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Republican Congressmen Meeting with President Obama; Father of the Stowaway 9-Year-Old Boy Pleads for Help; Kendrick Johnson's Family Seeks Justice

Aired October 10, 2013 - 15:30   ET


NEWT GINGRICH, CNN HOST, CROSSFIRE: So I think Paul Ryan wasn't trying to take Obamacare off the table. He was saying, let's have two tracks. One track is dealing with money issues on the debt ceiling. The other track is dealing with Obamacare and policy issues on the continuing resolution.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Speaking of Obama --

VAN JONES, CNN HOST, CROSSFIRE: What's interesting about that --?

BALDWIN: Go ahead.

JONES: That is different than the Ted Cruz strategy. Ted Cruz said on the debt ceiling, you have got to include Obamacare. Did they break with the Ted Cruz wing? I think it's a very significant development. I think it is the baby steps back toward some kind of sanity with the center of power in the Republican Party.

BALDWIN: What about, though, and that's interesting you point out the two different sort of factions moving forward, but what about Obamacare? And we have just Elizabeth Cohen on talking about issues with password or maybe not password issues and glitches with Obamacare. I mean, this rollout not totally pretty.

JONES: Yes. Sure, it is certainly not. You know, Medicare part D didn't roll out well. It eventually got fixed. If you look at Romney care, really, Obamacare is just Romney care. Romney care got off to a little bit of a bumpy start. Now, you know, incredibly popular in Massachusetts and worked. It's often the case when things first get started, it's bumpy. But don't forget, we have three more months before the first enrollment period is over, and I think we ought to give this thing a chance to work.

GINGRICH: All I'll say is I think the average American looks at the inability to even get into the computer system, they look at mistakes being made by the computer system, mistakes being made by the paid people who are supposed to know what they're talking about, doesn't give them much confidence that Washington, D.C. bureaucracy can run the health care for 315 million people.

BALDWIN: Let me stay with you, Newt. Let me stay with you because I want to ask you about this meeting that's happening an hour from now at the White House with the House Republicans, 20 or so, heading there. I just talked to a congresswoman from Kansas confirming a number of members of the House leadership will be there. Who is leading the charge inside the room?

GINGRICH: Well, the president and speaker will be leading the charge, as you put it.


GINGRICH: The president is always the host, and the president always has the ability to set an agenda. The speaker is going down there, having met with his conference and having met with his leadership. I think he has a very specific proposal to put on the table, and it will be very interesting to see if the president can find a way to say yes, because what the president can't pretend he's a king. He cannot simply go around as his spokesman did a few minutes ago and say he's not going to talk, he's not going to talk, he's not going to talk.

This is America. Our constitution requires you to negotiate to get anything done. And I think it will be interesting this afternoon to see whether the president is willing to accept John Boehner's offer of six weeks of a debt limit extension, which the president's own secretary of treasury says next week will be a disaster. Well, here's a chance for the president to at least buy six weeks to see if they can get something worked out.

BALDWIN: Van, I saw the smile when he said the president can't be king. Spill it, what are you thinking?

JONES: Well, I just think that it's interesting. All of the leadership here has been forced into these untenable situations. Obviously, the president of the United States has been negotiated. That's how we got the sequester. We almost had a grand bargain. He has always wants to negotiate. He's been put in a situation where he does not have a partner to negotiate with because the Republican Party is in such disarray. Certainly, Boehner is an untenable situation. He has a majority of people in Congress, if you include Republicans and Democrats, who would open the government right now. He can't keep them forever from voting. Reid is in a tough situation. He has having to bat down these things.

All of the leadership has been jerked into this situation. And what we're seeing now, though, is this tea party tail that's been wagging the Republican dog, trying to wag the whole government and country, doesn't have the strength to do it. And the strength of the tea party tail is broken this week and you are going to get back on sandy (ph) on both parties, I hope.

BALDWIN: Little tea party tail.

Newt, respond to that.

GINGRICH: Let me say, that as the White House began to play this game of saying that there could be a clean continuing resolution, the members who had said they were interested in it came out on the Republican side and said they are not going to leave John Boehner. That they are not going to vote for something like that. And the fact is under our constitutional system, we have a leader in the House. He is called the speaker, and he is the person you negotiate with. JONES: And his name is Ted Cruz.

GINGRICH: No, and the fact is the president is being very, I think, silly, to suggest that there's nobody to negotiate with. John Boehner was elected by his colleagues. He is their leader. And I used to be speaker of the House, and I'll tell you flatly. There isn't nobody else you negotiate with, only the speaker has the power to schedule legislation. And the president sooner or later has to negotiate.

JONES: Honest question, though, Newt. You were a different speaker. You were clearly in control. You could deliver your votes. Boehner has been undermined --

BALDWIN: Look at you all nice to your colleague, Van Jones.

GINGRICH: No. I hate to tell you this, Van, but I looked the other day at some of the coverage in '95. The talks of the 40 or 50 right- wingers who are causing me trouble. So, I would say, this is a permanent problem, you know, everyone in the House of Representatives won an election. Everybody thinks they're equally important. And a smart speaker listens a lot to his or her conference and understands that in the end, you are only speaker as long as your conference is willing for you to be.

JONES: Never had this kind of chaos under you. Never had it before.

BALDWIN: Flipping through the archives. Memories.

Newt Gingrich, Van Jones, thank you both very, very much. We'll watch "CROSSFIRE" with you each and every night 6:30 eastern, only here on CNN.

And speaking of, Senators Ted Cruz and Sheldon Whitehouse on, do not miss that. Coming up, the dad of the 9-year-old boy who hops that flight to Vegas, his plea for help. How can parents find assistance in situations like this that are so tough for moms and dads? Wendy Walsh will weigh in next.


BALDWIN: We were struck by this plea for help from the father of that 9-year-old boy who snuck onto a plane in Minneapolis and then flew to Las Vegas. The dad, as you'll see in the pictures, he clearly doesn't want to be identified. He's hiding under this hat and black hoodie in the video we're about to show you, but he's clearly upset as he describes his inability to control his son whose other past actions allegedly include stealing this big truck, he's nine and smashing it into a police car.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know how my 9-year-old son's brain acts. OK, I've been asking for help. No one stepped up to help. Wasn't listening, doing what he wants to do. It's just -- it's so much. We asked for help. That's all we need, the help. We need the resources. I'm tired of people saying he's a minor. There's nothing we can do. There's something somebody can do. I don't want to see my son hurt. I miss my son, I want my son home.


BALDWIN: You hear the emotion in this father's voice, Wendy Walsh, psychologist, joining me now. And I want to talk about that help in a minute.

But first, Wendy, just quick answer here. How much does a 9-year-old really understand between right and wrong?

WENDY WALSH, PSYCHOLOGIST: Well, they do understand right and wrong, but remember, he could have had an organic brain chemistry difference like anything. He could have been slightly in the autism spectrum. He could have a behavioral disorder, something that might turn into a personality disorder, it could be high functioning aspergers where he has a different sense of social queues and right or wrong than a neuron-typical brain.

BALDWIN: Let me show you something else the father said. Take a look and we'll talk on the other side.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What can I do? I have been asking for help and no one is helping me. I'm in what you call a double jeopardy. If I whoop my son, I get locked up. If I let my son keep on doing what he's doing, I get in trouble. Somebody please help me. Please.


BALDWIN: Your heart goes out to this dad. We talk about kids in need. What about parents in need? How do parents in situations like these, how do they get help?

WALSH: Brooke, I have to share something with you. I was that man not too long ago. I have a high-functioning aspergers girl, and she would not behave, and her teachers and principal says she needs discipline, she needs discipline, she needs discipline. It was only after I dragged her up to UCLA and took social skills classes with her only once I demanded assessments and learned all the hopes you have to go through in order to get these assessments and to be able to get the interventions, and by the way, she's giving a speech today where she's running for class vice president.

BALDWIN: Awesome, I was going to ask how she's doing.

WALSH: In two years of intervention, she's doing great. So my point is, I have a Ph.D., Brooke, and it nearly killed me to figure out the system because the bottom line is this, the law does not match the budget. So what they do is they make it so hard to get services, especially for lower-income parents or parents that are working or English as a second language where the system seems mind-boggling, trust me, and then they really only award the squeaky wheel parents. Eventually, I had to get an attorney and take the school board to due process so that my child could get the help she needed.

BALDWIN: Glad your daughter did that and hopefully this father, after the public pleas, gets the help he so desperately needs as well.

Wendy Walsh, thank you very much.

Let's roll over to the White House. Live pictures here, senate majority leader Harry Reid speaking after meeting with the president.

SEN. HARRY REID (D-NY), MAJORITY LEADER: And after having completed an hour and 45 minutes with him today, I feel the same way. We are here. The government should be open. Now, we should be able to pay our debts, and as we have said and will continue to say, we, if that happens, will negotiate on anything, anything, and the president confirmed that today.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: Will you accept a debt limit increase without reopening the government?

REID: The House has a unique form of legislating. It is hour by hour. I don't know what's happened in the two hours I have been gone, but this morning before I got here, it was floated to the press and otherwise, three different proposals. I assume there's a couple more since then. Let's wait and see what the House does. When they send us something, we'll look at it as clearly and closely as we can. Under the same determination we've made, open the government. There's so much pain and suffering out there. It really is tear-jerking, to say the least.

And so we want the government open. We want to be able to pay our bills. This is a situation where they do not know what they want. I hope the Republicans decide what they want and we will be happy to work with them in any way. I repeat for the fourth time right here. Open the government, let us pay our bills. We will negotiate with you about anything.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: Do you accept a short-term deal?

REID: Pardon me?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: Would you accept a short-team deal to increase the debt limit?

REID: We are going to look at anything they send us in the last -- coming out of the meeting, we have two e-mails. They have changed it, the last we got, on how much time they want on debt limit. So I mean, let's just wait and see because there are some rumors that they want it tied to the CR. Let's wait and see because they cannot decide what is in it. One more question.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Senator Reid, up until now, it's been very clear you had a very clear position, the president had a very clear position, which is you need a clean CR to open the government before you'll engage in negotiations. Republicans were clear earlier today, they want to negotiate before you reopen the government. Is that --

REID: Not going to happen.

BALDWIN: OK, so you had Senate majority leader Harry Reid. I saw Steny Hoyer. I saw Dick Durbin. These are Democratic leadership members here on the Senate side. So, they have just gone in, they have just met with the president of the United States.

So coming up in about 45 minutes from now, it's the other side's turn. It is the House Republicans talking potentially about this deal to at least avert default for the next six weeks.

So coming up, as we know that the speaker of the House, John Boehner, will be there talking to the president. How has their relationship evolved over the last couple years? We are going to talk to someone who has covered this administration, my colleague, Jake Tapper. He will talk about the Boehner/Obama relationship with Jake after this break.


BALDWIN: A Washington superstar is now dissecting President Obama's rocky relationship with House Speaker John Boehner. Bob Woodward, the legendary "Washington Post" journalist who helped break the Watergate scandal has been following the Obama/Boehner relationship for years, and Woodward told Jake Tapper there is a big problem with that relationship.

Let's talk to Jake Tapper about that, host of "the LEAD." What did he tell you?

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST, THE LEAD: Well, the question is in previous negotiations between President Obama and House speaker John Boehner, what has transpired, if anything, that led to this moment? And there's actually quite a bit. Woodward wrote a lot about it in his book "the Price of Politics" which comes out in paperback and has an updated section dealing with their previous negotiation at the end of 2012. But it all has to do with whether or not either man can trust the other when it comes to negotiation. Obviously --

BALDWIN: So trust issues?

TAPPER: Yes. I think from Boehner's perspective, President Obama is somebody who changes goalposts in the middle of negotiations. Says, OK, I want $800 billion in taxes and then we can talk about spending cuts, and then once Boehner has negotiated that, President Obama in the view of Boehner raises that. Well, instead of $800 billion, I need $1 trillion. And so on. And that has happened more than once.

From President Obama's perspective, John Boehner is somebody who negotiates when he doesn't necessarily have the ability to negotiate because he doesn't necessarily have the ability to go back to the House Republican caucus and say this is what I think we should do, let's do it and have everybody get on board.

BALDWIN: So we'll be hearing this interview in a couple minutes.

TAPPER: The legendary Bob Woodward will be here. Also one of the House Republican leaders, Congressman Lankford of Oklahoma, one of the leaders who will be negotiating with President Obama in this next hour also will stop by "the LEAD" talking about what exactly they want and why in this deal they're offering President Obama to raise the debt ceiling, why they're not offering to reopen the government, which is I think on a lot of people's minds as well.

BALDWIN: Yes, I think so. We will be watching Jake Tapper "the LEAD with JAKE TAPPER." It starts in ten minutes. Do not move.

Meantime, coming up next, the details here in the story are absolutely unthinkable. Our CNN exclusive reporting on the death of a Georgia teenager, Kendrick Johnson, the official police report called it an accident. But now CNN is learning that his body was missing organs and instead was filled with newspaper. Black Friday ads, stuffed inside this teenager's body. Don't miss this.


BALDWIN: What should be a landmark day for the family of Kendrick Johnson is instead sad and incredibly disturbing. We will tell you why in just a moment. But just to back up, Kendrick Johnson was the young man whose body was found inside that rolled up gym mat at his high school in Georgia. Now, his death was first ruled an accident, but now the evidence points more and more to a murder mystery. Today, would have been Kendrick Johnson's 18th birthday, and instead, here were his parents standing on these Courthouse steps, the father talking about this first birthday without his son.


KENNETH JOHNSON, FATHER: It's a feeling that we wish no other parents here have to go through, because Kendrick was the light of the family and then you have to wake up and see that he's no longer with us, and understand, you know, why they didn't give my son any gifts. I walked into his room and kissed his picture and said happy birthday, Kendrick. You know, his dreams, memories, will always be with us. It will never leave us.


BALDWIN: Adding to this grief, Kendrick Johnson's family is dealing with bizarre, unspeakable, really, new information about what happened to him after he died, what happened to his body.

A second autopsy done at his parents' request shows how he died of unexplained blunt force trauma and in this bizarre twist, this independent autopsy also found that Kendrick was buried without many of his organs, like we're talking from the top of his head to his pelvis area, gone. Instead his body had been stuffed with newspaper.

HLN anchor Ryan Smith is here.

I know you shake your head. I can't help but think about these parents, you know. It's one thing to lose your son. It's another to learn my goodness, I buried half of him. RYAN SMITH, HLN ANCHOR, EVENING EXPRESS: It's unbelievable. I have never heard of anything like this before. Right now, it's in the situation of well, who's responsible. The Georgia bureau of investigations says no, we sent the body over to the morgue for the next process and the morgue is saying no, we got this body without those organs. So who was responsible in all of this? But that's why the parents are crying out about this case in the first place. There are so many things that just don't sound right.

BALDWIN: They don't add up.

SMITH: That's right. The cops ruled this to be an accident, but now we're hearing that there is surveillance video in the gym and that's the kind of evidence that officers and investigators love to see. It is objective evidence that will tell you what happened.

BALDWIN: So why aren't we seeing it?

SMITH: Because the school board is saying that it's academic record. Now, that really surprised me because you and I have covered many cases about fights on school grounds and on school buses, and we see that video. So video can be turned over. I don't know if maybe it's a liability concern or something, but still, it surprises me. What's even more surprising is that officers and others aren't telling the family what's on this video.

Now, the catch-22 here is because the investigation is closed, officers probably aren't seeking a warrant to get that information so they're kind of out of the picture at this point. At this point, the school board would have to agree to turn it over to the parents. It is tough.

BALDWIN: Let me make sure I get this in. This is U.S. attorney in the case, Michael Moore. He has a copy of this video we're talking about. This is part of a statement from him to CNN today. The memory of this young man, Kendrick Johnson, calls us to continue to be deliberate and thoughtful in this case. This is about getting to the facts and the truth. And in terms of the facts and the truth in the case, and we know, you know, really kudos to Victor Blackwell, who has been the correspondent, has really been digging and made a lot of trips to Georgia. Now Ben Crump, Ben Crump, who we know from the Trayvon Martin trial, is now involved in this case. And so, you are talking to the parents tonight on "EVENING EXPRESS." Tell me about part of that conversation.

SMITH: Well, we want to know all about the surveillance video. One thing I think is interesting is you hear the U.S. attorney's statement. I wonder if he communicated with the family about what he's seen so far on this tape. Because as Victor mentioned earlier today, that tape has been with him for a couple months. So what's on that tape and has the family explored that.

BALDWIN: I don't know if they have communicated, just talking to victor.

SMITH: Yes. I think there's a little gap here but that has to be so frustrating. So, when I talk to the parents tonight, I will talk to them about that frustration. And also, this is their son's 18th birthday. What is it like for them? What are they thinking, what are they feeling? But overall, Brooke, when I look at a case like this, I say, you know, families deserve justice. I think they brought Ben Crump in because he brings exposure. And I think in some senses, you need that sometimes to get police focused on hey, maybe we missed something, let's look into this deeper, because it's not just the surveillance. It's the evidence that wasn't checked out fully, samples that weren't taken. It does not add up. And families want justice, especially when you're talking about an 18-year-old boy.

BALDWIN: When you're talking about an 18-year-old boy who is buried instead of with his organs, with black Friday ads stuffed inside of him. It's unthinkable.

SMITH: Never heard of that.

BALDWIN: We will be looking for you on "HLN Evening Express," that interview with the parents tonight, 5:30 p.m. eastern.

Ryan Smith, thank you very much.

And now, this just in. Hear this new report on the death of convicted kidnapper Ariel Castro suggests he may not have died from suicide, rather, from autoerotic asphyxiation. Ohio officials have now released new details about what they found in Castro's cell the day he died.

So, according to this report, he was found hanging from the cell's window by a sheet wrapped around his neck, his pants and underwear were down around his ankles and Castro left no suicide note. So all of these clues led officials to believe he may not have intended to kill himself after all.

That report also says the two guards responsible for checking in on Ariel Castro apparently falsified numerous posts in a logbook. So, those officers were put on leave immediately following Ariel Castro's death.

And seconds away from the closing bell. I think I hear it. And take a look at the markets. This possible, at least, six weeks deal over the debt ceiling. We are going to let Jake Tapper talk about that.

"The LEAD" starts now.