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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Where is NSA Leaker Edward Snowden; Silvio Berlusconi's "Bunga Bunga" Problem; Nelson Mandela's Condition Worsens; James Gandolfini's Body Returned To U.S.; $1 Billion To Start Flooding Clean-up In Canada; Red Panda Back At The National Zoo; Day One Of George Zimmerman Murder Trial; Representative Levin: IRS Also Targeted Liberal Groups; Affirmative Action Case Sent Back To Lower Court; Smithfield Foods Drops Paula Deen
Aired June 24, 2013 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Erin, thanks very much. Good evening, everyone.
We have breaking news tonight. The flight that was expected to carrying NSA leader Edward Snowden from Moscow to Havana has landed. No sign of the NSA leaker on board that flight. In fact, the captain has said he was not on board the plane.
Also tonight George Zimmerman's guilt or innocence. Why it could depend on which side made a better first impression on opening statements. Today there was a lot of drama and a bizarre knock-knock joke making their way into those opening statements. We'll take you inside the court tonight.
And later how a former world leader, Italy's Silvio Berlusconi, went from party animal to convicted sex offender, and why no one's laughing any more.
We begin tonight with the breaking news in a spy story come to life, complete with an 11th hour escape from Hong Kong, a confrontation with China, and just add the right Cold War touch, Russia and possibly Cuba, major players as well right now.
Just before 7:00 p.m. Eastern Time, a Aeroloft jumbo jet arrived in Havana in Moscow. There it is, you see it at the gate. Edward Snowden was expected to be in seat 17-A. However, CNN's Phil Black who was on board saw no sign of him. But as I said, neither did the Aeroloft captain. So at this moment, the question that people around the globe have been asking all day, and most of the weekend, still applies.
Where in the world is the man who leaked the existence of two big American intelligence gathering operations? That and some terribly inconvenient questions as well. Who if anyone in American diplomacy and law enforcement dropped the ball? Was the U.S. played by the Chinese? And is it being played by the Russians right now? There's a lot of ground to cover tonight in a saga that could end in a U.S. courtroom or perhaps in Edward Snowden's political asylum in some place like Ecuador.
Anyway you cut it, though, this drama is barely half written. Here's how it all began.
COOPER (voice-over): Edward Snowden acted quickly after he was charged with espionage on Friday night. The U.S. revoked his passport and asked the Hong Kong government to extradite him but he still managed to clear customs and board a flight bound for Moscow.
JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: This was a deliberate choice by the government to release a fugitive despite a valid arrest warrant. And that decision unquestionably has a negative impact on the U.S.-China relationship.
COOPER: There are reports he spent the night in a hotel inside the Moscow airport. Russian officials say he never passed through immigration. According to WikiLeaks representatives who are helping Snowden, he doesn't intend to stay. Moscow is simply a stopover on the way to Snowden's final destination. And that might be Cuba. A van appeared on the tarmac in Moscow reportedly allowing someone to board a flight bound for Havana.
The reporters in that flight say they did not see Snowden on the plane. That flight passes over U.S. airspace. Perhaps an unnecessary risk for Snowden and some believe U.S. authorities could force the plane to land.
U.S. officials say they believe Snowden is still in Russia.
CARNEY: We do expect the Russian government to look at all the options available to them -- to expel Mr. Snowden back to the United States.
COOPER: Snowden could also take an alternate flight from Moscow to Havana that was scheduled to leave Monday night. This flight plan in the past has avoided U.S. airspace. But ground staff in Moscow now denies this flight is scheduled.
If Snowden gets to Havana, he could then catch a connecting flight to Ecuador, where he's requested asylum. Ecuador's government has granted Snowden refugee travel documents according to WikiLeaks representatives. They say Snowden has applied for asylum in multiple countries, and Latin America has the best legal options which is key for Snowden.
In this interview two weeks ago, Snowden acknowledged the risks in coming forward and hinted at a life on the run.
EDWARD SNOWDEN, CHARGED WITH ESPIONAGE: I could be, you know, rendered by the CIA, I could have people come after me, or any of their third party partners. I -- you know, they work closely with a number of other nations, or, you know, they could pay off the triads. Or, you know, any of their agents or assets. And that's a fear I'll live under for the rest of my life, however long that happens to be. If they want to get you, they'll get you in time.
(END VIDEOTAPE) COOPER: OK. And the breaking news tonight the flight from Moscow has landed in Havana without Edward Snowden apparently on board.
Patrick Oppmann is at Jose Martin International Airport in Havana. He joins us by phone.
So, Patrick, no sign of Snowden on that flight that arrived this evening. Have you gotten any indication from Cuban officials and airport authorities of whether they expect Snowden on another flight?
PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (via phone): No, Cuban officials continue to tell us, Anderson, that they've not received asylum request or request for safe passage in another country from Edward Snowden. But, of course, they likely information that would share with us anyway. For the time I'm asking continuance this flight landed, most of the passengers now appeared to have (INAUDIBLE). The crew and the captain of the flight has denied that Edward Snowden had anything to do with this Aero flight. Of course the Russians once again word Edward Snowden does not appear at least for the moment that he's in Cuba.
COOPER: I mean, if he was going to Cuba, I assume he would need some sort of visa, which he would have to apply through -- through Cuba, unless there was some sort of special dispensation made. We have no idea if he's even going to attempt to go to Cuba or not. How certain are we that the Cubans would allow him to even connect to another flight there? Do we know?
OPPMANN: Havana is a possibility just because this is a government that probably wouldn't bend to U.S. pressure to send him back. In fact, over the years have done U.S. fugitives which they were aligned with some sort of political movement like the Black Panthers had (INAUDIBLE). And there's some people of the U.S. is actively seeking -- there's often news about -- Cuba continues to harbor, you know, American Cubans so far appeared to be made that we know about Edward Snowden.
(INAUDIBLE) would come to Cuba, (INAUDIBLE) Ecuador isn't those ally of the government -- of Fidel Castro. So it's not out of the picture that if Ecuador didn't want Edward Snowden could pass through Cuba, and Cuba would do that. Close ally. And while I'm pointing out, Edward Snowden appeared in the state-run press, has been portrayed as something as a hero. Certainly he's virtually getting the Cubans are happy to keep talking.
COOPER: I should point out, I believe Phillip Agee, a former CIA officer, who wrote a book revealing some secrets about his experiences in the CIA, he ended up in Cuba.
We got a panel tonight of people who can speak to all the angles that this story presents. Diplomacy national security legal procedures, just figuring out exactly what is what right now because there's a lot moving parts, "CBS This Morning" senior correspondent John Miller joins us. He's a former also top official of the FBI. Christian Amanpour, of course, has covered about every major international incident over the last 25 years. Fran Townsend was George W. Bush's homeland security adviser, currently sits on the CIA and Homeland Security External Advisory Board. And senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin's title speaks for itself.
Good to see you all.
John, let's start with you. This whole thing is surreal. What do you make of it at this point?
JOHN MILLER, FORMER LAPD COUNTERTERRORISM CHIEF: Well, I make of it, that it's made up a better story than we would have seen in a book or a movie for all its unlikely characters. And it's near comical twists and turns. If it wasn't something regarded so seriously. But I think they are burning up the phone lines from the Department of Justice, from the State Department, from the NSC, to Moscow tonight calling in every chip, every favor, every plea they can make, which is really counterintuitive, Anderson.
I mean, what they're saying is hold on to him, don't let him get on a plane, and figure out a way to give him back to us. You know, you have a U.S. intelligence officer with a bag full of top secret material. Probably the last place on earth you would want him as an American intelligence officer is in the Soviet Union. But right now they're saying, let's slow this down and figure out a way to send him back to us without him going somewhere else.
COOPER: We've learned that the head of the FBI, John, Robert Mueller, has called his counterpart in Moscow about this. What does a conversation like that sound like?
MILLER: Well, they've had a regular dialogue on general terms. And then an increased dialogue since the Boston marathon bombing because of all of the interchange between the two agencies. So it should be a fairly cordial conversation. But this is like any negotiation. The end of that conversation is I understand, it's so good to talk to you, Director Mueller, now let me talk to my people and we'll get back to you.
And that is -- that is not an answer. So that's how those conversations start. We'll have to see where it goes.
COOPER: Fran, you actually used to run the extradition unit at the Justice Department. In your opinion, did something go wrong here? I mean, did somebody drop the ball?
FRANCES FRAGOS TOWNSEND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CONTRIBUTOR: Anderson, you know, there's a regular dialogue between the staff level at the Justice Department and the central authority in this case, it would have been Hong Kong. There is no doubt in my mind that the extradition request was sufficient. They would have reviewed it very carefully, they would have talked to Hong Kong authorities in advance, and in many ways, I think, we have to believe certainly based on the reaction, that U.S. officials were misled into thinking that this was going to be processed in the normal course of things.
The place where we have a right to be asking questions is, why did we -- why did we just accept that this would be handled by Hong Kong, sort of in the ordinary course of our relationship, and why didn't we prepare? You know, you hope for the best and prepare for the worst? Why didn't we revoke the passport sooner? Why didn't we file an Interpol red notice just in case this thing didn't go the way the U.S. wanted it to go?
COOPER: Well, Fran, I believe senator -- I mean, the head of the State Department John Kerry in an interview said that because the indictment was sealed, they couldn't have pulled the passport until it was unsealed. And that's why they did it as soon as it was unsealed.
TOWNSEND: Well, certainly you could have -- gone to a federal judge and gotten permission to share it if there was -- if that was a concern. I mean, look, this was an extraordinary case, and so you would hope that we wouldn't have handled it in the ordinary course of things. We have heard from the administration that there were very senior level phone calls, but again, Anderson, because of the sensitivity of the case, you would have expected, look, we know that China is behind the Hong Kong decision, and remember, we took in the Chinese dissident which was a great embarrassment to China.
And while there's been cooperation with the Russians on the Boston bombing case, we were critical of them in not giving us more information before the bombing on the Tsarnaev brothers. And so there is some sort of -- past grudges, if you will, that may be influencing some of the decisions here.
COOPER: Christiane, what do you make of what's going on?
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think as Fran said, you know, this is really a political crisis right now, the legal issues of extradition are pretty clear, although as everybody knows, there's tons of loopholes in them. But it's a political issue mostly now because all these countries that we're talking about whether it's China, whether it's Moscow, Russia, whether it's Cuba, Venezuela, Ecuador, all of them are actively hostile to the United States.
And all of them have something to gain by sort of rubbing America's nose in this current situation. I think beyond that, though, I am absolutely fascinated to know, maybe John or Fran might know, what is on these computers. What kind of knowledge does Edward Snowden have that might be really dangerous to have, and whether China or Russia has been able to sort of suck out that knowledge from those computers, while he's been in their countries.
COOPER: Well, let me put that question -- John, let me put that question to you. But also let me just say, I mean, the people who support Edward Snowden say categorically, look, if he'd wanted to give secrets to the Chinese or the Russians he could have done that. He could have been paid to do that. This is not the kind of person he is. They say he was standing on principle, he wanted -- he released it to "The Guardian," the "Washington Post." And that was a very thought out thing. It was not what he's been charged with, which is espionage.
MILLER: I think it's pretty interesting, Anderson, that his story starts off with the kind of a plausible story art. He wants to warn Americans about the lack of privacy they have in this big machine that's vacuuming up data. And are they aware of it? Then he ends up in Hong Kong, and he starts pulling things out of the hat. He says the NSA hacked into this particular university in Hong Kong and they were looking for this and that, and they compromised hundreds of thousands of computers in town.
And then he switches to, you know, when the Russian prime minister came for summit talks, he changed his communications from the way the NSA used to listen to them, to a new way. But they were able to detect it and come up with a new collection platform.
It's hard to reconcile how giving out information on collection of intelligence through electronic means against hostile foreign powers is helping Americans understand their privacy. So his story seems to ebb and shift in ways that aren't logical with the original story line.
COOPER: Jeff, legally speaking, is there anything that the U.S. can be doing to bring Snowden back at this point?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I think we learned --
COOPER: In some of these countries?
TOOBIN: Well, I think we've learned in the whole Hong Kong chapter of this that the legal system is basically superfluous to this story. We went through channels with Hong Kong. We have a good relationship with Hong Kong in the ordinary course of business with drug dealers, with organized crime figures. And we attempted to use that process.
And China basically told us to go to hell, we're going to handle this the way we want to handle it, and they let him go. And this idea of criticizing the State Department for not pulling his passport early enough -- I mean, it's worth pointing out that his passport was pulled before he left. He left Hong Kong without a passport and he left anyway, because China wanted him out of there and they sent him out.
So, you know, this is well beyond the legal system now. This is completely a matter of foreign policy, of intelligence, of diplomacy, and Russia's going to do what's in Russia's interest now with this guy, and that presumably includes taking everything in his briefcase and making copies of it. Why wouldn't they? They'd be crazy not to.
COOPER: Fran, you know, there's obviously been a lot of outrage, you know, among -- in some quarters, government quarters certainly, against Snowden and outrage over, you know, Russia maybe wanting to talk to him or China wanting to talk to him or whatever. Had -- if this was a completely different situation, if this was a -- you know, a member of the Chinese Intelligence Service or the Russian Intelligence Service, who was in the United States, wouldn't the U.S. be acting in the exact same way? Wouldn't they want to hold on to a person, get information from this person?
TOWNSEND: Anderson --
COOPER: I mean, so for all the outrage the U.S. government is expressing publicly, wouldn't the U.S. government be doing the exact same thing?
TOWNSEND: Yes. And that's what makes this incredibly awkward.
Look, to Jeff's point, I think that we have to be clear. The U.S. government has been treated sort of in an outrageous and unfair way in terms of legal obligations and foreign policy with our allies around the world. They relied in good faith on the requests they made. And they -- you know, Chinese authorities let them slip away.
But to your point, look, he is -- Snowden has released some things and then selectively released additional classified information as it suited him while he was on the run, and you know not accidentally, about spying on Hong Kong or spying on Russia. And so we've got to presume he's got additional material that he has not yet publicly released.
The intelligence community will absolutely assume that he has released everything in his possession to the Chinese Intelligence Services, to the Russian Intelligence Services as part of their damage assessment of just how bad the Snowden activity is.
COOPER: But in terms of that, I mean, the u would do the same thing? They would want to hold on to any asset from a foreign government, correct?
TOWNSEND: Absolutely. Certainly they would want the information in his possession. And it's a balance, right? So you're balancing what is the intelligence value. You want to get maximum intelligence value, anything in his possession. But you want to minimize the political fallout, which is exactly presumably what China did, right? They had him for a period of time.
TOWNSEND: They could talk to him and then they wanted rid of him. And, you know, clearly that's the calculation that Russia is going through tonight as we speak.
COOPER: We should point out for the record, Snowden says he only speaks to journalists. He's not spoken to the Chinese or anybody else.
Again, we'll continue to watch. Everyone, stick around. I want to dig deeper a bit into -- next into why Snowden chose the escape route he did if we should read anything into that and why Ecuador is the likely -- his final destination for someone in his position.
Let us know what you think. You can follow me on Twitter right now @Andersoncooper. I'll be tweeting tonight.
Also he called them bunga-bunga parties. Now Italy's former prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, is going to prison or at least he was charged and found guilty. He's going to go on appeal. But he could end up in prison for what he did with the young exotic dancer at some of those parties, who turned out to be underage.
COOPER: Our breaking news, the Russian airliner, you see it there, has arrived in Havana. Edward Snowden who was expected to be on it, who apparently reserved a seat on it, was not in fact in that seat or on that Airbus when it landed. That's according to our own correspondent who was on the flight and the captain on the flight as well.
He's believed to be in Moscow. He had been expected with the aid of WikiLeaks to eventually make his way to Ecuador where he's applied for asylum. Snowden telling Ecuadorian officials he fears inhumane treatment and even death if he's returned to the United States.
Paula Newton is joining us now. She's in the Ecuadorian capital of Quito.
So what's the latest you're hearing there from Ecuadorian officials about Snowden's request for asylum?
PAULA NEWTON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's been so interesting to be here today, Anderson. You know, this is enter Ecuador stage left, and I mean from the political left. You have a president here, President Rafael Correa, University of Illinois educated, who is really putting his nose into the business of both China and Russia,
it's very clear he is doing all he can to give Russia and China the political and diplomatic cover they need. They weren't going to hand him over to these two countries. Russia certainly has the inclinations to so far. At the same time, in steps Ecuador to give Snowden that way out.
Here it goes over well, politically, domestically here to say, look, we are going to uphold this guy's human rights and we are accepting his asylum based on the fact that he does not believe he'll get a fair trial in the United States.
Anderson, I also want to tell you that the U.S. embassy, they're putting out a statement just now, saying that, "By associating with these countries, China, Russia, Ecuador, all countries that whose freedom of the press, freedom of expression has been in doubt, by doing that, that he, in fact, Mr. Snowden, makes clear that his real reason for these actions has been to bring harm to the national security of the United States." Blunt words tonight, Anderson, from the embassy here, the U.S. embassy in the Quito.
COOPER: When I talked to Julian Assange of WikiLeaks, I guess a week or two ago, he actually recommended Ecuador or other countries in the region as a place for Snowden to go, because of their willingness to resist the United States. Why would -- why would -- I mean, is that really the only reason Snowden would pick those countries? Because as you say in terms of freedom of the press, transparency, Ecuador is not the most open of places.
NEWTON: Absolutely. You have to say, the only reason would be, it's because it's politically expedient. That it works for him and it works for him right now. If you speak to journalists in this country, if you speak to human rights advocates in this country they do have a free press here, but at times they feel harassed. They feel as if they're every word is being watched and that there are repercussions if they criticize the government.
Now, you know, the government here says that's just not true. That what plays well here, and not just in this country, Anderson, but in this part of the world, is a standup to the United States to say, you know, at times you guys are hypocrites. You go around the world criticizing other people's freedom of expression, right? Other people's human rights, you've got problems on your own. And by doing that, this president believes he can be applauded here at home, but also applauded here in south America, and with the allies that matter, allies like China.
COOPER: Paula Newtown, reporting from Quito, Ecuador.
Paula, thanks very much.
Back with our panel, John Miller, Christiane Amanpour, CNN national security analyst Fran Townsend and senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin.
Christiane, I mean, to what she was just saying. Why would the Ecuadorian government consider something like this? Is it just about putting a thumb in the U.S.'s eye?
AMANPOUR: Well, I think it is part of that, but you know Ecuador and Venezuela and Cuba are part of this little sort of kabal of countries that call themselves anti-imperialists so they have a particular agenda. And you heard what Paula said, I mean, look, you know, let's not beat around the bush. These countries are profoundly unfriendly to freedom of expression and for fondly unfriendly to free journalism and the free press.
In fact, President Correa himself has taken great pride, even though he's been elected several times, democratically, has called the free press in his own country my biggest enemy. So I mean, there you are. And I think this actually does pose an enormous problem and challenge for many journalists. Many of us believe that, yes, I mean, you know, overreaching governments had overreached, sort of much surveillance, all of this stuff, secrecy and sort of sticking your nose in too many people's business is perhaps something that needs to be challenged.
But then when you see the leaker of the whistleblower having said that he was prepared to pay any price, then rush off to these countries. It is a bit of a challenge, you know, to try to figure out how to think about all of this. Having said that, you know, all of us are pretty angry, I think, many in the journalistic community that A.P. had their phone records, you know, hacked and spied on. That the FOX News reporter did as well, so it's a big challenge for all of us watching this, I think. COOPER: Fran, if Snowden decides to end up in Ecuador, does the U.S. have leverage over the Ecuadorians?
TOWNSEND: Huge leverage, Anderson, and -- and that may be part of the reason you haven't heard the -- President Correa, the Ecuadorian government say affirmatively that they will grant an asylum.
Look, this may have a short, short term domestic appeal for Correa, but there's a huge long-term impact. So, for example, the Indian free trade agreement which is set to expire at the end of this month, needs to be reauthorized by Congress. There's a -- there are hundreds of thousands of Ecuadorian jobs that depend on the exports to the United States.
There will be a serious economic consequence if, for example, the U.S. doesn't -- the U.S. Congress doesn't reauthorize that trade agreement and there's this huge loss of jobs in Ecuador. And so you've got to believe that President Correa's got to calculate the potential -- it may feel good at the moment to poke a finger in the eye of the United States, but there are serious long term consequences if he does it.
COOPER: John, I think you're the right person to ask this about, the Interpol wasn't asked by the U.S. to issue what's called a red notice to arrest Snowden, I guess. What is a red notice?
MILLER: A red notice is the Interpol wanted poster that goes to the Interpol member countries, that when somebody comes into the port of that country and they enter them into the system, it should come up. It's looks just like a wanted posted, it's got a big red stripe down the side. And that would be a fugitive what you would do if you were looking for a future in particularly if it was a fugitive where you at.
No idea where the person was. In this case, part of the discussion is, should they have issued a red notice on him, you know, before he left Hong Kong? But remember, the U.S. government, I mean, they talked to Hong Kong on June 17th and Eric Holder spoke to them on the 19th, then, you know, their impression was, that all of this was slowly coming together the way it does in an extradition case.
So not issuing it at that point was probably not critical. At this point, it's kind of interesting, because unless he actually goes on the run we expect him to be leaving one country that's allowing him to leave, and entering another country that's ready to receive him, so a red notice isn't going to be a game changer there, but it might be time to issue one, unless they have a live feed that shows where he is right now, I think it's something they have to be thinking about.
COOPER: Jeff, there has been a news tonight from "South China Morning Press," saying that in an interview with Snowden, he revealed that he took the job at a contractor Booz Allen Hamilton specifically to get classified information on the NSA program so he could leak it.
Now if that's true, certainly it seems to speak to Snowden's intent. Could that have some bearing on the case against him? TOOBIN: Well, he's in such a world of trouble. He's basically confessed to the crime anyway and this is just further proof of his intent. It also raises questions about the quality of the background investigation. That he had a very high level security clearance. When you get a security clearance, you get one because the FBI has done a background investigation of him.
Here, obviously he got the -- he would not have gotten the security clearance if the FBI knew this. The FBI didn't know or whoever did the security clearance didn't know what his real motivation was. And that raises questions about whether that was an adequate background investigation of him. And it of course raises question about Booz Allen's decision to hire him in the first place.
COOPER: Fran, the Secretary of State John Kerry said today that, quote, "People may die because of what Snowden has done." Just -- I mean, when the whole -- when Julian Assange and the whole WikiLeaks disclosures were made back in 2010, there were also the same kind of allegations. He had blood on his hands and then in subsequent months, in off-the-record discussions with people on Capitol Hill, people from the State Department, people in the Defense Department said, you know what, these were embarrassing revelations, these were awkward, but they were not as far reaching and as damaging as we thought.
There were a number of public statements like that, so, I man, is this being overplayed? Shouldn't -- I mean, shouldn't people in the media be skeptical of the government automatically saying, this guy's going to have blood on his hands?
TOWNSEND: No, absolutely. Look, I should tell you, because it's a technical program, the amount, the loss of sort of research and development are technological advantage is very difficult to calculate and very difficult to claw back. It takes time, it takes money, it takes research.
And so there -- it is a tremendous loss, make no mistake about it, but whether or not this guy has got blood on his hands, I think we are rightly skeptical of that claim.
I would say, by the way, on the security clearance issue, Anderson, it was done by a company called USIS. We know that now. That's a private independent contractor, one that, by the way, is under investigation by the U.S. Justice Department. And there's no question that there were problems in the way that security background investigation was done. And it's one -- it's an issue that's been raised by a number of congressmen and they called for hearings on it.
COOPER: All right. We've got to leave there. John Miller, Christiane Amanpour, Fran Townsend, Jeff Toobin, thanks very much.
Coming up -- by the way, we're going to have a lot more on this later tonight. Another edition of 360 at 11:00 tonight.
Coming up tonight, though, in this hour, prison sentence for former Italian prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, for charges having sex with an underage prostitute. What a panel of judges decided. Also the latest on the George Zimmerman trial.
COOPER: In Crime and Punishment tonight, an international political figure, accusations of abuse of power and an exotic dancer with the nickname "Ruby, the Heart Stealer." Not a bad made for TV movie on lifetime. It's the latest in the trials and tribulations of former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.
Today he was sentenced to seven years in prison for having sex with an underaged prostitute and for using his political power to get her out of jail for theft charges. Berlusconi's attorney says he plans to appeal the conviction. Berlusconi denied the charges saying it's absurd that he has paid for rapport with a woman.
I spoke to senior international correspondent Ben Wedeman just a short time ago.
COOPER: So Ben, the details of this case are tawdry to put it mildly, this all began at one of those infamous bunga-bunga parties that Berlusconi used to throw, right?
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's correct. And Mr. Berlusconi always insisted that these were elegant parties in good taste. But certainly the details that have come out during this trial point to something quite the opposite. They point to basically call girls being hired to perform at these after dinner parties, in the so called bunga bunga room where some of them dressed up as Obama and engaged in semi-erotic fondling of one another for the pleasure of the guests, the details point to a far less elegant and good taste event than Mr. Berlusconi has insisted all along.
COOPER: Wow, that's quite a visual there. This ruling, what does it really mean? Does it effectively end his political career?
WEDEMAN: Well, Mr. Berlusconi really for the last 20 years as he entered political life has been battling one legal case after the other. This certainly in terms of the details is beyond compare, but he's faced charges of tax fraud, tax evasion abuse of power while in office. Certainly, he seems to get through it all with the help of a very well paid and capable legal team.
But this time around, things may be coming to a head. It's not just this case, there's a case of tax evasion, where he's already been convicted. He's gone through one appeal. In the Italian system, every initial verdict is followed by two appeals in this case, but in this tax evasion case, his final appeal comes up later this year.
And it's widely believed it will be upheld by the courts and he could end up spending time behind bars, certainly he is the ultimate survivor in the Italian political arena, and today he came out reacting to the verdict. He said I will not give up in Italian. People take that vow very seriously.
COOPER: Is he still popular in some quarters? Over the years he's remained a popular figure in Italy.
WEDEMAN: He's a very charismatic person. If you go to his speeches, you see a lot of people nodding in agreement with what he says. What's interesting, there's no Italians who have a neutral opinion of Silvio Berlusconi. Many come out and vote for him in election after election.
COOPER: We'll see if he actually goes to jail. Ben Wedeman, thanks.
COOPER: Let's get caught up on some of the other stories we're following, Randi Kaye has a 360 Bulletin -- Randi.
RANDI KAYE, CNN INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, news about the health of Nelson Mandela is not good. Officials say the condition of the former South African president has worsened over the past day. Mandela is in a Pretoria hospital being treated for a lung infection. He is 94.
James Gandolfini's body has been returned to the United States. It arrived at Newark Airport on a charter flight from Rome where the 51- year-old after died of a heart attack last week. A funeral service for Gandolfini will be held on Thursday in New York City.
The provincial government in Alberta, Canada has pledged $1 billion to begin cleanup efforts from last week's devastating floods. Cities and towns across Southern Alberta were inundated with water. Tens of thousands were forced to evacuate their homes. At least three people were killed.
Anderson, Rusty, the red panda is back home tonight at the National Zoo in Washington. Somehow he got out of his enclosure and disappeared. Rusty was found a mile away from the zoo. No word how he slipped away. Officials are so puzzled. They're so determined to find out, they're going to check the surveillance camera just to find out.
COOPER: All right.
KAYE: Pull the footage.
COOPER: Up next, day one of George Zimmerman's long anticipated trial, the courtroom is packed. Which side scored more points with their opening statements? Really some surprising moments, dramatic moments in the opening statements, and the defense ended up apologizing to the jury for something they said. We'll tell you what it was ahead.
COOPER: Crime and punishment tonight, the trial of George Zimmerman began today with an f-bomb and a knock, knock joke, of all things and an apology for that knock, knock joke, more on the day's memorable opening statements in a moment. Zimmerman as you probably know is accused of second degree murder in the fatal shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, the killing ignited national debate about gun laws and race relations. Zimmerman was a neighborhood watch captain when he shot Martin. He doesn't deny pulling the trigger, the case hinges on why he shot Trayvon Martin. Zimmerman claims it was self defense.
A jury of six women will decide the case. On day one, they heard the prosecution describe sharply different versions of the defendant. Here's Martin Savidge.
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Sixteen months after the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin triggered a national outcry. The prosecution opened its case against George Zimmerman by dropping the f-bomb.
JOHN GUY, ASSISTANT STATE ATTORNEY: Good morning. (Inaudible) punches they always get away. These were the words in that grown man's mouth as he followed in the dark a 17-year-old boy who he didn't know.
SAVIDGE: Prosecutor John Guy sometimes profanes, sometimes soft spoken laid out the second degree murder case against George Zimmerman, often pointing to him directly, portraying him as a foul mouth police want to be who spotted the teenager as he walked home from the store with a softdrink and Skittles.
GUY: This defendant riding around in his car. Not with candy, not with fruit juice, but with a 9-millimeter semiautomatic pistol and a ready to fire position.
SAVIDGE: The state maintains that Zimmerman fixated on Martin in part because of the teen's race and began following him before finally confronting him.
GUY: He profiled him as someone who was about to commit a crime in his neighborhood and then he acted on it.
SAVIDGE: Guy graphically described the last moments of Martin's life as the teen's parents sitting just rows away could be seen wiping their eyes. Guy describes Zimmerman's position of self-defense as a tangled web of lies.
GUY: We are confident at the end of this trial you will know in your head, in your heart, in your stomach, that George Zimmerman did not shoot Trayvon Martin because he had to. He shot him for the worst of all reasons because he wanted to.
SAVIDGE: The state's 30-minute presentation was in stark contrast to the defense's opening statement, which lasted almost 3 hours. And surprisingly, began with a joke.
DON WEST, GEORGE ZIMMERMAN'S ATTORNEY: Knock, knock, who's there? George Zimmerman. George Zimmerman who? All right, good, you're on the jury.
SAVIDGE: There wasn't a single laugh, just silence.
SAVIDGE: Attorney Don West using photographs and charts methodically walked the jury through the defense team's time line including that 911 call which captured the fatal shot.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What is your position --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just heard gunshots.
SAVIDGE: The defense painted Martin as the one who viciously attacked Zimmerman lunging from the darkness.
WEST: Trayvon Martin decided to confront George Zimmerman that instead of going home, he had plenty of time, he had -- this is what, 60, 70 yards -- plenty of time, could have gone back and forth four or five times if he wanted to.
SAVIDGE: For the six-member all woman jury, day one of the Zimmerman trial was two different versions of the same tragic night, delivered two very different ways. Martin Savidge, CNN, Sanford, Florida.
COOPER: I can't believe the knock, knock joke. Let's bring in our CNN legal correspondent Jean Casarez and legal analyst Sunny Hostin and also Mark Geragos, criminal defense attorney, co-author of the book, "Mistrial." Mark, I mean, how damaging was this knock, knock joke? For a defense attorney, normally doesn't have to apologize to the jury in the opening statements.
MARK GERAGOS, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Look, having used humor in the courtroom quite a few times, sometimes working, sometimes not, it's not damaging at all. It's embarrassing, you're mortified. You wish the joke had been better, but you notice he did get a little bit of a laugh when he said, nothing. It's all going to be forgotten in the wash. I understand people want to make a big deal out of it, but I don't think it matters.
Jury composition is what matters in this case, I think ultimately, the opening statements by both sides laid out their case. I think exactly the way we expect it's going to be, but as I said, last time you and I talked about this, I think the dye is cast here based on the jury selection.
COOPER: Sunny, you were sitting in the courtroom, you said it was painful?
SUNNY HOSTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: It was painful to watch. And I -- you know I love Mark Geragos, but he's dead wrong on this one. As I was sitting in the courtroom, and I heard that inappropriate joke, and I heard it fall flat, I looked directly at the jury, and there wasn't a smile, there wasn't a chuckle, in fact they looked offended to me, Anderson.
It was in stark contrast to the state's opening statement. I don't think I've ever heard an opening statement that good, that succinct. We're talking about 32 minutes as opposed to almost 3 hours. I saw two jurors kind of closing their eyes. I think in the end it will be harmful to the defense. It is not the way to start a jury trial at all.
COOPER: Jean, you also spent the day in the courtroom. What did you think?
JEAN CASAREZ, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I think there were a lot of shocks in the courtroom and I always say, let's look at the facts. The way the prosecution started out their opening statement, I jumped because it was so passionate, so direct going to that state of mind of George Zimmerman, and then segued right into the defense opening statement and that was shocking too.
But I think with the defense, they moved on, and they were meticulous in trying to show the defense point of view here. The time line of the nonemergency 911 call, it's going to become critical. Either there was time for George Zimmerman to continue to follow Trayvon Martin or as the defense says, bit by bit, he did not follow him after that initial nine seconds.
COOPER: Mark, there was a moment when the 911 call was going to be replayed where Trayvon Martin's mother got up and left. Apparently all eyes were on her, as she did that, the defense tried to get Trayvon Martin's parents barred from the courtroom, saying they're potential witnesses. There's an exception to that rule for immediate family of the victim. How much effect could their presence have on the jury?
GERAGOS: It has on enormous effect. One of the things that's happened over the last couple decades is through the victim's rights movement, is to get exceptions put into the law, and into the court rules to allow the family to be there, and to have that kind of impact, if you will, literally throughout the trial on the jury. So it has an enormous impact.
I will tell you, though, if the family continues to stand up and absent themselves in front of the jury, you will see the defense object to this, you'll see the defense ask that they be excluded for any particular witness or have the judge exercise discretion in terms of barring them from the courtroom. You're not going to be able to continue to do this and have the defense stand by mutually while it happens.
COOPER: Sunny, you believe the prosecution was effective today, especially for an all female jury?
HOSTIN: No question about it, I mean, this prosecutor, John Guy, he sort of looks like a young Kevin Costner to me from that movie "No Way Out." I was looking at him, and so were all the female jurors. I mean, they were riveted, they couldn't look away. I couldn't look away. You combine that with this really effective courtroom style, and I think what was so surprising, at least to me, I've been there since jury selection.
This was a prosecutor that was sort of in the background. We've always heard about Bernie, and we all assumed he would take charge. This John Guy came out of nowhere, and really stole the show. I think it was a home run for him today.
COOPER: We're going to leave it there, Mark Geragos, Jean, thanks very much, Sunny as well. Fascinating stuff.
Starting tonight for all this week, we're going to be focusing on the Zimmerman trial, devoting our 10:00 p.m. Eastern hour to each day's developments, all this week at 10:00, p.m. We're going to look at the George Zimmerman trial, the self-defense or murder. And there's another edition of 360 at 11:00 p.m.
Up next, a new twist in the IRS scandal, we'll tell you who the agency was targeting. Also we'll tell you about the latest company to drop celebrity chef, Paula Deen.
COOPER: Let's check in with Randi Kaye in the 360 Bulletin -- Randi.
KAYE: Anderson, word tonight that the IRS targeted liberal groups as well as conservative groups seeking tax exempt status. That's according to Congressman Sander Levin who said the term progressives was included on IRS screening lists of tax exempt applicants made available to Congress today.
The Supreme Court sent a Texas case on race-based college admissions back to a lower court for further review. In doing so, the justices sidestepped a sweeping decision on a hot button issue. It affirmed the use of race in the admissions process, while making it harder for institutions to use such policies.
Smithfield Foods has dropped Paula Deen as its spokeswoman. In a statement, the company said it condemns the use of offensive and discriminatory language. Last week Paula Deen, the popular southern chef admitted to have used racial slurs in the past -- Anderson.
COOPER: All right, Randi, thanks very much.
A program note, tomorrow morning on "NEW DAY" Paula Deen's sons are going to speak with Chris Cuomo for the first time about their mom, that's on the show at 6:00 a.m. starting tomorrow morning, "NEW DAY." We'll be right back.
COOPER: We ran out of time for the "Ridiculist." We'll see you again one hour from now at 10 p.m. Eastern for the self-defense murder of the George Zimmerman trial, an hour long look inside the trial of George Zimmerman. And also we'll have another edition of 360 at 11:00 p.m., all the day's latest stories. "PIERS MORGAN LIVE" starts now.