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Forced Spending Cuts Battle; Jodi Arias Murder Trial; Intrigue Swirls Around Vatican As Pope Steps Down for First Time in Six Centuries

Aired February 28, 2013 - 21:00   ET


PIERS MORGAN, CNN HOST: Tonight, tick, tick, tick. Is that the sound of a fiscal time bomb or just dysfunctional Washington misbehaving as usual?


REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: How much more money do we want to steal from the American people to fund more government?

JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The Republican proposal is the worst of all worst.


MORGAN: I'll ask former CEO Jack Welch if Washington is cutting fat or cutting to the bone.

Plus drama in the court. A confessed killer breaks down on the stand.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Were you crying when you were shooting him? Were you crying when you were stabbing him?


MORGAN: The latest on America's most shocking cases. I'll talk to a man who says Jodi Arias called him the night of the killing.

And New York's Cannibal cop. Why this chase is much more than just a lurid tabloid headline.

Also, run at the top. The Pope stands down.




MORGAN: I'll go one-on-one with the guy who never made the short list. He doesn't even believe in God. Atheist and magic man Penn Gillette.


Good evening. You're looking live at the White House where somewhere, somebody has got to be wondering how on earth did it ever come to this? $85 billion in spending cuts, and just about nobody in America wants, and nobody, not the president, not Congress, seems to be able to stop.

Just a few hours, President Obama will meet with leaders from both sides of the aisle. If you think that will put the brakes on the whole thing, well, listen to this.


SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: Amazingly enough, there are Republicans dancing in the streets, happy with the thought that sequestration will happen.

BOEHNER: We have done our work. They've not done theirs. The House shouldn't have to pass a third bill to replace the sequester before the Senate passes one.


MORGAN: So is there anything that anyone in Washington can do to clean up the mess before it's too late?

Jessica Yellin is at the White House for me now.

Jessica, just on the face of it, it seems so utterly pathetic, childish and pathetic. Am I wrong?

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: No, you're not wrong, Piers. And I think you'd be pressed to find anybody in Washington who disagrees with you. The problem is that both sides are so dug in, and this is a case where each side thinks that they have absolute leverage, and just isn't willing to negotiate yet.

So what we're going to have to see is the American people start, I think, start to suffer a little bit, before the two parties are willing to come together and really negotiate.

MORGAN: Which is astonishingly selfish of these politicians. I heard a statistic today and I want you to confirm if you can.


MORGAN: But the last time Barack Obama and John Boehner met in person to discuss government spending was November 16th, 2012.

YELLIN: That was before -- during the fiscal cliff discussions. And I believe that date is accurate. They met before -- in the middle of those fiscal cliff discussions. They have spoken on the phone since then, but what the White -- you know, the White House's point is those in the person -- in-person meetings aren't enormously productive anyway, and as we saw during the debt talks, they really didn't get us much progress.

The bottom line is, they're not -- they're talking past each other at this point. And the White House never expected these cuts to be triggered to begin with, so it seems there was a bit of a miscalculation in their politics on this, and the Republicans have a bit of an upper hand right now, Piers.

MORGAN: Yes, I think they do, and I think that the White House has played this very badly. I think the president tried to call their bluff, as he has done in the past, and they've called him back, and he doesn't really have a credible answer.

YELLIN: Well, the bottom -- the problem for the president is that the Republicans are right now OK with these spending cuts going into effect. And so, you know, the president then loses his leverage. All he can do is sort of wait it out and see how long it takes until either the Republicans say it's enough, we don't want these to continue, or the president gives up his position and says, I'm not insisting on tax hikes or loophole closings. I'll give in and let you guys win.

So the two sides are sort of still in their standoff positions, and I don't see this playing out quickly. I think it will take a while.

MORGAN: And finally, Jessica, I think technically, the dreaded S word I'm refusing to use tonight starts at midnight tonight, but nothing is really going to happen tomorrow. This sort of kind of goes into effect over a few days and weeks, right?

YELLIN: Right. I said -- when it hits, it will be a bit like the Mayan apocalypse. Most people will think it didn't really happen. It sort of dribbles out. The people who will feel the effects first are people who are on long-term unemployment insurance because their checks will be cut. Low-income people who rely on -- housing and heating aid, and federal workers who work directly for the government, they might get 30-day notices saying they will be furloughed.

Bigger picture, Piers, is, will businesses respond by cutting investment and dialing back in anticipation of what's to come? That could have a ripple effect on the whole economy. We'll just have to see.

MORGAN: Jessica Yellin, thank you very much, indeed.


MORGAN: And I want to turn to a man who says the forced spending cuts are, quote, represent worst management practice. He's Jack Welch, former CEO of GE and founder of the Jack Welch Management Institute.

Jack, it just seems like such puerile politics and the victim in all this is the American people.

JACK WELCH, FOUNDER, CEO, GE: Piers, this is the silliest time of all in Washington. I mean, when you think about it, we're talking about spending more money this fiscal year than we did last fiscal year. So these aren't cuts to a budget. These are cuts to an increase. These are modest cuts in trying to turn the curve of spending over, and as far as Miss Yellin's report is concerned, it's the president's job as leader of the country to bring people into a room and start banging heads to talk about where we're going to go.

So I don't -- this, to me, is a side show. I actually feel sorry for the public servants who've been governors and other things who are in the cabinet being sent out on these the sky is falling missions, we won't have planes landing, we won't be able to protect our border, everything is (INAUDIBLE), it's a terrible thing to do to these grown- ups who've had distinguished public careers to get in the cabinet and then have to go out and pander with crazy comments like this.

MORGAN: Yes, I completely agree.

WELCH: The money is the same --

MORGAN: I think the president -- the president has lost his sure footing on this. He had the Republicans where he wanted them after the big debt crisis battle in December. And now I feel like he's eroding a lot of the public support he had because this is going to happen tomorrow. And it will have a direct impact on people, and I think eventually, they will blame him more than the Republicans.

WELCH: And it won't be much of an impact. It won't be much of an impact on people, when you think that we're going to spend more money this year than we spent last year in the federal government.

Now the thing I said was a terrible management practice is the way they put this thing together, where you can't differentiate, where you've got to cut everything the same. The idea of not using judgment in these cuts is insane. I mean, you couldn't run a laundry doing that, never mind a country.

MORGAN: I've got a tweet from a friend of yours, actually, showing here now. This is something -- oh, it's from you, I think. Let's see that again. Let's get it back up. OK, this is Mike Barnicle. The sequester is Latin for incompetence, which I think is a perfect wording. I have just said the dreaded S word. So I -- I've lost the personal --

WELCH: And I re-tweeted it.

MORGAN: It really is. I mean, it seems to me across the board, Jack, I saw your tweet as well. But here's the point, when you see that John Boehner and Barack Obama haven't met in person to discuss this economic meltdown in their country, this is what they're elected to do. They haven't met in person since the middle of November. I find that utterly shameful.

WELCH: And as -- and as the CEO of the country, who should call the meeting?

MORGAN: Right, but I think you can blame the president. But at the same time, there's just no -- never mind no love lost between them. There's no camaraderie, there's no sense of working together for the bigger picture of the American cause. There seems to be a complete kind of frigidity between the speaker and the president, which is reminiscent, I think, of when Newt Gingrich and Bill Clinton co- conspired, if you like, to the government shut down, but after that, they did sort things out and they did begin to get together and make things happen.

But I don't really have much hope that the Boehner/Obama partnership is going to go that way.

WELCH: Ronald Reagan and Tip O'Neill.

MORGAN: Right.

WELCH: Ronald Reagan and Tip O'Neill were fabulous.

MORGAN: Do you see that happening here?

WELCH: No, and I think it's -- it's incumbent upon the leader to make that happen, not the speaker.

MORGAN: But the speaker is just as intransigent?

WELCH: If I -- you have somebody -- if I were the CEO of the country, I'd be able to have a meeting when I want to have a meeting, and I'd work it out. But I -- that's -- this is a sideline discussion. This is not the biggest deal in the world. And what's going to happen is as these cuts trickle in as your reporter said earlier, people aren't going to see much happening. And all this noise that went on is going to hurt the credibility of all of Washington.

MORGAN: Is it all just fiddling while Rome burns, Jack?

WELCH: We're spending $3.8 trillion while we're talking about these cuts.

MORGAN: Let's turn to a couple of other issues, Jack. One is Chris Christie getting snubbed by CPAC. What did you make of that? Is this -- is this a problem for the Republicans that their most positive in terms of public opinion politician is already getting snubbed by the party?

WELCH: It certainly doesn't make the tent bigger, I'll tell you that. I mean, when a guy has got 74 percent approval in a blue state, to keep him out of your convention and when you're trying to rally the troops makes no sense at all to me, but I -- I'm not a purest one way or the other on the subject. But it makes no sense from a distance.

MORGAN: Let's turn quickly to the story about Yahoo! Marissa Mayer bringing in this plan to stop her employees -- female employees from working from home. Is she right to do this from a business point of view? Do you think you can get more done as a team physically together?

WELCH: Well, I think there's two parts to that question, Piers. One is, working at home has certainly helped a lot of working women participate in the work place, and they have been effective in many different cases. Particularly effective when the company is humming. But in this case, Marissa Mayer is taking on a turnaround. She's got a crisis at Yahoo.

She came in to fix it. She's got to develop a culture, a direction, a team, a vision. And she can't do it with people all in their homes. She needs to see the whites of their eyes. She needs to see them there. She needs to be able to have a conversation and rally the team together and get a common purpose, get a common culture.

So she's got a very tough job. I congratulate her for having the guts to go against the trend in the midst of this turnaround, in the midst of Silicon Valley where ping-pong tables and dream sessions are the order of the day. To go back and retro, to get everybody in the room to rally around a new mission and a new culture, God bless her for doing it. That took guts. Only a woman could do it, and she did it.

And I -- and I commend her for taking it on. Although, in a well-run company, operating smoothly, people working at home give a lot of people a chance to participate effectively in the work force.

MORGAN: I want to play a quick clip from an interview I did with Kara Swisher. She was the "Wall Street Journal" reporter who broke the Yahoo! story. Let's listen to this.


KARA SWISHER, WALL STREET JOURNAL'S "ALL THINGS D": In Silicon Valley, a lot of engineers work at home. At Facebook, the engineer who created the camera app did it in his garage. And Facebook was just happy to get it. And that's how we wanted to work. And so I think -- I think it is the question of this is a changing workplace and she has moved it in a different direction for a good reason on some levels, but you can't force, you know, an excited work place.

What really has to happen is that you've got to make products that people like working on and that consumers use. And that's Yahoo's problem. And to me, this work from home thing, to attack all the work from home people, and it is an attack on them, is sort of odd. Why not get rid of the work from home people that didn't work out? Why not try to make it -- a more exciting work place?

I don't think you can force camaraderie. I'm curious how it's going to work out because she can try as much as she likes, but until they make products that are exciting and consumers love, and that people are using it -- nothing -- you know, no amount of free food, no amount of free dry cleaning, no amount of forcing people into the office is going to matter.


MORGAN: I mean, it's an interesting point, is it, Jack? Because if in the end this works, and Yahoo! starts to surge in profits and really compete successfully with its rivals, then Marissa Mayer will be heralded as a genius, who took a brave and bold move. You did things a different way. You used to get rid of the bottom 10 percent of the work force for poor performance comparative to their colleagues.

Would she have been better off targeting the underperformers and allowing the ones who were producing --

WELCH: Well --

MORGAN: -- but enjoyed working from home to continue?

WELCH: Look, she's not going to throw out great performers. She'll use judgment. She'll let some have flex time. Some come in, some not. But she's got -- she's got a problem. She's not running a perfectly oiled machine right now. She took over a troubled, broken company. And she's trying to put Humpty Dumpty back together again. And she needs to get all hands on deck to work with her to come up with the best ideas.

As Yahoo! progresses, or as special people are in different jobs doing certain work, Piers, she'll let them do it. She's no dummy. She's not going to blow up good people to get them in the office, but she's got to get the majority of people on the team developing a new culture to win. They don't have a winning culture. It's been a losing company for a long time. It's had a number of CEOs.

She's come in, courageously taken the job, and is making a bold move to move the company forward. And in a turnaround, this is a turnaround, remember that, she's going to take some actions that go against the grain. Here, taking a retro move, which takes all kinds of guts for a young woman taking over the CEO's job here, so I commend her for the guts, and I hope it works, and I know she'll use good judgment and not take some genius in a Silicon Valley mountaintop who's coming up with the next great product and pitch him out because she has -- have him in the office. She'll use good judgment.

MORGAN: Jack Welch, you have as always used good common sense. Great to talk to you again.

WELCH: Hey, thanks a lot, Piers. I always love being with you.

MORGAN: Good to have you, as always, you know that.

When we come back, the prosecutor versus the crying killer. Shocking graphic testimony in an Arizona courtroom. The latest on the Jodi Arias death penalty case.


MORGAN: Explosive graphic testimony in the trial of Jodi Arias reaching a fever pitch today in the most dramatic moments in a case to date. Arias sobs as she's asked about the boyfriend she's accused of murdering. It comes on the 13th day on the stand. And joining me now is the host of HLN, Jane Velez-Mitchell.

Jane, now pretty dramatic day there. We had it all, didn't we?

JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HOST OF HLN'S "JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL": We sure did, Piers. This was one of the most relentless cross-examinations of a defendant I have ever seen. The prosecutor, Juan Martinez, absolutely skewers Jodi Arias, ripping apart her story, which has full of holes, totally full of holes, of holes of how and why she killed Travis Alexander.

Now she responds to his grilling by sobbing, convulsing, she's holding her head in her hands, and he blunts that. He says, were you sobbing when you were stabbing Travis Alexander? She stabbed Travis Alexander 29 times and shot and slit his throat ear to ear, down to the spine. She claimed she did all this in self defense, after an afternoon of kinky sex, she's taking naked pictures of him in the shower. She drops the camera and she claims he lunges at her, and she has to defend herself.

But, Piers, here's the thing. She says she goes into a fog and cannot remember stabbing him or slitting his throat. The prosecutor points out that during this so-called fog, she manages to clean up the crime scene, albeit badly, take the gun, get into the car, drive into the desert, dispose of the gun, and then, and perhaps the most chilling moment of all, he describes, and you actually hear this, she leaves the man she's just killed a voicemail inviting him to a play.

MORGAN: Yes. Quite extraordinary behavior. Let's take a look at a clip of her sobbing on the stand today.


JUAN MARTINEZ, PROSECUTOR: Ma'am, were you crying when you were shooting him?


MARTINEZ: Were you crying when you were stabbing him?

ARIAS: I don't remember.

MARTINEZ: How about when you cut his throat? Were you crying then?

ARIAS: I don't know.


MORGAN: And, Gloria Allred, this is such a weird, sinister case. She seems to me to be a pathological liar and killer of almost epic proportions.

GLORIA ALLRED, DEFENSE LAWYER, WOMEN'S VICTIMS ADVOCATE: Well, if it walks like a duck and it quacks like a duck and so forth, then maybe it is. Maybe she is. Well, she obviously is a killer. And the only question is, was it justified by self defense or not?

She's sobbing in the courtroom, the question is, who is she sobbing for? Is she sobbing for the victim, for Travis, or is she sobbing for herself? But -- because now she's caught in all of her lies. And it's hard for her to explain her way out of them.

MORGAN: Alan Dershowitz, has she got any chance of getting off this from everything you're hearing?

ALAN DERSHOWITZ, ATTORNEY: I don't think she has any chance of being acquitted. The question is, will a young, relatively attractive woman who was involved in a sexual affair of this kind get the death penalty? In our country, you don't get the death penalty generally if you're comfortable and attractive, and I think this is an effort to try to keep that from happening. I think she's making it more likely that she's going to get the death penalty.

The closing argument will include her sobbing, and then it will show her being interviewed earlier, saying, oh, she escaped from the intruders and the jury will be told when she is sobbing, she is acting. She's lying through her sobs just the way she lied when she looked earnestly at the television cameras and talked about how she escaped with her life from the intruders. So I think she's getting deeper and deeper, and moving herself closer to the execution chamber.

ALLRED: And you know, she's in trouble when Alan Dershowitz, who is a very well known and respected defense attorney, is taking the prosecution's point of view and saying it's likely she's going to be convicted. But I also want to mention, that voicemail that you pointed out, Piers, that she left some weeks after killing him, what was that all about?

Well, we can call that consciousness of guilt, we can call that trying to establish an alibi for what she did. And my guess that it's possible that that will also be used in the final argument in this case.

MORGAN: We're going to come back after the break.

DERSHOWITZ: Remember --

MORGAN: We're going to speak to somebody who worked with Jodi Arias and Travis Alexander and got a call from Jodi at 3:00 in the morning on the night Travis died. That should be a fascinating conversation.



ARIAS: Hey you, I haven't heard back from you. I hope you're not still upset that I didn't come to see you. I just didn't have enough time off. It's OK, sweetie, you're going to be here in less than two weeks. We're going to see the sights.


MORGAN: Extraordinary moment today when Jodi Arias read the e-mail she sent to her boyfriend after she allegedly murdered him. Graphic testimony on day 13 of this case.

With me now is Gus Searcy, who is Jodi Arias' mentor and the first witness called by the defense.

Welcome to you, Mr. Searcy. Extraordinarily, Jodi Arias calls you at 3:00 a.m. in the morning on the night that she has killed Travis Alexander. What does she say to you?

GUS SEARCY, JODI ARIAS' MENTOR: Well, it's 3:30 in the morning. The phone rang. She was crying hysterically. I knew it was her from the ID. I said, what's wrong? She said, Travis is dead. And I said what happened, and she was kind of crying again. I said, what happened. She was, I don't know. And then I said, are you OK? She said, yes. I asked her where she was.

She told me was in northern California, which is like 1200 miles away. I said, do you need a ride? She said, no, she was going to rent a car. I said, well, let me know what happens. And that was end of the conversation.

ALLRED: May I ask was that before or after she had sex with the man in Utah after she killed Travis?

SEARCY: Don't know. I didn't know that had happened, is the problem. You know? I had no reason to disbelieve her at that point in the game.

MORGAN: Did you speak to her again where she denied killing him?

SEARCY: No. That's the last time I ever spoke to her.

MORGAN: That was it?

SEARCY: That was it.

MORGAN: But she never gave any indication that she'd been responsible for the death?

SEARCY: No. He was dead, not that he had been killed. Just, he was dead. And I said, what happened? She said, she didn't know. And I said, are you OK? She said, yes, I said, where are you? She said, northern California, which a few days before, I'd met her and she was heading in that direction.


MORGAN: It didn't seem ridiculous thing to say.

SEARCY: Didn't seem a ridiculous thing to me at all.

MORGAN: You said that she was addicted to Travis. In what way was she addicted, do you think?

SEARCY: Well, and I'm not saying that, you know, he deliberately had a spell on her. But there was definitely a -- she just couldn't seem to get away from him. Like the time she came to me to visit to get away from him in the motor home when he called, she richly wasn't going to answer the phone. And she answered the phone. And then she tried to get off the phone.

But the moment he started yelling at her, she just caved and capitulated to talking to him.

MORGAN: Was it, from what you saw of them together -- was it an abusive relationship?

SEARCY: Well, I never saw them together. I met both of them. I've met both of them at the same time. I've met them at events. But they never publicly acted together in public. I never saw them act together as a couple.

MORGAN: From what you knew of Travis, was he an abusive character?

SEARCY: No, I did not know him to be. I didn't know enough about him to know either way. It wasn't until I started mentoring her and finding out what was going on with her that all of this started to surface in the background.

MORGAN: I mean, you must have been shocked, aren't you?

SEARCY: I was completely shocked. I had no idea. In fact, when I first heard she was arrested, I knew that she had called me. I called the D.A. and said well -- she hadn't confessed yet. I have got some information that could free her or get her in trouble, because they could check the phone tower and figure out where that call came from at 3:30 in the morning. If it was in northern California, she was off the hook. If it was in Arizona, she was going to have a problem.

Now later she confessed, but I didn't know all that at the time that happened.

MORGAN: She even converted to Mormonism for him. Was she -- apart from the addiction, was she a liar, from your experience? Was she somebody you wouldn't completely trust?

SEARCY: No, she was completely trustworthy. I mean, the whole lying thing that's going on now, I kind of understand it. I don't know if it makes sense to other people. But think about it. You have done something horrific. You now have to defend your life, and you're going to do whatever you think you need to do to try to stay alive.

I get that, not that I condone it, but I can understand that.

MORGAN: Alan Dershowitz, is this the classic behavior of a guilty woman, somebody who has deliberately murdered this man and then is trying everything to cover her tracks, from fake voicemails to e- mails, days, weeks after the event, talking about their happy times they're going to have together. It's a classic cover your tracks, isn't it?

DERSHOWITZ: Well, it's much worse than that. It's not only classic evidence of an attempted cover-up, of an attempt to create an alibi. It's also kind of classic information that constitutes aggravating circumstances when the jury has to decide whether or not to impose the death penalty, which is essentially discretionary. In Arizona, there are aggravating and mitigating circumstances.

And she is making it much easier. I did an appeal a few years ago on a case from a very prominent lawyer in Delaware who got himself the death penalty because he insulted the intelligence of the jury by lying repeatedly, at least in the view of the jury, about what he had done and why he had killed the person. So not only is I think she presenting classic evidence of guilt, but classic evidence that's going to open the door widely to aggravating circumstances that will get her the death penalty.

ALLRED: And evidence that is abusing the memory of the victim.

MORGAN: Right.

ALLRED: Which I think can be very upsetting to some people on the jury.

MORGAN: Not least his family, as well.

ALLRED: To his family as well, but I think the jury is going to take that into consideration as well. You know, you know people as an individual. But I think sometimes the chemistry, people together, may be different.

MORGAN: From the moment you hear the word addictive about a relationship, alarm bells ring, don't they, because that can lead anywhere.

ALLRED: Of course, sex can be an addiction, though.

MORGAN: Of course it can, Gloria. I bow to your expert assessment of this.

DERSHOWITZ: Addiction is not a defense to murder. Addiction -- even if she was abused, even if she was addicted, it doesn't justify a planned, premeditated killing, planning the escape route, planning the alibis. That just doesn't qualify as battered woman's syndrome or any other kind of defense.

ALLRED: I have pity for the experts who now or at some point are going to come on and testify about battered women's syndrome, because I think they're going to have a really hard time at least trying to hook it up to Jodi Arias in the case.

MORGAN: Just one final question, if I may, for you Alan. It's the Cannibal Cop trial again today. More incredibly lurid details here of this policeman, Gilberto Valle, including a very detailed plan to kidnap and cook his college friend, Kimberly Sour (ph), including he got details of her bra size, her shoe size, her height, her weight. He then researched the need for a gag or rope, chloroform, a tarp for the trunk, and other details.

When you see this level of detail and the fact that he was accessing a police database, which by the mere fact he was doing that could have led to him being fired, is it getting more sinister? Would somebody risk their job to do that kind of research?

DERSHOWITZ: Well, it really is getting sinister. And the irony, of course, is in that case, it's the prosecution who is trying to prove that the defendant is telling the truth. And it's the defendant who is trying to prove that the defendant has been lying all the time. It's all a question of fantasy, the exact opposite of what is going on in the Arias case.

But remember, in the cross-examination today, the witness was asked, could this be a screen play? Could this be a detailed fantasy? Did you actually search the trunk of the car when you found out he was planning to put somebody in the trunk of the car? And the experienced officers said no, we never searched the trunk of the car because we knew it was a fantasy.

This is going to be a very tough case for the prosecution, legally. Though emotionally, of course, it's a slam dunk when you think about all these horrible things that he's describing.

MORGAN: Yes. Well, he's a hideous individual who may will walk free.

ALLRED: Does anybody care about the fact that there's conversation that this officer is having about real women and about cooking them for entertainment and watching them suffer? I think it's really revolting. And I think we've got to end thinking of women as meat because this is really not funny. This is serious.

MORGAN: I completely agree. Gloria and Gus, thank you for coming in. Alan Dershowitz, thank you as always. I'm sure we'll be back to this next week when these trials kick off again. But thank you very much indeed for now.

Coming next, the Pope resigns, a once in six centuries event. What it means for a church in crisis. That's next.



POPE BENEDICT XVI, HEAD OF CATHOLIC CHURCH (through translator): I am no longer the Pope. But I am still in the church. I'm just a pilgrim who is starting the last part of his pilgrimage on this Earth.


MORGAN: Benedict XVI earlier today stepping down as Pope, the first to do so in nearly six centuries. An extraordinary moment, but what will it mean for a church in crisis. Joining me, a man who knows something about the inner workings of the Vatican, Monsignor Christopher Nalty of the archdiocese of New Orleans, a former Vatican official.

Welcome to you, monsignor. Let me lay my cards on the table. I'm a Catholic, a good Irish Catholic boy. And I feel disquieted by what is going on with the Pope retiring. I look at a man who seems to me to be no less infirm than Pope John Paul II, his predecessor. And there seems to be so much gossip and rumor mongering flying around, suggesting there's more to it than just him being exhausted. Am I right to feel disquieted?

MONSIGNOR CHRISTOPHER NALTY, ARCHDIOCESE OF NEW ORLEANS: Well, I think there are two things going on. I think that a lot of people are upset. It's something that's novel in the church. The holy father has admitted it's novel. And he understands that it's a grave decision.

On the other hand, I think we have to take the holy father at his word.

MORGAN: Is it an opportunity, though, for the Catholic church to really set about reforming itself? Because there's a recent survey I found fascinating in Germany, where there are a large number of Catholics. And a poll came out that over 70 percent of all German Catholics were in favor of male priests being able to marry, in favor of female priests being ordained, and in favor of divorced Catholics being able to remarry in church. Absolutely overwhelming majority that I suspect would apply all over the world.

And yet you'll never hear that from a Pope until there's genuine reformation.

NALTY: I think the church, as you said, is always needing to be reformed. It is a constant thing. The church was formed, we believe, by Christ, constituted by Christ. So we always have to look at how we have turned away from that. We always have to look back to that form, the form that Jesus gave the church.

And it's a form that he built, that isn't something that he did in a vacuum. It comes to us all the way from the Old Testament, from the idea of the call of Abraham, calling someone to God, calling to God, calling him on a mission.

So modern society can always speak to the church. But modern society has to find a way to listen to what the church says because her teachers are eternal. They're not the passing fads of the world. They're the eternal teachings that come from God.

MORGAN: One of the big challenges will be, of course, who the new Pope should be. Some of the early front runners appear to be Cardinal Marc Ouellet from Canada, Cardinal Peter Turkson from Ghana and Cardinal Angelo Scola from Italy.

There is a big sense that maybe Africa would be the next place to go for the Pope. It's one of the fastest growing areas for new Catholics in the world, if not the fastest.

NALTY: There in Africa I think is a great example. We really have to think about who we would pick, who do we want to lead the church. I probably couldn't get into any names because I can think of a number of the cardinals there that would make excellent successors of St. Peter. But what you really want is someone who is going to be able to give the message of Jesus, someone who is like Jesus.

The Pope, one of his titles is the Vicar of Christ, OK? And what was Jesus? Jesus had roles as priest, prophet and king. And those three roles have to do with the roles of the holy father, OK. As a priest, he's engaged in the liturgy, the sacred liturgy, bringing beauty back to the liturgy, something this Pope did tremendously well.

As prophet, he preaches the eternal truths of God, not against -- not just the passing things of the world, but the eternal truths of God. And then the last one, as a king, he rules. He rules the church.

MORGAN: Well, I think it's all fascinating. I think the idea of an African Pope really appeals to me, actually. I think the time may have come. It would be a great moment for the Catholic church. We shall see.

Monsignor Nalty, thank you very much indeed for joining me.

NALTY: Thank you, Piers.

MORGAN: Now, I want to bring in a man who -- well, let's just say he probably has a rather different view of all this. You know him as the talkative half of Penn and Teller. He's also author of "Every Day an Atheist is on Holiday -- is an Atheist Holiday," which may give you a clue. More magical tales from the author of "God No." And Penn Jillette joins me now. Welcome back, Penn.

PENN JILLETTE, AUTHOR, "GOD NO": Good to be here.

MORGAN: I couldn't think of anyone I would rather talk to about the retirement -- unprecedented retirement of a Pope than you. What is your honest reaction to it all?

JILLETTE: Well, I think I may be somebody who believes in the Pope's position more than most Catholics. I really take people at their word. And it seems like all of the cynicism and all of the -- who are we going to get in, modernizing -- there's not supposed to be modernizing. It's supposed to be word of God.

I know it's only when he's thinking ex cathedris (ph), not all the time. But I really believe that if people believe -- I don't know how they can have opinions on the Catholic church. You call yourself a Catholic. Don't you follow everything?

MORGAN: No, that's the point. I have become increasingly like many young Catholics, I think, really disgruntled by the failure of successive Popes and the Vatican to move at all with the times when society is changing so fast.

JILLETTE: Why would society move if they really were --

MORGAN: Let me give you an example. Here's an example. Their literal interpretation of contraception, for example, means no Pope can endorse the use of condoms even in places like Africa, where it would have saved tens if not hundreds of thousands of lives. I find it completely unacceptable that no Pope has been able or allowed to or felt able to say, if you're using it as a barrier to disease, like AIDS, you have my support. That would save lives.

JILLETTE: Absolutely.

MORGAN: It can't be Christian to allow so many people to die through your interpretation of what something is.

JILLETTE: This is great, what side you're picking here. I would say on my side that if you have someone who is a conduit to God and is speaking God's word, even if you can't understand exactly what God's plan is, even if you do see suffering, that you consider unacceptable, or any suffering is unacceptable, that still doesn't mean you get to vote on what God actually believes.

They pray. They study --

MORGAN: It's their interpretation of what God would believe.

JILLETTE: It's their interpretation of somebody who is at times divine.

MORGAN: I don't remember reading Jesus Christ saying you cannot use condoms to prevent diseases. I don't remember him saying priests -- Catholic priests can't get married. I don't remember him saying divorced Catholics can't remarry in church. Or that female priests can't be ordained. None of these things have actually come from Jesus Christ's own mouth.

JILLETTE: Absolutely. But now you're talking Martin Luther. That was Martin Luther saying that an individual -- I don't think he actually mentioned you by name, but an individual could interpret the Bible themselves. The idea, as I understand it, of the Catholic church is that it's not interpreting the Bible yourself. You have somebody who is actually able to do that.

Once you have somebody that is telling you, we are interpreting God for you, it seems like you either agree or you don't. You either say, like Martin Luther, I'm going to have a direct relationship with the word of God, or I'm going to go through a conduit of God on Earth, which would be the Pope.

MORGAN: I can't believe I have Penn Jillette in front of me actually defending my church against my own criticisms of it. Anyway --

JILLETTE: You're getting more Martin Luther.

MORGAN: This is unprecedented territory. Let's take a break. We're going to come back and talk about another story. This is Joan Rivers' joke about Heidi Klum and the Holocaust. She's defending it. A lot of people aren't laughing, including many in the Jewish community. But it's an interesting issue for all comedians. And we'll discuss it after the break.


MORGAN: Back now, my favorite atheist, although of course he can't bring himself to actually believe that, Penn Jillette, author of "Every Day is an Atheist Holiday." Let's turn to this little fury building up over Joan Rivers.

So she made a joke about Heidi Klum in her post Oscars show. And she said this, "the last time a German looked this hot was when they were pushing Jews into the ovens." Now the Anti-Defamation League's response, as it has been to quite a few of Joan Rivers' Holocaust jokes in the past, is that she should know better. "The remark is so vulgar and offensive to Jews and Holocaust survivors and indeed to all Americans."

Joan Rivers has responded, doubling down, saying the reason she does this kind of joke is to keep the memory of what happened at the Holocaust -- and many of her family members died in it -- alive with people. Is that a good enough excuse?

JILLETTE: I don't think she needs an excuse at all. First of all, Joan Rivers knows as much about comedy as anybody alive in the world.

MORGAN: That doesn't give her a license to be --

JILLETTE: It does, it really does.

MORGAN: Heidi Klum, though, has every right to feel offended by her statement. Is that acceptable?

JILLETTE: You have every right to be offended by it. But she will not and should not apologize. I felt that when "The Onion" did their apology, they actually made it worse, because they took it out of the realm of joke and into something that maybe they could have --

MORGAN: Quvenzhane Wallis (ph), the little nine-year-old. I thought that was completely unacceptable and very, very offensive.

JILLETTE: Absolutely. But when you are doing transgressive humor, when you are trying -- when the idea is to be shocking, when the idea is to get a laugh from something that's outside of the realm of what someone else would say, when that's your position, that is clearly her job. Her job is to cross certain lines so we all get to think about it.

MORGAN: No limits?

JILLETTE: I think there are limits to each one of us and our tastes and what we will enjoy. But as a society, I think blaming her or -- and this whole idea that people are supposed to apologize for jokes seems out of line. It's not funny. That's fine. But she is not in any way, shape, or form condoning the Holocaust. To even --

MORGAN: I agree with that. I think the only person who probably should feel rightly offended is Heidi Klum, who had absolutely no reason to be linked to what Germans and Nazis did during the war.

JILLETTE: The joke is actually backwards from what the Anti Defamation League is claiming. It's actually a joke against Germans. And the Germans might very well want to say, can't we even have a hot model without that being brought up. She had nothing to do with that. So they are kind of, again, on the wrong side.

But I just don't know how I can support Joan Rivers more. I mean, I just think that it's absolutely OK to try anything in comedy. And it's also OK for people to rise up and argue about that. But she does not need to apologize.

MORGAN: Let's take a look at the all-star "Celebrity Apprentice," which premiers this Sunday, March the 3rd. You're in this. JILLETTE: I am.

MORGAN: And the reason I know that is I'm in the premier episode.

JILLETTE: But you're on the other side of the desk.

MORGAN: I went back on Donald Trump's boardroom side, and I reengage with my old friend Omarosa, which I can only assure people is extremely entertaining. I went back with one objective, to get her fired. And I'll leave it hanging in the air, but I left a happy boy. I go back into several episodes, actually.

But we've got this extraordinary situation where one of your colleagues in it, Dennis Rodman, is currently in North Korea telling everyone that Kim Jong-Un, the supreme leader, is now his best mate. What on Earth is Dennis up to?

JILLETTE: Isn't that the most beautiful thing in the world?

MORGAN: Not really. Does he know what he's doing?

JILLETTE: It absolutely is. You know, we're talking about what really is going to bring people together. The first thing is always going to be -- is Elvis. Elvis wins every battle. We have cool. We have rock and roll.

MORGAN: These pictures are just too ridiculous.

JILLETTE: And you've got a fan of basketball who's over in this horrible country, treating their people terribly, nuclear stuff, and they've got Dennis Rodman, a good old American, who is over there doing great stuff.

MORGAN: We'll agree to disagree on that. You're getting a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on April 5th.


MORGAN: It's great to see you again.

JILLETTE: Wonderful to see you, Piers. Thank you.

MORGAN: We'll be right back.


MORGAN: Tomorrow night, a sequester-free zone. The man who gave me a flu shot on air on this show and then I got the flu twice, including at the moment, Dr. Oz guests hosts while I get some much needed best rest from his activities.

That's all for us tonight. "ANDERSON COOPER" starts now.