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Tea Party Target Speaks Out; O.J. Heads Back to Court; Neighbors: Raze the "House of Horrors"; Charles Ramsey's 15 Minutes of Fame
Aired May 13, 2013 - 10:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: And our next guest will most likely bring that up. Dana Bash, thank you so much.
Joining me now is Justin Binik-Thomas, he's the founder of the Cincinnati Tea Party. Thank you so much for being with us. We appreciate it.
JUSTIN BINIK-THOMAS, FOUNDER, CINCINNATI TEA PARTY: Thank you for having me.
COSTELLO: A lot of reports have been about IRS singling out conservative groups, Tea Party groups but you say you were personally targeted by the IRS. Tell us what happened?
BINIK-THOMAS: Sure it's exactly right. So included in one of these letters to a group just north of Cincinnati, it was question number 26 that ask, describe your relationship with Justin Binik-Thomas and clearly, that raises some concerns as you pointed out briefly.
COSTELLO: So when you heard that your name were in these documents, you said, what's the -- I mean did it immediately arouse your suspicions that you were being singled out?
BINIK-THOMAS: Yes. It absolutely did. It would be interesting to know why am I singled out? It was with a group that I hadn't worked with on top of it. It was asking for a relationship with me, which was fairly vague. So my question goes to, why? What is it being collected for? Where is it being stored? Who is it being shared with? What is the purpose of reaching out to an individual within these larger questions, which in themselves, as the IRS admitted are inappropriate.
COSTELLO: And did you ever reach out to the IRS and say, hey, why are you singling me out?
BINIK-THOMAS: I did. I reached out through the tax payer advocacy group which you get through to your congressman and their response to me was a denial. They said they did not ask about people unless those people are included in the founding documents. And the onus then was on me to prove that I wasn't in the founding documents or that I wasn't a part of that interest. And I did do those steps and again, did not get any resolution.
COSTELLO: So as you sit back and think about this, what do you think the IRS's intent was?
BINIK-THOMAS: I don't know. It would be pure speculation on my end because I have been stonewalled as was Congress at the time, not only my congressman with the query but also the testifying in front of Congress at the time when they had asked whether or not they were targeting groups. They denied it. And now, again, they've admitted it.
So I don't know and I'd like to know. Again, my concern is where does this go? Where was this shared? And what does this mean down the line?
COSTELLO: What do you think should happen?
BINIK-THOMAS: Well, I think there needs to be some systematic changes at the IRS to be sure this doesn't happen again. I don't need names, of course but I'd like to know that the people who initiated these changes, if, indeed, it started with a low level person, it was certainly known within the organization very quickly and it was not addressed.
So I need to know what systematic changes have occurred to make sure they don't reoccur. Now like some --
COSTELLO: So -- so if all these allegations are proved true, do you think heads should role, do you think there should be suspensions. I mean what specifically do you think needs to be done if these allegations are true?
BINIK-THOMAS: Well, I'm not -- I'm not in management the decisions in terms of heads rolling or not would have to be internal. What I need to know is that systems have changed, checks and balances are put in place and that the information gathered inappropriately won't be held against the groups or frankly me, in this situation.
COSTELLO: I know that President Obama is probably going to be questioned about this today. What do you want to hear from him?
BINIK-THOMAS: Well, I'd love for the President to further acknowledge that this was wrong, to support to the probe to its deepest extent and again I'd like acknowledgment from the IRS or from the White House, though it's not their direct responsibility here, that the information gathered will not be used against the groups inappropriately and will not be used against the individuals that were called out specifically.
COSTELLO: Justin Binik-Thomas, the founder of the Cincinnati Tea Party. Thank you so much for joining us this morning.
BINIK-THOMAS: Thank you.
COSTELLO: A modest home in an American city. But this house may be doom to infamy -- the evils that allegedly unfolded within its walls. Neighbors say it should be burned down.
COSTELLO: O.J. Simpson is fighting for his freedom once again today. The 65-year-old former football great is due in a Las Vegas courtroom this afternoon as he seeks a brand-new trial related to an armed robbery conviction five years ago.
CNN's Paul Vercammen has more for you.
PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN SENIOR PRODUCER (voice over): These are the last images of O.J. Simpson in public being led out of a Las Vegas courtroom to prison in late 2008. Simpson was convicted of kidnapping and armed robbery for leading armed men into a hotel room to try to settle a dispute over sports memorabilia he wanted back.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We were just robbed at gun point by O.J. Simpson.
VERCAMMEN: Simpson was secretly recorded during the confrontation which became a part of the 2008 trial testimony.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (EXPLETIVE DELETED) You think you can steal my (EXPLETIVE DELETED) and sell it? Don't let nobody out of here.
VERCAMMEN: Simpson's new lawyers will argue their client was so horribly represented in that kidnapping trial he deserves a new trial and freedom.
PATRICIA PALMS, SIMPSON LEAD DEFENSE ATTORNEY: We firmly believe he did not get a fair trial. I think that's going to bear out during the hearing. We want the judge to take a fresh look at this, what should have been presented before, what wasn't presented, what was said, what wasn't said.
VERCAMMEN: Simpson is expected to take the witness stand this week -- that's something he never did in the Las Vegas kidnapping trial or his sensational televised trial in 1995 -- where he was acquitted of murdering his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman.
Other witnesses expected this week are now retired prosecutors in the Las Vegas case, and Yale Galanter, he was Simpson's lead attorney in the kidnap trial and former ally.
(on camera): Simpson's new lawyers will argue that Galanter had a conflict of interest in part because of his business dealings with the football star.
(voice over): Simpson has been housed at the Love Lock Correctional Center in northern Nevada. His lawyers call him a model inmate.
PALMS: It's common in the prisons there to be different factions that don't get along with each other. And because of his status as celebrity and his personality, he sometimes mediates between different groups when they're having conflicts.
VERCAMMEN: Simpson is now hoping his new legal team will spring him from prison for good. (END VIDEO CLIP)
COSTELLO: Paul Vercammen joins us live now. O.J. has been in prison for five years. Why now?
VERCAMMEN: Well, why now, is because he got this hearing to be heard by the judge. Basically, he's been fighting this fight for a long time. He has a new legal team. By the way, he is now 65-years-old. So he has filed 22 claims. 19 of these claims are going to be heard and it will only take one of them for him to get that retrial.
COSTELLO: All right, Paul Vercammen reporting live for us this morning from Las Vegas.
It's hard to forget someone like Charles Ramsey, the kidnapping savior has been in the spotlight for good reasons and for bad, but should his checkered past matter, when we're talking about what he did last week?
COSTELLO: In one Cleveland neighborhood the so-called "house of horrors" sits boarded up, a macabre attraction for sight seers. Inside these walls, three women are allegedly lived a life of hell, robbed of their freedom and dignity subjected to unspeakable cruelty. Now, neighbors want that house exorcised from their community.
Cleveland City Councilman Brian Cummins understands the outcry. And he's cautioning neighbors to be patient. Thank you for joining us, Councilman Cummins.
BRIAN CUMMINS, CLEVELAND CITY COUNCILMAN: Good morning.
COSTELLO: Tell us about the calls you've been getting into your office about this house.
CUMMINS: Well actually, primarily, just asking us what's going to happen to it, what's going to be the disposition of it? So we're anticipating that eventually it will be demolished. But at this point it has to go through some legal processes prior to before that could happen. Of course, we got the evidence. We've got the trial, the case and then the city will ultimately have to take control over the property in terms of ownership and then hopefully, we will be able to demolish it.
COSTELLO: But I do understand some people have cried out and said, you know, "Burn this thing down. We want it out of our neighborhood right now." Do you worry that there will be sort of -- a sort of vigilante justice carried out here?
BRIAN CUMMINS, CLEVELAND CITY COUNCILMAN: Well, I do, but, you know, I want to say that those reports came out very quickly after the incident when emotions were running very high in terms of anger. And there has been a lot done in the community to soothe those tensions and we're talking with neighbors. We're putting the word out the community. People are supportive of what's going on right now relative to supporting the victims and really trying to stay focused on that.
So I think we're going to be able to ease those tensions and I don't think, I don't anticipate we're going to have problems. Police are going to be posting a car at the house, from what I understand, through the end of the trial, or the end of the proceedings. There is a 10-foot fence up already. So I don't anticipate having problems.
Of course, it was a concern when the initial reports came out from neighbors that that's very hairy.
COSTELLO: Well, let me ask you this. And I see the police car at the house right now, too. So it is being guarded.
CUMMINS: It's actually --
COSTELLO: Go ahead.
CUMMINS: Actually, there's prosecutor's office, representatives from the prosecutor's office are there currently, I am told, with other officials. I believe this is in relation to various agencies needing access to the site. So that will go on.
The suite, we are being told, will be opened today. We were going to do it possibly at noon but we're waiting for again some agencies to get in and out of the property relative to the case, itself. So we do expect to try to return this street back to some level of normalcy, if that's possible, in this unbelievable story.
COSTELLO: I know. I also wanted to share with you something that Ariel Castro's brothers told our Martin Savidge. Listen to what Pedro Castro said about the threat of violence against them and that home you are standing in front of.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PEDRO CASTRO, BROTHER OF ARIEL CASTRO: I don't want to be hunted down like a dog for a crime that I did not commit -- threats of burning up the houses, killing Pedro. That's not right.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COSTELLO: So Castro's brothers, they're in fear for their lives. They're living in hiding right now. They just want to come back home, live their lives as normal. What would you say to the people of Cleveland about Castro's brothers and how they should be treated?
CUMMINS: Well, again, we call everyone to respect the law and don't take anything into your own hands. They were released, I think the police and the court systems had to take care of get their misdemeanors were taken care of. We were actually in touch with Onil prior to the story breaking and the freedom of the women. He lives, you know, very close to this location. Pedro lives in this neighborhood as well.
We're going to continue to do outreach engagement. We have over 30 block clubs in this community. We have a community relations meeting coming up on Tuesday, tomorrow. And we have a very extensive group of people within the neighborhood that are going to make sure that tensions are kept to the most minimus possible.
Again, we want to try to get that community focused on rebuilding this community and rebuilding our image. The Hispanic community, particularly, is concerned with that. We've made great strides in the last few years to focus on our businesses and social service will seize the strength of that community. That's what we're going to do.
COSTELLO: All right. Cleveland city councilman --
CUMMINS: If I could I'd like to plug -- if I could, I'd like to plug the fund. You know, the victims' attorneys, survivors of attorneys encourage people to please give. These women are going to need resources to rebuild their lives. If you'd like to please tell viewers to go to Clevelandcouragefund.org. They can go to Clevelandfoundation.org/courage directly to go to the Cleveland foundation donor page. We have a Web site up and running.
Also news today, we have a new drop-off location. People can send, people were wondering, where do we send cards, letterings, gifts. We are cautioning people to send materials and goods right now. They can send cards and gift card, different things like that to a new drop-off location. And we're asking people to not take it to the police stations anymore. So please encourage people to go to our Web site.
COSTELLO: We certainly will. I will post it on my Facebook page. Councilman Cummins, thank you so much for being with us this morning. We'll be right back.
COSTELLO: It took the rescue of four Cleveland kidnapping victims for the world to meet Charles Ramsey. You know the name by now. Ramsey helped free Amanda Berry and her daughter, Gina DeJesus, and Michelle Knight. Ramsey quickly became an overnight sensation.
Listen to what he told Anderson Cooper right after it happened.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHARLES RAMSEY, RESCUED AMANDA BERRY: She was like, I have been trapped in here and he won't let me out, me and my baby. I said, come on, I'm trying to get the door opened and can't.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COSTELLO: But just as quickly as Ramsey's star rose, it crashed back down to earth. News of a past arrest -- actually a past conviction and prison time for domestic violence tarnished Ramsey's good deed. But that arrest does not bother Politic 365 Jason Johnson. He joins us live right now.
Hi Jason. JASON JOHNSON, POLITIC 365: Hi, Carol.
COSTELLO: So a Cleveland television station reported Charles Ramsey's past of domestic abuse and the audio (inaudible) went crazy. The TV station had to apologize for posting factual information about Charles Ramsey. Do you think that the TV station should have apologized?
JOHNSON: I don't think they should have apologized. The news is news. But I think what's important to remember is his past does not in any way fate what he accomplished. If anything, the fact that this served time in jail for domestic violence and abuse, apparently had some rehabilitation, had some counseling, had training and therefore, it made him more sensitized to a situation like this, I think that's actually a success story and not something that we should be embarrassed about and certainly not something anybody should apologize for.
COSTELLO: Well, I posted the question on my Facebook page, Facebook.com/Carol@cnn if you're interested -- and asked them the question does it past math or -- and most said it did not. Although, there were many people who said we deserve to know his background but no judgment should be made.
JOHNSON: Well, I don't necessarily agree with that. I think we deserve to know his background, because anybody on television becomes a part of the news, their story is going to be a part of the news. But I think his background is important. Look. We have a tendency in this country to the want our heroes to be perfect.
This man is a hero. He saved the lives of four women. And the fact that he has a tainted past demonstrates at least to me that you can make mistakes, come back from those mistakes and step in a way in the very same situations you may have cost. Look, his own family may have had problems with him when he was an abuser in the past. But the fact that he stood up against someone who's an abuser in the present -- I think that's a great success story.
COSTELLO: All right. Jason Johnson, reporting live for us from Cleveland, thanks so much.
JOHNSON: Thank you.
COSTELLO: We'll be right back.
COSTELLO: I'm Carol Costello. Thank you so much for joining me today. CNN NEWSROOM continues after a break.