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Israel Draws a Red Line; Interview with Senator Bob Corker; Benghazi-Gate

Aired September 27, 2012 - 19:00   ET


ERIN BURNETT, HOST: OUTFRONT next it has finally happened. After a series of conflicting statements an administration official has directly used the "t" word to describe the attack in Libya and now Republicans want answers. And both Republican strategist Karl Rove and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi are making some pretty strong predictions about the 2012 races. You know hey look, these are two people who are known for putting it all out there. These are some aggressive claims. We looked at the Pelosi-Rove combo to see which adds up. And a gruesome murder in Hollywood, a very strange tale involving an actor from the show "Sons of Anarchy".

Let's go OUTFRONT.

Good evening, everyone. I'm Erin Burnett and we begin tonight talking about polls. Do you believe them or not? For the Romney campaign, the answer seems to be or not. At issue a number of recent battleground state polls that show the president ahead by a comfortable margin and tonight just in the past few minutes we have new poll information for you. The "NBC News-Marist-Wall Street Journal" poll, three more states now going into the Obama column just a few moments ago, New Hampshire, Nevada and North Carolina. In New Hampshire, among likely voters in this poll the spread is now seven points. As you can see the margin of error is about three percent.

Likely voters in Nevada, it is a two percent spread and of course that is within the margin of error, in North Carolina also within the margin of error, but now in favor of President Obama. This is a state many people thought that could not happen in given especially the gay marriage debate, but these are the latest numbers we have tonight. Obama is now leading in the latest polling from all nine battleground states, particularly problematic to the GOP tonight is Florida. The latest "CBS" poll shows Obama ahead by nine points in the state of Florida. So, is this true? You may have heard about this. Many on the right saying the polls are skewed. They're unfair. Here is why Republican strategist Karl Rove known as a mastermind, who knows polls and elections better than anyone, says these polls can't possibly be right.


KARL ROVE, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Think about this. Romney and Obama get each roughly the same percentage of the Republicans and Democrats as their opponent. That is to say they carry their base overwhelmingly. Romney among independents is winning by three points, so if Romney's winning the independents and winning the Republicans, do you think in a battleground state like Florida, he's nine points down and the answer is no.


BURNETT: OK. That math doesn't actually work out because according to the Florida poll, those who say they're most likely going to vote, 36 percent say they're Democrats, 27 percent Republicans, and 33 percent Independents, so as you can see, the math that Karl Rove laid out doesn't necessarily have to be so. All right let's bring in our panel here and talk about all of the polling that we do here at CNN and how it works. I want to emphasize one thing here.

CNN polls, one thing you may have heard is that the polls out there are assuming a higher turnout this election than last election and a lot of people say well that can't be so. There was so much passion and enthusiasm last time around. We want to make it clear CNN polls do not assume any higher turnout at all, which is an important point of clarification. Let's bring in our guests. Roland Martin joins us from the Democratic side, Reihan Salam from the Republican and our own John Avlon.

All right, so John Avlon let me start with you. First of all this has become a rallying cry. There have been a lot of very carefully constructed put together and now (INAUDIBLE) polls they've been put together by those on the right saying the polls assume a higher turnout and they call more Democrats than Republicans. So, it doesn't seem from the analysis that we just provided there that that adds up.

JOHN AVLON, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: No it doesn't add up. What it is, is it's sort of an effort right now and the echo chamber of politics that we have, the news has been sort of unrelentingly bad for Republicans out of these swing states, and the three polls we just saw, that New Hampshire margin for example is stunning. So in an attempt to sort of keep moral up, they start to reach for conspiracy theories about in effect about turnout models, et cetera, et cetera. Look, they're grasping for silver linings to keep morale up. It's an understandable impulse. But just because everybody in their circle remains deeply committed, not just Mitt Romney, but opposed to President Obama doesn't mean the polls are wrong. Yes, there are some polls that are outliers. That Florida poll might well be, but the overall trend is remittingly (ph) in the other direction. Republicans aren't happy about it and so in effect, they're in denial about the direction the polls are going --

BURNETT: And let me ask you this, Reihan, because this issue that Karl Rove was raising if there are more likely Democratic voters in a state, then it is not unfair to have more Democratic voters in a poll.

REIHAN SALAM, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Party identification is actually pretty malleable. So for example in 2005, 2006, there are a lot of folks who used to identify as Republicans started identifying as Independents and that's going to skew the numbers. Even within a year, within a cycle, if a pollster's going to call you up, you might vary from you know week to week, month to month whether or not you're going to identify as a Republican or as an Independent. So that could be some of what we're seeing. We're seeing some bleeding of voters who would have called themselves Republicans calling themselves Independents.

BURNETT: And also, John, I mean this is something you and I have talked about a lot. I mean so many Americans now want to be Independent because they're so infuriated and disgusted by the process. But a lot of people that say they're Independent really aren't. They're much more likely consistently lean one way or the other.

AVLON: As one of those Independents I mean I think there's no ignoring the fact that the largest and fasted growing segment, but many of the Independents out there, some of them are Tea Party supporters who are conservative Independents, so some of them do skew either way. But it is the largest cohort, the fastest growing cohort and that frustrates a lot of the professional partisans on both sides because it makes the math more difficult.

BURNETT: And it makes the polls obviously more complicated. Roland, from your side of things though, the question has to be for the Obama campaign, will they celebrate or at least their supporters think that this race is over well before it is and make these polls turn out to be wrong?

ROLAND MARTIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I would say this here whether -- no matter what side you're on, it's irrelevant because I never have seen a single poll elect anybody to office. This is going to come down to base turnout. This is going to come down to what is the ground game for Mitt Romney. What is the ground game for President Barack Obama and will their voters come out? Having somebody say on a phone call, on a cell phone or land line as to how they're going to vote is irrelevant. The question is are they going to bring -- are they going to come out? Are they going to bring their family members out? Are they going to bring their neighbors out? And so (INAUDIBLE) the Republicans stop all of this incessant whining about the particular polls. What you should be focusing on is micro targeting your voters in those critical areas in terms of getting them to the polls.

The real analysis from both campaigns is going to be the first two weeks of early voting. They will get a sense of what the turnout is. Go back to 2008. President Obama's folks in 2008 actually looked at North Carolina as a state they were losing. When they saw early turnout in 2008, they sent troops and money back into North Carolina. That's how they won by 14,000 votes. And so I really don't -- how a poll says it's one thing, but it's what happens when they actually vote. That's what matters at the end of the day.

AVLON: But that early voting is precisely why these polls do matter more than in previous years. It's not just the only poll that counts on Election Day because as we've talked about on this show early voting has already begun in Iowa. It's going to be in --


AVLON: -- in 36 states -- UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right.


AVLON: So as a result, these polls are -- indicate real-time indicators of the direction things are going.

MARTIN: But the polls also help this way. And that is if you're Mitt Romney and the polls are showing you're behind, it allows for you to send a signal to your supporters, hey, we need to get off our butts and get moving. On the Obama side, what they should be doing is saying look, don't sit here and rest on your laurels. We should be saying pound, pound, pound because you just simply can't predict anything. 2004, many media folks based upon exit polls, they thought Senator John Kerry was going to be president. Those exit polls were wrong.

BURNETT: As we heard a FOX News producer today, FOX News apparently that night, they thought John Kerry was going to win until the very end.

SALAM: Yes and also you have to remember the down ballot races matter a lot. Let's say President Obama does indeed win --

BURNETT: -- Congress and Senate.

SALAM: Exactly --


SALAM: -- then Republicans are going -- they really need to redouble their efforts to retake the Senate and that's already looking very dicey. So again you have to remember that's why President Obama had active efforts in Texas in 2008 because those down ballot races really matter for the future and for your leverage when you come into office.

BURNETT: All right, well thanks to all three of you, we appreciate it, and please let us know, take to Twitter and let us know whether you think the polls are actually reflecting the real numbers in this country right now.

Well next, there are very conflicting stories about what happened that night in Libya. It is now being called Benghazi-Gate and police arrive at a gruesome murder scene and find a young television star dead in the driveway. And Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu drew a red line, literally -- I mean literally he had the big, fat -- it wasn't a skinny little Sharpie. It was a fat, red line. We'll show you.


BURNETT: Our second story, OUTFRONT, Bibi's red line, the prime minister of Israel literally drew -- literally drew a red line for Iran's nuclear program today as he addressed the U.N. General Assembly. See him there? And he paused for effect. Now, look at that rather crudely drawn bomb. This was no Colin Powell moment. This was a purposefully simple diagram, kind of like a cartoon, designed to make what Benjamin Netanyahu believes is a very serious, but simple point.


BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, PRIME MINISTER OF ISRAEL: By next spring at most, by next summer, at current enrichment rates, they will have finished the medium enrichment and move on to the final stage. From there, it's only a few months, possibly a few weeks, before they get enough enriched uranium for the first bomb.


BURNETT: But in his speech to the United Nations this week, President Obama did not give any such timeline. He certainly didn't draw a red line.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So let me be clear. America wants to revolve this issue through diplomacy and we believe that there is still time and space to do so, but that time is not unlimited.


BURNETT: Netanyahu thanked the president for what he acknowledged are tough sanctions, but he was clear to say those sanctions have not impacted the country's nuclear program, and he did give a veiled -- but did he give a veiled comparison between Obama and Nettle Chamberlain? That of course is the British prime minister who signed a peace deal with Hitler after allowing the Germans to invade Czechoslovakia. Chamberlain called that deal peace for our time and today Netanyahu brought up World War II and appeasement directly.


NETANYAHU: If the Western powers had drawn clear red lines during the 1930's, I believe they would have stopped Nazi aggression and World War II might have been avoided. Those who opposed that fanaticism waited too long to act. In the end, they triumphed, but at a horrific cost.


BURNETT: So, do the claims about Iran's nuclear program add up? Hooman Majd is the author of "The Ayatollah's Democracy" and "The Ayatollah Begs To Differ" and he is OUTFRONT tonight. All right, obviously, Prime Minister Netanyahu has been making this case passionately and aggressively for a long time.


BURNETT: Twenty years and he put up this red line, obviously wanting to respond to the international community for Israel lay out exactly when you think we should act, giving people a pretty direct timeline --

MAJD: Right.

BURNETT: -- which is right before you get to the top line, which given the timeline he gave is next summer at the latest for some kind of action. Does it add up?

MAJD: Which may or may not be accurate by the way --

BURNETT: Right, so that's the question first of all --

MAJD: Yes.

BURNETT: -- from your understanding. I mean obviously, this whole question is, is what is Iran really doing with its nuclear program?

MAJD: Well that's the first question and we -- I mean you know we claim to know -- the Americans claim to know, the Israelis claim to know, the Iranian make a claim about what they're doing in the program. One of the interesting things about this so-called 20 percent enrichment cap like putting a red line on it --


MAJD: -- and I'm only laughing because it is comedic, the bomb --

BURNETT: Well the presentation --


MAJD: -- has been -- you know Twitter verse has gone crazy with this, including in Israel itself making fun of him. But no, I think the thing about 20 percent is really interesting because the Iranians have offered just this week, have offered to suspend enriching beyond -- suspend enriching at 20 percent, in exchange for something. So they want something in exchange for stopping the 20 percent. They have also -- what he didn't mention -- what Netanyahu didn't mention is some of the 20 percent, in fact, a large portion of the 20 percent enriched uranium that they have created, they have turned into fuel plates, which is unusable for bomb material at that point. Fuel plates to put into the Tehran reactor, so that timeline of June or July or summer sometime next year may or may not be accurate. I mean the assumption would have to be that they're continuing the same pace of 20 percent. They would never stop that 20 percent and they wouldn't convert any of it into fuel plates, which they have done.

BURNETT: Right -- now 20 percent though to get to 90, I mean you know a lot of people say hey, it's 20. You need 90 to make a bomb --


BURNETT: -- but I think to be very fair to get from 20 to 90 -- MAJD: Yes --

BURNETT: -- is sort of like that relative from getting from zero to 20 --


MAJD: Yes.

BURNETT: -- which is a very --


MAJD: Well Iran has always argued -- has always argued that they need the 20 percent for their medical reactor in Tehran because they went to the International Atomic Energy Organization and said we need some fuel plates and no one was willing to sell it to us, so that's their argument.


MAJD: Whether you buy the argument or not is irrelevant. The point is -- I think the main really interesting point about the speeches this week is that we're not going to have a war this year. I mean --

BURNETT: This year.

MAJD: Clear --

BURNETT: But next summer --

MAJD: Well we're not going to --

BURNETT: I mean it keeps being put -- it's a six-month thing --

MAJD: Yes, but --

BURNETT: It's keeping the whole world on edge --

MAJD: But let's not forget Netanyahu 20 years ago said that Iran is six months way from a bomb or six -- eight months away. He's had these ideas about and (INAUDIBLE) this contradictory notion that came up today, which was that if their messianic and if they are irrational then what does a red line do to an irrational messianic person --

BURNETT: Right, well that's --


BURNETT: -- red lines will work, but if --

MAJD: Well --

BURNETT: OK, but the IAEA, the report he referred to --

MAJD: Yes.

BURNETT: He made it clear everybody I'm not even referring to Israeli intelligence --

MAJD: Correct.

BURNETT: -- although I have more of that.

MAJD: Right.

BURNETT: Go online. Look at the International Atomic Energy Agency report and what it says is that their nuclear program is accelerating -- I'm looking at the one from August -- that they have doubled the number of high speed centrifuges --

MAJD: They have --

BURNETT: -- at their underground bunker facility Fordo, which they don't allow inspectors into.

MAJD: No, no, inspectors are there.

BURNETT: But not as much as the IAEA has requested --

MAJD: No, no, no, no, the IAEA has requested Parchin, which they've not been allowed to, Fordo was under complete inspection. All the uranium that is enriched there is under a lock and key and on camera, so that's not correct. That the IAEA has never said --

BURNETT: So Parchin --

MAJD: -- has never said -- Parchin is a military base and the reason the Iranians are saying you can't go here is because you have to present evidence as to why you want to go to Parchin.

BURNETT: And now --

MAJD: I think it's a bargaining point. Parchin is a bargaining point.

BURNETT: Parchin is a bargaining point, but let me ask you --

MAJD: Fordo is under --

BURNETT: -- is it possible that --


BURNETT: -- what Iran and Israel are doing for Iran's purposes they say that this is for peaceful purposes, but obviously they're leaving open the door and they're not allowing the inspectors in. That's all these things that they're doing --

MAJD: They're allowing inspectors in --

(CROSSTALK) MAJD: (INAUDIBLE) not for the military --

BURNETT: Right and they're leaving open the door for people to think that they're doing something that they shouldn't be doing --

MAJD: Absolutely -- bargaining --

BURNETT: Is this in their interest? Keeps them relevant? Keeps them in the center of the world stage --

MAJD: Well I don't think -- no --

BURNETT: -- even if -- because if they weren't trying to get a bomb who would care about Iran?

MAJD: Well you'd care about Iran because they're still a powerful country with a lot of oil and we care about every country -- exports oil. It's a nation of 85 -- 80 million people, almost 80 million people. It's geographically very important. It's had a tremendous amount of influence in places like Lebanon, in Afghanistan and Iraq and in some cases, our interests are actually mutual with the United States and Iran, so I think it is an important country without a bomb --

BURNETT: So you don't think they're doing it as attention --

MAJD: No, I think they've had a problem for many, many years with the West particularly with the United States where they believe, whether it's true or not, but they believe that the U.S. is out to get them, out to destroy the regime and overthrow the regime. And just -- even this recent delisting of the MEK, the opposition group that was in Iraq, that they claim is another example of the U.S. only interested in changing the regime. So we have -- we have many, many issues between the U.S. and Iran over the 30 years. The nuclear age has just gotten to the point now where we have harsh, harsh sanctions that are hurting the people, hurting the economy, hurting everyone, probably not the regime so much, but --

BURNETT: Right, not nearly as tough as they should be --

MAJD: Yes and so --

BURNETT: -- at least from our reporting, but --

MAJD: Well from -- yes, from --

BURNETT: I mean if you were really trying to shut things down they're not --

MAJD: Well, they're --

BURNETT: They're very leaky --

MAJD: Yes, well they're not that lenient. I mean I think they would find a way to get around sanctions --

BURNETT: Right, leaky was --

MAJD: Yes leaky -- yes -- sorry and -- but I think that right now with these sanctions, Iran would like to come to some kind of agreement with the West on this nuclear program, but they want sanctions lifted, or at least some of those sanctions lifted. You know as the Russians had proposed at one point the step by step process Iranians do something the U.S. does something. So far, that hasn't happened. I think it's an election year.


MAJD: I think President Obama can't do anything politically this year with Iran.


MAJD: But given that there's not going to be an Israeli strike at this point based on Netanyahu's speech today at least for the next six months, we're going into the New Year. We're going to a new, a re-elected --

BURNETT: All right.

MAJD: -- president or a new president.

BURNETT: All right, well Hooman, thank you very much.

MAJD: My pleasure.

BURNETT: That does appear to be the bottom line, but if there is to be an Israeli strike with or without U.S. support, it's going to be after the election. That's crucial, and that brings me to our third story OUTFRONT, Benghazi-Gate. That's what our guest says the United States is facing in Libya. There is a deep disconnect in Washington over what happened the night Ambassador Chris Stevens was killed. Today, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta stepped in to the fray, finally using the "t" word to describe the attack.


LEON PANETTA, DEFENSE SECRETARY: The reason -- I think it pretty clearly was a terrorist attack is because a group of terrorists obviously conducted that attack on the consulate and against our individuals.


BURNETT: Clearly, a terrorist attack, now Panetta stopped short of saying which terrorist group was specifically responsible. But for two weeks, the White House and the State Department have refrained from blaming terrorists directly and when Hillary Clinton started to blame al-Qaeda, the State Department backed off. Here she is in the U.N. meeting we reported on last night connecting al Qaeda linked groups to what she called the tragic attack.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) HILLARY CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: For some time, al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and other groups have launched attacks and kidnappings from northern Mali into neighboring countries. And they are working with other violent extremists to undermine the democratic transitions under way in North Africa as we tragically saw in Benghazi.


BURNETT: As we tragically saw in Benghazi -- now after our show last night the State Department backtracked saying that Clinton was speaking generally about al Qaeda and wasn't blaming them for the Benghazi killings specifically, which is why it is important to tell you what we have confirmed tonight. A senior U.S. official tells CNN that U.S. intelligence knew the Benghazi attack was the work of extremists affiliated with or inspired by al Qaeda and they knew this within 24 hours of the attack. Something does not add up. If U.S. intelligence knew al Qaeda linked groups or extremists inspired by al Qaeda were involved, why didn't the secretary of state or the White House say so? If not to the public, at least in the briefings that they've provided to intelligence committee members in Congress. Well voters also don't seem to think the handling of the attacks adds up. When Bloomberg asked this week who would be tougher on terrorism, Mitt Romney came out on top, as you can see 48 to 42 percent, and the administration is facing a torrent of criticism from Republican leaders demanding answers.

Tennessee Senator Bob Corker is one of them and he is OUTFRONT tonight. Senator good to talk to you again, appreciate your taking the time. Now, I know you have written a letter --

SEN. BOB CORKER (R), TENNESSEE: Erin, it's good to be with you. Thank you.

BURNETT: -- and you, sir, have asked for all of the information, all of the cables that Ambassador Stevens may have sent to state. Obviously I am sure you are trying to find out was he worried he was on a hit list for al Qaeda? Was he worried about security? What's been the response so far to your request for all of this information?

CORKER: Well, Senator Isakson and myself sent the letter two days ago. We've heard nothing. But let me just in listening to what was said, I want to tell you that when we had the briefing, after the event, the director of National Intelligence, this was probably 10 days after the event occurred, was part of that briefing. So this has been the strangest thing. They've turned an incident that all of us care about. We've had four Americans who have been killed. We have bipartisan concern.

Everybody on the Foreign Relations Committee, Republicans and Democrats, want to know what has happened, Erin. But for some reason it's not forthcoming and let me just say and typically in these briefings, we know what's happening in nuclear armaments. We understand what's happening in some of the most private developments between our nation and other countries. And not just to have a basic briefing about how four Americans were killed at one of our consulate offices to me is beyond belief and they've turned something into what many of us believe is almost a scandal and that not coming clean with what's happened. So obviously, a lot of us are concerned. We really don't understand because this is not typically what happens after an event like this.

BURNETT: And you, when you talk about a scandal, it's when we put it in quotes, I'm using your words, "Benghazi-Gate".

CORKER: Well you know typically when there's an event unfolding, we are in these briefings. We are aware of what's happening. Sometimes, you know, the facts are not clear and they share with us the facts are not clear. In this case, the briefing, Erin, was beyond belief. I mean we were told nothing. We still have been told nothing. Media outlets like yourselves know more. You had a correspondent I think on the ground at the consulate who apparently has found some documentation of concerns by this ambassador that by the way, we all knew and loved, and so I don't know what's happening here. I just find it incredibly strange when in a bipartisan way everyone wants to understand what's happened, but the administration has been unbelievably not forthcoming.

BURNETT: And I'm curious from your perspective as to why you think there is such hesitance on the part of the administration? The White House and the State Department -- I'm obviously not referring to intelligence officials, who from our reporting, have been saying that al Qaeda linked or inspired groups were involved from the beginning. Why do you think there would be hesitation from the White House from the State Department to use those words, al Qaeda?

CORKER: Erin, we have briefings non-stop, telling us about what al Qaeda has done in many cases, I don't know. Secretary Clinton to her credit is someone who's earned the respect of people on both sides of the aisle.


CORKER: Because she's typically someone who is very transparent and very forthcoming with what's happening. The meeting we had was almost as if she had been told not to say anything. I don't know. It's strange to me. Again, this is not the kind of thing that you would think would warrant this kind of secrecy and I think it is causing people to just wonder what has happened. We're responsible, Erin, for people on the ground all around the world. And I think all of us want to know what happened with this particular consulate. Were we warned? Did we do the things security wise that we needed to do as a nation? And that's our responsibility and I think that most Americans would want us to understand what has happened and to do everything that we can to keep this from happening to other public servants who are out there risking their lives --


CORKER: -- in the name of our great nation.

BURNETT: And Senator let me ask you, "The Washington Times" reporting tonight that in addition to the cuts on security that would happen if consulate and embassy security around the world as a result of the sequester, there have been nearly $300 million -- $296 million in cuts in just the past two years in embassy security around the world, as a result of Congress. So do you think that you also are partly responsible for what happened, the lack of security?

CORKER: Look, those cuts have not yet taken place, but I couldn't agree more that we need to find a much better solution than the sequester process that's been kicked in and I think all of the blame for that not working --

BURNETT: What about the cuts though that happened in the past two years --

CORKER: -- I don't --

BURNETT: -- the ones in the past two years -- I'm sorry -- the 296 million.

CORKER: Yes -- yes -- yes -- let me say 296 million out of all the vast billions of dollars that go to our military infrastructure and to our embassies, I assure you that if we had an ambassador that felt like that -- like his life was threatened, we could easily find the moneys within the vast sums of money that are spent this way to make sure that these people are protected. So again, candidly, it's hard to imagine what it is the administration does not want to share. It's hard to imagine what that is, but again on a bipartisan basis, people want to know the answers and I appreciate you bringing attention to it and hopefully very soon we'll understand why there's been such a shroud of secrecy around the killing of four Americans who are serving our country.

BURNETT: All right, Senator Corker, good to talk to you again. Appreciate your taking the time out from your evening.

Well a mysterious murder in Hollywood, a young actor and an elderly woman are dead -- that story -- and Nancy Pelosi making a very aggressive claim about winning the House for Democrats. Does her claim add up?


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 with this -- the man behind the anti-Islam film that sparked international outrage has been arrested tonight in California. CNN has confirmed Nakoula Basseley Nakoula was arrested after federal court.

Now, according to our Miguel Marquez, who has been reporting on this from the beginning, federal officials believe Nakoula violated his probation. The filmmaker is currently serving five years probation for bank fraud and that probation prevented him from using a computer without approval. The trailer of Nakoula's film, of course, was posted on YouTube earlier in the summer. And now to Russia, home of the hooligarchy. A Russian billionaire who has been a critic of Russian President Putin has been charged with hooliganism. That's the same charge three members of the punk band Pussy Riot were convicted of when they performed the anti- Putin in a Moscow cathedral.

Alexander Lebedev was charged with hooliganism after punching another businessman on a Russian television show last year. Now, this charge is no joke. Not entertaining, could result in a prison sentence of five years.

Lebedev's son told CNN the response of the Russian legal system is completely out of proportion.

Well, it's been 420 days since the U.S. lost its top credit rating. What are we doing to get it back?

Well, today, we got some good news on jobs. Initial jobless claims fell more than expected last week and that was a two-month low.

Also OUTFRONT, the drive for 25. It has become a latest phrase for House Democrats. They are hoping to win 25 seats and the majority in this election and the woman leading the charge, who else? House minority leader, Nancy Pelosi.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), MINORITY LEADER: We have the message, we have the messengers, we have money, we have an organization. We have a very excellent chance to take back the House.

We have been working very hard to get to a place to put the House in play. We did that by say late spring, early summer.


BURNETT: But does Pelosi's claim that her party has what it takes to retake the House really add up? I mean, this is a big question right now given the polls on the presidency. I mean, could you end up with, you know, Democrats in a lot of places?

According to a recent breakdown from the Center for Politics, just 14 seats are toss ups in the House eight now. Thirty-five lean Republican, 33 are leaning Democrat.

Kyle Kondik monitors U.S. House races at the University of Virginia Center for Politics.

And, Kyle, these are a lot of numbers to crunch. Of course, this is a big claim from Nancy Pelosi. Does it add up? You've done the research.

KYLE KONDIK, UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA CENTER FOR POLITICS: So, I think it's, there's a small possibility that Democrats could retake the House. But it's not particularly big. My current projections here at this Center for Politics show the Democrats winning a net of six seats far short of the 25 they need. That's up from a net gain of four where we projected last week.

But, you know, thorough out the summertime, we said pretty consistently thought the Democrats would be somewhere in the single digits. Part of the reason for that is that while the Democrats are making gains in some seats, the Republicans are also doing making gains in some others.

And if this truly boils down to kind of a tit-for-tat back and forth between the two parties and there's not much movement in the House, well, the status quo, of course, is good for the Republicans because they're the ones who hold a 25-seat advantage.

BURNETT: Now, you're saying the chances are fairly miniscule. If you're saying right now, winning six seats, but they need 25. Why can't you firmly move it out? I mean, how could things move so much from here until Election Day?

KONDIK: So, one thing we're tracking is what's called the generic ballot, which is a national poll question asks respondents across the country saying would you vote for a Democratic or Republican candidate in your local House race. In 2006 and 2008, Democrats had already taken a big advantage in this number. It was about nine points, advantage in their favor. Republicans had about a four-point lead on that question in 2010. Obviously, those are big wave years.

This time, Democrats have taken a small lead, about two points. And what we're kind of waiting to see is if the Democrats, because of President Obama continuing to do well in the presidential polls, what we're waiting to see is if that number picks up, if it gets to plus five, plus six, plus seven.


KONDIK: Then, that would be a good indication that Democrats could retake the House. But I don't necessarily see that happening.

BURNETT: Yes. And one final thing, I just want to play something. There are many of you out there who love Nancy Pelosi and many who loathe her. But here's her track record on this projection, Kyle. Here she is in 2010.


PELOSI: We are very confident in our candidates, and the message that they are delivering, the early returns and the overwhelming number of Democrats coming out. We're on pace to maintain the majority in the House of Representatives.


BURNETT: Well, she is a very nice looking nose, but that was a pretty long, long, not truth.

So this is just the way they talk? KONDIK: Well, you know, look, I mean, I think party leaders are not supposed to be you know, pundits and analysts. They're supposed to be cheerleaders and advocates for their particular party.


KONDIK: So I don't really blame Nancy Pelosi for, you know, sticking up for her party and she sort of has to put a good front on it because, you know, she doesn't want the donors to give up. She doesn't want her candidates to give up.

You know, I'll also say Speaker Boehner did the same thing in late April. He said that the Democrats had a one-in-three chance of taking the House. I don't think he believed that at a time and I don't think he believes it now. But it was a warning to his own people to stay focused on the task at hand.

BURNETT: All right. Well, thank you very much. Appreciate your analysis there.

Our fourth story OUTFRONT is a bizarre and gruesome murder investigation underway in Hollywood. Police say Johnny Lewis, a 28- year-old actor from the show "Sons of Anarchy" brutally killed his elderly landlord Wednesday. Then as he tried to run away, he fell possibly from the roof to his death.

Neighbors say they heard screams from the home where Lewis lived with 81-year-old Catherine Davis. And when police arrived, they found the actor's body in the driveway and the landlady, along with her cat, both dead in the house.


SGT. FRANK PRECIADO, LAPD: It's a very gruesome scene. It's a very senseless crime. Someone that's just defenseless, someone that's in their late years, 70, 80 years of age. I think this -- and then living in this type of neighborhood, you don't expect anything like this to take place.


BURNETT: Police also say that Lewis attacked two men in the house next door before he died. But they don't know what triggered the violence.

Kareen Wynter is in Los Angeles and has been covering the story.

And, Kareen, let me ask you. Police say drugs may have been involved now.

KAREEN WYNTER, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's certainly what they're looking into, although, Erin, they have no concrete evidence at this hour and they may have to wait on that evidence for a bit, and that's because I just got of the phone with Los Angeles County coroner's and they tell me they've completed the autopsy reports on both Lewis and Davis. As for Lewis, they say that has been deferred. Meaning, they'll have to wait about six weeks until those toxicology results. So, those more conclusive findings come back.

But we do now know the cause of death for Catherine Davis. We're being told, blunt head trauma, as well as strangulation. It's now been officially ruled a homicide.

But, sure, one thing investigators say that they're looking into is whether or not drugs may have played a part here because of the bizarre sequence of events. You have an extremely gruesome crime scene. You have someone who's accused of killing his 81-year-old landlord, her cat, turning on his neighbor and a painter, then climbing the building of his house before falling to his death.

And one report in particular that investigators say they're looking into is whether or not Lewis may have been on the so-called designer drug, it's called "Smiles". And at a news conference today, Erin, they were asked about this. Let's listen to what they had to say.


COMMANDER ANDREW SMITH, LAPD: There are several new drugs coming out after bath salts started to get outlawed. New drugs come out all the time, and young people try new kinds of drugs all the time. That's, of course, one of the things our detectives are going to look into, whether he was using that or anything else. We really don't know at this time. We won't know until the coroner's able to come through.


WYNTER: And we're just around the corner from where that murder took place, that very, very large home and there's a private cleaning company on hand. They were power washing the driveway where Lewis fell to his death. We also spoke to an officer there who told us they've wrapped up their onsite investigation. It's no longer considered a crime scene, meaning tenants can move into that building -- Erin.

BURNETT: Well, Kareen, thank you very much.

A bizarre and horrible story. We're going to continue to follow that, especially given the possibility that things like bath salts could have been involved.

Well, we know that cows love corn. Even though corn's not supposed to be that good for cows, but we're not even -- we really don't have enough corn for them right now. So farmers have a sweet and unusual alternative that -- you've got to watch this. It's going to be very disturbing.

And how one teacher turned her homework into a-million-dollar bonanza.


BURNETT: Our fifth story OUTFRONT, a teacher turns into a millionaire. A first grade teacher from central Georgia became a millionaire not by winning the lottery. No, she did it herself, 100 percent.

Here's CNN's Martin Savidge.


MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At the Central Fellowship Academy in Macon, Georgia -- and when I step into the classroom, I quickly realize two things. She likes to teach. She's got her first graders singing about spider anatomy.

And like many teachers, she's really good at it, yet for most of her 17 years in the classroom, she and her husband, also a teacher, struggled financially.

DEANNA JUMP, 1ST GRADE TEACHER: Like probably 90 percent of the teachers in America, I was juggling bills, like OK I could pay the electricity bill this week and I've got seven more days before they turn off the water.

SAVIDGE: But she loved her job and kept coming up with fun and creative ways to teach, like using apples and worms.

D. JUMP: So, it's just a pictorial way to display data.

SAVIDGE: Or scarecrows for math, and something called chitchat for reading comprehension.

D. JUMP: So I'd say, chitchat, and the kids say, OK.

SAVIDGE: Her little ideas have never left her classroom, where if not for a chance conversation with another teacher.

D. JUMP: She said your stuff is so good. You have got to get it on Teachers Pay Teachers. I said, I don't know even know what Teachers Pay Teacher is.

SAVIDGE: Teachers Pay Teacher is a Web site that allows teachers a way to sell their ideas to one another.

I spoke via Skype to TPT's founder, a former teacher now leaving in France.

PAUL EDELMAN, TEACHERS PAY TEACHER: They operate an online marketplace sort of like eBay or Etsy where teachers, now over 1.1 million of them can buy, sell or share their original teaching ideas.

SAVIDGE: In most case, the units cost from $5 to $8 a pop, which hardly seems like a get rich quick formula.

D. JUMP: The first year, I made $300. SAVIDGE: But one teacher told another. Then another. And soon, Jump's ideas like "fun on the farm" or "where's my mummy?" were hits. At last count, she had sold over 161,000 units.

(on camera): The published accounts I've read have said that you have made in excess of a million dollars.

D. JUMP: Yes. Yes.

SAVIDGE: That's not what we think of with teachers.

D. JUMP: No.

SAVIDGE (voice-over): No one's been more shocked than Jump's husband, Ed, a college professor in finance and marketing, no less.

(on camera): What is it like to have a million dollar first grade teacher showing you up in the house?

ED JUMP, HUSBAND: You know, I don't know. That's great. You know, because never in our dreams would we ever think of making that kind of money.

SAVIDGE: Jump says the money hasn't changed her. She still goes to school every day in her Kia, but she no longer worries about the bills. And every day, she shows up in classrooms far beyond central Georgia.

D. JUMP: Spain, which was like wow. Spain. Africa. I got an e-mail from a lady in Africa who was using my stuff. Canada.

SAVIDGE: She's got notebooks of ideas still to come and says other teachers could easily do what she's done and hopes they do.

And I got to say, given all the teachers have done for me and my kids, I kind of like the idea of them making as much as investment bankers.

Martin Savidge, CNN, Macon, Georgia.


BURNETT: Pretty neat story.

All right. Up next, gummy worms. They taste good, right? Are they good for you? We're going to explain why there's a big problem in this country, thanks to worms.

Sorry chewing with my mouth full. We'll be back.


BURNETT: We have a corn crisis in this country right now. Tonight, America is on track for the smallest corn crop in six years due to the drought devastating more than half of the United States. Now, you may have heard about how the resulting price increase for corn will hit you if you drink soda or eat cereal both made from corn, but you're being hit another way you may not know about. Most dairy and beef cattle eat corn feed and rising prices has forced cattlemen to find alternatives.

That brings us to tonight's number: 50 percent. That's how much some ranchers are saving by feeding the cows corn alternatives. Some of these alternatives are things like cotton seed, rice, potatoes and peanuts. But that's not all they're using.

According to reports from across the country, ranchers have started feeding their cattle with junk food, French fries, chocolate bars, marshmallows, fruit loops, cookies, ice cream and yes, even gummy worms -- or gummy snakes. Cows probably, to them, this is probably a worm size. This is being used as feed for cattle.

Now, cows have a multi-compartment stomach so they can digest almost anything and sweets are the perfect way to get them to eat starchy sugar that they usually get through corn. The problem is cows will eat anything. They will eat cotton candy. So even worse than realizing you're eating beef full of cookies and gummy worms and snakes, most of the candy comes from companies at a discount because it is damaged and not fit for store shelves, i.e., they can't sell it to human beings.

Apparently cows have not shown any health problems with the all candy diet as of yet. Nutritionists have said it's not dangerous for humans to consume candy-fed beef.

But you know what? We don't think that adds up.

All right. OUTFRONT next, Mira Sorvino says sex slavery is happening blocks from the White House. Her impassioned plea.


BURNETT: Mira Sorvino is an Academy Award-winning actress who has appeared in a number of acclaimed films. Her latest project is called "Trade of Innocents." It deals with the subject of human trafficking, a subject she is passionate about.

She's a goodwill ambassador to the U.N. and she's traveled around the world to study this problem. She has put her money and her time where her mouth is. When I sat down with her today, she explained that it is also a huge issue right here in the United States.


MIRA SORVINO, ACTRESS & U.N. GOODWILL AMBASSADOR: It's happening about three blocks from the White House on Avenue K, I believe. There's a place that at 9:00 p.m. at night you can find an underage person to have sex with you. You will buy that sex from her trafficker and you, instead of being labeled a pedophile, if you get caught according to one D.C. NGO leader, in the 300 cases she's worked on with underage victims in trafficking, not one time has the John be arrested. Not once.

And this is in cases with kids as young as 10 being caught in the act and the kid is taken in by law enforcement and often charged as a criminal for the crime of prostitution, and the man who is buying the services of a minor is sent home. We don't want to ruin your life, we don't want to make things hard for you, go home to your wife and family.


BURNETT: Pretty disturbing and unbelievable thing to hear. We had an extensive conversation. We're going to bring you our full conversation with Mira Sorvino tomorrow night at 7:00. Thanks for joining us.

"A.C. 360" starts now.