CNN CNN


 

Return to Transcripts main page

ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT

Obama: "Cautious Optimism" On Iran; Iran's Relationship With The U.S. "Complicated"; Bush Trumps Obama In New Poll; NSA Leaker Says He's Not a Spy

Aired June 17, 2013 - 19:00   ET

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


ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: "OUTFRONT" next, Hassan Rowhani, the newly- elected president of Iran, he was a moderate candidate, right? But is he a wolf in sheep's clothing?

Plus, President Obama's approval rating actually below former President Bush's. Why, and why now?

And former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, some lawmakers want to know, was he working for the Chinese government? A spy? Let's go OUTFRONT.

Good evening, everyone. I'm Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight, a new world order or a wolf in sheep's clothing. Iran's president-elect speaking today for the first time since winning Friday's election. Hassan Rowhani said he's willing to talk to the United States, but only if the U.S. recognizes Iran's right to a nuclear program. Pretty similar sentiment to the one I heard from his campaign manager last week in Tehran.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: Would he negotiate with the United States?

MOHAMMAD NEMATZADEH, ROWHANI CAMPAIGN MANAGER: If the United States really shows interest, and being reliable like the negotiation, I think he will do it, but it doesn't mean at the first --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: So should the U.S. trust Rowhani or not? He is now known as a moderate, a centrist, but those terms are relative. He has been a part of Iran's political and military establishment for decades. In fact, he served 16 years as the head of the National Security Council in Iran. And when he was the country's chief nuclear negotiator with the west, he negotiated a halt in enrichment and then later said he had used that time bought for negotiation to go ahead with the program.

Now he also backed the violent crackdown against the pro-democracy student movement in 1999. You may say well all of that doesn't seem to indicate he's going to want to work with the west, but then there's this. He is accused state-run media of censorship and publishing lies, taking on the establishment in that regard. But one senior Middle Eastern diplomat told me actually before the election that the biggest fear that he had is that the west would fall all over itself to work with Rowhani if he won. This diplomat cautioned that Rowhani was more of the same, though, and that the west goes along with the, quote/unquote, "reformer label at its peril."

Still, already, the United States, Britain, France, have issued statements saying they're ready to work with Rowhani and President Obama expressed in his words cautious optimism just today at the G-8 meeting.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: With the election, we may be able to move forward on a dialogue that allows us to resolve the problems with Iran's nuclear program.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: So you got France, you got the U.S., you got Britain and then you got Hezbollah, a group designated a terrorist organization by the U.S. also thrilled about Rowhani's win. Hezbollah calling Rowhani, quote, "a beacon of hope," yes, so all right, look, you got Hezbollah and the U.S. on the same side. You know what? Pigs fly sometimes and don't forget, Rowhani is only president because other reformers weren't allowed to run.

So while he is considered a moderate now the clerics who rule Iran let Rowhani into the field so he sort of became the reformer by default. The whole field shifted so far to the right that he became the most moderate. The man calling the nuclear shots after all will not be the president. It will continue to be the Ayatollah, Khamenei, Iran's Supreme Leader since 1989.

Like his title says he is the country's most powerful man. So has anything really changed? OUTFRONT tonight, Steve Inskeep, host of NPR's "Morning Edition" who joined me in Tehran last week and the Carnegie endowment's, Karim Sadjadpour. Great to see both of you and then appreciate you both talking the time.

Steve, you know, what was amazing, I was thinking on Friday, the day of the election when you know I was talking to well it was frankly some of the young people about voting for Rowhani, they were very passionate about him. They were believing in his reform message, but they didn't think he had any shot of winning. I mean, did you feel that same sentiment on Friday or did you feel a lot of people thought that he could pull it out?

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST, NPR'S "MORNING EDITION": I heard a lot of the experts say there's no way that he would be allowed to win this election. But on the other hand we ran into a lot of voters at polling stations who said they were going for him, they supported him, in fact as the day went on there was almost this festive atmosphere of people being excited about this man Rowhani.

Now you're raising this question about how serious he can be, how sincere he can be. I think on the surface we can take him at his word that he's sincere. He's been endorsed by Mohammed Khatami who is one of the great voices for reform in Iran. There's still the question, though, about how much he can do. It's not that he's powerless. There is this supreme leader in Iran.

Kareem is one of the great experts on him. And he has far greater power, but this is a man, Rowhani, who is part of this establishment who will now be president who has been elected having made statements that he wants to improve relations with the west. And also improve conditions within Iran, and there's a lot of Iran's elite that want to do something. So there's going to be some pressure to change.

BURNETT: And Kareem, what is your view? Were you surprised that the regime backed Rowhani's candidacy in the first place and what is their ultimate goal? They've got someone who is a moderate but not, not the kind of moderate that a lot of -- of liberal Iranis or reformist Iranis would have perhaps necessarily wanted.

KAREEM SADJADPOUR, CARNEGIE ENDOWNMENT FOR INTERNATIONAL PEACE: I think that's right, Erin. This was really a vote against the status quo more than it was a vote for Hassan Rowhani and this wasn't -- there was a limited pool of candidates, which Rowhani was the most moderate one, and I think for people who have to live in Iran they decided to choose from the least bad option.

For that reason, looking at what he can do in terms of foreign policy, he comes from the wing of the revolution, the wing of the regime he's a committed regime insider. He's committed to the ideals of the revolution, but he's one of those who believe that Iran needs a privilege economic expediency before revolutionary ideology.

And for that reason I agree with Steve in that I think he's someone who, instead of pursuing a hard-line ideological policy of resistance, I think he is interested in a policy of detente.

BURNETT: And let me ask you about that. There was a former very well-known politician, female politician who was in the Khatami administration that we actually spoke to, we ran into her at her voting station when she was voting. Here's why she said she was voting Rowhani.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MASSOUMEH EBTEKAR, ROWHANI SUPPORTER: Dr. Rowhani, the representative of moderate forces in Iran today. He's the representative of those who seek reform and change within the constitution of the Islamic republic of Iran.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: And of course, you know, Kareem, I met with a young student this one kind of really stuck with me. She was just a junior English literature major in the University of Tehran and she had her voting finger with a purple nail, which was of course the color of Rowhani, but yet he backed the violent crackdown on students in 1999. "The New York Times" correspondent who was in Tehran for ten years is now home recently wrote Rowhani is not a reformist even according to Iranian standards. What about this argument that the Middle Eastern diplomat said that this is a wolf in sheep's clothing, a very smart ploy by the ayatollah to get the west to work with them, maybe improve the sanction situation, while they can continue to do what they want?

SADJADPOUR: This is certainly the concern above all of the Israeli Prime Minister Bebe Netanyahu that Iran is going to continue to pursue the same intransigent nuclear policies, but do so with a smelling, moderate face rather than Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. So it's going to be more difficult for the world to rally against Iran, to coerce Iran.

But, you know, I think at the same time, that this is a young population which has been suffocating under tremendous political pressure, internal economic mismanagement, external economic pressure, and so the vote for Rowhani was, you know, I describe as the equivalent of a light rain after eight years of drought.

That said, I do think that a lot of the young folks, and liberals who voted for Rowhani probably have undue expectations, and could be disappointed several months from now.

BURNETT: And they could be disappointed as I -- I know Steve we talked to people there both of us right who said we're not voting we voted for change before they're referring to Ahmadinejad the first time and nothing happened. But, but do you think it's possible now the genie is out of the bottle? They thought they could control this, right, put in a guy that they're all right with the ayatollah right, but maybe it becomes more than a light rain?

INSKEEP: Well, they definitely put in people in that race that they were comfortable with and certainly the supreme leader is comfortable with this man Rowhani who has worked with for decades. But Kareem is correct that there is immense pressure for change. Now there's some desperation in Iran now. There's been an immense -- there's been a disappearance of wealth because of the collapse of Iran's currency, because of the decrease in oil revenues.

There is what people describe as a kind of middle-class poverty in Iran right now. You have people who are middle class. They've been middle class for decades, and they can't pay the bills. They can't figure out where the next meal is coming from almost. And so, they're in a situation where something has to be done, and that a lot of the pressure is coming from the United States. The U.S. is in many ways in a strong position right now.

BURNETT: All right, well thanks so much to both of you and your expertise. Really appreciate it, Kareem and Steve.

Coming up I'm going to talk about these drugs that I brought back from Iran. What are they? Why do I have them and why are they so important? I'll explain.

And then President Obama's approval ratings have taken a big hit. What is making him, tonight, less popular than George W. Bush? And the search for Jimmy Hoffa's remains, it continues, people. There's a big lead and a huge price tag. That the taxpayer is footing.

Plus the shocking photos of a celebrity chef apparently being choked by her husband. We're going to tell his explanation. What he says he was really doing.

And firefighters continue to battle tonight the Colorado Black Forest fire, should you have to pay to save your home or not?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BURNETT: Our second story OUTFRONT, President Obama losing to George W. Bush. It's not actually a campaign but it actually looks tonight like the controversy over the NSA wiretapping along with some other problems, is taking its toll. So in a new CNN/ORC survey not only does President Obama have the lowest approval rating in more than 18 months, which is pretty impressive.

He's also lagging behind President Bush in a similar poll from 2006 when President Bush was battling his own NSA scandal. Disapproval for President Obama is nine points higher than it was for then-President Bush and 48 percent say the Obama administration is wrong to collect private phone records. Only 39 percent felt the same about President Bush.

OUTFRONT tonight, Bill Burton, executive vice president of the Global Strategy Group and our political contributor Ana Navarro. All right, Bill Burton, you've got courage coming on to defend the situation. Obviously, those poll numbers are not something that's got to make a guy like you happy.

But blogs, websites on the left and the right are full of anger. They're doing that face morph of President Bush and President Obama, I actually kind of love looking at it, because it's amazing how well it works, I mean --

BILL BURTON, EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT, GLOBAL STRATEGY GROUP: You need new hobbies.

BURNETT: I mean, honestly, it's one of the best morphs I've ever seen.

All right, but how do you explain these new poll numbers? Because the public, at least the polls I've seen, seem to support the NSA monitoring. And yet all of a sudden, the president's numbers have plunged on this and on trustworthiness. So, how does that add up?

BURTON: Well, if you look at the poll numbers overall, there's not a person in Washington that the American people are satisfied with. And if you consider that the president has had a series of public relations challenges, that have been built on by Republicans who have done very well at making issues seem much bigger and more conspiratorial than they are, then you've got a situation where the president is in an up -- he's got the wind in his face, not at his back right now. But one thing I know about working with the president is that even when the poll numbers are down, even when they're high, he's very steady about what his job is and what the important things are. And I don't think anybody in the White House is panicking right now about these numbers.

BURNETT: And I got to admire Bill for coming out and saying, look, they hate everybody in Washington because he's right about that. But nonetheless, this is a president who's been popular and who seems to personally like being popular.

ANA NAVARRO, CNN ANALYST: Oh, well, Erin, we all like being popular. And he has been very popular. But you know, I think, look, the question of whether Washington is liked or not, that's nothing new. Washington has been disliked for at least a decade now.

What is new are these numbers, as I think -- I never thought I would hear the numbers being lower for President Obama than for President Bush. And even though I think the face merge makes a pretty good- looking man, it's got to be worrying to folks in the White House. And what you're seeing here is a wearing down of the American people. It's been a barrage of scandal after scandal. It's the Baskin-Robbins of scandals. Thirty-one flavors. One for each day of the month. Pick your scandal du jour, basically.

And I think you're going to -- you're seeing also that it is particularly affecting President Obama's base right now. We are a very polarized country. There is, you know, a number of people who will disapprove of President Obama practically unless he comes up with a cure for cancer. But there's also a group who will approve of him almost under any circumstances. And it is that group that feels more -- most affected by this NSA scandal and that that's where his fall is coming from.

BURNETT: So let me ask you, Bill, about that group, his base. Because the issue here, at least you know, when I look at it, you say, look, President Bush had this point of view, and it fit with what you expected his point of view to be, right? President Obama, though -- well, frankly, he said the exact opposite of what he's doing right now. Here he is in the 2008 campaign.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, THEN-SENATOR OF ILLINOIS: It's no coincidence that one of the most secretive administrations in our history has favored special interests and pursued policies that could not stand up to the sunlight.

That means no more illegal wiretapping of American citizens. No more national security letters to spy on citizens who are not suspected of a crime.

The era of Katrina bungling and wiretaps without warrants, that that era is finally over.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BURNETT: Bill, I know it's easier when you're not in office to criticize, right? When you're in office, you want to stop a terror attack, and all of a sudden the world looks different. But his base liked that guy, the guy that said I'm not going to spy on you, I'm not going to do this, I'm not going to do that. That guy is now saying, yes, I'm spying and it's okay because I stopped terror attacks. It's the hypocrisy perhaps that bothers them.

BURTON: There's two separate issues here. One, I take real issue with the clips that you just showed to try to present a hypocrisy when there is none. When the president is talking about warrantless wiretaps and illegal surveillance, that is not what the administration has engaged in. Every single thing that the president is doing as a part of these programs is -- goes through a court process. Judges that are picked by the Supreme Court justices, who rule over the FISA court make decisions about what can happen. Congress is regularly briefed on it. The executive branch is regularly engaged. There is oversight and transparency.

However, the government necessarily has secrets about the ways we try to gather information about people who would do us harm. Because if people knew all the different ways we were gathering information, they would obviously avoid those ways.

So, I think the difference between President Bush and President Obama when you look at the politics of this is that President Bush's base was much more willing to give up privacy in the name of security, or at least take other people's privacy in the name of security. And I think that the balance is slightly different for Democrats. And so you've got a president who's a Democrat, who is left with sort of a disaggregated political environment where the people who would normally support him like Ana was pointing out from a place that looks much nicer than the one that I'm in right now.

She's right, in the sense that Democrats are a little less likely to support this kind of policy whereas Republicans were much more likely to support President Bush in that kind of policy. I think that accounts for a lot of the support that the President Bush had -

(CROSSTALK)

NAVARRO: Look, what you got a guy who overpromised and underdelivered. A guy who is finding out that it is much different to govern than it is to campaign. And that made promises during the campaign that when you come into office and you actually have to be in charge of things like the NSA, you realize are not feasible and practical to put in to effect. And you know, but his base is feeling disillusioned --

BURTON: But Ana - but Ana -

(CROSSTALK)

BURTON: -- we're conflating the issue here again. We're conflating the issue here again. Nothing that President Obama is doing is without court order or without oversight. Warrantless wiretaps are wiretaps without warrants. And yes it all falls into the bucket of surveillance, but that doesn't mean that all these programs are exactly the same. The president --

NAVARRO: Bill, I have no issue. I have no issue with any of it. The difference is I'm not President Obama's base. And that's his problem.

BURTON: That's for sure.

NAVARRO: That I have no issue with it, that Senator McCain, that Senator Graham actually are the ones out there defending him. That's his problem.

(LAUGHTER)

BURNETT: It has got to be problematic when those are your defenders if you're him.

All right, thanks very much to both of you. Appreciate your time.

BURTON: Thanks, Erin.

BURNETT: What would you do if your home was in danger of being engulfed in flames from a forest fire? The answer for some is to actually hire their own firefighters. But what does that mean? We have a OUTFRONT investigation.

And then last night, Miss Utah rambled through her answer to a question on fair pay for women. And everybody is jumping all over her and humiliating her and all kinds of things. But you know what? Did she actually make a good point?

And next, a dramatic rescue from a California mountain.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BURNETT: Our third story OUTFRONT, an investigation on firefighters for hire. So, Colorado's Black Forest fire is now three quarters contained. It's the most destructive forest fire in Colorado history. Investigators still don't know what happened.

But they're treating the area as a crime scene, and that is blocking a lot of residents from coming home. The fire so far has claimed 483 structures, two lives have been lost. But some homeowners have actually gotten an extra layer of protection. Private firefighters that they have called in to save just certain houses. So they pay for it, not the entire community, just some houses.

So how does this work? Martin Savidge is OUTFRONT.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: In an upscale, scorched subdivision, a fire team deals with one of the last hot spots of the Black Forest fire. They look like real firefighters because they are.

But these men aren't here to protect the neighborhood. They're here to protect just this one home. They're private firefighters hired by insurance companies. From a financial perspective, it makes sense. The cost of a private fire crew is far less than the cost of replacing a home.

KELLY CAMPBELL, INSURANCE INDUSTRY EXPERT: So I think you're really seeing it here in the West because we do have the drought, we do have the higher wildfire risk and wildfire exposure. And customers are looking for these types of avenues to further protect their property.

SAVIDGE: According to one industry executive, 10 percent of the insurance policyholders in Western states have the private firefighter service as part of their homeowners insurance. By next year, it could be 20 percent.

In a big fire, having your own private fire department right in the driveway, I mean, who wouldn't want that? But there are questions like what would they do if your neighbor's house caught on fire? Anything? Or what if this crew got in trouble?

Fighting a major wildfire requires a huge amount of coordination between local, state and federal departments under a single command. But private crews get their orders from their own company dispatcher, and ultimately, the insurance companies.

The commander of the Black Forest fire has mixed feelings about the growing trend. Rich Harvey likes the idea of more fire trucks, more firefighters --

RICH HARVEY, BLACK FOREST INCIDENT COMMANDER: But then how do they fold in to our organization? Because they don't really work for us. They're kind of out there, and I don't have direct control of them, yet I got ultimate responsibility for the fire.

SAVIDGE: And if those private crews got into trouble? Harvey says, of course, he'd send help.

HARVEY: But that's part of the dilemma. If I'm helping them, because they got in trouble, I'm diverting resources from my primary mission to help somebody that's supposed to be part of the solution.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SAVIDGE: And about that other question, you know the one, what would those private firefighters do if the neighbor's house caught on fire? I wanted to ask the insurance company just that in an interview that we had all lined up. And then quite suddenly, they canceled. Without any explanation. Erin?

BURNETT: Wow. And certainly that's the answer we all want to hear. All right, Marty, thank you very much.

Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden had an online chat today, and he said something about Dick Cheney.

And then the trial of ex-mob boss Whitey Bulger has begun today. A known associate told stories of murder that are right out of a mafia movie.

And a scary situation on a Hong Kong flight to Newark. How passengers subdued a seemingly crazed passenger making unbelievable assertions.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BURNETT: We start the second half of our show with stories we care about, where we focus on our reporting from the front lines.

So, I want to begin with the Supreme Court where in a 7-2 vote the court struck down a law that requires Arizona residents to show proof of citizenship in order to register to vote. Arizona had called the provision sensible to prevent voter fraud but civil rights groups said it was unconstitutional.

Spencer Overton of George Washington University Law school tells OUTFRONT this is say major win for voting rights because it interprets federal laws that favor voter access over state hurdles that restrict that access.

Well, Chen Guangcheng, the blind Chinese activist and lawyer who was granted asylum in the United States says he's being forced to leave New York University. He claims the university is bowing to pressure from China because it reportedly wants to build a campus in Shanghai. NYU denies the end of the fellowship had anything to do with that and the university tells us they made it clear to Mr. Chen relatively early on that his support of support from NYU would be for only one year.

Well, a man on a United Airlines flight today that went from Hong Kong to Newark allegedly claimed his fellow passengers had been poisoned. These photos were taken of the man after passengers tackled him to the ground and restrained him with plastic handcuffs supplied by the flight crew.

The plane did land safely this afternoon in Newark. It is unclear at this point whether anyone was poisoned. But a source is telling CNN the FBI is taking this incident extremely seriously. We reached out to United to ask about their protocol but in a statement they would only tell us that a passenger became disruptive.

Now, in the event an infectious toxin were released in an aircraft cabin, epidemiology professor Ian Lipkin tells us it could be addressed with antibiotics and antitoxins as needed.

It has been 683 days since the U.S. lost its top credit rating. What are we doing to get it back?

Well, there was some good economic news today, everything from manufacturers was better than expected and home builders are also optimistic. And index saying builders think sales conditions are good for the first time everybody in seven years.

Well, our fourth story OUTFRONT: whistle-blower, hero, or American traitor? Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden says he decided to expose America's secret surveillance of U.S. citizens because the Obama administration, quote, "closed the door on investigating systemic violations of law." According to "The Guardian" newspaper, Snowden answered questions in an online chat today, and told reporters he had to get out of the U.S., and that the government, quote, "is not going to be able to cover this up by jailing or murdering me."

Murdering? Twenty-nine-year-old is believed to be hiding in Hong Kong where some suspect he may even be working for the Chinese government.

OUTFRONT tonight, David McKenzie. He is in Beijing with the latest.

And, David, what is the Chinese government saying about these allegations that he could have been working for them, essentially that he was a traitor to the U.S., that he was a spy?

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erin, really what they're saying is that it's complete rubbish. The military of foreign affairs coming out in the public for the first time, really, about this issue of Snowden leaking all these informing about the NSA and its whistle-blowing, and leaking information about the U.S. hacking Chinese servers. They say that, quote, "It's groundless." Even asked for the U.S. to explain itself to the international community saying that these leaks are damaging, and they want to know more -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. David McKenzie, thank you very much. Reporting live obviously tomorrow morning from Beijing.

And I want to bring in Gordon Chang now, a columnist for Forbes.com and the author of the coming collapse of China.

All right. Gordon, you were one of the first here to talk about this possible link as a matter of fact, the first night (INAUDIBLE), you go to China for asylum or to Hong Kong, something smells fishy about the whole thing. China is adamant they're not working with Edward Snowden, not that I'd expect them to come out and say that he was.

But when he was asked if that online chat if he would provide classified documents to the Chinese government in exchange for asylum, he reportedly said, "This is a predictable smear that I anticipated before going public as the U.S. media has a knee-jerk red China reaction to anything involving Hong Kong or the PRC, and is intended to distract from the issue of U.S. government misconduct. If I were a Chinese spy, why wouldn't I have flown directly to Beijing? I'd be living in a palace petting a phoenix right now."

Which is a slightly racist thing to say.

All right. But in all seriousness, does this make sense to you? Do you think he's right?

GORDON CHANG, AUTHOR, "THE COMING COLLAPSE OF CHINA": No, I don't. Because you've got to look at the facts and I believe that he is either a Chinese intelligence operative, or he's working alongside Chinese intelligence. But in any event, this whistle-blower narrative doesn't make sense.

So, first of all, he gave to Hong Kong "South China Morning Post" documents that had technical detailed information about how NSA surveilled Hong Kong and China, including IP addresses. This is not whistle-blowing. This is aiding China.

There is a whole bunch of other things that really show that these he really was very much focused on helping China, not whistle-blowing.

BURNETT: So telling them -- telling them that he's doing it, is one thing that would be whistle-blowing but showing them it's this e-mail address and this is how that's another. That's what you were saying.

CHANG: Exactly. I mean, this is not something that somebody who is wants to start a conversation in the U.S. about surveillance would do. What he is doing is he's helping Chinese intelligence counter NSA's moves and that's very important. When you look at all the other events of surrounding his leaving the United States, it all adds up to him having some sort of relationship with the Chinese.

In Hong Kong, he actually talked to Chinese officials my sources say before he gave that infamous interview to the "South China Morning Post" because the Chinese wanted him to do that.

BURNETT: Wow, even though he said I only talk to journalists you're saying, no, he talked to the government.

CHANG: Yes, that was wrong.

BURNETT: And what about his allegations here the U.S. -- he had to get out of the U.S. because the government is not going to be able to cover this up by jailing or murdering me.

The U.S. government murdering someone for this?

CHANG: No. I mean, that is just ridiculous. I mean, he is sort of making himself so much more important. The U.S. government is not going to do that. For one thing, the U.S. government couldn't do it. He's in hiding in Hong Kong. He's probably surrounded by Chinese security agents. It's just not possible for us to do that.

BURNETT: You think they would murder people, there would be a lot of people higher up on the list perhaps.

All right. Gordon Chang, thank you very much.

As we said the first make that China connection that you're now hearing so much about. Now to the trial of the ex-mob boss-turned-FBI informant. So, a former associated of James known as "Whitey" Bulger took the stand against him today. John Martorano testified about Bulger's involvement in several murders while the two were members of Boston's Winter Hill Gang.

Bulger was once one of the most wanted men in America. He went into hiding in the 1990s, and remained in hiding until 2011. Now, along with drug dealing and extortion, the 83-year-old is charged in the death of 19 people.

Deb Feyerick was in the courtroom today and she's OUTFRONT.

And, Deb, it must have been just amazing to be there. I know that these men were in their 50s when they last saw each other, Bulger and Martorano.

But how much tension was there in the courtroom?

DEB FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There was a lot of tension and there was no love loss between these two men who were once so close that they would spend their days basically committing murders. Bulger has acknowledged that, in fact, he ran a criminal enterprise that involved drug trafficking, extortion, loan sharking. But when you saw the dynamic between these two men, Whitey Bulger stared straight ahead in that courtroom. He was less than six feet away from John Martorano and yet the two men never made eye contact.

And Martorano described murder after murder that he committed, and he linked Bulger to at least eight of those murders. And he talks about how, you know, you'd find your victim, your target, and you go out two cars, Martorano was the man with the machine gun, James Bulger was the man to make sure that nobody got in their way. He ran interference, making sure that if the car tried to escape or if the police came that he would throw his car in the middle.

They talk about masks. They talk about the way they were able to get these people, these victims, and he was testifying, Erin, he did it in a way that was so cold blooded that you really felt that there was simply no emotion involved.

The only time you really got emotional is when he said, "Well, I'm testifying, because Whitey Bulger broke my heart. He broke our loyalty once he decided or once it became known that he was an FBI informant," Erin.

BURNETT: And, Deb, quickly I know you heard about the relationship between the FBI agent John Connolly, who was convicted of helping Bulger avoid arrest and Whitey's brother. This FBI agent had a relationship with Whitey's brother. What did you learn about that?

FEYERICK: Absolutely. And not only that it's John Martorano who helped put John Connolly, the rogue FBI agent away. And Martorano testified that when John Connolly came back he thanked Bulger's brother Billy who was a very powerful politician here in Boston, and when Connolly said, look, if there's anything I can do for you and Bulger said, the brother, Billy Bulger said, keep Whitey out of trouble.

And that began a relationship that many feel not only flourished but allowed this criminal enterprise to reach heights there could not have had there not been that kind of intimate cooperation between Whitey Bulger, the crime boss, with John Connolly that rogue FBI agent and he's now serving 40 years in state prison because he tipped off Whitey that somebody was about to testify against him. That guy got killed -- Erin. BURNETT: That guy got killed. All right. Thank you very much, Deb Feyerick. Obviously going to be some say the trial of the century in Boston this summer.

Well, the search is on for Teamster's boss Jimmy Hoffa. Yes, yet again, because police have been searching for him since 1975, July 30th when he went missing. This time police are searching a field in Oakland Township north of Detroit. The search this time based on information provided by alleged mobster Tony Zerilli. A source tells our Susan Candiotti that his information is highly credible.

But I want to note this isn't the first time officials have gone digging for Hoffa.

Last fall, police used sonar equipment and took soil samples from Michigan property as part of their search and that brings me to tonight's number, which is $225,000. That's how much the FBI spent digging for Hoffa at a Michigan horse farm back in 2006. Just one of the many times they went digging. This is just one price tag.

According to the Detroit news that number doesn't include the salary, travel costs or anything else of the FBI agents involved. It does include $160,000, though, to replace the barn that investigators had to remove with all the horse stalls in order to excavate the land.

Is it worth it? Let us know what you think.

But next disturbing images of a celebrity chef allegedly being choked by her husband. We're going to tell her what he says he wasn't doing, what it appears he's doing.

And Miss Utah's answer to a question on last night's Miss USA pageant could, at best, be described as rambling. And that would probably be kind.

But you know what? Did she ultimately make a really good point about equal pay for women?

But, first, tonight's shout-out. A dramatic rescue from a California mountain just watch this helicopter. There were two teenage boys climbing the Sierra Buttes Mountain when they got stranded on top of a narrow cliff that was 8600 feet above the ground. The California highway patrol helicopter came to their rescue, lowered down a harness and then hoisted the teenagers to safety. Just look at that.

Our shout-out goes to the pilot who pulled off the successful rescue while batting 20-mile-per-hour winds to save these kids' lives.

We'll be back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BURNETT: And we are back with tonight's "Outer Circle", where we reach out to our sources around the world. Tonight, first we go to London. Where shocking tabloid photos show celebrity chef Nigella Lawson allegedly being choked by her husband. Now, police at this moment are deciding whether or not to investigate the situation. It's a bizarre and frightening story and Matthew Chance is at the restaurant where the incident allegedly happened. And I asked him what Lawson's husband is saying.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erin, this shows how fame and celebrity may be no protection from domestic violence. Nigella Lawson is a world-famous celebrity chef. Successful cookbooks and television shows to her credit.

But, take a look at the images now plastered over the front pages of Britain's newspapers. Celebrity here with her neck being held and looking in some discomfort. The hand belongs to her millionaire husband Charles Saatchi, a prominent art collector and advertising executive.

He's played down this incident, saying that they were having an intense debate about their children. He says there was no grip, and what was photographed, he says, was a playful tiff.

Police say they're looking into the incident to see whether they need to investigate further -- Erin.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: Thanks to Matthew.

And now, we go to Abu Dhabi where my favorite animal is sparking a new fashion trend that I find frankly have a problem with because it's not about the animal it's about killing the animal. But I'm talking about the camel. They do all die at one point. So, is this a good use?

We couldn't wait until hump day to bring you this news. A French shoemaker has teamed up with an Abu Dhabi-based camel tannery to manufacturer high end shoes.

John Defterios is following the story and I asked him if this could really be the next big thing.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN DEFTERIOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Erin, here in the UAE we've had camel meat. We've had camel milk. We've even had camel chocolate. None of these concepts has really taken off.

But hot on their hooves comes something a little bit different. Parisian shoemaker Pierre Corthay is really thinking on its feet and pioneering camel shoes. These art-like horse shoes, these shoes designed for the well-dressed man if we're prepared to pay for them. Each pair will set you back between $1,200 and $1,600. The business is targeting the well-heeled Gulf Arab from the giant Dubai Mall as well as Europeans who want to be the height of -- shall we say the hump of fashion. Plans are afoot to ship the footwear made from the so-called ship of the desert worldwide -- Erin.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: Hmm.

All right. Our fifth story OUTFRONT: tongue tied. Maybe you're one of those rare viewers who watches a beauty pageant to hear what the contestants think not to see what they rather or rather they don't wear. You know, there may be some of you out there. Doubt it. The pageants can pose high brow questions to their contestants, though, and despite their extensive training and preparation, every so often the sash wearing beauty has a brain freeze, which happened to Miss Utah last night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NENE LEAKES: A recent report shows that in 40 percent of American families with children, women are the primary earners, yet they continue to earn less than men. What does this say about society?

MARISSA POWELL, MISS USA CONTESTANT: I think we can relate this back to education and how we are continuing to try to strive to figure out how to create jobs right now. That is the biggest problem. And I think especially the men are seen as the leaders of this, and so we need to try to figure out how to create education better so that we can solve this problem. Thank you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: All right. What was she trying to say? And did she have a point?

Dean Obeidallah, Stephanie Miller and Michael Medved join me.

Dean, epic fail for Miss Utah or did the show throw her a curveball? She's there to look beautiful. Why are we talking about equal pay?

DEAN OBEIDALLAH, COMEDIAN: It's true, beauty and brains are an equal combination. I mean, Michael Medved pulls it off, but most of us don't have that combination.

The truth is, she made a point. America is a sexist society. They get paid less than men. That's what she's getting at, but she didn't explain it well. She actually had a great point, but she came in third. So --

BURNETT: All right. Michael, though, let me ask you -- barring (ph) her answer there, was there a valid point about education and equal pay for women? Horribly said, fine, but a valid point?

MICHAEL MEDVED, RADIO SHOW HOST: No, there's no valid point. Women do better in education in America than men do. Women do better in primary school. They do better in high school, and 60 percent of all college degrees now go to women. So, it has nothing to do with education.

Also, the question distorted the reality of what is happening. That survey was that 40 percent -- not of families, but of households have women as the primary breadwinner. Most of those families are single mothers. She could have said something about that. I feel sorry for her.

What people should do in those beauty contests is they should memorize an answer. Be general, very uplifting and then just use that answer regardless of the question.

BURNETT: Like they do with Sandra Bullock where they just keep saying, I want world peace, I want world peace.

But, Stephanie Miller, honestly, see, here's my problem, I think these pageants are ridiculous, that's not the point. If you're going to have them, they aren't about those questions. I mean, what's the -- that seems like a ruse to me, right? I mean, it's about how you look. Why do they pretend it's about some smart answer to some question?

STEPHANIE MILLER, RADIO SHOW HOST: That's right, Erin. Not everyone can be Erin Burnett in my personal opinion. A lot of people who are pretty do not pay attention to their book learnin'.

But in her defense, Erin, can I say, first of all, it's hard to answer any question with both of Liberace's chandeliers hanging from your ears. Not one but two of them.

BURNETT: They were pretty magnificent.

MILLER: If I were wearing a bikini -- yes, they were. If I were wearing a bikini also, I would not be able to focus on any question, I'd be too worried about my cellulite. So, you have to cut her some slack.

But the good news is for all of us in comedy, there's a new vice future Republican presidential candidate.

BURNETT: Ooh.

Dean, let me give you the final word, because you said something I have to beg differ with. I have seen studies, now I could be wrong, but I have seen studies that show the beauty and intelligence -- intelligence is equally distributed among people that we perceive that beautiful people aren't as smart. But studies show it's equally distributed among attractive and unattractive people.

So, aren't we being unfair to say, oh, because you look good in a bikini, you can't be smart?

OBEIDALLAH: I think you can look great in a bikini and be smart. There's a line -- there's a halo effect. People succeed and they tend to. I think there's a line where you get too attractive, frankly, to the point where it's a distraction, and then people --

BURNETT: So, you don't think you have to -- OBEIDALLAH: I think you're going to -- I try to dumb it down a little bit. I don't want to impress people too much with my -- sorry, that's the best I can do.

(LAUGHTER)

BURNETT: That's all right. You do look rather handsome.

OBEIDALLAH: Thanks.

BURNETT: Thanks to all three of our wonderfully handsome and bright contestants.

All right. Up next, does ice cream keep Iran from developing a nuclear weapon? I promised you I talk about ice cream Friday. Yes, I was a little exhausted and I didn't, but I deliver tonight.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BURNETT: Ice cream in Tehran, it's kind of necessary right now. It's 98 degrees, and it was blazing sun every day we were there last week. Not to mention, who doesn't like ice cream.

We saw people licking cones everywhere. I've never seen so much ice cream consumption. We discovered Iran's love for ice cream has become a form of patriotism. Iran imports the ticks that frozen streets are served on apparently from Germany. Germany, of course, is on board with the severe sanctions that are hurting Iran's economy. This is the sticks I'm talking about, see, at the end of this Haagen-Dazs, that would be a stick.

During the election, at least one election sanctioned ice cream sticks, and I want to eat this. Anyway, if German wants to sanction us, basically the theory is, then we won't want but our ice cream sticks, we'll make our own. We should note that Iran already makes its own ice cream in a big way.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KHASHAYAR BAHERI, EVENT ORGANIZER: We're breaking the record which was registered in 2005 by Baskin and Robbins for four tons. We're breaking that record by one ton.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: Iran has applied to the Guinness Book of World Records, for topping Baskin Robbins in making the largest carton of ice cream on Earth, 5,000 tons, look at all those people who turned out to see the big pile of cream.

All right. That's the humorous side of sanctions. We also experienced the dark side. I needed antibiotics, while I was reporting in Iran. At first we thought we could get Western antibiotics, because according to the U.S. sanctions, medical supplies are exempt from the sanctions. But after going to four pharmacies, we found that the basic antibiotic, amoxicillin was hard to find and there was none of it available from Western suppliers, none. In fact, the only option -- these are the two amoxicillin, 250, 500 milligrams, the only option was Iranian made generics and I could buy several weeks of supply for less than a dollar.

It's hard to celebrate the fact that the antibiotics are cheap when the hard to find and vetted, safe well-known brands are unavailable all together.

When Iranians complain that the sanctions are hurting medical care from our small experience, it seems they have a point. As we reported last week, sanctions aren't having the ideal impact in Iran and they don't seem to be changing people's minds about what their country should or shouldn't do.

Thanks for watching. "A.C. 360" starts now.