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School Bus Hijacked in Arkansas; Doctor Goes on Trial in Utah for Murdering Wife; McConnell Accused of Slipping Earmark Into Bill to Reopen Government; Soldier Salutes from Hospital Bed; S&P Closes at All-Time High

Aired October 17, 2013 - 15:30   ET


VAN JONES, CNN HOST, "CROSSFIRE": He let the Tea Party go out there and blow themselves up, and now he's going to negotiate, but not with a gun to his head. That's good for the country, good for the Republican Party.

You have a lot of heroes in the Republican Party now who are willing to be the grown-ups in the room. But let me say something about what has been happening despite all this nonsense.

His policy with regard to Iran, getting China and Russia to stand with him against Iran, strangling them with these sanctions. He's brought them to the table when it comes to EPA, when it comes to energy and clean air.

He's doing a lot of stuff. We just don't tend to talk about it.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: We'll been talking about the shutdown for the past couple weeks. This is something else, really what the president said that jumped out at me.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You don't like a particular policy, or a particular president, then argue for your position. Go out there and win an election. Push to change it.

But don't break it. Don't break what our predecessors spent over two centuries building. That's not being faithful to what this country is about.


BALDWIN: So he says, and S.E., I'm going to jump to you in a minute, but Van, I'm going to stay with you. Go win an election.

He won his election. The Republicans won their elections, too. Couldn't the Ted Cruzs of the world say, hey, Mr. President, I'm just doing exactly what my constituents want me to do?

JONES: Sure, I think both sides can say that they won elections. Here's the problem. Beneath all this, there's this growing ideology that says government is bad. America's government is bad. And that we've got to do everything we can, even one of the leaders said we have to get government to the point where we can drown America's government in a bathtub, really crazy language coming from top leaders in the American government.

And he is saying, government is not going to work if we take these extreme positions. He tried to get a grand bargain, and the Republicans pretend he never reached out to them and then they do these crazy stunts.

I understand when he says, if you love America's government and there's stuff you want to fix, that's fine but don't become this party you're so anti-government, you're anti-American government functioning, and that's wrong.

BALDWIN: You know, people were polled. There was a Pew Poll. The question was, essentially, the result was, when members of Congress face a choice in voting what they think is best for the country and voting with their constituents, the stance is they should represent their district.

Where do you stand on that?

S.E. CUPP, CNN HOST, "CROSSFIRE": Of course, they should. And let me remind President Obama, as you pointed out, Republicans have won the House now, twice as well.

These Republicans in particular, when you're talking about Ted Cruz in 2012, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, Mike Lee in 2010, they ran on a specific set of policy promises, one of which was to do everything they could to stop and end ObamaCare.

And I don't recall hearing such a high and mighty message to liberals under two terms of President Bush when liberals were up in arms about a lot of policies they didn't like under that president.

They tried to impeach him, of course, over those policies. There's always a push-back, and the president seems to be advising people to do exactly what they have been doing.

Talk about the policy changes you want. That's what they have been doing. Win elections. They did. They won two.

It seems to be he's talking to an empty suit or a sort of a straw man there because that, I think, is exactly what folks like Ted Cruz did.

You can say that the strategy failed. They did not succeed in defunding Obama care, but the stances they took were exactly the stances he told them to.

BALDWIN: Lots to talk about today. You two, thank you very much. We'll be watching "CROSSFIRE" at 6:30 Eastern, right here on CNN.

And this ride, have you heard about this? This ride to school this morning turned into a police chase, a bus, a school bus hijacked with kids inside, the pursuit all caught on video. We'll explain how this ended and what we have learned about the man behind the wheel.


BALDWIN: I want you to take a look at this. Hijacked bus here, prompting this chase of police units, one after another after another here.

That's because a man with a knife was on board this school bus with 11 young students. Police in Arkansas tell CNN that this school bus hijacking happened right after an attempted carjacking.

Nick Valencia is here to put the pieces of this whole thing together. No one was hurt, thank goodness. How did this begin?

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That attempted car jacking happened right next to the school bus. It was at a bus stop. That was told to us by a spokesman for the school convict district.

He leads police on this dramatic chase, that tape, that bus whizzing by. It lasted for about 20 minutes.

No one was hurt, 11 elementary-aged children on the bus. That's how they started their morning this morning, Thursday.

BALDWIN: Who was this hijacker?

VALENCIA: Twenty-two-year-old Nicholas Miller. I spoke to his grandmother earlier, and she says he's just in the past couple of months sort of strayed off the deep end.

He was a church regular. He stopped going to church. You're looking at him there now.

According to police, there were past incidents he's had with law enforcement, but yeah, he had a rough morning, and sort of imparted that on a bunch of other kids.

BALDWIN: Bu the driver of the bus?

VALENCIA: She's the real hero. She had just undergone hostage training, and she kept this guy calm the whole time.

Police are saying if it wasn't for the school bus driver, it could have been a lot worse.

BALDWIN: Thank goodness for her and those 11 kiddies.

Nick Valencia, thank you very much.

VALENCIA: You bet.

BALDWINL And now, the government. The government, as you know, is funded. The debt ceiling has been raised.

But did you know that this was in the bill? $2 billion going to the state of Kentucky. Yep, that's Senator Mitch McConnell's home state.

He, as you know, helped broker this deal with his Democratic counterpart in the Senate, Harry Reid, but some people are outraged by that.

Jake Tapper, anchor of "THE LEAD," is coming up next, and he's going to tell us what that $2 billion will be used for, and the strong reaction today from Senator Mitch McConnell.


BALDWIN: A doctor accused of killing his beauty queen wife of nearly 30 years went on trial today in Utah, live pictures here inside this courtroom.

Here's the story. Dr. Martin MacNeill is charged with murder and obstruction of justice in his wife's death six years ago. Prosecutors say that MacNeill gave his wife, Michele, a deadly dose of drugs after forcing her to get a facelift and then drowned her in a bathtub.

MacNeill says he may have accidentally overmedicated her, but prosecutors inferred he killed his wife and mother of eighth because he wanted to be with his mistress named Gypsy.

So I want to play a clip for you. Before I do, just a heads up. There's a little bit of foul language you'll hear.


SAM PEAD, PROSECUTOR: Gypsy Willis will tell you that their sexual relationship resumed soon after she came into the MacNeill home.

The older MacNeill daughters were frustrated with Gypsy Willis as the nanny because of concerns of an affair.

He told another inmate that Michele was a bitch, had drowned, and similarly, never denied or admitted to killing Michele, but stated that things happened, and law enforcement could not prove a case against him.


BALDWIN: Nancy Grace, all over this case. She joins me in Utah. She's all over this one.

So, Nancy, let's just begin with what's happen right now. We know this facial plastic surgeon is on the stand. What is he revealing?

NANCY GRACE, HOST, HLN'S "NANCY GRACE": Well, he's critical to the case because this is the attending physician that actually gave Michele MacNeill that fatal facelift.

She didn't want the facelift. This is what I learned this morning in court. I'm sitting outside the courthouse now. I learned that she was told just before the surgery by this doctor, don't have the surgery. Your blood pressure is way too high. She and her husband, Dr. MacNeill, the defendant, and their grown daughter Alexis, who went on to medical school and is now a doctor, were driving home.

And Michele said, you know, I don't want to do this. I want to put it off until I can lose 10 pounds, get in shape, bring my blood pressure down.

Dr. MacNeill said at that moment, no, I've already paid for it. It's already set up. We're going forward as scheduled. And I just find that very, very disturbing.

Can you imagine telling somebody in your family that they're going to have surgery even though they've just been informed by the doctor it could be dangerous?

Also, we learned the description that the little girl, the 6-year-old child, gave when she came home. Her father sent her into the home to find her mother dead.

She comes running out. She described her mother as lying in the tub face up. Her hair going down the bathtub drain.

But Dr. MacNeill gives a very different description of how his wife is found. That's very important.

BALDWIN: We have some of that sound, Nancy. We have sound from one of the daughters who says her dad murdered her mother.


ALEXIS SOMERS, MACNEILL'S DAUGHTER: My father orchestrated this whole plan in how to murder my mother. This is someone who I thought loved his family and would do anything for us, and it's horrifying.


BALDWIN: So obviously, that was the older daughter. The defense says medical examiners agree that MacNeill's wife's heart disease caused or contributed to her death. I'm looking at your face to see how that sits with you.

GRACE: Yes. I'm listening. I'm listening. She was determined to have had myocardial, which is an inflammation of the heart, but no one says she died of a heart attack or died of a heart ailment.

That's like rolling a 90-year-old with a heart condition off a wheelchair off this parking deck and he falls to his death, and you say, his heart contributed to his death.

You call that one thing -- one may say half a dozen, one may say six. You say tomato, I say tomato.

The reality is that the medical examiner is going to testify she died of drowning, not of a heart problem, that when CPR was being conducted on her by EMTs, that she continually threw up. It came out of her nose and mouth, red, frothy liquid out of her lungs. That's from the bathtub. That's not a heart attack.

BALDWIN: And with the bathtub, tell me, who is requesting a bathtub to be brought to court to explain to this jury exactly how this could or could not happen? Do you know about that?

GRACE: That's really -- yes, that's really interesting. The state wants the bathtub, and the judge has ruled that nobody can get into the bathtub, so I don't think we're going to see that kind of theatrics in this courtroom, but a dummy will be used because the daughter described finding the body in one position.

He describes it in another position entirely, which is impossible to reconcile the two. We recall the little girl said her mommy was face up. Her eyes were open, yet she drowned, in the bathtub with the water that deep.

Now, how is that? Face up. She wasn't face down, inhaling the water. How did that happen?

And also, I want to point out, I don't know if anybody caught this, as the facts were coming from the witness stand, she was down by the time of her death to two Percocet a day, two Percocet a day. That's all she was taking.

She told her doctor she wanted to limit her medication. She didn't like to take medicine. When she was found, she had a deadly cocktail of multiple, at least four or five medications in her. How do you think that happened?

BALDWIN: I don't know. We'll watch the trial play out.

Nancy Grace, thank you. We'll be watching you, 8:00 p.m., on our sister station, HLN. Nancy Grace for us outside that courthouse in Utah.

Coming up next, the bill to fund the government and raise the debt ceiling included some earmarks, one of them, $2 billion for the state of Kentucky.

That is Senator Mitch McConnell's home state, the minority leader of the Senate. And that is not sitting well with some.

We're going to talk to Jake Tapper about that. He has Senator McConnell's response.


BALDWIN: So some conservatives are accusing Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of sneaking a $2 billion, that billion with a "B," earmark into yesterday's deal to end the government shutdown.

The provision would fund a dam, this project, this dam project, in McConnell's home state of Kentucky, and also in Illinois.

Senator McCain told The Daily Beast, quote, "These people are like alcoholics. They can't resist taking a drink.

"It's ridiculous, absolutely ridiculous. It should have gone through the normal legislative process. It's disgusting," end quote.

McConnell has been a chief backer on this project, has requested funds for it in the past, so to Jake Tapper we go, host of "THE LEAD."

How is Senator McConnell responding to all this?

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR, "THE LEAD": Well, he's saying that there's nothing wrong with this project being funded. He did not have any responsibility for that authorization, he says.

And he points out that the White House in its budget and the House and Senate have all supported this project, but he was rather unapologetic in an interview with a Kentucky radio station earlier today.


SENATOR MITCH MCCONNELL (R), MINORITY LEADER: There was no earmark. The Army Corps of Engineers requested the Olmsted Lock funding.

Both House and Senate passed an authorization for it. Every single member of the Senate had a chance to review it and none asked for it to be taken out.


TAPPER: Now, it's technically not an earmark because an earmark is slipped into a piece of legislation without having been voted on necessarily in the House or the Senate, or requested in a president's budget.

But it certainly did not go through the normal legislative process, and it is unusual that it would be in this compromise to open the government and raise the debt ceiling, and not just in some other authorization.

McConnell's office said, look, we had nothing to do with it, talk to the people who were the appropriators for that section of the government, and they are Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Senator Dianne Feinstein of California.

And they say they did it because ultimately it would save money, because up to $200 million in contracts would not be wasted.

So, of course, in Washington, D.C., it's only in Washington can you spend $2 billion to save money.

BALDWIN: Wow, $2 billion. Jake Tapper, hey, nice to be with you yesterday. Thanks for having me on the Hill.

And we will be watching you in five minutes. Thank you, sir. On "THE LEAD."

TAPPER: Good to see you, Brooke. BALDWIN: Coming up next, we are minutes away from the closing bell, and one record could be broken. Find out which, right after this.


BALDWIN: I just had to share this with you before I go today. The father of a severely injured soldier who raised his hand to salute while he was barely conscious breaks down with emotion over what his son managed to do.

Corporal Josh Hargis was presented with a Purple Heart during this bedside ceremony. Here he was in his hospital room. He was injured while serving in Afghanistan and, while in a neck brace and as you can see, covered in tubes, Josh managed to muster the strength to salute.

This photo was posted on Facebook by his wife, Taylor, and Josh's father became so emotional that he couldn't hold back the tears.


JIM HARGIS, JOSH'S FATHER: I think it was unconscious. I think he was totally out. He just, you know, that's the way he is. He felt it.

I'm overwhelmed. I'm overwhelmed that that's my boy, that he could comfort me. Yes.


BALDWIN: Overwhelmed, he says.

Josh's commander wrote in a letter to Mrs. Hargis that the salute was the single greatest event he had witnessed in his 10 years in the Army. How about that?

Before I let you go, we are moments away from the closing bell and maybe one record could soon be broken.

Alison Kosik live at the stock exchange with some news perhaps on the S&P.

ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Interesting, the Dow often gets all the love, all the headlines, but today it's the S&P 500 getting the headlines because it looks like it will post a gain that's just big enough to be a record high.

You look at the level of the S&P 500 at 1,733. It's up about 11 points. We like to look at the S&P 500 even more than the Dow, believe it or not, because this is what your funds track, your retirement funds track, and it encompasses 500 stocks instead of 30 in the Dow, so it really gives a broader, bigger view of how well or how badly the stock market is doing.

You look at the S&P 500. It's up about 20 percent this year. It's usually 8 percent, so you're really getting a nice return if you are invested in the market. The Dow is further away from its record, about 300 points short of that. You're seeing the market mixed today on the fact that this debt deal is a temporary one, so you're not seeing investors really loving the deal too much.

You're not seeing a huge rally, but you are seeing a record on the S&P 500 as we hear the closing bell.

BALDWIN: There we go, as if on cue. Alison Kosik, my thanks to you.

And thank you all very much, so much for being with me. You can always check out my interviews. Go to the Brooke Blog,

And now to Jake Tapper, "THE LEAD" starts now.