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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
Ryan Releases Tax Returns; Romney Shoots Down Tax Challenge; Facebook Stock Making Few Friends; What Missy And Mitt Have In Common
Aired August 17, 2012 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: OUTFRONT next, just moments ago, Paul Ryan released these, hello, tax returns. Is Mitt Romney going to give us anymore?
And Facebook shares hit a brand-new low. So is Mark Zuckerberg in over his head?
Plus, the first pictures of Jesse Jackson Jr. since he's been hospitalized for bipolar depression. We're going to talk to Patrick Kennedy who just visited with him and says that he has a long way to go. Let's take you OUTFRONT.
BANFIELD: Good evening. I'm Ashleigh Banfield in for Erin Burnett tonight. OUTFRONT tonight, Paul Ryan's tax returns fresh off the press, folks. The documents show that Mr. Ryan and his wife, Jana, paid an effective tax rate of 15.9 percent in 2010 and a whopping 20 percent in 2011.
The tax returns were first obtained by the "Journal Sentinel," Ryan's home state newspaper and Craig Gilbert is the "Journal Sentinel's" Washington bureau chief and he's covered Paul Ryan extensively.
He's on the phone with us live now to talk about this breaking news. I have not had a chance to read through them because, quite frankly, I don't read that fast and this tough is hard to make sense out of. So what did you see in the tax returns? What struck you about them?
CRAIG GILBERT, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, "JOURNAL SENTINEL" (via telephone): Well, a little over half his income comes from his congressional salary. But there's a considerable amount of outside income, from, you know, assets holding, some in his family, but particularly in his wife's family.
She comes from a well-to-do family and there's some real estate money, real estate income, and nothing in Mitt Romney's league, but certainly enough to put their wealth and their income well above average.
BANFIELD: Can you go in a little bit more into his wife's holdings? I think people are usually fascinated when they find out that the money comes more from one side or the other. What kind of things that they hold other than the real estate you talked about? GILBERT: Well, there's a trust there. There are some business partnerships and there's some oil and gas royalties. The income in 2011 -- in that category of income, that was over $100,000.
So, you know, it's -- like I said, it's not Mitt Romney's league. As long as he does it -- he and his campaign don't oversell him as average middle class guy -- I think they're OK --
BANFIELD: Good point.
GILBERT: But I think they have to be careful about that.
BANFIELD: So that's exactly where I want to go real quickly, he comes across as the every man on this campaign. But look, I'm looking at 15.9 percent and 20 percent in taxes.
That's more than what the everyman pays in taxes. Is he going to come across as the every man or is he going to come across as a rich guy? Or is any of this going to matter?
GILBERT: Well, I think we are seeing this battle to define him right now. Even in the press accounts, in some accounts, he's been described as the heir to this massive fortune related to his family, which runs a big earth moving company, but that goes back a few generations and he's not directly tied to that.
He does have some trust, they're not massive. But I think, you know, he's somewhere in that gray area between middle class and rich, and I don't think he had, by all accounts, an upbringing like Mitt Romney of, you know, real privilege but --
BANFIELD: Craig, just quickly. We only got two years -- I got five seconds left. Two years of taxes. No word that he's going to release more, right?
GILBERT: I would be shocked if they release more.
BANFIELD: All right, good to talk to you. Craig Gilbert, thanks. I know that was a quick call that you made to us. It's breaking news. So thanks for being with us tonight. Appreciate it.
You know, the taxes have really been the talk all day despite the fact that we just got these. Earlier, the Obama campaign tried to make a deal with Mitt Romney over the tax returns.
The Obama team actually challenged Mitt Romney, a full challenge, release just five, five years, of your tax returns, not the whole 10 that we've been demanding, hammering you so to speak and, you know what, we'll just drop this whole issue.
You give us five, we'll give you nothing. Does that sound too good to be true? Because that actually might just have been what the Romney campaign thought too. You be the judge because here's their response.
Virtually a thanks but no thanks. The Romney campaign manager, Matt Rhoades said this, and I'll quote for you, "It is clear that President Obama wants nothing more than to talk about Governor Romney's tax returns instead of the issues that matter to voters like putting Americans back to work, fixing the economy and reining in spending."
But if Mr. Romney wanted this issue to die, why would he finally announce yesterday that he's paid at least 13 percent in taxes for the last 10 years and then go even further and say this?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: But every year I paid at least 13 percent. And if you add, in addition, the amount that goes to charity, the number gets well above 20 percent.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BANFIELD: My esteemed colleague, Erin Burnett, she saw this coming, and she went ahead and did the charity math on Mitt's taxes back on July 16th. Take a peek.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: It is true that Mitt Romney gave $7 million to charity in the two years that I held up. That's 2010 and 2011. Now, that's 16.4 percent of his income. It is more than he paid in federal taxes.
Now, keep the screen up because I want to show you this. It's not like he sat there and hoarded the money he didn't pay to Uncle Sam. He gave enough away to make his rate, well, 31 percent, greater than the 30 percent that President Obama should be the minimum rate for wealthy Americans.
If you look at it that way, Mitt's taxes add up just fine. He could make the argument. That's why he should cease the narrative.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BANFIELD: OK, good work, Erin. But he is far from seizing the narrative. Right now, when it comes to his taxes, by showing a little leg, 13 percent of his leg, so to speak, he's really been keeping the story going.
So if mitt doesn't want to take Erin's advice, that's fine, we get it. But perhaps Mitt Romney might consider taking his own advice. You bet. We got some tape. Here's what the candidates said.
As reported by -- I said tape, we have some ink. "The Boston Globe" back in 1984 said this when he was challenging Ted Kennedy for his Senate seat. Are you ready? Here he goes. "It's time the biggest taxing senator in Washington shows the people of Massachusetts how much he pays in taxes," end quote. That's what the paper said.
It went on to say that Mitt Romney would disclose his own state and federal taxes for the last three years on the very day that Kennedy turns over his taxes for public scrutiny. Romney chided Kennedy for never releasing his state or federal taxes in the 32 years that he served in the Senate.
Yes, we have the Google and we have video and this stuff can really come back to bite you or does it? I want to talk to my panel about this.
McKay Coppins is from buzzfeed.com. Erick Erickson from redstate.com and also a CNN contributor and Jamal Simmons is a Democratic strategist.
All right, Jamal, I want to start with you. This deal or no deal, five years, busting it down, and saying we'll give you a break on the other five years. What is this chess game about? Why five years? What's five years to the Obama camp that 10 years is not? Why cave?
JAMMAL SIMMONS, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, what it looks like is the Obama campaign is saying to them, listen, OK, you don't want to give 10, then give us five, give us four, give us six. Pick a number more than two and then tell us what you're going to do.
But you can't run around, running around for president, trying to decide what the American people need to know. The truth is, candidates don't get to decide what's important to voters. The voters get to decide what's important to them.
Apparently, this is important because it started to chip away at Romney's credibility with the voters. So it seemed like Romney would just want to get it out, out of the way and get moving.
Meanwhile, you've got Ann Romney saying we don't want to tell you because then you'll attack us for that. Well, that's kind of how it works.
I mean, if you've got something in there worth being attacked for, then you should be prepared to get attacked and be prepared to respond to that.
BANFIELD: Erick Erickson, wasn't this fuel to the fire, just all of a sudden drop it in, in a sound bite? Look, I went over my last 10 years, I paid 13 percent, let's move on. He had to know no one was going to move on with that little taste.
ERICK ERICKSON, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, but, Ashleigh, they're not going to move on even if he gives it out five years of tax returns or 10 years or 20 years of tax returns --
BANFIELD: How do you know?
ERICKSON: Look, Mitt Romney inherited a fortune -- because this is what they do. Look the Democrats have been saying for weeks that they wanted to talk about issues --
BANFIELD: Erick, the Democrats aren't the only ones who are asking for this -- you know full well there are huge-name Republicans who were asking for it too. When you say they --
BANFIELD: -- which they are you talking about?
ERICKSON: Well, I'm talking about the Democratic Party, Ashleigh. The one who decided they want to talk about Medicare, but will instead talk about taxes. The ones who say they'll talk about jobs, but instead want to talk about Shamus the dog on top of the car.
They are the one docking this. Look, the bigger question I would have if the Democrats really want to talk about rich people and taxes, how is it Mitt Romney could give away an entire family fortune, remake it.
And then a guy like Harry Reid, who's a poor guy, goes to Washington becomes a senator and suddenly he is living in the Ritz Carlton? If the Democrats want to play the game with Mitt's taxes, let's ask how so many Democrats went to the United States Senate and became multimillionaires there.
BANFIELD: All right, I take your point, but I do have to take issue with you when you say they because George Will, Bill Crystal, Ron Paul, Michael Steele, Governor Haley Barbour, I mean, the list goes on and on and on. Brit Hume, Fox News, for crying out loud calling for the governor to release his taxes --
ERICKSON: If he releases five years of taxes, suddenly the Democrats are going to say --
BANFIELD: For heaven sake, Richard Nixon had tax problem, Erick Erickson, it is a fair question in politics today.
ERICKSON: Ashleigh, you would be making it the lead story of your news show and Mitt Romney had a tax shelter somewhere --
BANFIELD: It would go away in two days.
ERICKSON: No, it wouldn't. They would turn it into attack ads. Then you would cover the attack ads. Then you'd have all the independent panel to wring their hands about it. The story would not -- it's not going to go away.
BANFIELD: McKay, jump in on this with me. Get me off the ledge. You're a practicing a Mormon. You tithe 10 percent?
MCKAY COPPINS, BUZZFEED REPORTER: I do.
BANFIELD: OK, Mormons tithe 10 percent. Mitt Romney tithes 10 percent and sometimes even more. His charitable contributions in the two years that we know about were huge. I mean, it's more money -- he gave away more money than I will ever make in my lifetime.
COPPINS: Right, sure.
BANFIELD: Why doesn't he just hammer that narrative? It's going to make people love him.
COPPINS: You would think so, but Mitt Romney has shown a pattern throughout this campaign of being very reluctant to talk about his faith. You said it. In 2010, he gave away $3 million to charity, half of which went to the Mormon Church.
That is the conservative ideal. I mean, that went to supporting one of the largest welfare programs that's privately run in the country, and yet he doesn't want to talk about that. He refuses to kind of seize that narrative, as Erin talks about.
It comes back to one of the fundamental questions of this campaign. When will he let voters see this part of him that has been active in the Mormon Church his whole life? He doesn't want to talk about it, and that holds him back in a lot of areas as well.
SIMMONS: Ashleigh, I have to take a little exception here.
BANFIELD: Fast, I've got less than a minute.
SIMMONS: Some of the money he gave away was places like the George Bush Presidential Library. This is not exactly a social society program. And in fact, President Obama gave away enough money to --
BANFIELD: Jamal did you give 10 percent of your income to your church?
SIMMONS: No, not to my church.
BANFIELD: Neither did I. You and I can't talk any more about that --
SIMMONS: Absolutely, we certainly can't because taxes -- separation of church and state --
BANFIELD: Tomorrow on the next CNN block on this because I got a bunch more blocks to go. Look, I do want to say that Bill Kristol is the one who said this thing will go away, take a hit or two. So this is a colleague of his, a big name Republican who has said, you know, release the tax returns and move on.
Erick, McKay and Jamal, thank you guys. It is true. We could go on and on, but I do have to move on because there are a couple of things that are big in the news today.
Facebook shares. Facebook now trading at half of its IPO price. Is it time for this company to look for a new CEO, maybe one who wears a suit? I'll talk about that in a moment. It's not a joke.
And a controversial Russian rock band, punk rock band, getting the support of Madonna and other big name stars, but convicted of something called hooliganism. I'm not making this up, hooliganism. They're going to prison for it. We're going to talk to somebody who is in the courtroom when the sentence came down.
And also what did Missy Franklin and Mitt Romney have in common? It's adorable.
BANFIELD: Our second story OUTFRONT, Facebook's fickle friends. It's really hard to believe nearly three years ago to the day we were talking about one of the most anticipated IPOs of all time.
The days, what a difference a few months can make, right? Today, that stock hit another all-time low, down more than 4 percent closing at $19.05. If you're doing the math at home, it's nearly 50 percent from its debut price. That's what you call yucky.
And that kind of hit is spawning some serious questions about the company and its 28-year-old leader Mark Zuckerberg. I mean, just take a look at the bruising headlines that came out. "L.A. Times" saying, is Mark Zuckerberg in over his hoody as Facebook CEO?
Silicon Valley San Jose Business Journal says, does Facebook stock CEO need adult supervision? And Facebook investors cash out. That last headline's from "The Wall Street Journal," which also reports that Zuckerberg told his employees it's been, quote, "painful to see the stock drop."
I'll bet. OUTFRONT tonight, Shayndi Raice, she is the reporter who wrote that article for the "Journal." Also joining me, Joanne Lipman, the former managing editor of "The Wall Street Journal." She is also an author and "Newsweek" columnist and smart cookie altogether.
Shandi, I want to start with you. You were writing this article. It looks like it's getting real personal. He was loathe to talk with his employees about stock prices heretofore, and yet he hammered away in this meeting according to your writing. Does this mean that the criticism and bruising headlines might just be getting to him?
SHAYNDI RAICE, REPORTER, WALL STREET JOURNAL: I don't think that the headlines are getting to him. I think that he's concerned that it might be getting to employees.
I think he wants to make sure that before it gets too bad, he addresses the employees and he tells them that this isn't something they should be worried about. So, when he says it's painful, he's saying, I acknowledge this is painful for some of you.
That's what he is saying to them and then he goes on to say, but you should know that this company has plans that are going to make sure that we fulfill all of our expectations. You know what's going on internally what our plans are, and that's all that matters, and we don't care what the press says.
So it's still somewhat of a defensive stance. It's not like he's saying this is so hard for me to watch and I can't believe this is happening to our company. And I'm so upset. It's just the opposite. He's saying I understand that it may be painful for you but be strong.
BANFIELD: Interesting. Joanne, I remember watching the video back in May, where this veritable rock star was try to get himself through the hoards of media that turned out for a measly old IPO road show. Look at this.
Here he is, security surrounding him, people everywhere, cameras jostling, and he's wearing a hoody and a t-shirt and sneakers. Here's the deal though.
While that may not be such a big deal to some people, to people in the business of this, it is, because optics are important. So, Joanne, did he do a stupid thing by showing up like this?
JOANNE LIPMAN, FOUNDING EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, PORTFOLIO: First of all, the wardrobe I think is really beside the point. I mean, he is --
BANFIELD: Isn't it a statement? You know, I'm not taking you seriously?
LIPMAN: Yes, you know what, he's a brilliant guy. He is the visionary behind this company. But what he is not and I think what your question is getting to, what he is not, CEO material.
BANFIELD: That's what I mean.
LIPMAN: He is not a guy who came up dealing with investors and dealing with shareholders. He's the visionary. He's brilliant. He's got all the ideas.
But I think the question that investors are raising now and it's a good question is, is he the guy, now, who should be dealing with shareholders? The CEO's job is such a different job than being the company's visionary. Frankly, it's a really tough grind.
BANFIELD: Finicky investors and relationships.
LIPMAN: Your boss is suddenly shareholders, which he keeps saying he doesn't care about, right? Your boss is shareholders. Your boss is the board. All these things you don't care about.
I first met Mark Zuckerberg I want to say maybe five years ago. It was a Wall Street conference full of bankers and he was wearing the hoody.
BANFIELD: Of course.
LIPMAN: And the flip-flops. He was still on leave from Harvard. None of the -- it was filled with bankers. None of them talked to him. He didn't talk to any of them. This is not --
BANFIELD: Once you get ready for prime time, even Steve Jobs knew to take the mock turtle neck off and put the business suit on when he did his road show and met with investors.
LIPMAN: I disagree. I don't think it's about the wardrobe. I do think it's about the job and where your mind set is and where your talents are. BANFIELD: If I showed up in a t-shirt, I would never be able to host Erin Burnett again, trust me. I hear your point without question. Shayndi and Joanne, thank you, both, I appreciate that very much.
Coming up, Patrick Kennedy on his close friend Jesse Jackson Jr. He's just visited him in the hospital where he's been treated for bipolar depression. Find out a little bit about that.
Also, police have released some brand-new dash cam video in that really mysterious case of Travis Carter. Does it clear up anything about how he ended up shot in the temple, even though his hands were cuffed behind his back and the police are saying he committed suicide?
You know, just while we're in commercial break, put your hands behind your back and pretend they're cuffed and see if you can do it. See if you can actually commit suicide by pretending to shoot yourself in the temple. You get a couple minutes.
BANFIELD: You know, it probably wouldn't be a surprise to a lot of people that 17-year-old Missy Franklin, who is a Team USA golden girl's swimmer, is a big fan of "The Hunger Games" books.
But here's somebody who might surprise you. Mitt Romney according to "The New York Times," that 65-year-old would apparently wind down his long days on the campaign trail with "The Hunger Games."
His personal assistant actually refers to those books as Mitt's fun books, which is kind of weird because it is actually dark. It portrays a post apocalyptic America where children fight for survival and kill each other.
Maybe Mitt can relate because this reminds him of the fighting and mudslinging on the campaign trail because both parties do that. The point is Missy Franklin and Mitt Romney are really on to something big here.
We all know that "The Hunger Games" movie has done incredibly well grossing more than $407 million. It is undoubtedly what's helped those books to along the way. They've become so popular that Amazon announced today "The Hunger Games" is now the site's best-selling book series of all time.
It's even topping Harry Potter. And guess what, it's topping "50 Shades of Gray." So what this means is that more and more "Hunger Games" readers are getting their fix through e-books. That brings us to tonight's number, which is 3.7.
Turns out there's more three times more the number of electronic books sold on Amazon than hard copies when it comes to the "Hunger Games."
So Mitt Romney, you are definitely not alone, if "The Hunger Games" and your fan club are all on the same page here. But if you really want what your personal assistant calls the fun book, I've heard "50 Shades of Gray" kind of fits that bill.
OUTFRONT, an update on a man who said that Progressive insurance actually helped to defend his sister's killer. Fill you in what he says now.
Also, a controversial Russian punk rock band jailed for two years. Some say just because they insulted President Putin. Does the punishment actually fit the crime? We'll find out more details.
BANFIELD: An OUTFRONT update now on a story we first brought to you on Wednesday. It's the story of Matt Fisher. He wrote a blog post titled "My Sister Paid Progressive Insurance to Defend Her Killer in Court."
Well, today, the family's attorney, Allen Cohen, tells us that the family has reached a settlement with the insurance company, Progressive. Now, he would not give us an exact amount of what the settlement was, just saying it was the tens of thousands of dollars. And that it was more than the claim balance that the family was originally seeking.
Let me take you to our third story OUTFRONT tonight. Police suicide or police cover-up? Suicide or cover-up? Really?
Jonesboro police now releasing new dash cam video today to help clear up the mystery surrounding death of 21-year-old Chavis Carter.
Carter was arrested for marijuana possession back on July 29th. He died from a gunshot wound to the temple while handcuffed in the back of the police cruiser. Police have said that Carter shot himself in a suicide, again, even though his wrists were cuffed behind his back.
The family says that is not true. They say they believe that the police killed him, and that the police are actually trying to cover all of this up.
So, let's take a closer look at the actual brand-new video and what, if anything, it tells us.
(VIDEO CLIP PLAYS)
BANFIELD: Well, my goodness, that's hard to tell much of anything. It turns out the cruisers were kind of pointing the opposite way. But the police report originally said that Travis gave them a fake name. On the tape, you and actually hear him stating his name. The police tape stops before the gunshots go off so we don't get that much.
From Memphis, Tennessee now, Benjamin Irwin joins us. He's an attorney --a civil attorney for Travis' mother and grandmother.
Mr. Travis (ph), thanks for being with us. Did you get anything out of -- we struggled to listen to a lot of it. And, in fact, a lot of it was being released and fed down to us even as we're live on the air. Did you find anything that will help your case or bolster your story?
BENJAMIN IRWIN, ATTORNEY FOR CHAVIS CARTER'S MOTHER, GRANDMOTHER: I think the problem, Ashleigh, is something you said a minute ago, about not really sure what was there, nothing different than what we had. It's a whole lot of nothing, a lot of quantity but no quality of information.
What we really need to see is what happened during those crucial moments when Chavis lost his life in the back of that car, how did he get in there? How did a gun get in there? Where did the gun come from? How does someone search a kid twice and still -- they're saying the gun was with him. How does it still get in the back seat of that car?
There's so many questions left to be answered.
BANFIELD: OK. Well, I know that Travis' mother has clearly said there's no way her son committed suicide in the back of that car. And the critics have said there's no way you can do this with your hands behind your back.
And our Randi Kaye actually did ask the police chief, Michael Yates, about it. Here's how he answered that question. How on earth could you actually do this?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHIEF MICHAEL YATES, JONESBORO POLICE DEPARTMENT: The average person that's never been in handcuffs, that's never been around inmates and people in custody, would react exactly the same way that you just did, about how can that be possible? Well, the fact of it is, it's very possible, and it's quite easy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BANFIELD: Well, as Randi Kaye did that report, they decided later, a couple days later to actually release a video to show how physically possible this would be. Let's roll the video so our viewers can watch it as well if they missed it. They've got a guy who is the same height, weight, build, cuffed, getting into the same cruiser ands actually using the same model of a weapon. He's pulling the gun around from the back of his head and modeling that you can see it is physically possible to do this.
So here's my question for you, sir: is it possible that perhaps people haven't been discussing that not only might this not have been an intentional suicide, maybe it was an accidental suicide? Maybe he was trying to hide the gun? Isn't that plausible, sir?
IRWIN: I think the bigger issue is how did we let a gun in this car, wherever it came from? We don't know if it came from Chavis. We don't know if it came in later.
As far as the video, that's one of the best stunts I've seen in a while. I mean, we don't know anything about who this was, putting in almost at the backseat of the car, they could be double jointed. We have no idea.
I mean, but it wouldn't even matter. You and I both know that what matters is what could Chavis do? That's the facts of the case that relate to that.
As far as what anybody else could do, that's irrelevant for the matter.
BANFIELD: All right. I'll tell you what? There is one thing that will clear all of this up. Once the forensics come in on this case, I think we're going to know a whole lot more, the trajectory of the bullet, any kind of blood spatter, the positioning of the bullet, the temple.
And, you know, the forensics tell a very different story. So once that happens I think you and I should have another conversation.
IRWIN: Absolutely, we look forward to it. We want the truth out there. The family needs the truth. And they need closure on this issue and we hope that Jonesboro police department will keep releasing information so we can get to the bottom of issue which is justice.
BANFIELD: Oh, good point. Thank you, Benjamin Irwin. I'm glad you brought that up, because a short while ago, the Jonesboro Police Department did release what they say is the rest of the dash cam video and we're going to bring our viewers an update just as soon as we can download it all, take a look through it all, and see if there's any more telling information. Thank you, sir.
Three members of the Russian female punk rock band Pussy Riot were found guilty today of something the Russians like to call hooliganism. That's the official charge, hooliganism. They were sentenced to two years in prison for it. The charges stem from a performance that they gave. Look at it.
It's on the altar of the Christ Savior Cathedral in Moscow. The song they were performing included the lyrics, "Mother Mary, please drive Putin away."
Interesting. Political lyrics.
The case has garnered international criticism of President Putin's intolerance for political opposition. Here's what the White House said in reaction today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOSH EARNEST, WHITE HOUSE SPOKESMAN: The United States is disappointed by the verdict. We have serious concerns about the way these young women -- about the way these young women had been treated by the Russian judicial system.
(END VIDEO CLIP) BANFIELD: Well, OUTFRONT tonight, Miriam Elder, Moscow correspondent for Britain's "Guardian" newspaper. I spoke to her earlier. I started by asking her what it was like in the courtroom when the verdict came down.
MIRIAM ELDER, MOSCOW CORRESPONDENT, THE GUARDIAN: The main obviously subject of the room was the three women who were sitting in a glass cage on the left-hand side of the room. What was strange this time is the handcuffs were left on them as they were sitting inside this glass cage. And they sort of just stared ahead the entire time the judge was reading through the verdict and the sentencing. As it became clear that the judge was finishing up, there were just some shouts of shame, shame in the courtroom, led by Alexei Navalny, who is a big opposition leader here.
BANFIELD: It's so odd to look at the images of them in the cage, hand cuffs or no handcuffs. You know, our first degree murderers in the United States at least get their handcuffs off in front of a jury and they certainly are not caged.
And all this for a charge called hooliganism. It sounds comedic here.
What actually is it?
ELDER: Hooliganism is one of these charges that's really liked and used by the Russian government. The other one is a charge called extremism.
And basically there are no laws on the books saying you can't criticize Putin or that you can't behave in a certain way politically. But there are these laws against hooliganism and against extremism that are used by the government whenever they feel the need to crack down on certain opponents or certain critics. That's what we've seen happen in this case.
So the women performed an anti-Putin punk song in a church and, therefore, have been charged with being hooligans.
BANFIELD: But it harkens me back to the old USSR or at least the last days of it, 1991, where this might have been the kind of charge they might have used regularly back then. Not now in 2012.
ELDER: Yes, but actually even back then, you know, it was formally forbidden to criticize the government. So it was sort of a more honest system. In this case, you formally, you know, rhetorically have democracy and Democratic institutions in Russia, but all kind of under the cover of these laws just like hooliganism that can be sort of picked up and used whenever the government deems necessary.
BANFIELD: So, let's talk a little bit about the church. As I understand it, their hooliganism, according to the allegations was not necessarily that they were speaking out against President Putin, but that they were doing this kind of action in a church and that might have been an affront to the religion itself or to the church itself. Is there any connection with this church and President Putin?
ELDER: Well, that's precisely what the three women were trying to expose. That's what they say they were trying to expose were the very close ties between the government and between the Russian Orthodox Church. The head of the Russian Orthodox Church, the patriarch, said last year that Putin was a miracle of God.
In the lead-up to the controversial elections we had in March, the presidential elections, he repeatedly came out to support Vladimir Putin. This is what really upset the women. They emerged as part of this greater protest movement against Putin. So this particular protest was their way of showing why is the church basically campaigning for a certain candidate?
BANFIELD: So back in '05, there was another really high-profile imprisonment of the billionaire -- you'll have to pardon my pronunciation, Mikhail Khodorkovsky. It turns out his sentence ends up being about 12 years. So, they got two years. He got 12 years.
Did they get off lightly in retrospect?
ELDER: Well, what's interesting about these cases, is that first one shows the goals -- the first round of Putin's presidency. This attempt to kind of get the very rich people, the oligarchs of Russia under control, and to get rid of potential political opponents. Whereas this trial is really against sort of grassroots dissidents against him.
BANFIELD: From what I gather, this is sort of a two-pronged effort by President Putin, number one, to send messages to protesters out there, that this can happen. Number two, to really curry favor with this church.
But does he care at all about the outrage that's either in his country or outside his country?
ELDER: He hasn't shown any sign of outrage yet. There's even been talk it can work to his advantage. These protests that broke out in Russia in December and carried on through the winter and the spring and are due to rise up again soon, Putin came out and blamed them on the U.S. state department, blamed them on Hillary Clinton.
So once you have all these western stars coming out in support of Pussy Riot and people, you know, rallying all over the world, this can kind of feed into that narrative of, look, while we told you this was all a plot of the West to bring Russia to her knees.
BANFIELD: From "The Guardian" newspaper, Miriam Elder, thank you very much. fascinating and enlightening. I do appreciate it.
ELDER: Thank you.
BANFIELD: We have some new pictures of Jesse Jackson Jr., the man who was going treatment for bipolar depression. We're going to talk with his good friend, former congressman Patrick Kennedy, about how Jesse Jackson Jr. is doing currently.
We also have some new pictures from mars, from the rover curiosity. If you're curious, we got some good stuff coming.
BANFIELD: Our fourth story OUTFRONT, new pictures of Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. The Illinois Democrat has not been seen on Capitol Hill since May, because he's undergoing treatment for bipolar depression at the Mayo Clinic. But one man who has seen him is his good friend, former Congressman Patrick Kennedy. They actually met at the Rochester, Minnesota, facility yesterday.
And OUTFRONT tonight, former congressman of Rhode Island, Patrick Kennedy, joins us live.
Sir, thanks so much for being with us.
Let me get right to it: how is he? Did you notice a difference? How's he doing?
FORMER REP. PATRICK KENNEDY (R), RHODE ISLAND: Well, he looks good, but as you know, these are mental illnesses, so you can't see them. Our veterans suffer from them because of traumatic brain injury and posttraumatic stress. And we call then the invisible wounds of war.
In other words, not only do our veterans but all Americans suffer from mental illnesses because we all have a brain. Our brain like every other organ in the body sometimes gets sick. But because it's our brain, we stigmatize the illness because the symptoms of these illnesses are behavioral.
KENNEDY: And, of course, in Jesse's case, he is suffering from a behavioral symptom. And that is depression, which doesn't allow him to really work to his maximum capacity. That's why he's in an inpatient facility at Mayo Clinic.
But if he was there for cancer, you wouldn't be doing this show tonight. Most Americans wouldn't care because they'd say, well, Jesse, go get the help. If you have cancer, get treated. But because Jesse has a mental illness, as I do, myself, and is fighting for his recovery, it somehow sparks this prurient interest, because we have a fascination with mental illness, because it's something we don't understand very much in America --
BANFIELD: I'm not so sure you can make that accusation fairly. He disappeared for a long time. There was quite a mystery about where he was and what was wrong. And now once America has found out that he is seeking treatment, I think there are a lot of Americans who care deeply about how he's doing and we were hoping tonight you would be able to give us that insight and maybe tell me if he's going to be able to come back to Capitol Hill. Can you tell me that? KENNEDY: Well, I can tell you that he's making his treatment a priority. And he has severe depression. Deep, deep depression. As we know, Ashleigh, suicide claims 36,000 Americans lives every year, twice the number that are killed in homicides. So it is a big killer. Its an epidemic in this country.
Jesse is getting the help he needs. He needs to make that his priority. And I am happy he is making it a priority it, not only for his own sake but for everybody who's watching, who also feels the shame and stigma of suffering from depression and a mental illness. So my salute is to Jesse.
Now, the fact that Jesse didn't talk about this as a mental illness early on is reminiscent of most American's experience. If you have a mental illness, you don't talk about it. And Jesse is not alone in America for not wanting to talk about it. I didn't want to talk about it when I was being in treatment -- when I was in treatment myself. And I dare say most Americans, if they suffer from a mental illness, don't want to talk about it.
I think most Americans care about what he's going through because they can identify what he's going through. Obviously as a public official he has responsibilities to his district. I believe that in the short term, in the next couple of weeks, he will be addressing his constituents about what his intentions are as to whether he's going to continue in public life or whether he's going to continue to focus on his long-term recovery.
But I'm happy to report that he's beginning the journey of long- term recovery. And I am one of his biggest fans to begin that journey because I know in my own life and in other friends of mine who have been on the road to recovery, that it can be a successful -- if you focus and make your recovery your priority in life.
BANFIELD: So, as many fans as he has, there are certainly a lot of critics as well. In fact, when he disappeared, some people criticized Jesse Jackson Jr., saying perhaps the involvement and the scrutiny with regard to the Rod Blagojevich scandal and any potential connections he might have to it caused a lot of stress and might have something to do with this. Does he react in any way to those accusations?
KENNEDY: There's no doubt that the stress in his life, particularly because he's under investigation, clearly perhaps precipitated this. But that's the mystery that we're uncovering in mental illness. Many of us have genetic predispositions to cancer, heart disease or, in this case mental illness. But they all got triggered by environmental factors.
In mental illness, stress is an environmental factor. And, clearly, I think that has been a factor in his succumbing to this outbreak of his bipolar disorder.
BANFIELD: Well, former Congressman Patrick Kennedy, I appreciate you taking the time to talk to us.
KENNEDY: Thank you.
BANFIELD: I wish not only Jesse Jackson Jr. Good wishes in his recovery but you yourself, as you say you try to make your recovery from mental illness also.
Moving on and coming up: big announcement from NASA today. We're going to take you to mars to show you some remarkable photos and talk rock vaporizing lasers. It's coming up.
BANFIELD: Our fifth story OUTFRONT tonight -- a big announcement today. I am such a geek when it comes to space.
The Mars rover Curiosity is finally ready to hit the road on Mars. There are no roads on Mars, I know, but it's going to hit the road anyway. And it's going to show us what it can do, including rock vaporizing lasers. Sweet.
OUTFRONT, Dr. Michael Shara joins me. He's an astrophysicist to the American Museum of Natural History, which means he's ways smarter than just about anybody I know.
Thanks for coming in.
DR. MICHAEL SHARA, ASTROPHYSICIST, AMERICAN MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY: Pleasure to be here.
BANFIELD: This is so great.
What's it going to do? Because right up until now, it's just been getting its gears going. It's been figuring itself out. Now, it's got a job to do.
SHARA: It's woken up. It's looking around, starting to take some really high resolution pictures. And we're going to start sampling some of the environment.
BANFIELD: Where? What environment? Where's it going?
SHARA: Well, we're sitting at the bottom of what was probably an old lake a couple billion years ago. We're going to be moving in the next few days or weeks. Start to get in line with a rock and fire that laser at it to vaporize it.
BANFIELD: What am I looking at? These are new pictures that NASA's released.
BANFIELD: To the untrained eye, I don't know what I'm looking at.
SHARA: Sure. So, the little spot there that says landing site is where they are. They're going to move over to something called Glenelg, about 500 yards of maybe five football fields in the next couple of weeks. When they get to Glenelg, they're going to be at the place where three different kinds of terrains meet. So, they'll able to sample both a place where there was water in the past and a place where there wasn't.
BANFIELD: Let's fly through some more photos that NASA has sent us and maybe you can tell me exactly what we're looking at. I like this one, they call it still life. Still life with the rover. What is the still life we're looking at?
SHARA: Well, there's different things here that we're seeing. On this particular picture, we -- I think you have up right now.
BANFIELD: I'm hoping to get it up at some point, if we don't get it up digitally -- there it is, good.
SHARA: We've got the rover and it's got some stuff that's sitting on top of it. That's because the blast engines from the crane that lowered it down to the surface kicked up some rocks onto it. The next picture shows --
BANFIELD: Flat plains?
SHARA: That's right, where we're actually going to be going. That's a picture that's almost 1 1/2 miles across. We can see the watery -- formally watery terrain it's going to be moving across. This going to take weeks and months and those hills are often the size of three, four, five-story apartment buildings.
BANFIELD: Dr. Shara, I could go on for two hours with you, thanks so much for walking us through that. There's a whole bunch more photos that we can get out online as well. It's good to see you. Thanks so much.
BANFIELD: "ANDERSON COOPER 360" starts right now.