Return to Transcripts main page
ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
High Price for Jobs; Obama Getting Ready to Counter; Aurora Victims' Fund
Aired August 31, 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, $1 million spent on every job Ben Bernanke says he created. Does it add up? Plus, "Obama Revealed", we have an exclusive sneak preview of a CNN documentary about the president and new details about his personal life. And an update on an OUTFRONT investigation into federal employees who got paid to work from home but get to travel across the country on taxpayer dimes. We've been trying for months now to find out how much it's costing us and tonight an answer.
Let's go OUTFRONT.
Well good evening, everyone. I'm Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight, $1 million per job. That's what America's top money man says we've spent on stimulus from the Fed alone. And he says that that is money well spent and he may spend more. Today Ben Bernanke was in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, a bucolic location for a big speech. And he defended his actions to help the U.S. economy and with good reason because the Fed chairman appointed by George W. Bush, embraced by President Obama, but criticized by some influential people, including Mitt Romney, has a little bit of an image problem right now. As President Romney, for example, Ben Bernanke would lose his job.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: My view has been that I would want to select someone who was a new member -- excuse me -- a new person to that chairman's position, someone who shared my economic views.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Romney's running mate, budget hawk Paul Ryan, is not a fan either because Ryan chided the chairman during a Hill hearing earlier this year.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: A lot of us believe the Federal Reserve was too loose for too long in the 2003 to 2005 period and that's what in part led to the asset bubble and the mal (ph) investment that occurred and the problems we have today. I know you don't agree with that, but because you don't agree with that, our fear is that you're just going to repeat these same mistakes again but by orders of magnitude that we can't even comprehend right now. (END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Paul Ryan is right about one thing. What the Fed has done over the past few years has never happened before in history. The question is though will Ryan and Romney's words backfire? After all, Ben Bernanke could be the kingmaker or breaker. The man who controls who wins in November, so picking on him and saying you're going to fire him could drive him to, well, you know announce another round of Fed spending. And that announcement just on its own could send stocks higher. And as Jim Bianco (ph) of Bianco Research (ph) has noted, that is crucial because he notes that President Obama's poll numbers rise and fall in conjunction with the stock market.
So a well-timed bounce in stocks could mean everything to the president. But as to whether more money from the Fed will work, the record so far is dicey. That's why today in that huge speech in Jackson Hole, Wyoming Ben Bernanke made 43 references, 43 references to other experts to bolster his view. That his easy money for America is working. PIMCO executive VP Tony Crisinski (ph) tells OUTFRONT that that is nearly double the number of references Ben Bernanke has ever made before in his lifetime.
And everybody this is a guy who is a brainy, wonky (ph) professor. He likes to reference academic things, so this was a very big record, so why was he so defensive? Why does Mitt Romney for example think that Ben is dead wrong? Well here are the facts. In total, the two rounds of what is referred to as quantitative easing, Ben Bernanke's Fed has injected $2.3 trillion into our economy. That's $2.3 trillion that did not exist before the Fed created them. And Bernanke today said something pretty incredible. He has never said this before.
He was trying to prove why that $2.3 trillion has worked and he said this is why. It has created two million private sector jobs. Those jobs created as a direct result of his easy money. Well, that's pretty interesting because that's an interesting link between jobs and how much he spent because that is not a cheap cost per job. In fact, it is more than a cool million dollars per job, $1.2 million to be exact. So let's just repeat that because it did take a second to digest it. That's $1.2 million per job. So for those who are keeping track, we are not counting the president's extra two trillion or so dollars in stimulus in that money, just the Fed's money divided by the number of jobs.
History, though, may prove Ben Bernanke is completely right. As I said, this has never been done before, so the payoff could take more time and as he said today, taxpayers may actually make money on his policy. He may be completely vindicated, but the big question now is with unemployment still stuck above eight percent, should Bernanke go for it again, make 2.3 trillion, 2.8 trillion, 2.7 trillion? So far, as we've reported on OUTFRONT, each round of easy money, quantitative easing, has had less of an effect than the one before. The goal has been to lower interest rates and spark lending. Interest rates only went down in a meaningful way after the first round. We're going to go by the U.S. 30-year fixed rate mortgage because that's a good benchmark. It fell, as you can see, from just over six percent to just over five. Round two that was in June of last year and the 30-year mortgage rate during that round actually went up. But the truth is these rates are low no matter how you look at them. And as we all know, low rates in and of themselves have not met more lending in America or an economic recovery. Stephen Moore joins us now from "The Wall Street Journal" (INAUDIBLE) and Laura Tyson a member of President Obama's Council of Jobs and Competitiveness. She also served as a chair of the Council of Economic Advisers during the Clinton administration, so I'm really glad to have both of you here. You have very divergent points of view. Stephen Moore, let me start with you, because you were probably thrilled when Ben Bernanke said two million jobs and you could divide the 2.3 trillion and get $1.2 million per job. That's a pretty high number.
STEPHEN MOORE, WALL STREET JOURNAL: Yes, sure is and I was hardly thrilled by it. I mean what the means if we're going to put another let's say put a million people to work, we're going to have to print a trillion more dollars. I'm not so sure that's such a good bargain. I'm not so sure. I'm not as rosy as you are about his performance, Ben Bernanke and the Fed's performance, over the last three or four years. It is true, they printed several trillion dollars. It is true we've had a couple of million jobs created, but it's also true, Erin, with this record amount of money creation and low interest rates we've had the lousiest job creation in any post World War II recession since the Great Depression. So where is the evidence that this works? One last point if I may.
MOORE: You asked the question is this going to bail out Barack Obama, is the push for QE3 going to help Obama get re-elected? I doubt it. I think that you know it's too late for -- it doesn't matter what the Fed does at this point in my opinion. It's too late for those dollars (INAUDIBLE) because it usually takes three to six to nine months for those dollars now to really percolate through the economy.
BURNETT: So Laura, what's your point of view? Will history prove that Ben Bernanke is right, that this is something that saved and helped the U.S. economy or not?
LAURA TYSON, SENIOR FELLOW, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: I think history will prove him right. I think that it's very, very, very -- I want to do three "verys" misleading to talk about spending money. It is correct to say that the Fed has been involved in a balance sheet transaction. It has been buying assets. It is holding those assets on its books. It believes, and I think there is evidence to support this view, that those assets will make money for the taxpayers. So to compare this to government spending is just misleading -- number one.
Number two, I think it's really misleading to suggest in any way that Bernanke and the Fed would be influenced by the election in terms of what they do. This is an evidenced-driven group. That's why they cited the 43 studies. Unlike, unlike, if you listen to the speeches of the candidates in the convention this past week, there was no evidence. There were just assertions and there were asterisks. So the Fed is following a set of evidence. The Fed will make a decision on what to do based on the state of the economy. They have said that on and on and on for the past several years.
TYSON: They look at the um employment rate. They look at the inflation rate. The employment rate suggests and the inflation rate that there is a reason to do more QE now --
BURNETT: All right hold on. I want to --
TYSON: -- and as they said fairly soon.
BURNETT: Let me just -- let me just jump in on that because I want to follow up on something with this. We talk about the Fed not being political and I think everybody gives Ben Bernanke credit for not being political. And in fact really, we're all aware the man has been registered as a Republican. So, but let me ask you this because Chuck Schumer, Democrat, obviously, put out a statement about Ben Bernanke today, about those remarks. And he said quote "it's clear that Chairman Bernanke as he looks at the economic indicators believes it's time to prime the pump, i.e., go out with more money. He should not let any political backlash deter him from following through and doing the right thing." Laura, isn't that political pressure?
TYSON: I don't agree with -- I don't agree with Senator Schumer's statement either. I think that one of the most important features of the U.S. economic system is the independence of the Fed, the Fed with leadership now that looks at the economic evidence and makes very reasonable decisions. I do not think politicians should be commenting on the Fed.
MOORE: You know, Laura, I agree with that.
TYSON: Particularly in a political season --
TYSON: Particularly the political season.
MOORE: Right and I agree with your point. I wasn't trying to make the point that the Fed is being political. What I was trying to say, Erin, is that I think it's probably too late no matter what the Fed does to influence what's going to happen with the economy before the election. And my major point, though, and maybe this is where Laura and I disagree, I just don't think creating economic growth and creating jobs is as easy as just printing money. If it were, we'd be out of this mess and I just don't see any evidence that it has worked very well.
BURNETT: All right, I'm only going to hit pause there because I know Laura disagrees with the definition of printing money, but we will have both of you back and it's a good pairing. Thanks to both. Have a great long weekend. And still OUTFRONT after a week of attacks from the Republicans, how should President Obama fight back? The mayor of Los Angeles and chair of the Democratic National Convention Antonio Villaraigosa is OUTFRONT next.
Plus, $5 million, $5 million have been raised for the survivors and families of victims killed in the Colorado movie theater shooting, so why haven't they received any of the money -- an investigation -- and how a tell-all book about the raid that killed Osama bin Laden could send a Navy SEAL to jail.
BURNETT: Our second story OUTFRONT, fighting back. In just four days, the president will get his turn to make his case against attacks like these.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The president hasn't disappointed you because he wanted to. The president has disappointed America because he hasn't led America in the right direction.
REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: These past four years we have suffered no shortage of words in the White House. What is missing is leadership in the White House!
ROMNEY: You listened to the last guy running for president. He laid out what he would do. He was unable to do it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Fighting words, so what does the president need to do at his convention, his big moment at the podium? OUTFRONT tonight, the mayor of Los Angeles, Antonio Villaraigosa, national co-chair for the Obama campaign and chairman for the Democratic National Convention, the man in poll position for all of the key issues next week. Mayor great to see you, so obviously those are just a few of samples of what we've heard over the past few days out of Tampa, Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan attacking the president's leadership on many fronts. Should the president respond in kind?
MAYOR ANTONIO VILLARAIGOSA (D), LOS ANGELES: Absolutely not, he's going to be presidential. He's going to tell the truth, something novel at the Republican Convention. You saw soaring rhetoric. There were a lot great speeches. But there wasn't a lot of meat to either what Governor Romney had to say or really what most of the speakers had to say, so I think the president is going to focus on his plan. A $4 trillion plan to cut spending, to reduce the deficit, a plan to keep Medicare strong, a plan that will make sure that we don't extend the Bush tax cuts on the super wealthy so that we can maintain the quality of life and not raise taxes on the middle class, a plan that will invest in education and infrastructure, a plan that will move America forward. You know, if you listen, if you read the platform of the Republican Party, you would think they're trying to repeal the 20th Century. They're taking us back with those platforms. But interestingly enough, their speeches didn't speak to the platform. They spoke to soaring rhetoric and I think we're going to put a lot more beef in our speeches.
BURNETT: Right. Well, obviously, the candidate and the Republican Party's in an awkward position in that he doesn't agree with some of his party platform, which is a totally separate conversation. But let me ask you this, because you talk about the president's plan. There's also this reality, right, four years in a row of trillion dollar deficits. Gas prices up nine percent in the month of August, unemployment still above eight percent. It's been a bad four years for a lot of people. How does the president get through that and say I'm going to do something different now?
VILLARAIGOSA: Well, let me tell you, according to -- well first of all, we've created more jobs -- there have been 29 straight months of a growing economy. We've created more jobs in the last year than Bush did in the eight before that. According to Moody's analytics, if we keep on moving forward, if they work with the president on his jobs act we can create another 12 million jobs. There's no question that we've got to do so in a way that's balanced. We've got to protect the middle class. We've got to make investments that will pay dividends down the line. That's very different from what Mr. Romney would do. As you know the Romney-Ryan plan would extend the deficit for 29 years. So the budget hawks, the people who talk about reducing the deficit would actually extend it. Their plan would undermine Medicare. Their plan would put $5 trillion of taxes -- cut $5 trillion of taxes and raise taxes on the middle class. That's very different from what Democrats and President Obama want to do.
BURNETT: All right, well this is going to be an interesting war of ideas. I am excited to see you in Charlotte, so I look forward to seeing you in person.
VILLARAIGOSA: I look forward to seeing you too, Erin.
BURNETT: All right, Mayor Villaraigosa of Los Angeles.
Well still ahead there has been $5 million raised for the survivors and the families of people who were killed in that horrible shooting in the Colorado movie theater, so why has none of that money been handed out -- OUTFRONT investigates -- and disastrous flooding in the wake of Isaac.
BURNETT: Our third story OUTFRONT accused Colorado shooter James Holmes is back in solitary confinement tonight. It's just a day after his court appearance in which his psychiatrist testified that she had contacted campus police after their last meeting, which was on June 11th, now that was six weeks before the massacre that killed 12 and wounded 58. Meanwhile, survivors and families of victims are asking questions about $5 million that have been raised in donations for them. They say they haven't seen much of the money and they're demanding answers. Our Kyung Lah investigates.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): With every step Josh Nolan (ph) feels shooting pain where a bullet ripped through his calf and broke his arm. This was Nolan (ph), a 31-year-old Navy veteran, a day after the shooting.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm still alive.
LAH: A month later, he's now swimming in bills. He's on short- term disability, only getting about half of his paycheck, struggling to support his two children even though donors across the country gave $5 million to a victim's fund. Nolan (ph) and 70 other survivors and family members have only received $5,000 each.
JOSH NOWLAN, AURORA SHOOTING VICTIM: It's like being teased with a bunch of money. It's like oh here's $5 million but you can't touch it until I say so.
LAH: So where is the rest of the $4.6 million, sitting in a fund.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This isn't rocket science, what I do.
LAH: Feinberg knows that all too well because he's been the administrator for three high-profile victims funds, 9/11, the BP oil spill, and the Virginia Tech mass shooting. With Virginian Tech, Feinberg was able to distribute $7 million for the shooting victims in just 45 days.
KENNETH FEINBERG, 9/11, VA TECH FUNDS ADMINISTRATOR: Here are the rules. Here who is eligible. Here's how much money you get. The check is in the mail. I don't understand why it has to be complex.
LAH: But the nonprofits in Aurora have set up a complex system. This is the Community First Foundation. They're holding the funds.
(on camera): So it's not as simple as just writing a check?
MARLA WILLIAMS, PRES., COMMUNITY FIRST FOUNDATION: Well to whom and what amount and for what purpose. I mean that -- I think that's the part that we just want to make sure we've been smart about.
LAH (voice-over): Community First Foundation President Marla Williams says the nonprofits immediately hit hurdles, a gag order on law enforcement that made it difficult to verify all the victim's names. Now they're trying to form a community input group and then the governor's office got involved and then another layer of nonprofits.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE)
LAH: This is the Colorado Organization for Victim Assistance or COVA. They actually give the money to the victims after Community First Foundation releases the funds. But COVA wouldn't talk to us, citing that gag order, but they did say this.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A hundred percent of the donations that are coming to COVA are going to the victims.
LAH (on camera): The frustration from the families is that there shouldn't be all of these middle men involved, all of these nonprofits, that it should be money from the donor directly to the victims.
FEINBERG: Get the compensation delivered to the victims and their families as soon as possible. Delay is the enemy of these programs.
LAH: This $5 million fund what would you like to tell the administrators of the fund?
NOWLAN: Get off your butt and get the funds to the people that needs it.
LAH (voice-over): Until that happens, Nowlan will continue to limp along, basically on his own.
Kyung Lah, CNN, Aurora, Colorado.
BURNETT: Well the governor of Colorado held a meeting today with victims' families and the nonprofits pledging to help them. Now, no money was actually issued but the nonprofit said they're going to speed up the process. Families tell CNN they will believe it when they see it.
Well next an update on an OUTFRONT investigation. The federal government paying employees to work from home on top of spending taxpayer money to have them travel around the country, so how much is it costing us? It's a question we have been asking for months and tonight an answer and the Pentagon threatening to go after a Navy SEAL who penned a tell-all about Osama bin Laden and the raid that killed him. Is there a case?
BURNETT: We start the second half of our show with stories we care about, where we focus on our reporting from the front lines and we begin tonight with Isaac. Some residents across the Gulf Coast are cleaning up from the hurricane. Others though are still being asked to evacuate because of floods. Authorities say four deaths have been reported and utility companies tell us tonight that more than 600,000 people in Arkansas, Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi are without power tonight. Meanwhile, Republican presidential-nominee Mitt Romney toured damage and met with first responders in New Orleans today and the White House announced President Obama will travel to Louisiana to meet with officials Monday.
Well, a federal judge has halted a new law that restricted early voting in Ohio. Ohio's new law had cut off early voting for most people three days before the election. This was a procedure the Obama campaign has been fighting saying it would primarily affect minority and low-income voters who will vote much closer to the election in their view. The judge agreed, granting an injunction, saying the public interest deserved by restoring early voting to all Ohio voters.
In a statement to OUTFRONT, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine says he disagrees with the ruling and he will file an appeal on Tuesday.
Well, consumers are feeling a little bit more optimistic today. The University of Michigan comes every month with consumers sentiment index, it's an important gauge of what people are going to spend money and it hit a three-month high. Lower interest rates and price discounts were the reason for that.
We spoke to an economist, though, who said the improving job market will help in the medium term, but the longer term is still could be pretty grim. There's uncertainty in the political world and of course the problems in Europe.
Well, Facebook shares today hit a new all-time low in trading. Many brokerages came out and cut their price targets from where they think the stock could actually trade and it closed at $18. That is 52 percent lower than where it IPO'd.
Analysts say the upcoming lockup expirations -- basically what that means is insiders and big investors who were in at the beginning, they're going to be allowed finally to sell. They're prohibited for the first two months. When they're allowed to sell, they think that's going to mean the stock will go down even further.
Well, it has been 393 days since the U.S. lost its top credit rating. What are we doing to get it back?
Well, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke's remarks did give a lift to the stock market today. All three major indices ended the day higher. The Dow gained 90 points.
Our fourth story OUTFRONT: An update on an investigation we first brought you last week. How the federal government's General Services Administration is spending your tax dollars on its employees who work from home full time.
Now, a lot of companies do this. They say it saves commute time, office space and hassle. Maybe people aren't as productive, maybe they are. But there's a catch here -- some of these government workers, actually quite a few of them, don't even live in the city or state where the office is located. And the costs are adding up.
Here's an example of one GSA virtual employee that we told you about last week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: We'll call him Mr. X because he hasn't personally done anything wrong. In Kansas City, when the GSA was looking for a new business development specialist, Mr. X in Hawaii emerged as the perfect candidate. For $86,000 a year, he was on the federal payroll, living and working not even at the GSA's office right in downtown Honolulu, but from his home, as a virtual employee of the Kansas City office.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Now, Mr. X has had to make 13 trips since he was hired which has cost taxpayers nearly $33,000. Just in travel. Now, remember, this is the agency whose mission is to monitor how much other government agencies are spending. It was created in the spirit of helping provide a transparent government for the American people.
Drew Griffin from our Special Investigations Unit has been trying to find out for months how much all this extra travel is costing. It's his voice you heard there. His report on Mr. X.
And you have gotten delay after delay after delay, Drew, from the GSA, to get what you've asked for. But tonight, some answers?
GRIFFIN: Yes, some answers. Actually we got them earlier this week, Erin, while you and the rest of America were focusing on the Republican National Convention, that's when the GSA finally gave us a breakdown of all this, gave us the actual figures of how many people are virtual employees.
And here's what they are -- 379 of them work for the GSA all over the country, only one in Hawaii. And over the last four years, these workers have racked up $7.7 million in travel costs. That guy in Hawaii is the only one that caught our attention but there are, now, even worse examples of excess spending, Erin, for these programs.
More than $140,000 in travel costs over four years by a GSA employee based in Miami whose office is in Washington. Another one costing taxpayers $64,000 over two years lives in the state of Washington, travels back and forth to his office in Washington, D.C.
This is the kind of waste the GSA's new acting administrator says he's going to end, and vowed to end it.
BURNETT: Interesting, Drew. As you point out, you've been asking for this information for a very long time and it companies out in the middle of the Republican National Convention. Maybe they thought you wouldn't notice it but they were wrong.
And a follow up for you, because as you pointed out last week, Mr. X, the person who lives in Hawaii, who supposedly was the perfect candidate for the person in Kansas City, I think you said -- the GSA said, look, he was the only guy who could do this job.
A lot of people say, really, there's only one person who could do that job? And you've got to pay for them to travel from Honolulu to Kansas City?
GRIFFIN: That was the initial argument. He wound up making those 13 trips out of Hawaii, since he was hired. That's just in about a year, Erin.
Well, we're told he's no longer traveling. It's not going to be allowed anymore. But let me tell you about another guy and you make your own judgment. He worked for the GSA based out of the Washington, D.C. office, but actually lives in Leawood, Kansas. For a while, he was the project manager assigned to oversea the renovation of the Thurgood Marshall courthouse in New York.
In just eight months, he made 58 trips from Leawood, Kansas, to New York City. It cost us $99,000 in travel costs. That project, by the way, was severely criticized for $75 million in cost overruns.
Now, I'm going to tell you, he no longer works for the GSA. We don't know why. But I've got to ask the question of GSA, they couldn't find a potential candidate in New York City? I mean, the talent pool is so weak in New York City you had to go to Leawood, Kansas?
BURNETT: Yes, to a guy who had the courthouse overrun by $75 million? I mean, that's -- well, that's sometimes the numbers and the words speak for themselves.
One other thing, though, Drew, is a lot of people -- there was a lot of response to your report last week, about Mr. X. We heard from some viewers who said, all right, all right. But what's the big deal, don't you have to travel as part of business? These people were a little bit more understanding.
GRIFFIN: Yes. We can only report that whatever excessive travel that was so needed, the GSA has now stopped. The virtual employee program has pretty much ended its excess travel. The acting administrator telling us lots the kind of travel we've done in the past like the ones we brought to their attention, the guy in Hawaii, no longer acceptable.
So, again, you have to make your own judgment call, were these people really needing to travel? We're also told the virtual workers themselves, they're going to be reviewed case by case to se if it really makes sense to have people in Miami working in D.C., or a Kansas City-based employee living in Hawaii.
BURNETT: I think we're al very grateful to Drew Griffin for being the one to go out and expose this and get them to make some changes. Thanks so much, Drew.
BURNETT: And now to the controversy surrounding the release of a new book by a former Navy SEAL. He was the second man in during the raid to take down Osama bin Laden. It's called "No Easy Day" -- a firsthand account of the mission to kill bin Laden written by Mark Owen. That's a pseudonym. His real name is Matt Bissonnette.
Just four days before the book's release, he faces charges possible criminal charges though for violating non-disclosure agreements with the U.S. military and for failing to have the book reviewed by the U.S. government. According to the Department of Defense, the former Navy SEAL has a continuing obligation to, quote, "never divulge classified information". And this remains enforce even after leaving the military.
Mark Zaid is a national security attorney who has hired many cases like this one. He is OUTFRONT tonight.
(INAUDIBLE) Mark. I appreciate it.
So, let's just start off with he signed these agreements that he can't ever divulge classified information. And now that the Pentagon was saying, look, we're considering legal action against this man. We think that he did something wrong. What could they charge him with?
MARK ZAID, NATIONAL SECURITY ATTORNEY: Well, they have a few things they could charge him with. One, they can seek a civil suit against him for breach of contract. Essentially that he failed to submit the book for prepublication. That would subject him, if they're correct, to civil penalties like seizure of his royalties or his advance.
And then if it is determined that he disclosed classified information, he could be subjected to criminal penalties and a sentence in jail.
BURNETT: So, he could actually have to serve jail time?
BURNETT: I mean, any sense from precedent if it were to get to that how long?
ZAID: Well, there's never been a prior case where an individual who wrote a book was sentenced to jail. There have been leaked prosecutions of course.
And, you know, the case isn't over yet because it's not just going to be the book that's about to be published on Tuesday. But if this SEAL goes on television as he is with "60 Minutes", but any other interview after, if he repeats the classified information, each successive time will subject him potentially to increased criminal penalties. Years in jail each time.
BURNETT: Well, that's very interesting. OK. That's fascinating. You talk about this book. I want everyone to understand, not only is the book coming out Tuesday, but on the Amazon, it is already the number one best seller in the United States. This is not just any book. This is a topic a lot people are very, very curious about.
So what extra pressure does that put on the U.S. government, Mark?
ZAID: Well, tremendous. Now, if anyone remembers back to the Pentagon papers case 40 years ago and the thought of could the government stop publication of the book? The legal standard is just too high. The fact is the book's been out and obviously media has copies of it. So it would be too difficult to put the genie back in the bottle. BURNETT: Right.
ZAID: But anyway, the publisher has really ratcheted this up. Not only increased the number of print run from 300,000 to 400,000, but expedited the publication date from the 11th to the 4th.
So practically speaking, there's not even any time for the government to do anything.
BURNETT: And, look, some people might say this is pretty disgusting. You come back, all these other guys are on your team and they don't do this and you want to get rich and you go and put a pseudonym and write a book and don't get it reviewed.
But other people might say, no, what's wrong with what he did, after all, the president gave details of what happened in the raid. Right? It's his version where he said Osama bin Laden was reaching for a gun and that's why they shot him. Obviously, in this book, the SEAL actually refutes that and said they didn't know whether he was armed or not, they had no idea. But I guess what I'm asking is, the president said that so maybe the Pentagon doesn't have a case against this guy.
ZAID: Well, Erin, there's actually nothing wrong with this Navy SEAL writing a book. The fact is, though he didn't submit it for prepublication review and give the government the opportunity to determine if this classified information in it. He has a First Amendment right to write, to write unclassified information. But not classified.
And we're going to find out soon enough whether or not there's classified information in the book. And if there is, that may subject him, as I said, to criminal penalties. And I think that the U.S. government is even contemplating possibly going after the publisher itself for facilitating the disclosure of national defense or classified information or soliciting the transfer of classified information which will be a strong chilling message to everyone in the media including CNN not to disclose classified information.
BURNETT: It certainly would. And, of course, the publisher on this case for those who are curious is Penguin.
Thanks very much, Mark. A your time.
ZAID: Thank you.
BURNETT: So what is President Obama like behind the scenes? We'll hear from the person who is always by the president's side.
BURENTT: Our fifth story OUTFRONT: Even after four years in the public eye, President Obama is still sometimes dogged by charges he's sometimes too aloof, too cool. But there are only 67 days to go before Election Day. Chief White House correspondent Jessica Yellin asked the president about those labels, in an exclusive interview for a new CNN documentary.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Sometimes Michelle and I not doing the circuit and going out to dinners with folks is perceived as us being cool. It actually has more to do with us being parents. When we're in town here in Washington, in the evenings, 6:30, we want to be at the dinner table with our kids and I want to be helping with their homework. I think that's sometimes interpreted as me not wanting to be out there slapping backs and wheeling and dealing. It really has more to do with just the stage we are in our lives.
JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: If you're re-elected, your girls will be older. They'll probably have their own weekend plans. They might no want to hang out with mom and dad.
OBAMA: It's already starting to happen. Yes.
YELLIN: Do you think you might do more outreach, what you call back slapping, with members of Congress?
OBAMA: My hope is that getting past this election, people will have an opportunity to maybe step back and say, you know what, the differences that divide us aren't as important as the common bonds we have as Americans. And some of that I'm sure will require additional effort on my part. Hopefully, we'll see more effort on the other side as well.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Now, Jessica, it's interesting, he talks a lot about being a dad. You had a chance to see an unprecedented sense of the personal side of Barack Obama. What was your takeaway?
YELLIN: I think that he believes that the reason he's not doing more outreach is because he wants to do more family time with his kids. And one of his closest aides, Erin, told me he wants to be the kind of father he did not have. And that's very important to him. I believe that.
But, you know, at the same time obviously it's become something of a challenge in Washington, because during a very partisan time, he does not have those kind of very close relationships with members of Congress. So it definitely has not helped. Let's put it that way.
BURNETT: Yes. All right. Well, you can talk about the personal side and his daughters. But there's another personal side to him as evidenced by a man I guess who's always by his side, Reggie Love.
Let's take a look at that exchange.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) YELLIN (voice-over): Reggie Love knows the president as a strong midrange shooter.
REGGIE LOVE, FORMER PERSONAL AIDE TO PRES. OBAMA: He'll take his midrange jumper and HE will attack the basket. He will knock down open shots when he's got them.
YELLIN: The kind of guy you want on your side. Love has been on the president's team since the campaign days.
(on camera): What's he like when he's just hanging out?
LOVE: He's just a guy, you know. He likes the Bulls. He likes the Bears. He likes sports. He likes cars. Like most guys I know, which I think can sometimes be hard for some people because they're taken aback by it. Like, oh, wait, he's just like me but he's the president.
YELLIN (voice-over): As his personal assistant and confidant, Love has seen the president as few others have.
LOVE: He's very much a person who enjoys the simple things in life. You know, enjoys watching a good game. Enjoys a good cocktail. He's competitive about everything he does. If it's bowling or pool or shuffle board. There isn't anything I think he'd be OK losing at.
BURENTT: Well, you can see so much more of Jess -- your documentary. It's just amazing.
Jessica Yellin had amazing access to the president, through the people who knew him best, all of them, personal confidants, closest advisers of the president himself.
So, watch her amazing documentary, "Obama Revealed: The Man, the President." Monday night, 8:00 Eastern and Pacific on CNN.
All right, now let's check in with Anderson Cooper with a look at what's coming up on "A.C. 360."
ANDERSON COOPER, HOST: Hey, Erin.
Yes, we're leading off tonight with a look at areas at Louisiana and Mississippi hardest hit by hurricane Isaac, days after Isaac moved through New Orleans, for instance, many areas are still flooded. Mississippi, among other states, is also feeling the effect of days of drenching rains.
The breaking news, officials tell CNN preparations are ongoing to make a cut in a dam that could fail threatening homes downstream. John Zarrella is there. He has the latest.
Also, the moment from the final night of the Republican National Convention that's got everyone talking, talking of course about Clint Eastwood, his empty chair moment, his performance I guess you might call it, a speech, his imaginary conversation with President Obama. I'll speak with Michael Barbaro who wrote the story for "The New York Times" and chief political analyst Gloria Borger about what the Romney campaign is saying and how this actually happen. Did they vet this? Did they know what Clint Eastwood was going to do in advance?
Also ahead, a stunning assertion from a Catholic priest. This man said that in a lot sex abuse cases, it was the teenage victim of priestly sex abuse who was, in fact, the seducer. He's blaming the victims, blaming the children, for being seducers. He also said that first time sex offenders should not be imprisoned and he appeared to express sympathy for Jerry Sandusky.
We'll have more on the story tonight. It is causing outrage in a lot of quarters, also the "Ridiculist" and a lot more, Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Anderson, see you in just a few minutes.
And, next, railing, literally, against politics in America.
BURNETT: Road trip. In the 19th century, the railroad was the most efficient way to travel across the country. And private rail cars were really the equivalent of today's private planes. So it's no surprise that many presidential candidates including Lincoln, Roosevelt and Truman used trains to campaign.
And while whistle stop tours are now more of a novelty than a necessity, one man hopes that this political tradition continues.
He's John Paul DeJoria, an OUTFRONT strike member and a founder of Paul Mitchell and Patron tequila. He has purchased one of the most well-known private trains in American history, a Roosevelt campaign train. He's using it to spread his own political message, and taking the train to both Republican and Democratic conventions.
He invited us to join him on board at the Amtrak station in Tampa.
BURNETT: This isn't made to look like an old train.
PAUL DEJORIA, CO-FOUNDER AND CEO, PAUL MITCHELL: No, this is an old train. Yes, this train is 1927. You're sitting in a room right now where the famous senator from the great state of Louisiana, Huey Long, spent many an hour, many a meal. Roosevelt campaigned off the back of this train in the early part of the 1900s.
There were 10,000 private train cars. Everyone that ran for the office, especially the presidential office, did it off the back of a train. This was the CNN of the day, where you go around and you talk off the back of the train. You get your message, grassroots, where people could feel and see the politician eye to eye. BURNETT: You spent a lot of money, I mean, you refurbished it to make it looked like it would have looked.
DEJORIA: I took the whole thing apart. Make sure the train runs off biodiesel, refurbished everything. And put what you would call state of the art electronics, behind the walls that you can't see.
BURNETT: So, you're here in Tampa. You're going to be in Charlotte, too.
BURNETT: And you're bringing this train because of the symbolism.
DEJORIA: That's correct. It is symbolism here. We go to each convention to give our speech out there. To let people know, hey, we love you out there, for one, but let's get back to what is America all about. America works. America is real.
BURNETT: Well, of course, the whistle stop tour isn't the only thing in danger of disappearing in American political life. So, during our conversation John Paul told me how he wants to use the train to keep bipartisanship in government.
BURNETT: You're here at the Republican convention but let me just ask you -- are you a Republican?
DEJORIA: I'm not a Republican.
DEJORIA: I'm not a Democrat.
BURNETT: What are you?
DEJORIA: I'm an independent, straight in the middle. I've donated to candidates that I thought would be good that are Republican and Democrats alike.
BURNETT: Let's talk about Ted Cruz.
BURNETT: This is a guy who the country's now watching, Tea Party. He's going to be -- he's at the convention. He's a guy that -- he's polarizing to a lot of people, all right, because he's a Tea Party guy. But he's been on your train.
DEJORIA: Oh, yes.
BURNETT: And you like him. DEJORIA: I like him a lot.
BURNETT: What do you like about him?
DEJORIA: One, when he ran for his position, he was running for senator of the state of Texas, the Republican seat.
DEJORIA: He ran by going from town to town to town. He told people, I'm going to really do this. It's not I don't deserve to your senator, I'm going to do it.
I said, Ted, I'm trying to get both candidates to do this. Write their campaign promises down. And put after they write it down, if we don't do this our first year or get it started the first year, impeach me.
The first thing Ted said to me was, J.P., I would do that in two seconds, because that's what I'm telling people. I'm the real thing. He says, J.P, I'll write it for you. I'll write out all the promises. And I'll writer there, if I don't do this my first year, impeach me. I don't deserve to be your senator and sign my name. Or at least get it started the first year, J.P., I'll do that in two seconds.
BURNETT: So, he's the first guy --
DEJORIA: He's the first guy.
BURNETT: -- put his pen on that paper and sign it.
BURNETT: What you're saying sounds great. But let's just say he said, I'm going to reduce the federal debt and I sign. Or Grover Norquist, right, I'm not going to allow any tax increases at all. Instead of being able to compromise, compromise become, impossible.
BURNETT: So how do you make these promises something that makes the country move forward?
DEJORIA: Very simple. You go in front the American public and say, this is my promise. Here's what I'm trying to do. Here's what I may have to do to compromise. Here's why I have to do it politically to keep my campaign promise.
BURNETT: There's a debt clock here at the Republican national convention. I know you'll be here on the floor looking at the clock. They've got two of them, right? They got overall debt clock and how much debt run up in a few days.
DEJORIA: I saw it last night when I was there.
BURNETT: Is that the biggest issue we face? DEJORIA: I think there's more issues than just debt. Debt definitely is an issue. You can't keep on having debt. You ruin your economy for everybody.
That's just one of the issues. I think even a bigger issue is America let's come together and work with one another. Some people are creating jobs. How are they doing it? And it's not just throwing money out there. To let people survive.
BURNETT: So have you decided who you're going to vote for? Are you going to decide soon?
DEJORIA: I'd rather not talk about who I'm going to vote for now. I will decide before the time comes. Right now, I'm just giving America a chance to be heard. And at the same time, they hear what I'm about to say too. And what I want -- what I want to say about accountability. It's a two-way street.
BURNETT: And an update to that story that we just got tonight. John Paul telling me that Cruz gave him a sign letter. It was a little different than what he is expecting. He said it says Cruz will not run for re-election if he breaks his campaign promises which he lists in the letter. We're going to have much more on that.
But in the meantime, have a wonderful weekend. It's time now for "ANDERSON COOPER 360." It starts right now.