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Armstrong Admits Tour De France Wins While Doping; Armstrong Confessions Could Cause Lawsuits; Betsy Andreu Comments on Armstrong Confessions.
Aired January 18, 2013 - 11:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Lance Armstrong admitted that not a single one of his seven Tour de France titles was won in a clean way. Every single one of them was accomplished while taking banned substances. And, as Armstrong told Oprah Winfrey, at the time, he didn't even think that what he was doing was really that wrong.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OPRAH WINFREY, OWNER, OPRAH WINFREY NETWORK: Was it a big deal to you? Did it feel wrong?
LANCE ARMSTRONG, CYCLIST: At the time?
WINFREY: It did not even feel wrong?
ARMSTRONG: No. Scary.
WINFREY: Did you feel bad about it?
ARMSTRONG: No. Even scarier.
WINFREY: Did you feel in any way that you were cheating?
ARMSTRONG: No. The scariest.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WINFREY: When it comes to the claim about cheating, Armstrong says he actually looked at himself on tape and saw all the other people claiming he was cheating and then went to the dictionary for an answer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ARMSTRONG: I had this exercise where, you know, because I kept hearing, you know --
WINFREY: That you were a cheat.
ARMSTRONG: -- I'm a cheat, I'm a cheat, I'm a cheater. And I went and looked up -- and I just looked up the definition of cheat.
ARMSTRONG: And the definition of cheat is to gain an advantage on a rival or foe, you know, that they don't have or that, you know -- I didn't view it that way. I viewed it as -- as a level playing field.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BANFIELD: Paul Butler is a professor at Georgetown law and a former federal prosecutor and a white collar defense attorney.
Wow, Professor Butler, where do I begin?
All I could think of was how many people across the country were taking sides on how they felt about Lance Armstrong and how many lawyers were cringing thinking I would not want to be counsel for him right now?
PAUL BUTLER, PROFESSOR, GEORGETOWN LAW, DEFENSE ATTORNEY & FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, you know, people are saying, why would he do this, what was he thinking? And lawyers are the first people to be wondering what was he thinking? You know, he probably isn't going to do any jail time. He's not going to get locked up for what he said on Oprah, but is he going to be liable for tens of millions of dollars in civil lawsuits, you bet you. So he --
BANFIELD: I knew it. I knew you were going there right away, Professor.
So here's what I'd like to do. I want to run a commercial break. I want to come back, and I'm going to play for you a couple of very specific things that he said that the lay-person might think just sounded like commentary. But the lawyer or the law professor would say, ah ha, they got him. That's coming up in just a moment.
BANFIELD: You know, confession may be good for the soul but it can play hell with your finances and sometimes your career and your freedom. Lance Armstrong's televised admissions that he lied and he cheated and he doped and he wrongly accused others of lying may keep his lawyers busy for decades.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ARMSTRONG: My cocktail, so to speak was only EPO, not a lot, transfusions and testosterone which in a weird way I almost justified because of -- because of my history, obviously with having testicular cancer and losing stuff, surely I'm running low.
(END VIDEO CLIP) BANFIELD: Paul Butler is back with me again from Washington, D.C. he's a professor.
So, Professor Butler, with that pronouncement of that cocktail, was that the genesis for a number of different kinds of lawsuits that he could face, everything from the federal whistle-blower to the defamation cases to the civil actions, that those who paid him his winnings and his bonuses would like to get back?
BUTLER: Absolutely, Ashleigh. So, the most important thing for him and his attorney is he probably isn't going to go to prison, but that's just because of a technicality. When he admitted Oprah that he doped, he also admitted that he lied under oath in court. There's a technical problem with bringing a prosecution, and that's because the statutes of limitations that run. He told that lie back in 2005. It's a five-year technical statute. So, he's looking at, again, millions of dollars in civil liability.
You mentioned the federal whistle-blower statute, that's a huge deal because he's being sued for $30 million, and get this, Ashleigh, that's treble damages. A jury could find $90 million worth of exposure for him if it convicts him of violating that statute.
BANFIELD: If they go ahead. The postal team got government money and Floyd Landis decided to come clean, I got to whistle blow on this, this wasn't clean money that the government was giving us.
To that point, actually, professor, I don't know what the feds did in their investigation because it's not public. They dropped it very mysteriously. But if the feds asked for Lance Armstrong to speak with them and he gave them false testimony, which I can only assume he would have to, given that they didn't launch any action against him, isn't that lying to federal investigators, and isn't that a felony that's punishable by jail?
BUTLER: It's obstruction of justice. It might be false statements. But here's the thing.
Mr. Armstrong was advised by an extremely competent team of attorneys, there's no way any lawyer worth his salt would let Mr. Armstrong go and talk to federal prosecutors without a grant of immunity. I imagine when he floated the idea by his attorneys for going on Oprah. If he said, what's my criminal risk, not so much? I'll take the chance with the money. I guess he feels like he can afford all this money's he's going to have to pay.
BANFIELD: The word is, Professor, he's got somewhere between $100 million and $125 million and you triple the damages in a federal case and only get to $90 million, not so bad. I guess you can keep your house.
I got a question about the exposure to the defamation cases that I can only guess are being shuffled right now, stacked and getting ready for filing all over the world. And I want to play for you specifically what he said about his behavior when it came to taking down other people who dared to seek the truth. Have a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ARMSTRONG: I was a bully in the sense that you just -- that I tried to control the narrative and if I didn't like what somebody said, and for whatever reasons in my own head, whether I viewed that as somebody being disloyal or a friend turning on you or whatever, I tried to control that, and so that's, you know, that's a lie, they're liars.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BANFIELD: So, he admits to taking people down and calling them liars and bullying them. And I'm wondering if Betsy Andreu, who was featured earlier on in this program, who faced all sorts of things from Lance Armstrong after she testified truthfully about what she heard in a hospital room, Lance Armstrong -- taking drugs in the hospital room -- Lance Armstrong taking drugs. Don't they have a defamation case clear-cut against Lance Armstrong because Frankie lost his job and they've suffered financially because of the things that were said about them publicly?
BUTLER: Yes, they would appear to have an extremely strong case. He said he couldn't even remember how many people he sued for libel, and each one of those people now is going to march into court with a good lawyer and try to recover millions of dollars. And, again, this is the kind of case that defamation and libel law were created for. He destroyed their careers. In some cases he seemed to have destroyed their lives, so would a jury be very sympathetic to those cases? Absolutely.
BANFIELD: I can imagine a jury would be very sympathetic especially after having watched this on television an entire jury pool is tainted no matter where any action finds jurisdiction actually and gets launched, if it does.
Let me ask you about this. His former assistant, Emma O'Reilly, he spoke about Emma and about the possibility of trying to, you know, seek any kind of forgiveness from her as well and that's where he made that comment that you just said, "I sued so many people I don't even remember." Those -- those comments, while they really make him look terrible, that's not specifically anything that can help her case, though, is it?
BUTLER: No. It may not even be admissible in her case. You know, look, he got 12 -- well, he got a million and a half dollars from the "Sunday Times," a newspaper in London, so all of those folks are going to be coming after him again. He's got contract did issues, you know, when he won all that money, a lot of it was in the form of a bonus when he won the Tour de France and now that's jeopardized, so he'll have to give back all of that money, people are lining up, individuals and their lawyers. Some people are going to get paid from this, Ashleigh, but not Mr. Armstrong. BANFIELD: There are two cases, Emma O'Reilly and Betsy Andreu. And then there is a whopping case. As if the federal whistle-blowers lawsuit wasn't enough at a potential $90 million there's SDA, the company -- it's a bonus, an insurance company in Texas that had to pay out all those bonuses every time he won a successive yellow Jersey. And then they started to ask questions and then they started to withhold the bonuses saying, I think you might be doping, for which his response was I'm going to sue you for my bonuses. They ultimately had to settle and pay legal fees and pay interest to the tune of somewhere around $12.5 million.
We have invited the lawyer for SDA to join us on the program today and, mysteriously, he all of a sudden did not come on and is in very important meetings this morning. And my guess is that they will likely launch a case against him.
Here's the question for you, Professor. They signed a document when they settled. Many people do. And the document said, this matter is closed, we may not revisit it. You're the professor here. Can they revisit it because he lied under oath?
BUTLER: You know, I think it's tough. It's a contract issue. There's also a possibility when you settle that you're going to learn additional information that changes what you would have done if you had known. Most judges would say, tough, you knew what you were getting into, and you agreed to do this. So, again, that's not as clear a case as some of the others.
BANFIELD: So, there's one more issue that I want to take up with you and I'm not exactly sure where it can go but it's fascinating nonetheless and a lot of people are talking about it and that is Lance's leadership role, he was a part owner in the U.S. Postal Team, therefore, he was effectively a boss of sorts.
I want to play for you what he said to Oprah Winfrey and how he characterized his role as a leader.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ARMSTRONG; Look, I was the leader of the team and the leader of any team leads by example, and there was never a direct order or a directive to say, you have to do this if you want to do the tour, if you want to be on the team. That never happened. It was a competitive time. We were all grown men. We all made our choices.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BANFIELD: All right, Professor, he was very specific about this. He did not ever admit to giving a directive either dope or you're out. But, isn't it also -- isn't there merit to the claim that if that was the culture and people were dropping left and right if they didn't tune into the doping program, that you could actually have a case against him for pressure to do something illegal and losing your job when you decided not to?
BUTLER: I think that's correct, Ashleigh. Again, there are actually potential criminal charges here if he was encouraging people, saying you really have to do this in order for the team to win, and actually providing them the dope and he's got good old fashioned drug charges pending. Though could some prosecutor want to get on his high horse and bring his guy down because he was such a role model and because this is such a high profile case? Absolutely. And then, again, in terms of civil liability, his role as leader, his role as the boss, gives him even additional exposure.
BANFIELD: Which is amazing because he didn't give that perfect answer that was clear-cut, yes, I forced them to do it. It's only -- it's only just thought that that was the culture as a leader, you were setting the example.
BUTLER: Yes. And that's a key point because when he's talking about this in a court of law, it's going to be different than talking about it on "Oprah." he's going to have tell the complete truth and not be evasive and he's not going to be able to not answer questions as he did with some questions that Oprah posed and if he doesn't tell the truth and he's talking under oath, then he's definitely talking about a criminal case. I would not want to be Mr. Armstrong's shoes.
BANFIELD: I would like to be in your law class. I hope the next time in D.C. you invite me to one of your lectures.
BUTLER: Thank you very much, Ashleigh.
BANFIELD: Professor Paul Butler joining us from Georgetown Law.
I want you to know we're doing something special this weekend. You can tune in for CNN's special "The World According to Lance." It's Saturday night, 7:00 p.m., and 10:00 p.m. eastern time.
BANFIELD: The countdown is on to Monday's presidential inauguration. It's going to be great. And if you're one of the 800,000 people who are expected to attend, you might want to plan for taking a coat. Here you are with the 2009 pictures. It was cold then, too. And the temperatures this time around expected to be in the 30s for much of the day. While you're at it, you might want to get there pretty early as well, because police will shut down dozens and dozens of downtown Washington streets. They're going to close major arteries into the city starting 7:00 a.m. on Sunday.
Speaking of police, handling hundreds of thousands of people is no small task either. No less than 42 government agencies are working together just to handle the transportation and the security involved with the inauguration. Plus, an additional 13,000 members of the military who are going to be on hand to help out. And just in case you can't make your way to D.C., we got you covered there as well. You can watch our special coverage right here on CNN, Sunday and Monday, starting at 9:00 a.m. And if you don't have your TV fired up, just go to CNN.com as well, because we stream it live. You cannot miss it.
Back in a moment. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BANFIELD: Next month we begin introducing you to a new group of amazing people, the people we call the "CNN Heroes" from 2013.
First, I want you to miss the young woman from Nepal who you chose as the 2012 "CNN Hero" of the year.
CNN's Anderson Cooper has her amazing story.
ANDERSON COOPER, HOST, CNN HEROES (voice-over): For this 29-year-old, Pushpa Basnet, 2013 begins a high note. Basnet was named "CNN Hero" of the year for her work providing a home for children of incarcerated parents in Nepal.
I sat down with her right after the big moment.
(on camera): How do you feel? You just won?
PUSHPA BASNET, CNN HERO OF THE YEAR: I think I'm dreaming. It's a big honor. I will never forget this night in my life.
COOPER: What were you thinking when you were making your way to the stage?
BASNET: We all are winners definitely. And I see my dream coming true.
Thank you so much. There's still many children living in the prison. Definitely, Mama is going to take you out from the prison and you're coming to my place --
And this is for the children.
And thank you so much for whoever believed in my dream.
COOPER: And the kids call you?
BASNET: Mom. Yes.
COOPER: What does it mean when you hear that?
BASNET: It means a lot to me. In reality, I know they're not their mother, but I'm their so-called mother to give them a better life and a better education, that's for sure.
COOPER: What was the inspiration?
BASNET: I'm very fortunate to be brought up in the family that I was. I had good parents, until now they give me everything. But there are other children who's parents (INAUDIBLE) -- and I said I should give it to them.
COOPER: If some of your kids were watching, what do you want to say to them?
BASNET: Your mom did it and I'm sure you're proud of me, what I am doing.
COOPER: I'm proud of you too.
BASNET: Anderson, thank you.
#: We are looking for our next "CNN Hero" of the year. All you have to do is go to CNNheroes.com and you can nominate someone you know who's terrific.
BANFIELD: Betty Andreu, the wife of cyclist, Frankie Andreu, once heard Lance Armstrong acknowledging to a doctor that he had, indeed, used performance-enhancing drugs, and she told the truth about it. So how does she feel now? Vindicated? Just listen to what she told our Anderson Cooper.
BETSY ANDREU, WIFE OF ARMSTRONG TEAMMATE: I want to believe that Lance wants to come clean. But this is giving me an indication that I can't.
COOPER: I want to play the exchange he had with Oprah where he was specifically talking about calling you. Let's play that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WINFREY: Have you called Betsy Andreu?
WINFREY: Did she take your call?
ARMSTRONG: She did.
WINFREY: Did she talk about the Indiana hospital, about overhearing you in the hospital in 1996?
ARMSTRONG: I'm not going to take that on. I'm laying down on that one.
WINFREY: Was Betsy lying?
ARMSTRONG: I'm just not -- I'm going to put that one down.
She asked me and I asked her not to talk about --
WINFREY: What you said?
ARMSTRONG: -- the details of the call, because it was a confidential, personal conversation. It was 40 minutes long. I spoke to Frankie as well.
WINFREY: Is it well with the two of you? Have you made peace?
ARMSTRONG: Because they have been hurt too badly, and a 40-minute conversation isn't enough.
WINFREY: Yes, because you repeatedly characterized her as crazy, called her other horrible things.
ARMSTRONG: I did call her crazy.
WINFREY: You did?
ARMSTRONG: I did. I did.
WINFREY: If you're going to go back and look at all the tapes and things you have said over the years about Betsy -- OK --
ARMSTRONG: I think she would be OK with me saying this, I took the liberty to say it. I said, listen, I called you crazy, I called you a bitch, I called you all these things, but I never called you fat.
WINFREY: That's one of the things --
ARMSTRONG: She thought I said, you are a fat, crazy bitch.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDREU: I guess we know why I was all these years, putting up with that? How would you act? Sweet as apple pie?
COOPER: The idea that somehow not calling you fat is any kind of --
COOPER: Yes, is -- and when I heard that, my jaw dropped.
ANDREU: He shouldn't have done Oprah. He should -- this was too big to -- he shouldn't have gone on here. This was going to be a long process for him but he's approaching it the wrong way. What that exchange right there, it has me furious.
Bill, help me out. I mean what is going through his mind? BILL STRICKLAND, EDITOR AT LARGE, BICYCLING MAGAZINE: It's fascinating to me that Betsy and I have been talking about the exchanges, and it's just fascinating to me that he took that step, which everyone would think would be the hardest, to say I don't, I cheated, it was all a lie. And yet when it comes to details about other people, he just can't -- he can't quite get himself there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BANFIELD: Ah, but there's part two still tonight.
Thanks for watching today, everyone. Have a great weekend. NEWSROOM INTERNATIONAL starts now.