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PIERS MORGAN LIVE
Fort Hood Rampage Trial; Mother of Three Found Dead; Replacing Sen. Lautenberg; Should Crime or Disaster Victim Pictures Be Released?
Aired June 4, 2013 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PIERS MORGAN, CNN HOST: Hi. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. Tonight, exclusive. New information on the Boston bombing suspects. I'll talk to the owner and manager of the gym where the Tsarnaev brothers trained just 72 hours before the bombings. Also Dzhokhar's call to his mother from behind bars. What the only living suspect sounds like.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DZHOKHAR TSARNAEV, BOSTON MARATHON BOMBING SUSPECT: Everything is good. Please don't say anything.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: And the accused Fort Hood killer defending himself against 13 murder charges. Now he'll be allowed to cross-examine the survivors of the massacre. Is that a good idea? I'll talk to a staff sergeant who says Nidal Hasan looked him in the eye and shot him seven times.
Plus the mysterious death of a mother of three. There's one reason you may have heard of this case, and that reason is Star Jones, who was a friend of the victim's sister. She tells me why it's so important to her.
And breaking the news. When we go behind the day's headlines. Sandy Hook parents fighting to make sure the world never sees photos of their murdered children.
A lot to get to tonight including exclusive never-before-seen video of suspected Boston bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev training in a Boston gym. That's coming up in a few minutes. But I want to begin with a shocking new development in the Fort Hood massacre. The man accused of murdering 13 people in the shooting rampage, Army Major Nidal Hasan, told the judge today that he acted to defend the Taliban leadership in Afghanistan from America's military.
Hasan, a devout Muslim, who opposed the war in Afghanistan, is representing himself in the case and is expected to cross-examine some survivors of the rampage. Among them, retired Staff Sergeant Alonzo Lunsford, the government's lead witness. And he joins me now.
Staff Sergeant Lunsford, what is your reaction to this development, that Nidal Hasan is going to defend himself and he's going to cross- examine victims like yourself? STAFF SGT. ALONZO LUNSFORD (RET.), FT. HOOD RAMPAGE SURVIVOR: Well, actually, I'm very upset about it because how I look at it, Major Hasan is an army psychiatrist and so he's very well trained on how to deal with service members that suffer from TBI or PTSD, traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder. And he's a very intelligent man. So when he's going to cross-examine us I know that he's going to try to push certain triggers to try to get a physical reaction out of us to try to help him on his quest to become a martyr. So basically we have to outsmart and outwit him at the game that he's trying to play.
MORGAN: Now you yourself were shot seven times. I mean, it's miraculous that you survived. One of the bullets at least I believe went straight through you, the side of your head. Tell me about what happened to you, your feelings after that, and what you feel now that this is going to become a huge public show trial in effect.
LUNSFORD: Well, during the initial act of the shooting on November in 2009 when I realized what was happening, seeing someone that wears the same uniform that I wear that was shooting us and at the time not having a reason to shoot us but by him yelling "Allahu Akbar," I was hurt because in the military we all believe one color. It doesn't matter what your national origin is because we're fighting for a common cause. And for him to turn on us that day and to start killing innocent people, that's -- it leaves you speechless.
And when I got hit the first time the first round was a head shot. And as I was laying on the floor and he hit me again in my back, I decided then that I wasn't going to die. I had to fight because I knew that surviving, that I was going to be able to make sure justice is served with this man.
MORGAN: Now, the military had been very anxious. This is not perceived to have been a terrorist attack. But clearly, there have been developments in the last 24 hours that are going to put that under great scrutiny, not least of which the fact that Hasan has revealed in his defense at the pretrial hearing that the attack -- his attack was in defense of Taliban leaders including Mullah Omar.
And it's going to be very hard, isn't it, to see how this is not going to end up as a platform for him to basically attack the American military's operations in Afghanistan against the Taliban and against al Qaeda.
LUNSFORD: It is going to be extremely hard. But what you have to realize is that he is an army psychiatrist. So deploying to the theater of war, he would not be in any immediate danger because his posting would be at a hospital in the rear. He wouldn't even leave outside the fog. So if he was trying to defend others, as he's putting it, or defending Omar or the Taliban, then why didn't he decide to go into combat arms? Or, why didn't he just defect and end up going to the other side to fight for them?
See, these are the deplored words that he's going to use to make a mockery of our justice system, to make a mockery of our system of government. So as I stated before, he's very smart. And we have to be aware of what he says and how he says it because he's going to speak in terms of code.
Where throughout the trial he's going to make some statements that's really not going to make sense. Not to us. But it will make sense to let's say sleeper cells. So you have to ask ourselves, is he trying to rally other jihadists to form up and to perform other atrocities here in the United States? Which means that we should be proactive instead of being reactive.
MORGAN: Yes, I think this is a very real risk, isn't it? He's a very intelligent man. He's a Muslim American born in Virginia. As you say, he's a licensed psychiatrist. You have a very smart guy, very into psychology, who could well turn this into a huge recruiting drive for other jihadists.
LUNSFORD: Absolutely. And that recruiting drive has already started. If you look at the soldier that was AWOL from Ft. Campbell that came to Ft. Hood, and we caught him in his hotel with a dirty bomb, when they arrested him he yelled out Major Hasan's name as if he was an idol for this young man. And this young man had never deployed before.
Now the other thing that's going to happen is that Major Hasan is suspecting because we suffer from PTSD or TBI that we're going to be afraid to stand in front of him.
But I will share this with you from the heart. We will show no fear in the face of the enemy. We will not allow Major Hasan or anyone that's following him or anyone that he has followed to strike any fear on our beloved citizens of the United States of America.
MORGAN: Did you --
LUNSFORD: Or our allies.
MORGAN: Did you ever feel when you were working so closely with this man that you would ever have to say the words you just said about him, that he is effectively an enemy combatant?
LUNSFORD: No. I never felt that way because I had works with him two weeks prior on the 18th of October at Darnell Army Hospital. And during the entire time frame he showed no signs or symptoms of being disgruntled with our government or being disgruntled with the system of government that we are living up under right now. So there again, he's very smart and crafty. So he had a plan. And he enacted that plan and a soft target, a medical facility, and that's his way of showing shock and awe. But he underestimated the power of the United States of America.
MORGAN: What is your message to the judge, Tara Osborne, about this? Do you believe that this should be allowed to happen? Or do you believe that there should be a way of stopping him being able to use this as a platform to attack America, to attack American servicemen, and to potentially rally the enemy?
LUNSFORD: Well, I do to a degree. But what you have to realize is that Colonel Osborne is just doing her job. And in the personal belief she disagrees with what she's having to do. But that's why we have checks and balances in the way our justice system is designed. You are innocent until proven guilty to a degree. Now what we have to look at, all the signs were there prior to that sent red flags up about this man.
But when you hide behind political correctness, when you fail to perform the five P's, this is what you get. I'm a firm believer in prior proper planning prevents piss-poor performance. And you have to communicate. So in lack of communication, lack of paying attention to detail is the reason why we're in the position that we're in today. And with other events that have come across in our nation, i.e. the Boston city bombings, all the signs was there but nothing was done.
So there again, as a people, as a government, we need to start being proactive and stop being reactive. Because when you're reactive, people die. So if you see a threat, you need to investigate the threat. You need to eliminate the threat.
MORGAN: Staff Sergeant, it's been fascinating talking to you. Thank you so much for joining me.
LUNSFORD: Oh, you're welcome, sir.
MORGAN: Hasan is an accused mass murderer who's turning to the Taliban for his defense. He's also acting as his own attorney during the trial. All this raise a lot of questions legally. Who better to answer them than CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin?
Jeffrey, a fascinating case, and I thought the staff sergeant there really spelled it out incredibly eloquently, didn't he? Clearly very angry about what's happening, very defiant.
From a legal standpoint is there anything that can be done to stop him turning this into a show trial?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I think the staff sergeant had it right that the judge was just doing her duty. Unfortunately, her role is fairly narrow. If he is entitled to the lawyer of his own defense, if he is sane and she made a judgment that he is legally sane, that is, not legally insane, he has the right to choose himself as a lawyer. And that's what he's done. And he is going to raise this ridiculous defense.
But what he's clearly doing, again, as the staff sergeant said, is going to be basically a form of martyrdom. He knows he's going to get the death penalty. And he's going to embrace it and show that -- why he's giving his life for his cause.
MORGAN: The American government and American military have been very keen not to have this whole incident from the moment it happened portrayed as a terrorist attack because he was an American serviceman, he's an American-born Muslim. This changes everything, doesn't it? You can't have a statement saying, I did this specifically to defend Taliban leaders like Mullah Omar and others from the American military. That positions him as a straightforward enemy combatant and terrorist. TOOBIN: That's the definition of terrorism as far as I know. So, you know, you can argue semantics all you want about terrorism or not. But this certainly looks like it is part of the war we've been fighting since the early '90s, when they tried to blow up the World Trade Center, the first time. That -- radical Islam is the tie among all these connections and this is just the latest.
MORGAN: Is there any argument -- we've seen this before at the trial of Zacarias Moussaoui, the missing 9/11 hijacker. You know, he berated the court, cited Islamic law and threatened the jury. There's a pattern of these people seizing the moment, if you like, of their own trials to turn them into potential recruitment operations.
Is there anything that should be done to amend American law to try and avoid this kind of thing?
TOOBIN: You know what? I don't think so. I -- it is obviously terribly upsetting to have someone like this have a platform. It's even worse to have them have the opportunity to cross-examine victims like the staff sergeant himself. But, you know, our system works pretty well. And our system is widely regarded as the fairest judicial system in the world.
I would hate to see them, you know, these people who have committed such horrible atrocities, be responsible for changing what is -- what is a very good system. And it's also worth pointing out. What did Moussaoui accomplish by representing himself? What is this guy going to accomplish? I mean, they're not going to recruit anybody. They're just going to alienate people.
So I actually think the system, you know, allows for this sort of abuse if you want to call it that but the system still works pretty well.
MORGAN: I also think when Alonzo Lunsford comes up against Mr. Hasan it may not go quite the way Mr. Hasan --
TOOBIN: Who would you bet on?
MORGAN: Is expecting. My money would be on that very impressive staff sergeant.
Jeffrey, thank you very much.
When we come back, new information on the Boston bombing suspects. I'll talk exclusively to the owner and manager of the gym where Tamerlan Tsarnaev trained for years. They were shocked at how much he changed. And we've got never-before-seen video of Tamerlan Tsarnaev at work in the gym.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
D. TSARNAEV: No, of course not, I'm already eating and have been for a long time. They are giving me rice and chicken now, everything's fine. Everything is good, please don't say anything.
ZUBEIDAT TSARNAEV, BOSTON BOMBING SUSPECT'S MOTHER: I felt like he would scream that, you know, what's going on, what's going on, he would ask the world what's going on. But mama -- instead he was just calming me down. You know what I mean? He was trying to calm me down, mama, you don't worry about anything.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: That was Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev on the phone with his mother and her reaction. It's the first time we've heard his voice since he was captured. Tonight we've also got this exclusive, never-before-seen video, Tamerlan Tsarnaev training in a Boston gym. He was a regular there for years, and he brought Dzhokhar with him several times.
Joining us now exclusively is the owner of the Wai-Kru Gym, John Allan and the gym manager, Michael, who's asked us not to use his last name. They both noticed some dramatic changes in Tamerlan Tsarnaev. Welcome to you both. John Allen, let me start with you, if I may, as the owner of this gym. How well did you know Tamerlan Tsarnaev and what changes did you see him go through?
JOHN ALLAN, OWNER, WAI KRU GYM: I knew Tamerlan very well. Over the years while he was competing especially, I saw him quite frequently. At the end of 2008, 2009, 2010. You know, after the period where he stopped boxing, he did come much less frequently. And I think for sure there was a change in his attitude over the years. I mean, it was consistent in the sense that he was always a very proud individual. He was very confident. Some people felt he was very cocky or arrogant. But he definitely was using boxing, or he wanted to use boxing as a way for him, you know, to get nationalized, to become an American citizen. And he definitely became disillusioned after the incident in 2010 when he wasn't allowed to compete in the Olympic trials.
MORGAN: Now, Michael, we're watching some video now. This is actually taken three days before the bombings. Both the brothers are in the ring there. And you had an argument with Tamerlan Tsarnaev. Tell me about what happened.
MICHAEL, WAI KRU GYM MANAGER: Well, it was pretty much par for the course. He had a habit of coming in wearing his sneakers, and I would always ask him to take them off and he was always reluctant. And it was just -- I had pretty much had enough that day.
So, I mean, it wasn't anything new. But I just -- between that and he had gone in the back and used another instructor's gloves, and that was enough to just set me off. I wrote the owner an e-mail saying that I really didn't want him back in the gym.
MORGAN: So you could see signs then that he was getting more aggressive perhaps?
MICHAEL: He had always been kind of, like John said, walked the line between clock cocky and arrogant. I never really had any issues with him. But he definitely -- he definitely changed a little bit. One of the things I noticed is when he shaved his beard off. There was definitely a sort of change in his demeanor. And I kind of thought that to be strange. But he was one of those guys I really didn't want to bring it up because I didn't want to get into some sort of verbal altercation with him.
MORGAN: John, were you as shocked as everybody else when it was discovered what he and his brother were alleged to have done with the Boston bombings? or had part of you always feared that he may be capable of not necessarily an atrocity like that but something bad?
ALLAN: On the contrary, I never saw it coming. You know, he was always a respectful individual, and he was very adamant about what he believed in. That's for sure. But I never really engaged him on a religious level. Philosophical, sure, we'd talk about sports psychology, things like this. But in terms of religion, no.
MORGAN: Was there a point when he began talking about religion more? Did you detect any of the radicalization to a more - stronger Islamic belief that he had before? Did you see any of that, either of you?
ALLAN: Absolutely. After 2010, when he wasn't -- he wasn't sent to the Olympic trials, he definitely changed, you know. And he would even at certain points with another member, another Chechnyan member begin actually to occasionally pray in the gym. Which was very out of place and very strange.
At the same time, you know, this is America and people have the freedom to choose their religion, their faith. And if part of practicing it is taking a few minutes to face in a direction and bow a few times, you know, it's not in my place to tell him to do -- whether to do that or not. I always found it a little bit strange that he chose to do it at the gym.
MORGAN: Michael --
ALLAN: And again, this happened at the end.
MORGAN: Right. Michael, there's also this connection to the triple homicide which happened on September 11, 2011, where once of the victims, Brendan Mess, also had a connection to the gym, is that right?
MICHAEL: That is correct. He was a member here at the gym, and him and Tamerlan were sparring partners.
MORGAN: And the belief now is that Tamerlan may well have been involved in his murder and the murder of two others at the same time?
MICHAEL: That's what the authorities are saying.
MORGAN: Are you --
ALLAN: Yes, it's very strange --
MORGAN: Yes, John. ALLAN: -- because you know, Brendan was, if anybody, was definitely the one individual that Tamerlan hung out with a lot that was an American. They grew up in the same neighborhood. Even while Tamerlan was trying to box and trying to make nationalization through this process, Brendan was actually helping him with strength and conditioning. He was coming in the gym. Brendan had trained up in Vermont. He had moved back to the Boston area. He was helping Tamerlan with strength and conditioning.
Then after the 2010 Olympics passed he -- Tamerlan was also still coming with Brendan. A little bit less frequently, but together as friends. You know, sometimes they would box together. Sometimes they'd be strength and conditioning. It's really hard for me to believe, you know, at the time that Tamerlan would have anything to do with it.
The one thing that struck me as very odd is after this happened, the first time I saw Tamerlan -- you know, we knew each other, you know, well enough that I -- it made me sick to my stomach to see Tamerlan to know that one of his best friends had been murdered like that. And Tamerlan kind of laughed and said oh, I guess that's what you get if you're involved with bad things, ha, ha, ha, and walked past me and began to train. And it really -- it stuck with me. That was a bit strange that he was a bit cold or found humor. At the time, I thought he was just trying to mask his emotions. Now it's a little scary to me.
MORGAN: And Michael, we believe that Tamerlan Tsarnaev's wife, Katherine Russell, may have also come to the gym. Did you meet her?
MICHAEL: I met her maybe two or three times. I don't think she was ever inside of the facility when I met her. I met her out front a couple times. She was with their -- with their baby, waiting for Tamerlan to finish up from outside of the gym. I -- from what I can remember, she never really said anything. She was very quiet and seemed somewhat subservient. Never had anything bad to say, though, always just smiled and nodded. And that was it.
MORGAN: And John, in terms of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who's obviously still alive, how would you describe the relationship between the two brothers? Was he very much, as many have suggested, in his older brother's thrall?
ALLAN: Yes. You could see it. He definitely -- I know there was a period of time where Tamerlan was like a father -- acted as his sort of father, you know. Periods where his father wasn't around. And Tamerlan was very authoritative. And he definitely bossed him around a bit. You know. And the younger brother definitely looked up to Tamerlan a lot.
MORGAN: Finally, John, how do you guys feel, that you were so alongside these guys for so long? They seemed so relatively normal, admittedly with a few blips that you mentioned. And they were apparently capable of causing such a complete outrage on fellow Americans. ALLAN: I mean, it's scary. You know, it's -- when I think about it, it disturbs me a lot. One, that he had come here. And he wasn't the type of person who acted like he was angry at America. He hid his emotions very well. He played the role very well. And you know, it was shocking.
MORGAN: Michael, your final thoughts.
MICHAEL: To say the least. Yes. I mean, it's a horrible thing to be involved in. You know, even sitting here is not, you know, something that either one of us really wants to do. It's just -- it's a terrible, terrible tragedy. And it's just been a very surreal experience.
MORGAN: I'm sure it has for both of you, and I do appreciate you taking the time and trouble to do this interview because I know it's not easy for you. To John Allan and to Michael, thank you both very much indeed.
A horrifying murder hits close to home for Star Jones. She talks to me live next to talk about the search for the killer. Star Jones In the chair, next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICHELLE RANSOM, SISTER ROSALINE MURDERED: When I think about my sister's last moments, I think that as a big sister why couldn't I help my sister? Why couldn't I help her?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: The grieving Richelle Ransom talking about her sister, Rosaline Lee Ransom, known to her family and friends as Rhonda. The mother of three was found dead in a Detroit suburb. Police say she was strangled and may have been sexually assaulted.
Star Jones is a close friend of Richelle, and now the attorney and former prosecutor on a mission to find the killer. Star Jones joins me In The Chair tonight. Star, thank you for joining me. Sorry it's under such grim circumstances. And what do you think has happened here?
STAR JONES, TALK SHOW HOST: A young woman in her 30s went out to run an errand that any mother would at just before 3:00 in the morning and was never seen again alive. Her body was found near a lake in Pontiac, Michigan. Somebody knows something, Piers. Somebody heard something. Somebody saw something. And what we're trying to do is to get that person or those people to come forward and share that information with authorities.
MORGAN: Now one of the reasons why this is so fascinating as a case for me and for you is because you believe -- you work in the media as I do. You believe this is exactly the kind of story which should get more national attention but hasn't because of the color of her skin. JONES: Well, it's not just my opinion. It's fact. That -- the majority of stories that are done in the media really are about Caucasian women being missing or being killed. African-American women don't get the amount of attention. And it takes a lot to get that attention. And to be honest with you, what I decided to do was use whatever public platform I had in order to bring attention to this.
This woman was a mother of three children. A 9-month-old, a 6-year- old, and a 12-year-old. And she leaves them motherless. A family that's grieving. She was killed in a brutal way. This is the kind of case that should make every woman shudder. And since I am a women's advocate, I had to take it on.
Plus the fact Richelle is my sorority sister. She's like one of my closest friends. We were on the phone two days before just gossiping and laughing just as girlfriends do. I had no choice but to get involved.
MORGAN: Now I can absolutely empathize with you as a friend wanting to do this. And it's clearly a gruesome killing. And I desperately hope, as you do, that the killer is found. But on this wider issue that you've raised about this, I suppose the counter argument is, look, there are, you know, tens of thousands of people killed in America every year of all types and descriptions and races and colors.
And the vast majority don't get talked about in a national way because there are simply too many murders. And some would say this is one of those cases which wouldn't, if she was white, get any more attention. What would you say to that?
JONES: One, I would disagree with them because whenever there is a mother who leaves three children in such a gruesome and brutal way the local media will jump on it right away. Now the local media has really been a participant -- I have to tell you, since I've opened my mouth, all aspects of the media has come out and been very, very supportive.
The squeaky wheel really does get the grease. The louder you talk, the more you talk, the more consistent you are in saying that we cared about this person, you have to put a real face to a tragedy. You have to also relate it to other women. There are a number of women out there who just like Rhonda was not prepared for the unthinkable. That's why I created Rhonda's rules. That's why I decided let me put together a comprehensive list of what women need to know.
And I put them together on my Web site at napw.com. It's free. You can go and you can look and figure out what kind of checklist do I need? I need a will. I need a map of where all of my stuff is. I need to be able to tell people my passwords to all of my different websites and social media. I need to tell people where my secret stash of money is. All of those kinds of things women need to prepare for themselves.
This is really about preparing for other women. I can't give Rhonda back to her family. But I can use every bit of my platform to get the squeaky wheel. MORGAN: Do you believe the same argument with relation to media coverage applies, say, on the gun issue in Chicago, for example? Where all the time there are young black teenagers mainly in gangs getting shot dead, getting very little national attention.
JONES: You know --
MORGAN: Whereas if you see a group of young white people getting killed perhaps they get more attention. I mean, that is, I would think, an undeniable fact.
JONES: Well, it's a fact in terms of the numbers. But also I did a little research in anticipation of this conversation. And really what you find is journalists identify with people who look like them, have similar backgrounds and experiences. And so I don't --
MORGAN: And there aren't enough people perhaps --
JONES: And there are not as many people of color who are in those positions. Diversity is a wonderful thing for this country because what it does is it opens up the table of communication. The more people you have around this table, the more ideas you're going to have. There's much more creativity. It benefits our economy.
So if you can have people who come from different backgrounds and experiences, gays and straights and Christians and Jews and blacks and whites and Latins and they sit around. And people from the U.K. And they sit around this table. You're going to get a wonderful fabric of who America is. And it doesn't happen that often. I'm using the platform to make it happen in this case.
MORGAN: You've talked, I know, to the local sheriff there. How is the investigation going into Rhonda's death?
JONES: Piers, I'm telling you, when I spoke with Sheriff Bouchard today, he said that they are, quote, "dogging this case." He's put the best people working on it. They're utilizing everything at their fingertips. And he gave me a quote because he wanted me to get it right. He said, I intend to solve this and hold the person accountable.
And I said to him, I'm going to keep you to that promise. I said the next time I meet you I want it to be in a courtroom when you're bringing him in in chains. And he said, "I will."
MORGAN: Let me ask you one final question unconnected to this stuff, I mean, while you're here --
MORGAN: -- because you are a legal mind. I've got a panel coming on. And one of the questions we're going to talk about is this issue of the Newtown parents who do not want the pictures from the crime scene, of what happened to their children to be released.
Michael Moore has said not that he wants them to do it, but he says he believes the whole gun control debate could well change if Americans saw the reality of the damage of these atrocities in Aurora or Sandy Hook or others just as he cited with Emmitt Till in the '50s when his mother said, I'm going to release these pictures.
MORGAN: Gruesome as they are. Four months after she did that, Rosa Parks did what she did on the bus and the rest is history. Do you think Michael Moore has a point? Not that anyone should be forced to do it.
MORGAN: But there's a point that if America saw the reality it could change things?
JONES: I would never presume to tell a parent how they should feel or how they should emotionally react. So I will respect what they decide. But I completely understand what Michael is saying. Until Americans see what comes of violence, what comes of gun violence, you're not going to get people to make it personal. It needs to be personal.
And the sad part about is you need to see the child lying in a pool of blood. You need to see one child's arm splayed somewhere else. It's gruesome. It's brutal. But that's what gun violence does. And that's what we need to be talking about.
It's not sugar-coated. It's not some guy on television representing the NRA saying guns don't kill people, bad people kill people. No. Guns kill people. And I can show you pictures of what it looks like.
MORGAN: Star Jones, thank you very much indeed.
JONES: Thank you.
MORGAN: Coming up, Governor Chris Christie under fire from his own party. Has he made a mistake that will cost him with the GOP? We're going to go behind the headlines on "Breaking News." That's coming next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: I would suspect that that person would become an instant ingrate. That's what normally happens, right? They'll pledge undying loyalty when you interview them and then when you appoint them they forget your name. I mean I assume that's what will happen here, too. And I don't suspect this will be any different. So no, this won't be my proxy down there. And by the way, I'm a little busy up here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: Chris Christie today talking about his call for a special election to replace Senator Frank Lautenberg, who died yesterday. The New Jersey governor has taken a lot of heat about it, much of it from his own party.
It's one of the stories in the headlines and tonight we're breaking the news with HuffPost Live host Marc Lamont Hill and author and CNN contributor Margaret Hoover.
Welcome back to you both. Very feisty the other night. So you got rewarded with a rematch. And let's just talk about Chris Christie. Because, Margaret, you know, he's straddling this very, very tricky divide for many Republicans of being all things to all men. He's very electable, of course.
Does it help his party that he hasn't parachuted a Republican in here?
MARGARET HOOVER, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: No. And frankly, he's not interested in helping his party. Why? Because he's interested in getting re-elected in a blue state as a GOP governor. And frankly, if Republicans are interested in playing in the northeast and playing in New England, they should study what Chris Christie is doing.
It was actually really savvy what he did today. He was genuinely concerned about showing up on the ballot and having an African- American turnout actually pull down his numbers because he needs a huge re-election win if he's going to be a viable contender in 2016. And so by having a special election and not having Cory Booker on the ballot he was actually able to get around both issues and say the blue state New Jersey is going to choose who they want there, I'm not going to pick a crony.
MORGAN: And Marc --
MARC LAMONT HILL, HOST, HUFFPOST LIVE: I've never known you to be so cynical.
People act as if he has to choose between helping his party and helping himself. There's this other group of people known as the voters, right? He wants them to have an elected senator as soon as possible. I think that's what it's about. Yes, it helps him. And I don't deny that. I'm not saying he didn't have any political --
HOOVER: So he gets it both ways.
HILL: Yes. But I'm saying maybe, just maybe his primary consideration was not helping himself --
HOOVER: It's the state of New Jersey. I -- representing his -- which helps him get re-elected.
MORGAN: No, but, Margaret, it is. But also there is a much bigger picture here for Chris Christie as we know, which is he's clearly got 26 -- all his behavior ever since Hurricane Sandy when he wrapped his arm around the president, actually killing off poor Mitt Romney's chances of winning the election, and again recently, he's I think fighting a sort of one-man game against the Washington breakdown of any bipartisanship and saying, look, I can work properly here, I can be all things to all people.
HILL: I sound like a Republican when I talk to you. I mean, maybe -- maybe he's actually just trying to say, I should help voters, maybe he puts his arm around Obama because he wants to help victims of Hurricane Sandy --
MORGAN: Why are you so -- why are you so trusting?
HOOVER: Why are you so naive?
HILL: I'm not saying there's no political calculus around this. All I'm saying is that maybe he actually wants to help people, too. When it's President Obama and Republicans point to Obama they say he's being calculated. I say no, Obama actually cares about bipartisanship. Maybe Christie does that at the same time that he's desperately aiming for 2016.
MORGAN: Tell me, Margaret, I mean, is he already emerging as the compelling candidate to fight the next general election?
HOOVER: He is certainly emerging -- well, in a general election absolutely. The question is can he get through a Republican primary? And there are several questions. I mean, I think the Republican primary personally is going to be very different --
MORGAN: What -- what could stop him?
HOOVER: -- in 2016 than it did in 2012.
MORGAN: Well, what could stop him?
HOOVER: Well, I mean -- there's this me amongst Republicans that all of his behavior will stop him now, by not appointing a Republican like Chris Smith, the New Jersey congressman, that won't stop him. By putting his arm around Obama during Hurricane Sandy that would stop him.
MORGAN: But if they want to win -- Marc, if they want to win the election, isn't this what someone like him has to be doing?
HILL: Absolutely. But that question presumes that Republicans do what makes sense. Over the last decade there has been actually no evidence. Now the universe is back in order, right?
When you think about it, yes, he should be presenting himself as a bipartisan candidate. Romney attempted to do that and appear moderate. But the reality is, and this is really important, and you're right about this. In that primary people are going to point to moments like this and say he doesn't play ball with us, he's not going to represent us, he's always going to be looking out for himself. And people like Rubio are going to be much more attractive candidates for that reason.
MORGAN: OK. Let's take a short break. Coming back, I want to talk about this whole Newtown photo story. Also want to talk to you about the person from Mississippi, the governor who thinks that women at the office are the real problem for modern America.
I'm sure Margaret has a view about that. And not a very good one, I should think.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How did America get so mediocre?
GOV. PHIL BRYANT (R), MISSISSIPPI: You know, I think parents -- both parents started working. And the mom is in the work place. It's not a bad thing, I'm going to get in trouble and I can just see. I can see the e-mails tomorrow.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: You're getting tonight. If you ask me, a pretty controversial statement there from the governor of Mississippi.
Let's talk about that with Marc Lamont Hill and Margaret Hoover.
I mean, it's just an idiot thing to say, wasn't it, Margaret?
HOOVER: Well, it's the stupid face on an important debate which is work-life balance. And whether you have two-income households or one- income household, you also have on the heels, this on the heels of -- a week where you had a study from Pew saying that 40 percent of American household actually has the females as the primary breadwinners.
I don't think that is directly correlated to the possibly education outcomes that we have in this country.
MORGAN: I think he'll be getting some e-mails sooner than he thinks.
Marc, let's turn to this debate I started with Star Jones early about this issue in Newtown where the parents of the children who died, many of them got together to try and stop publication ever being possible of photographs of their children after they've been shot.
My view is actually like Star's. Obviously you respect the views of all these parents and of course they should never be published if that's what they want. Everyone understands that. But Michael Moore raised this point that it may take something as shocking as what happened in the '50s with Emmitt Till when his mother released his dramatic pictures, allowing people to see the open casket of her son.
MORGAN: With the terrible injuries he suffered. And then it changed the civil rights debate irrevocably. Could it happen in America, do you think? We didn't see any pictures from Aurora, none from Sandy Hook.
If Americans saw the reality of a mass shooting outrage, could it change public opinion?
HILL: I think public opinion has been changed already just by knowing that those 6-year-olds, those babies were killed.
MORGAN: But it hasn't, has it?
HILL: To the extent that it would -- yes, no, we've seen major legislative shifts. We've seen major Republicans --
MORGAN: No, we haven't.
HILL: -- turn their --
MORGAN: No, we haven't.
HILL: At least the legislative conversation has shifted, I mean --
MORGAN: There's nothing shifted. In the end the Senate rejected everything.
MORGAN: Which I found staggering, as you know.
HILL: We all find it disgusting. I mean, in my home state of Pennsylvania --
MORGAN: But here's my point. This is what Michael Moore said. Michael Moore has been, you know, trapped by FOX into positioning himself as pushing the parents into it. He's not doing that. What he's saying is what will change the debate?
HILL: Here's the -- here's the difference, though, Piers. In 1955 when Mamie Till showed those pictures the argument was America needs to know what's happening down here in Mississippi.
HILL: America knows. No one doesn't know what happened in Sandy Hook. The people who are invested in holding on to stupid gun legislation are going to do that anyway. The people who have been converted have already been converted. And one other point here is that Mamie Till made a decision to show her children in that casket.
HILL: The parents of Sandy Hook haven't made that decision. We should have a legal right to see those pictures but we should always have legal -- the good judgment not to show them.
MORGAN: Well, that's an interesting part of this. I mean, you and I have argued about guns. It's got pushed out again. There's been no opposition, but on the interesting point that the journalists down there, many of them getting together saying, look, you've got to be careful. You can't just make an exception for the Newtown families without also allowing it for other families and other mass shootings and so on. Where do you draw the line there?
HOOVER: Well, I think first of all common decency is you have to defer to the parents. I mean, where there's just one mother, Jennifer Hensel who's telling the "New Jersey Legislature" please help her protect the images of her daughter who was slain in a way that she couldn't protect her daughter when her daughter was alive. In other words, this mother doesn't want those photos shared. Especially for, you know, ideological reasons or to push any sort of political agendas.
Not to say the British are taking our guns. But just to -- just to -- I do think you have to respect the will of the parents here. And very clearly the mother -- this mother in Newtown doesn't want those photos shown.
HILL: But not change the law.
HOOVER: Not -- no -- yes. Freedom of information, I mean that, we do have to untangle in a fair way.
MORGAN: Two photographs today. Talking about changing America. I want to put them almost together. One is a Navy SEAL called Chris Beck. He's come out with a new memoir, "Warrior Princess." Turns out that her name is now Kristen Beck. He's had a full transgender. And everyone wishes her well.
Something you could never have imagined being talked about publicly probably even 10 years ago in America. And it comes on the day that you have the cutest couple in a suburban NY high school, Brad Taylor and Dylan Meehan. Again, you wouldn't have imagined that being publicly displayed like this even 10 years ago.
Do these two stories today, two completely different stories, but joined if you like by the sense of, isn't it great that in modern America now, quite rapidly actually, we can celebrate both those things and it seems relatively normal?
HOOVER: Days before the U.S. Supreme Court will rule on two important gay rights cases, the Dohmann case and the Prop 8 case about whether, you know, some of these laws will be overturned, you have, by the way, 120 -- 222 Republican legislators across the country have voted for freedom to marry, transgender, bisexual rights. And this really is in the middle of a gay civil rights movement in the country.
HILL: Yes. Yes. No, I agree. And this is beautiful. I mean the great thing about the two students who were called cutest couple is when I read a lot of articles. The internet comments about them there were debates about whether they were really cute enough. Their friends were teasing them about being on the internet. There was no --
MORGAN: Which would be the debate if they were a straight couple.
HILL: Exactly. It wasn't like why are there gay people being called the cutest couple. It was just -- yes.
HOOVER: And they'll -- they have not been bullied.
They had no experience with --
MORGAN: I had a great interview with Chaz Bono on this show quite recently where he was with his fiancee. And obviously he had a sex change operation. And it was only when he as now a man began to delay answering my question about when they were going to get married. I said that's the proof I needed.
MORGAN: You're a guy.
But it seemed a very normal conversation, which again, you know, you couldn't imagine happening on cable news probably 15 years ago.
HILL: No, absolutely. And that transgender story is particularly important because there are many transgender officers currently serving in the military. We did -- serving in secret, Huffington post live, where we were talking about this and I spoke to people currently serving in the military who can't come out yet. This allows to us re- imagine what masculinity looks like, imagine new forms of manhood and to re-imagine the roles that men and women can play in public service. This is a revolutionary moment.
MORGAN: Yes, good for him and good for Brad and Dylan and good for you two. Thank you very much for coming back.
MORGAN: We'll be right back.
MORGAN: Tomorrow night my exclusive interview with the tornado survivor impaled by a desk at Briarwood Elementary School in Moore, Oklahoma. Suzanne Haley and her two young daughters join me to talk about what she did to save their lives and hers when the storm hit. It's the first time Suzanne and her daughters are telling their story on camera. I'm going to have it all right here tomorrow night.
That's all for us tonight, though. "ANDERSON COOPER" starts right now.