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CNN NEWSROOM

Plot To Rig NYC May's Race Alleged; Armed Guards In School Recommendation By NRA; Suing Law Schools; Michael Jackson's Family Versus Promoter; Interview With Murray From Prison; Educators Accused Of Cheating; Texas Murder Investigation Continues; The Gun Control Debate in America

Aired April 2, 2013 - 13:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN ANCHOR: Part of an alleged plot to win the New York City mayor's race.

Plus, putting armed guards if schools, that's what the NRA recommends four months after the Sandy Hook school massacre.

And after spending thousands of dollars for a college degree, most people hope to land a good paying job. But what if your school did not give you the full picture of how successful graduates are in actually getting those jobs?

This is CNN NEWSROOM, and I'm Suzanne Malveaux.

We start with Michael Jackson. Of course, he is dead but certainly he's being put on trial in a Los Angeles courtroom today. That is right. Jackson's mother and children are suing the singer's last concert promoter, AEG Live. They claim that the company was negligent in hiring and supervising Dr. Conrad Murray. Now, Murray, as you may recall, he was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in Jackson's 2009 death and is not serving a four-year sentence. Murray is the one who gave Jackson the fatal dose of anesthetic propethal. But AEG's lawyers say it was Michael Jackson, that he was a grown man responsible for his own behavior. They are expected to bring up the charges of child molestation on which Michael Jackson was actually acquitted. They are also going to bring up evidence of drug addiction.

I want to bring in our Miguel Marquez. He is covering the trial from L.A. Also, Diane Dimond, who's a special correspondent of "Newsweek" and "The Daily Beast." And the author of "Be Careful Who You Love: Inside the Michael Jackson Case."

Miguel, I want to start off with you. We've got jurors who are filling out paperwork. What have we seen today in the courtroom? Has the jury been set? What do we expect?

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There is no jury yet. If this is any indication of about how this is going to go, it is going to be fireworks all the way. The lawyers -- you know, it's amazing, this is a very tiny courtroom in the superior courtroom. There were a couple of other cases before, maybe one or two people stand up to work with the judge on those. When they called the Michael Jackson AEG Live case, nine or 10 lawyers get up, it's a literal (INAUDIBLE) of lawyers go up. The fight right now is whether or not cameras in the courtroom will be allowed and whether or not there will be a gag order on this case.

The lawyers for AEG say that they are going to bring up a lot of Michael Jackson's medical history, a lot of that negative medical history in this case. Michael Jackson's estate concerned about that, but also wanting the cameras to be allowed in the courtroom.

Much of the argument today was about CNN and the interview that -- the two interviews that CNN did with the lawyer for Mr. Jackson and the lawyers for AEG in last couple of days. The lawyers trading barbs for almost an hour over whether or what was said during that interview by AEG. AEG, of course, supporting the idea of not allowing cameras in the courtroom. The lawyers saying, how can you go out there, slur our client like you did on CNN and then come back and say, oh, we don't want cameras in the courtroom? Suzanne, it's going to get very interesting.

MALVEAUX: And, Miguel, when do we actually expect to see some of the major players here? Michael Jackson's mother and his kids, who have all been named in the lawsuit?

MARQUEZ: They have been named. I mean, they're all bringing the lawsuit. They want money from -- they're the ones that claimed that --

MALVEAUX: Sure.

MARQUEZ: -- AEG essentially killed Michael Jackson by hiring Dr. Conrad Murray. All of this will come down to that. Clearly, the e- mails that AEG -- that were released through the -- leaked to "The L.A. Times," that will all come up. There are many more documents that the -- that the plaintiffs have with regard to AEG. And AEG is going to fight back with not only with Michael Jackson's medical records but a lot of that evidence that's never been out there from his molestation trial in 2005, dredging up a lot of very ugly history about Michael Jackson and how -- what they believe, was this man who was essentially trying to kill himself and he brought this on himself -- Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: All right. Miguel, thank you. I want to bring in Diane to talk about this. Miguel is mentioning these e-mails which are going to be critical here. And this is one -- this is from the AEG Live president, Randy Phillips, who was with Jackson in the hotel suite in London back in March of 2009. They were about to announce the "This Is It" tour, right? And he writes in this frantic e-mail to his boss, AEG's president back in L.A., he says, M.J. is locked in his room drunk and despondent. I'm trying to sober him up. He is an emotionally paralyzed mess riddled with self-loathing and doubt now that it is show time.

I don't know -- I don't know what to make of that. I mean, how damaging could that be to the defense?

DIANE DIMOND, SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT, "NEWSWEEK" AND "THE DAILY BEAST" (via Skype): Well, it's damaging to both sides, actually. It goes to show that Michael Jackson had a substance abuse problem of some sort even before this "This Is It" concert tour was set to start. But it also shows that he's a fragile, vulnerable person. So, I think AEG -- Miguel is right. AEG is going try to paint really a rather ugly picture of Michael Jackson having a mess of a life long before they ever entered his life and entered into this contract with him.

But then the Jackson side can counter, you knew how frail he was, how dare you that you kept pushing and pushing him. There's another e- mail. I think that you'll bring up that talks about Conrad Murray --

MALVEAUX: Yes, let's read that one. This is -- this is the one that says, 11 days before Jackson died, AEG's CEO wrote to the director and choreographer, Kenny Ortega. He says, we want to remain Murray that it's AEG, not M.J., paying his salary. We want to remain him what is expected of him. How will that be used?

DIMOND: See, that, I think, the Jackson people think that's a real smoking gun because there it is in black and white. AEG is admitting they are paying Conrad Murray's salary. Now, why that CEO would write that is beyond me, because there was never a signed contract between Murray and AEG, not even between Murray and Jackson. Conrad Murray was supposed to make $150,000 a month. Suzanne, he never got a dime of it. Nobody ever paid him.

So, it's going to be -- Miguel -- what Miguel is reporting this morning, it's already fireworks. This is going to be a very lively trial. It can go on as long as three months. And I -- frankly, I worry about what it's going to do to those kids.

MALVEAUX: Sure.

DIMOND: Parents and kids may testify.

MALVEAUX: Absolutely. And we might actually see those kids on the stand or at least in the courtroom. And, as you say, Diane, we're talking about several billion dollars of potential earnings that were lost. So, this is big money that's at stake as well. And, of course, the future of those kids.

Diane, Miguel, thank you very much. We appreciate it.

Michael Jackson's two oldest children, Prince and Paris, they are expected to possibly testify at that trial. While they're father was alive, all three of his kids, they led pretty sheltered lives. We didn't really see them. Well, the singer tried to keep them out of public light but now all of that has changed.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(voice-over): Remember this scene? Michael Jackson's kids, Prince Michael, Paris, and Prince Michael II, better known as Blanket, at the singer's 2009 funeral. For a lot of us, that was the first time we'd seen his kids up close without those veils and masks they used to wear all the time. Paris Jackson recently told Oprah that her dad wanted their kids to cover their faces in public in an effort to keep people from recognizing them.

But they're not hiding from the public anymore. Prince Michael, now 16, made his debut as correspondent on "Entertainment Tonight" in February. Before he did his first interview, he gave a shout out to his dad, saying, he raised me right. Prince Michael seems to have inherited his dad's work ethic. He says he wants to be a producer, director, screen writer and actor.

Meanwhile, Paris just got an offer from the Philadelphia Eagles to try out for a cheerleader. Of course, she'll have to wait a couple of years. She's only 14. Right now, she's cheering for her high school, Buckley High in Sherman Oaks.

And then there's Blanket who was only seven when his dad died. Now, he's 11. But a lot of us remember the first time we saw him when his dad dangled him from a hotel balcony in Germany back in 2002. Jackson later apologized, saying he got caught up in the moment. Blanket hags s pretty much stayed out of the limelight so far. He was there with his brother and sister at the Grammy's in 2010 when they accepted a Lifetime Achievement Award on behalf of their dad.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(live): Tonight 8:00 Eastern, Dr. Conrad Murray tells his side of the story in an "ANDERSON COOPER 360" exclusive. It is Murray's first T.V. interview from prison. You can see it here only on CNN. Make sure to tune in 8:00 p.m. Eastern.

Well, this is an amazing story. Teachers and principals accused of cheating students out of an education by cheating on standardized tests. That is right. This is what happened here in Atlanta. Five educators have now so far turned themselves in to face charges in one of the country's biggest cheating scandals. In all, 35 teachers and administrators were indicted.

So, these are the details. They're pretty shocking actually. You've got teachers and principals wearing gloves to avoid leaving fingerprints on test papers. Groups holding changing parties to erase wrong answers and fill in the right ones. Even using coolers to transport test papers.

Former Georgia attorney general, Mike Bowers, investigated the cheating scandal, and he joins us now. I mean, this is really unbelievable when you take a look at this. Give us some of the details, some of the details that even shocked you when you learned about what was happening.

MIKE BOWERS, FORMER ATTORNEY GENERAL, GEORGIA: Well, we looked at some 56 schools. We had cheating that we confirmed in over 40 schools. We had six principals who took the Fifth Amendment and would not even talk to us. We've had cheating all up and down the line. It was absolutely amazing.

MALVEAUX: How did they do this?

BOWERS: They did every way that you can imagine. They had cheating parties. They had erasures in the classroom, outside the classroom. They directed teachers to make erasures. Just anything that you can imagine that could involve cheating, it was done.

MALVEAUX: How long did this take place?

BOWERS: We confirmed it from about 2006, the mid -- the mid -- between 2000 and 2010, it occurred from midway all the way to 2010 but most likely it started about 2001, --

MALVEAUX: That's a --

BOWERS: -- over a 10-year period.

MALVEAUX: That is such a long time. How many kids do you think were impacted by this?

BOWERS: Thousands.

MALVEAUX: Thousands of children. Do you know what's behind this? Can you tell me, why did they do this?

BOWERS: It's hard to say. Pride, there was an attempt to gain bonuses, there was a lot of an attempt to enhance careers without any regard to the little children. And you have to understand, the children involved here were among the most vulnerable children in this state which makes it even more outrageous.

MALVEAUX: Because you have thousands of kids who were passed along the line because of these test scores who now cannot read and are --

BOWERS: Cannot write, cannot do arithmetic. And they were deprived of an education. It's just simply -- I'm a grandfather. And it's simply outrageous. But not only were the children deprived, a lot of teachers were forced into cheating, forced into criminal acts. Now, granted, they did wrong. But a lot of them did this to protect jobs, and I heard some of most outrageous and pitiful stories that you can imagine.

MALVEAUX: From teachers?

BOWERS: Yes.

MALVEAUX: Who -- I understand some of the teachers --

BOWERS: We had teachers fainted --

MALVEAUX: Yes.

BOWERS: -- in the interviews because they were overcome with emotion and it would break your heart. I remember one teacher who told me, Mr. Bowers, this is -- whole thing is a great big joke because my kids, third graders, can't read or write and I spend my day combing hair, brushing teeth, getting clothes, getting shoes, and making sure they've got a place to go at night. And here I am sitting in front of you admitting cheating knowing I'm going to get fired and this is a big joke. And I know I'm going to get fired and lose the best job I will ever have. And I'll never forget her.

MALVEAUX: Wow. I mean, that's unbelievable. What happens next? I mean, what happens to the teachers? What happens to the kids?

BOWERS: Well, the children, I don't know, I only hope that the current administration will make sure those children get what's needed in terms of remedial education, in terms of the criminal process, that's up to our district attorney. And he deserves a great deal of credit undertaking this. He's booked a lot of headwind. But the criminal process will just have to take place.

MALVEAUX: All right. Michael Bowers, thank you so much. We really appreciate it. We ran out of time. We'll bring you back. This is a very big story and obviously has national implications as well. Thank you very much.

BOWERS: Thank you.

MALVEAUX: We appreciate it.

Here's what happens we're working on for this hour. After all of the time, money and drama, the Jodi Arias trial could end today.

Plus, Louisville's Kevin Ware is already on crutches, just two days after his leg snapped in that horrific injury. You Remember it. One person who knows what he's going through, Joe Theismann, his advice next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MALVEAUX: Hundreds of state and federal investigators are searching for clues, trying to figure out who killed two Texas prosecutors, just in the last two months. Kaufmann county DA Mike McClellan and his wife Cynthia found shot to death in their home, over the weekend. Two months earlier an assistant DA was gunned down outside the courthouse in broad daylight. George Howell is joining us from Kaufmann, Texas. And, George, what have they learned? Are there any clues in the investigation? Do they have any more information today?

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Suzanne, no new information from investigators at this point. But we do have some new insight into the case from a search warrant affidavit. Basically we understand that the bodies of the victims, Mr. McClellan and his wife, Cynthia, they were found by friends who were trying to reach them repeatedly that day. We also know Mr. McClellan contacted relatives Friday, a day before he and his wife were discovered in that home. According to the affidavit investigators are trying to work with a judge to try to get cell phone information from a nearby tower by that home. That's the latest we know regarding the investigation.

MALVEAUX: George, do we know are they still afraid there's going to be a follow up attack, another revenge attack? I know that they've beefed up security for some law enforcement officials.

HOWELL: In fact, you know, law enforcement here, here at the courthouse, they're asking us move quickly, so that's one example how stepped up law enforcement is now. They're acutely aware of the dangers of the job. Law enforcement, public officials, in fact. Take a listen to this. A district attorney from nearby Anderson county explaining how he feels given everything that's happening here. Let's listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DOUG LOWE, ANDERSON CO. DISTRICT ATTORNEY: I feel like that Mike was murdered for what he did and so it's -- it makes it kind of you know -- it's scary to people like me, it's not going to change the way I do business. I'm not going to walk in fear. I'm not going to -- not prosecute people -- you've got to be careful.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOWELL: Suzanne, again you, can tell there is a heightened awareness with law enforcement, with public officials. And we were expecting to hear a news conference to get a news conference today at 1:30 eastern time. That's what we were told by one public official. But we're told by the sheriff's office that will not happen. We'll get information through some other route, whether it's e-mail, we're still not sure. But as we get that insight in the case, we will of course pass that along. Still investigators are tightlipped about this investigation.

MALVEAUX: George, we'll double back when you get more information.

Armed guards in schools that's what the NRA wants saying the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MALVEAUX: In Connecticut where the Newtown school massacre shocked the nation, a legislative task force has agreed on a major overhaul of state's gun laws. Both Republicans and Democrats actually support the changes and they would add more than 100 types of guns to the state's list of banned assault weapons. It would limit the capacity of ammunition magazines to ten rounds and require background checks for all weapons sales. It would also allow mental health training for teachers. The state's general assembly will take up legislation when it returns it session on Wednesday.

Colorado recently passed some of the nation's strictest gun laws. Tomorrow the president will head to Denver, talk with law enforcement officials and community leaders about stopping gun violence. He's also going to call on Congress again to pass federal gun control measures.

Immediately after the Sandy Hook elementary school massacre the NRA said the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. Today, an NRA-backed group announced findings from a report on how to protect schools from gun violence. It includes a training program for armed school resource officers, recommendations on stronger exterior doors and windows that will can stop an armed intruder, and better placement of security cameras.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ASA HUTCHINSON, NATIONAL SCHOOL SHIELD TASK FORCE: We looked at surveillance monitoring and we -- we find that many of them have surveillance cameras but the monitoring might be at the ceiling level where -- rather than at the eye level. A simple change that is a vulnerability but can be done better.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MALVEAUX: The recommendations also include laws to permit armed guards in the schools. John King from Washington joining us here. John, let's set the scene here. Recent polls that show slight majority of Americans support having armed guards at school. What do we think the NRA's push, how do we think that's going to either help or hurt the president's own push for gun reform.

JOHN KING, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Suzanne there are some things in there, you heard Mr. Hutchinson talking about making sure monitoring screens were right eye level. A lot of people would say that's common sense. But, when you talk about having more armed guard at schools that will stoke the gun control debate which is much more regional and cultural than a partisan debate. Meaning, not so much Democrats and Republicans. Yes there are Democratic and Republican lines on gun control but they're more regional and cultural. Big city mayors like Bloomberg in New York, like the mayor of Atlanta, I suspect, would say that's nuts. We don't want to put more guns on school property, we don't want to arm people around the schools. The key is to take gun as way from the bad guys.

If you travel not far from Atlanta, not far from Washington, D.C., out into suburban and rural New York and in the south and across west in the country, you have a lot of people who would listen to the NRA, maybe not agree completely but will say let's have respect for that, let's listen to them.

So, what the NRA proposal will do, will stoke the polarization in the debate between those who say the answer to the tragedies, more gun control laws, fewer guns on the streets, whether they be assault weapons or the mayors would argue, hand guns, and those who say, no, as you noted only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. It will polarize the debate, and it makes the president's job of trying to sell his proposals tougher.

MALVEAUX: And, John perhaps this makes the president's job harder. Take a look at polls here. You have a bit of the support for major restrictions in gun control dropping here. You had a high of 52 percent in December of people who thought there ought to be changes here to 43 percent, as more time goes on, more distance, if you will, from that school massacre, how much harder is it for the president to make his case?

KING: The numbers don't lie, Suzanne. There's a great urgency, more public attention, more focus, there's more media coverage right after a horrible tragedy like Newtown. You mentioned the president's going to Colorado, he's also now added a trip to Hartford, Connecticut on Monday to push for gun control. Despite the president's efforts, despite the vice president's efforts the math hasn't changed in the Congress, where they would have to pass the legislation. You mentioned there are states taking gun control measures, New York has done it, Connecticut has done it Colorado is doing it. But at the national level, even the president's proposal for universal background checks is in some trouble.

I was making phone calls yesterday and e-mail exchanges, people expect more robust background checks can still pass the Congress. But there's even a question mark about that. When the president called for assault weapons ban, when the president calls to ban the larger magazine clips not only does he face NRA opposition, not only does he face majority Republican opposition, but Suzanne, part of the president's problem is there are a lot of Democrats, particularly in the Senate who are up in 2014 who are from more conservative gun right states who they're not with the president either. It's not a Republican/Democratic divide. Again, it comes much more to regional and cultural issues and the president has not been able to overcome that.

MALVEAUX: No. It's very much a political hot potato. John, thank you really appreciate it.

The Jodi Arias trial could end today all because of juror number five.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)