategic point untenable.
I mean, if you look at these sort of states, Virginia, North Carolina, Ohio, Florida, and you go out west to Nevada, New Mexico, it's untenable, what is going on with the Republican Party right now, where they're ceding -- in CNN's polling, 63 percent of minorities are breaking for Obama.
Long term, it is suicide what Republicans are doing. So what Republicans are going to have to do sort of, you know, for their Tea Party base is absolutely suicide long-term when you look at the growth of the minority populations, particularly in these battleground states. It makes no strategic sense.
COOPER: Tara, there are those to Cornell's point who say that getting booed at the NAACP might help Romney among some conservatives. Do you think, to Cornell quoting David Frum's point, that he was being intentionally antagonistic?
WALL: First of all, I think it's insulting that President Obama himself did not come and address the crowd and address these very stark numbers that are impacting the black community, whether you're a Republican or Democrat.
There are Republican NAACP members who are lifetime members, who are also there, who also have positions, who also want to hear from Governor Romney, who also want to hear from President Obama. That is what is insulting. I'm not sure what issue you take insulting with. If you're talking about the phrase Obamacare, Obama himself, President Obama himself has used that phrase and, in fact, says he has no problem with it.
The point was to say that when Governor Romney was spelling out his policies, we fully acknowledge and acknowledged ahead of time that we're not going to agree 100 percent. That's not the point to go there...
COOPER: Right, but you were very eager to jump on Cornell...
WALL: The point is to address the community, and he did that.
COOPER: Tara, you were very eager to jump on Cornell to say what he was saying is not true. I'm giving you the opportunity to just reiterate that. You're saying he was not being intentionally antagonistic?
WALL: No, absolutely not.
COOPER: Tara, I appreciate it. Cornell Belcher...
WALL: I would like to know, I mean, how was he being intentionally antagonistic? Absolutely not...
COOPER: Cornell, how was he being intentionally antagonistic?
WALL: In fact, he drew a lot of applause when he talked a lot about how he helped bridge the gap as governor between -- the education gap as governor of Massachusetts, how he brought down crime, how he worked across the board, how he worked in a bipartisan manner, how he talked about and agreed with how historic and important having the first black president elected to the United States. He talked about a number of things where he did draw...
BELCHER: I think you're mistaking this with what John McCain talked about a couple of years ago.
WALL: The headline is misplaced in that if you want to focus on how many -- I would like to ask, how many applause were there? How many times were there applause?
You know, I think that's an irrelevant point to make. That's not the point that you go to address the crowd. The point is, he showed up, President Obama did not. I hope the media also will ask Vice President Biden tomorrow to explain that and to talk about why President Obama...
COOPER: Yes, you made that point.
COOPER: Cornell, why is Obama not going? And to Tara's question, how was he antagonistic? How was Romney antagonistic?
BELCHER: Wow. Well, again, it's not just me who saw him being antagonistic. Let's start with this. You go there and you attack Obamacare, something that is wildly popular among African-Americans, something that is going to have seven million African-Americans access to health care.
I mean, don't play us stupid like we don't know that you're being antagonistic and you're talking about sort of tearing away social net programs that have been historically important to this community.
WALL: Absolutely not.
WALL: Replace it is what he said.
BELCHER: Can I finish? And act like you're not being antagonistic.
Look, he wasn't there this afternoon to have a conversation with the NAACP. He was there this afternoon to have a conversation with his Republican base. And here's the problem. He's the one who has to change the dynamic. You know, when you're losing minority voters by 60-some points in this country, he's the one who has to change the dynamic.
COOPER: Why shouldn't President Obama be there?
BELCHER: Not President Obama.
President Obama is not the one who has the change the dynamic there. He's winning minority voters by 63 points in your own CNN polling. But the vice president is going to be there.
WALL: I think there was a question there for me.
WALL: Actually, I think there has actually been support lost. Look, President Obama does not own the black vote. He doesn't -- Democrats don't own the black vote.
I think it behooves any presidential candidate to not take any vote for granted. And, in fact, I don't believe that President Obama can count on the same support he once had. Certainly, he will still get a majority, absolutely. And we acknowledge that, but at the end of the day, you know, I think that the point is to show up and he has lost some support. I hear from these folks all the time. We see Democrats and Republicans who supported him at one time...
WALL: ... that aren't going to support him this time.
COOPER: Let -- Cornell, one more point, and then we got to go.
BELCHER: You can filibuster the conversation all you want, and that's what you have tried to do. You can filibuster the conversation all you want.
WALL: No, you're just not used to being challenged, unfortunately.
BELCHER: The truth of the matter is -- I'm challenged every day. The truth of the matter is, the economic policies of Mitt Romney not only would be disastrous for middle-class Americans, but it would particularly be disastrous for African-Americans.
WALL: He'll help all Americans. He will help all Americans.
BELCHER: And unless he can change that dynamic, he's going to continue to lose -- he's going to continue to lose his vote.
COOPER: OK, let's not talk about -- we've got to...
BELCHER: Sixty-three percent of minorities give Obama a positive job approval in CNN's own polling. Those people aren't foolish. They know exactly what the president's doing for them.
COOPER: OK. I appreciate both of your perspectives. Tara Wall, thank you.
Cornell Belcher, thanks, as well.
Starting new details tonight -- startling new details tonight about an apparent courtroom suicide of this man right here. You just see him right there in that video putting something in his mouth. Well, we now believe we know what he swallowed. We'll tell you how we know that ahead on the program.
COOPER: Dr. Sanjay Gupta has been on the front lines of an investigation. He joins me next.
COOPER: Welcome back. We have some good news to report. Up close tonight, parents and doctors in Cambodia finally -- finally -- have an answer to a question that has haunted them for three months, a question we've been looking at all week. Disease detectives have finally figured out what's caused dozens of young children in Cambodia to fall desperately ill.
More than 60 kids have died so far. Doctors have been working around the clock to try to crack this medical mystery.
Our chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, is in Cambodia tonight where he's been following the investigation. He's at the lab where they tested samples of the victims. He broke the news today that the case has been solved. He joins me now with exclusive details. What have you learned, Sanjay?
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, they found three separate pathogens, either viruses or bacteria that were really at the root cause of this.
And the context, Anderson, as you well know, is that this is a part of the world where some pretty bad organisms have originated. Avian flu, for example, came from here, SARS as well. So that was the concern for a long time.
What they found were three pathogens that already exist in the world. They've known they existed in the world. And what they were trying to figure out was why they were behaving so aggressively. This viral 71, streptococcus and the organism causing dengue fever.
The found that those organisms, in conjunction with these kids getting steroids, probably led to such an aggressive course, where these children were literally dying, Anderson, as you know, within 24 hours of being admitted to the hospital. So now they have an answer to what was happening.
COOPER: This may be a dumb question. Why were the kids getting steroids? And what about steroid medication would cause this kind of reaction when mixed with those particular pathogens?
GUPTA: Well, when someone gets very sick, sometimes from an infection, they can get corresponding inflammation in the body. They can get inflammation in the brain; they can get inflammation in the lungs. And sometimes the best way to try and treat that is using steroids.
But here's the thing that a lot of people may not realize, is that steroids can also suppress your immune system. So your body's own natural defenses trying to fight the infection just can't do it. So what would otherwise be a perhaps dangerous infection can turn into a deadly infection.
They get some short-term benefit from the steroids, decreasing inflammation, but unfortunately it also made these infections nearly 100 percent lethal, Anderson, just the use of those steroids.
COOPER: Well, my understanding was that a lot of these kids died before they collected samples. If they don't have all the facts, how can they close the case? GUPTA: You know, this is an interesting thing sort of in the world of epidemiology and public health. Once they get enough samples back from the blood samples they could -- they could analyze, they basically create a clinical picture.
They say here's the symptoms that the children had. Here's how the pathogens were sort of behaving. And once they see other kids that have that same sort of scenario, they say, "Look, we don't need to test every single child anymore. We know that this is what it is, based on what we've already seen."
You'll remember, Anderson, even with avian flu and H5N1, they did the same thing. After a while, they stopped testing. They said, "We know what this is. We're going to treat it symptomatically so we don't have to keep testing it."
COOPER: We got a digital dashboard viewer question from Facebook. Sue asked, "Now that they know the cause of these deaths, can the children coming into the hospitals be treated now and their lives possibly saved?" That's the key question.
GUPTA: I guess I'd answer that question this way. Like a lot of other infectious diseases here in this part of the world, there's not specific treatments. There's not an anti-viral, for example, for some of these organisms.
But again, getting back to the steroid issue, what we're learning is the World Health Organization is going to issue an alert to all doctors, all health-care practitioners in the area to say refrain from using steroids. Do not use steroids. And I think that's going to have a significant impact.
Because again, these infectious diseases are still going to be here, but the fact that they were turning into such deadly diseases, I think hopefully that part of it can stop.
COOPER: All right. Well, some good news, at least, in identifying it. Sanjay, appreciate the reporting, as always, all week long.
Investigators in Arizona believe they now know what substance a man appeared to put in his mouth inside a courtroom right after he had been found guilty of arson. What he put into his mouth led to his death, which was a probable suicide. It was all caught on tape. We're going to show you the tape and the back story. It's really just a fascinating story. We'll have that for you in a moment.
But first, let's check in with Isha. Isha, she's got a "360 Bulletin" -- Isha.
ISHA SESAY, CNNI ANCHOR: Anderson, Syria's ambassador to Iraq has defected from the al-Assad government, calling the regime criminals. Meanwhile, there was shelling and more violence across Syria today. Opposition leaders claimed that 78 people were killed.
A 360 following tonight to the hazing incident at Florida A&M University that killed drum major Robert Champion. The president of the university, James H. Ammons, announced his resignation today. Champion's death was ruled a homicide. Fourteen people face a variety of charges.
The people behind San Diego's fireworks fiasco are blaming it on a computer glitch. Whatever caused all of the show's fireworks to explode at the same time, the end result was a huge boom and an even bigger bust. You may have heard the July Fourth extravaganza lasted a whopping 15 seconds -- Anderson.
COOPER: New information tonight on a story both tragic and bizarre. A man appears to swallow something inside a courtroom. You're about to see it. Right there. Dies shortly after. Investigators now believe he poisoned himself. They're fairly sure what the substance was. The latest on that when we continue
COOPER: Tonight, a "360 Follow" to a really bizarre story that we first reported last week. The apparent suicide of a man inside an Arizona courtroom.
Now, moments after the man -- he name is Michael Marin, or Mahr- in -- was convicted of arson, he appeared to slip something into his mouth. You see it happening right there. A few minutes after that, he collapsed in the floor -- on the floor in convulsions. A short time later, he died.
Now key evidence we're going to reveal in just a moment about what it was that he slipped in his mouth. Investigators believe they now know what killed him.
But first, we want to tell you the back story. Ed Lavandera untangles this very complicated story that led to what happened in that courtroom.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We, the jury...
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): These were the final minutes of Michael Marin's story and life.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ... we find the defendant, Michael James Marin, guilty of arson of an occupied structure.
LAVANDERA: How he got here is a tragic and bizarre tale, but before we tell this story, remember this moment. After being found guilty of arson and now facing up to 21 years in prison, Marin covers his face and appears to swallow something. We'll come back to this scene.
Michael Marin graduated from Yale Law School, had a lucrative career working around the world for Wall Street investment banks, making several million dollars. He collected Picasso artwork, drove a Rolls Royce, and flew his own plane. PAUL RUBIN, "PHOENIX NEW TIMES": He was an engaging character.
LAVANDERA: Paul Rubin profiled Michael Marin back in 2008 for the "Phoenix New Times" newspaper, spent hours talking to the eccentric millionaire.
RUBIN: He's the smartest guy in the room. He's the -- you know, he's the smoothest talker in the room. He gets all the girls. He's -- you know, he's that guy. And he just ran into the brick wall that happens to these characters eventually.
LAVANDERA: The brick wall was this 10,000-square-foot home in the Biltmore Estates, an exclusive Phoenix, Arizona, enclave. Marin bought the house in 2008 when the real-estate market was collapsing. It came with an interest-only mortgage payment of $17,260 a month.
But Michael Marin had long left Wall Street and had not worked in several years.
(on camera) And he was quickly running out of money. That's when prosecutors say he concocted a scene to raffle off the house and, in the process, make a million dollars for himself.
(voice-over) The raffle was an oddly-creative way to unload the Biltmore house. Raffle tickets would sell for $25. The proceeds would benefit the Child Crisis Center. To generate publicity for the raffle, investigators say Marin scaled Mount Everest, doing interviews from the mountain with a local television station. It all played into the Marin mystique.
MICHAEL MARIN, MILLIONAIRE: We're at high altitude. Acclimatization (ph) climb up to 25,000 feet.
LAVANDERA: Joe Epps says it was all a sinister ploy. Epps is the forensic accountant that unraveled Marin's personal finances for prosecutors.
JOE EPPS, FORENSIC ACCOUNTANT: What happened was he paid 2 million $550,000 for the house and set up with a couple of friends of his a bogus second mortgage designed to increase the value of the house by $950,000 on a second mortgage that really didn't exist.
LAVANDERA (on camera): You think this raffle was just a scam to make a million dollars, basically.
EPPS: Yes. And at the same time be able to look like a very generous person who didn't make anything off of it.
LAVANDERA (voice-over): In April 2009, the Arizona attorney general ruled the raffle was illegal. The plan fizzled.
At this point, Marin was six months away from having to make a balloon payment of roughly $2 million to lenders or risk a major jump in his monthly interest payments. Marin's financial world was collapsing around him. RUBIN: I don't think that he really thought this thing through, he and his pals, and it ended up where he had to do something that was pretty wacky, which was burn down his house.
LAVANDERA: In the early morning hours of July 5, 2009, fire engulfed Marin's Biltmore home. He called for help from his upstairs bedroom.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. What's your emergency?
MARIN: My house is on fire.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you going to be able to get out?
MARIN: I've got one of those ladders.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You have a ladder where?
MARIN: I'd rather work on that than talk to you, so let me get out -- the hell out of here.
LAVANDERA: Marin emerged from the burning home wearing scuba gear that just happened to be ready to go in his bedroom. Jeff Peabody is the Phoenix Fire Department investigator who handled Marin's case.
JEFF PEABODY, FIRE DEPARTMENT INVESTIGATOR: Every fireman I see says, "You're not going to believe this guy. He came out of a ladder out of his master bedroom wearing a scuba tank and a scuba mask and a snorkel."
And yes, you're right. I find that odd.
LAVANDERA: Marin even relived the escape from his hospital bed.
MARIN: I realized that I actually had some air left in that tank, and that's what enabled me to get back to the window and to put down that ladder. If I hadn't had those two things, we wouldn't be talking.
LAVANDERA: Peabody says he found four spots in the house where fires were intentionally set and a long line of phone books that was supposed to help the fire spread.
Which brings us back to that Phoenix courtroom. A jury convicted Marin of arson. He's facing between seven and 21 years in prison.
After he appears to swallow something after the verdict is read, notice as he reaches down and appears to get something from his bag. He then wipes his face, swallows something and appears to swallow again.
About eight minutes later Marin starts convulsing and collapses.
Even though it's not been officially determined what killed Michael Marin, it's believed Marin swallowed some type of poison. Marin's attorney says the convicted arsonist showed no signs of preparing to commit suicide.
ANDREW CLEMENCY, MARIN'S ATTORNEY: It was a gigantic shock. I think it's fair to say that we certainly had no inkling that this was going to happen. I'm not aware that anybody did.
LAVANDERA: Ironically it's Jeff Peabody, the fire investigator who built the arson case against Michael Marin, who tries to help him. But Peabody says there was no way to save him and that his final moments played out in a dramatic fashion, just as Michael Marin had lived his life.
PEABODY: If he's going to do something, this would be the time that he would do it. Sort of like escaping from his house in scuba gear. This was going to be his closure.
LAVANDERA (on camera): A grand finale exit.
PEABODY: A grand finale exit. Yes.
COOPER: I find this story just stunning. To see it all on tape like that. Ed, the new evidence you've uncovered, what can you tell us about it?
LAVANDERA: Well, Anderson, as we took a closer look at that video and the time after he appears to have swallowed something, we took a closer look. And at one point, you can see him reaching for some sort of phone, a BlackBerry, perhaps.
And sheriff's investigators in Phoenix say that, indeed, an e- mail was sent by him to his son. And in that e-mail, according to investigators in Phoenix, that he said -- told his son that, if things didn't go well, that the wills were in place and left directions as to where they could find his car.
Investigators got to the car and say they found a container of cyanide that was ordered online back in 2011 long before the trial had started. And they believe, investigators there in Phoenix, that he had perhaps put that cyanide into capsule form or perhaps into some bottles that he had taken a drink from, and that's indeed how he killed himself.
Toxicology reports won't be back for several more weeks. But that's what investigators in Phoenix are saying tonight.
COOPER: Wow. So disturbing. Ed, appreciate the update, thank you.
Whether it's a deadly courtroom drama or a massive storm, so much of what happens today happens on camera for millions to see. Up next, we're going to tell you your choices of the top television moments of the last 50 years. We'll be right back.
COOPER: We're back. Isha is here with a "360 News & Business Bulletin" -- Isha.
SESAY: Anderson, a freight train carrying ethanol derailed and exploded in Columbus, Ohio. Two people were injured. Some residents were evacuated.
In Madrid, Spain, hundreds of protesters clashed in the streets with riot police, and dozens were injured. Protesters were venting their anger at austerity measures imposed by the Spanish government. Those measures include cuts in unemployment benefits and a hike in the general sales tax.
And Anderson, Nielsen and Sony Electronics have released the results of a new survey. They asked Americans to name the most memorable television events of the last 50 years. Here are some of them topping the list: September 11 terrorist attacks, Hurricane Katrina back in 2005, the O.J. Simpson verdict in 1995, the Challenger space shuttle explosion, and at No. 5, the death of Osama bin Laden. Some big moments there.
COOPER: Yes, interesting to see.
Time now for "The Shot." Incredible video of people fishing on a dock on an inlet in coastal South Carolina, reeling in a fish. And then take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's got my line.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, (EXPLETIVE DELETED)!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Can you believe that? Wow. Yikes.
COOPER: Look at that again. Yikes.
SESAY: OK. That's my idea of a nightmare.
COOPER: Pretty amazing stuff. All right, we'll be right back.
COOPER: We're afraid the interviews ran long, so we'll have tonight's "RidicuList" tomorrow. That does it for us. Thanks very much for watching. "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts now.