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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Drunk Teen Driver Ordered To Treatment Center For One Year; State Media: Kim's Uncle Was "Worse Than A Dog," Betrayed His Party And Leader; Newlywed Bride: "I Wasn't Really Happy, Wasn't Feeling Like We Should Be Married"; New Questions About Mandela Memorial Interpreter; The Affluenza Defense; Interview with G. Dick Miller
Aired December 12, 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: Jake, thanks.
Tonight, breaking news. Word than an uncle of North Korea's leader, Kim Jong-un, has been executed just days after being stripped of his post. He wasn't just a relative. He was Kim Jong-un's mentor. At one time, his number two guy, the second most powerful person in the entire country is now being called a traitor to the nation.
Also tonight, a sensational murder trial screeches to a halt before closing arguments even begin. Why the newlywed accused on pushing her young husband off a cliff eight days after the wedding cut a deal with prosecutors.
We begin, though, tonight, keeping them honest, with new details about the sentence that many are calling a miscarriage of justice.
Sixteen-year-old Ethan Couch, that man young there, killed four people while drunk driving, but got off this week with no prison time at all. His lawyers argued and the judge agreed that Couch was a victim of his family's wealth, a victim of something a doctor called "affluenza," what we know is a completely, well, basically a made-up term.
Joining me now CNN senior -- or legal analyst Mark Geragos, I should say, and Jeffrey Toobin. Mark is obviously a criminal defense attorney. Jeffrey is a former federal prosecutor.
Jeff, what do you make of what Dr. Miller said and this whole idea of affluenza?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well --
COOPER: In a court.
TOOBIN: This whole case is like a Petri dish of everything that's wrong with criminal justice system. You've got race compared to the other case. You've got the difference between wealth and poverty, and you have junk science of -- to a degree that is so shocking, the idea that this guy was allowed to testify in court at all.
You know, the Supreme Court 20 years ago said we're going to try to establish some rules that not everybody can pretend to be an expert. A famous case called Doward (ph). Well, this guy should never have been allowed --
COOPER: Well, he is a practicing psychologist. He sees patients.
TOOBIN: But you have --
COOPER: Worked with this young man after six months.
TOOBIN: But you have to use techniques that are peer reviewed. There is no such thing as affluenza. There is no disease that 80 percent of us have. That was a disgrace, that guy. And the idea that he was allowed to testify, much less to have a judge believe him and then rely on him is really pretty shocking.
COOPER: Mark Geragos, what is your take on this?
MARK GERAGOS, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, look, the -- he clearly can testify, Jeff knows that. He's a clinical psychologist. And remember something, we're not talking about the context of adult court. We're talking about juvenile court. In juvenile court, and I don't know why somebody hasn't brought this up, I mean, we do make a distinction in the U.S. between -- in most states between juvenile court and adult court.
Adult court is for punishment, juvenile court is for rehabilitation. Now by all accounts, this judge is very well thought of. I went online today and did some research on her. I mean, she is not -- this is not somebody who is thought of as a wing nut or somebody on the extremes.
We were not in the courtroom. Unfortunately, we don't have transcripts and even more unfortunately the only thing that we were to at least in your package show were notes that were taken by the attorney for the father who is currently suing here. So I don't know that we're getting an accurate rendition of what happened in that courtroom.
I will tell you, however, that Jeff is absolutely spot on when he says this is a Petri dish. Because I think it was Jeff today who discovered the case that Randi was talking about in your package where somebody else got 10 years in a juvenile facility and we had mentioned last night, Anderson, that, you know, and all too often in our criminal justice system, the color of your skin determines what's going to happen to you in a courtroom and whether or not the color of your money and how much of it determines whether or not you're going to get any, you know, a skill set that's going to be able to get you or avail you of the best possible defense in a case.
So I understand that. I mean --
GERAGOS: I'm not out there saying, because I said last night, I don't know that you just necessarily say we're going to throw this guy into a state prison. There has to be something else that could have been used in this case. COOPER: But that's only because he has money, his family has money. I mean, if he is a defendant who doesn't have money, he does get put into the juvenile justice system which does have rehabilitation programs, though, they are certainly may not be as effective as this expensive and nice facility.
TOOBIN: This place in Newport costs $450,000 a year, which his family is going to pay. I mean think about how many families in this country could afford something like that. It's very few.
And I just think, Mark, I want to disagree with one thing you said that the whole idea of the juvenile justice is rehabilitation. There is also protection of society. I mean, what is the lesson this guy is going to learn by -- after killing four people and getting away from it? You know, what is the lesson he's going to get about, you know, the effect of drinking and driving?
So -- and you know, what about the rest of us who are out on the roads where this kid will have access to a car? I mean, it's different.
GERAGOS: Well, look, Jeff, I understand that and that's one of the reasons the protection of the community is one of the reasons that the laws have changed so that there is now direct filing or there is a filing against juveniles in adult court where your main concern is punishment.
Look, I've been practicing long enough to remember when we started practicing, DUIs, there wasn't even a blood-alcohol level. And you didn't have the per se statutes. And it has become progressively more stringent and strident against drunk drivers.
I think what this doctor was trying to say, the psychologist was trying to say, he was trying to make a distinction of somebody who goes out and intentionally commits an act with malice and kill somebody, as opposed to somebody who in this case is charged with vehicular manslaughter.
The result is the same. Somebody is dead. It's whether or not you've got the mindset, whether you've got that kind of malignant heart, as we in the law say, which just means you're depraved basically.
COOPER: But I do think --
GERAGOS: And that was the distinction he was trying to draw.
COOPER: I get there is that distinction but what he was saying he was -- he wasn't using the terms that this young man killed these people. I mean, whether or not he meant to or wanted to, he -- he killed these people. I mean, Mark, yes?
GERAGOS: Right, and the law is made a distinction for, you know, 200 years, if not more, between acts that require a mental state and acts that don't.
COOPER: Right, no, I get that, but in terms of a --
COOPER: Just in terms of a doctor and trying to get a person to accept consequences for their actions, you'd want that person to at least acknowledge this young man has killed these people. It's not that they magically died.
TOOBIN: Right. I mean, he was obviously playing semantics with you.
GERAGOS: Right. Yes.
TOOBIN: But, Mark, as you sort of pressed over this, I mean, for the last 30 years since the work of Mothers against Drunk Drivers, the legal system has come down very hard on drunk drivers who commit even a fraction of what this guy did, and I think one reason everyone is so outraged about this case is just how different his sentence is with so many other people.
COOPER: We got to leave it there.
GERAGOS: Well, Jeff --
COOPER: We got to leave it there.
GERAGOS: Jeff, in California --
COOPER: Guys, I'm sorry, we got to leave it there. We're really tight on time.
Mark Geragos, I appreciate it. Jeff Toobin as well. We'll talk about more -- this when we come back, though. The -- the rehab facility where you think Couch is going to go is obviously top of the line. It's got high marks from everybody who has looked into this place. I'm going to talk to the co-founder of the research -- of the rehab facility himself, a former addict from a wealthy family. Dr. Drew will also join us.
Also ahead, tonight's breaking news out of North Korea. Reports that the man on the left, an uncle of Kim Jong-Un has been executed. This guy used to be the number two guy in the entire country. He's now been executed and you'll hear what the government is now saying about it.
COOPER: Ethan Couch, the Texas teenager who killed four and paralyzed another teenager while driving drunk, will spent the next year in a rehab facility instead of a prison cell. His dad is paying the bill which may run about half a million dollars.
Couch is expected to get treatment at Newport Academy in California. Now in 2009 "Treatment" magazine called it, quote, "The most beautiful treatment facility in the industry that provides an environment of compassionate and caring." It's clearly a top of the line facility. Its treatments, there is equine assisted psychotherapy, each resident is assigned a horse to work with. There's also an onsite gym, there's mixed martial arts, yoga, meditation, individual and nutritional counseling, cooking skills, certified organic chef.
To a lot of people may not sound like punishment. Jamison Monroe, Jr. is co-founder of Newport Academy, he joins me now, along with Dr. Drew Pinsky, host of HLN's "DR. DREW ON CALL."
Jamison, I appreciate you being on. First of all, your facility, nobody is in any way saying anything other than really nice things about your facility. I mean, I've looked at your Web site, it looks top of the line, it looks like an amazing place.
Ethan Couch was diagnosed with so-called affluenza by his psychologist. Have you first of all ever heard of that term? Do you buy that diagnosis?
JAMISON MONROE, JR., FOUNDER AND CEO, NEWPORT ACADEMY: Actually, Anderson, I don't buy that diagnosis. I don't believe in the term affluenza. What I would like to do is take a step back, and that's a very, very short statement that was made in that courtroom, and as we said earlier, we don't have all the notes from the courtroom.
There were reporters in that courtroom, and I was in that courtroom. And other things that Dr. Miller described was that a child that has been diagnosed with a substance abuse problem, alcoholism and addiction, someone who grew up in a dysfunctional family system with verbal, emotional and physical abuse, and a kid that started using substances at 13 years old.
And so I'd like to take a step back and say, you know, in a country where we allow alcohol and pharmaceutical companies to advertise and promote the use of drugs and alcohol, I really think we have it backwards if we keep just sending kids to jail if they're simply acting in the way the popular media in this country is telling them to.
So if someone truly has a medical diagnosis, and because of the Mental Health Parity Act, we do know that alcohol and addiction are diseases, then I firmly believe that treatment is a right and not a privilege, and that everybody should have access to treatment, if they truly have a diagnosis of substance abuse, and so --
COOPER: You know, but --
MONROE: And -- but in this case, real quick, like we said earlier, you know, yes, he did kill people, but if this child would have not been under the influence of alcohol, this accident would have not happened.
COOPER: Right, so I'm not contesting that this child may have a problem with alcohol, whether he's an addict or not. I have no idea. I'm not sure anybody does. But in terms of what actual treatment he will get, you see this then as the treatment he's going to get as alcohol-related or drug-related treatment. Because I understand from your Web site is, you've never actually treated somebody for a year. You've never actually had somebody like this who's basically going to be at your facility for a year. It's usually like a 90-day treatment, correct?
MONROE: This is correct. The opportunity to treat someone for a year, though, is very appealing, seeing that pretty much all the data shows the longer someone stays in treatment the higher the success rate and the better the outcome.
COOPER: And to those people who -- I mean, again, your facility looks beautiful, you know, it's got equine therapy, you have horses on site, on like six acres, you've got one-on-one cooking skills, you've got nutritional counseling, you've got mixed martial arts lessons, you've got a gym.
I mean, honestly, it sounds like a place I would like to go to for a year and get some intensive therapy. I think everybody could probably use that. But is it right for somebody who has killed four people to be sent there as -- to be sent there after killing four people?
MONROE: Right, so, you know, if I put 20-foot walls and barbwire around the property, would that, you know, arguably change someone's opinion. I think that -- I think what you're talking about and I hear other people are talking about is treatment versus incarceration, though as well. Because regardless of where someone gets treatment, you know, the kid is not going to jail. And I think that's what people want, is an eye for an eye. They want justice coming from a vengeful spirit and not from a transformational spirit.
COOPER: But there --
MONROE: I believe in justice --
COOPER: But there are plenty other kids --
MONROE: Justice --
COOPER: Right. But there are plenty of other kids in this country who have committed similar crimes or even lesser crimes who do get sentenced to the juvenile justice system where there are rehabilitation programs but are clearly not able to pay for a program that's not in the juvenile justice system.
MONROE: True, actually. Unfortunately a lot of those are wrought with more crime and corruption and actually in a letter from the assistant attorney general in the state of Texas to Governor Rick Perry, one of the Texas detention centers, juvenile detention centers documented over 1,000 youth-on-youth assaults in 2005.
COOPER: Right, I know -- I don't think anybody believes that these are great facilities, but it is the reality for the vast majority.
COOPER: I do want to bring in Dr. Drew on this.
Drew, what do you make of what Jamison is saying? Because, I mean, again, this facility seems like a very nice facility. That's not being contested.
DR. DREW PINSKY, HOST, HLN'S "DR. DREW ON CALL": It's a high -- no doubt high quality facility and unfortunately it's a place he should have gone before he killed other people. Listen, when I'm dealing with addicts and alcoholics, which I did for 20 years, and in fact I ran a program very similar to Mr. Monroe's. These are good programs. They have great outcomes. And he's absolutely right. The longer the treatment, the better the outcomes.
But here's how I would speak to this young man had I had my hands on him before this terrible accident.
Hey, something horrible is going to happen as a result of your alcoholism and your crappy attitude. You have to do something about this. I don't care what your parents say, we need to get you treatment. He needs to get into a treatment and God help you if you do something awful as a result of your disease and when that comes down, it will break my heart but I'm going to stand back and let that ax fall.
COOPER: OK --
PINSKY: That's what we must do and that's where everyone is so outraged. There is zero, zero justice in this, and we'll have zero ability to say that to anybody in the future --
COOPER: But Drew -- OK.
PINSKY: -- because, guess what, before or after the horrible events, he'll get nice cushy treatment either way.
COOPER: OK, Drew, but -- OK, that did not happen clearly, given that four people have been killed now, just to play devil's advocate, isn't it better to send this young man to get rehabilitation, intensive -- therapy and rehabilitation for a year or two than it is to send him to a prison, I mean, that's what -- that's what his lawyers are arguing.
PINSKY: Yes, better potential outcome for him in terms of there being a potential of him being rehabilitated. I actually agree with that. The problem is I don't know if this kid is motivated. We have no idea if he's remorseful. By the way, six months of treatment, 12 months of treatment may not be nearly enough. You heard the interview the judge can pull this and put him into prison at some point.
I just throw down the gauntlet and hope that this kid is resistant. You will do exactly that and report that to the judge because you cannot mince around with this. If this kid that killed four people. Let's not mince words here. He killed four people because of alcoholism, because of his personality disorder.
Yes, he came from a horrible family. Yes, he suffered from some syndrome where his money had an influence on the fact of this terrible case, but if he does not motivate, does not participate, he needs to go back to prison.
COOPER: So Jamison, is that -- what will happen? You see him staying there how long?
MONROE: If in fact he ends up coming to Newport Academy, what has been prescribed by the courts and the psychologist is at least a year in treatment, and I really appreciate the comment about the fact that two years in rehab, everyone can agree is better than two years in prison, right?
COOPER: I'm not saying it's better --
MONROE: One could argue --
COOPER: Rather than punishment. If punishment, if you believe punishment should be part of this, as a lot of people do, they would argue it is not better.
MONROE: But for any kid coming to us on probation, I mean, first of all, we have strict guidelines and rules. People can't just do what they want to whenever they want to. People have to follow our schedule and abide by our guidelines. Ethan, if he were to come to us, will have significant conditions placed upon him, not only by the court but Newport Academy. If he doesn't appreciate the opportunity he has and abide by those conditions, he'll lose that opportunity and we'll be responsible to report that to the court --
COOPER: Somebody that looks at the program, wow, one on one nutritional, you get a horse, you get to care for the horse, you get to do yoga and meditation, it sounds a spa-like, doesn't it?
MONROE: Yes, absolutely nothing about this will be easy though. I mean, what you're dealing with is a kid that has severe emotional trauma prior to this accident and now it's exacerbated. So nothing about this is going to be easy. The Newport Academy experience is designed -- it's not to pamper but to positively reinforce a new way of living to have sobriety and reform this child to be a contributing member of society and make amends for this atrocity.
COOPER: Jamison Monroe, appreciate your time, Dr. Drew, Pinsky, as well.
Coming up, we have breaking news, North Korea's official news agency is reporting the execution of Leader Kim Jong-Un's uncle. He is being called a traitor for the ages. He was the number two guy in the country now for a long time. The breaking developments ahead live in report.
Plus a plea deal in the murder trial of the bride who pushed her groom off a cliff just days after their wedding.
COOPER: Breaking news, according to North Korea's official news agency, an uncle of North Korean leader, Kim Jong-Un has been executed for trying to overthrow the government by quote, "all sorts of intrigues and despicable methods." Here they are together years ago. He wasn't just his uncle, just days ago, he was second in command of the entire country.
State run media spared no love for the Uncle Jang Song saying, quote, "Despicable human scum Jang who was worse than a dog perpetrated these cursed acts of treachery in betrayal of such profound trust and warmest paternal love shown by the party and the leader for him."
How is that for a quote? According to the report, once a special military tribunal found the uncle guilty, they wasted no time he was executed. CNN's Paula Hancocks is monitoring developments from Seoul, South Korea joins us now.
This is so bizarre, Paula. The Korean central news agency said that the crimes of this man included attempts to overthrow the state. Do we know exactly what the regime is claiming he did?
PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, we have the longest article from KCNA that I have seen in the years I've been covering North Korea. I mean, it is a litany of crimes that he is accused of. He is accused of trying to overthrow the state. He is accused of denying party line, denying polices, squandering North Korean assets and money and also womanizing, using drugs, gambling, eating in expensive restaurants.
I mean, the litany of crimes is just extensive. You had that very interesting quote there. That's the entire article. That is the way that it is written, showing humiliating this man and showing that he absolutely had to be executed. Now they say that Jang Song Thaek actually admitted to all these crimes. It's like he had very little choice in the matter, and he was executed that same day we believe.
We can see photos from KCNA of him being led out of the courtroom by military personnel. He's handcuffed, his head bowed and eyes are shut. It's a very clear case of trying to overthrow the government as far as KCNA is concerned and Kim Jong-un. But of course, this is the only information we get from North Korea, so it has to be taken at face value.
COOPER: It's very possible and probably more likely that this is just a purging of somebody who had a lot of power in the inner circle and this could be an attempt by Kim Jong-un to, you know, secure his power because this guy helped Kim Jong-un consolidate power after his father died.
HANCOCKS: That's right. This was an incredibly powerful man. As you say, he was number two in the country and he has been around for decades. He was working with the founder of North Korea, Kim Il-Sung and also Kim Jung-il, the late leader, Kim Jong-un's father. He's been around for a long time. He was put in the power position after Kim Jong-il died and the young leader took over to try and help him consolidate and lead him. He was considered to be the power behind the thrown. So it could be consolidating power by Kim Jong-un.
COOPER: Fascinating stuff. Paula Hancocks, thanks very much.
There's a lot more happening tonight, Susan Hendricks has the 360 Bulletin -- Susan.
SUSAN HENDRICKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, a Pennsylvania prosecutor says charges are likely in connection with the death of New York City college freshman who allegedly died during a fraternity ritual. The incident involving Baruch College students happened at a house in the Poconos.
Two days before the one-year anniversary of the deadly school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, the National Cathedral in Washington hosted a service for victims of gun violence. Many of those who spoke called for more gun control.
In the skies over South Africa, a rainbow after tens of thousands of mourners lined up for a second day to pay respects to former president, Nelson Mandela, certainly a sight to see.
A note of support from the 43rd president to number 43 on the Alabama football team kicker Cabe Foster. Foster missed two field goals and had a bluff in the unbelievable loss to Auburn. Bush wrote, "Life has its setbacks, I know, however, you will be stronger with time. I wish you all the best, sincerely another 43." He says he's framing that and put it on Instagram.
COOPER: Susan, thanks very much.
Up next, a dramatic development in the murder trial of a new bride accused of killing her husband by pushing him off a cliff.
Also ahead, the accused fake interpreter at Nelson Mandela's memorial service said he is schizophrenic and was quote, "seeing angels" while he was signing signs that didn't make sense in front of millions of people. His bizarre explanation ahead.
COOPER: In "Crime and Punishment," a stunning development today in the murder trial that we've been following in Montana. A plea deal in the case of a woman accused of killing her husband eight days after their wedding. Jordan Graham today pleaded guilty to second degree murder and spoke to the just about what happened in July when she pushed her husband, Cody Johnson, and he fell to his death in Glacier National Park. Kyung Lah reports.
KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Jordan Graham entered court a free woman, she left today in handcuffs. In a stunning about face, the 22-year-old newlywed changed her plea for second-degree murder to guilty. Graham stood before the judge and said this was the truth about what really happened at the cliff at Glaciers National Park.
She and her husband of eight days, Cody Johnson, got into a heated argument. Graham said she told her new husband that she wasn't feeling like a happy newlywed. Facing the cliff, Graham says Johnson grabbed her arm, she said let go, then she pushed him, one hand on his shoulder, one hand on his back, face-first off the cliff.
I wasn't thinking of where we were, Graham told the judge, it was a reckless act, I just pushed. Graham says she left her husband dead at the bottom of the sheer cliff without telling anyone because I was so scared.
(on camera): In your opening statement, you said this was a young girl who made poor choices. Do you still hold that belief?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I do.
LAH: Graham's attorney says he still believes in his young defendant, that she made a series of mistakes and just dug herself in deeper by trying to cover it up, lying to friends and police saying her husband was missing when she knew he was dead.
ANDREW NELSON, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: For us, I think it's been emotional from the drop of the gavel.
LAH: An emotional final day in court as Johnson's family and friends watch the couple's first dance at their wedding. The happy smiles here drew sobs from Johnson's mother and about a dozen friends in the courtroom. Prosecutors believe Johnson's death was premeditated. That Graham plotted to kill her husband because she regretted getting married.
Just as lawyers were about to present closing arguments, the defense says they got offered a deal from the prosecution. They would drop the charges of first-degree murder and lying to federal authorities if Graham agreed to plead guilty to second degree murder.
MICHAEL DONAHOE, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: My role in that process is not something that I can comment on. All I can say is that the ultimate plea that was entered was Ms. Graham's choice.
LAH: When Graham uttered the word guilty, her former mother-in-law wept. Her parents remained silent, leaving the courthouse and their daughter in the custody of U.S. marshals. Officers cuffed Jordan Graham in the courtroom while Johnson's friends held hands and shook their heads in satisfaction. They left the courthouse saying few but powerful words.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: God will take care of it.
COOPER: Kyung Lah joins me now. So what is next in terms of sentencing?
LAH: It's a sentencing, which will happen in March and at that hearing, there will be a chance for her to speak out. There will be a chance for the victim's family to speak up and those words will be very important and here is why. The judge has a lot of leeway. The minimum here, Anderson, is 19 and a half years, the max life.
COOPER: Interesting. Kyung, appreciate it. Thanks.
Up next, a truly bizarre story got more bizarre. The interpreter called out as a fake by South Africa's deaf community says he was having a schizophrenic episode during Nelson Mandela's memorial service. What he says he saw and heard on the stage on a 360 followup next.
COOPER: The interpreter accused of signing essentially gibberish at Nelson Mandela's memorial service is speaking out and defending his work. He said he's been doing the job for many years, and claims he is quote, "a champion," unquote of signing. He's saying he got into this line of work for a special reason. Listen to what he told CNN David McKenzie.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
THAMSANQA JANTJIE, SIGN LANGUAGE INTERPRETER AT MANDELA'S MEMORIAL: I'm disabled as they call, and anything about disability, it's a part of me and what drove me into interpreting is that I would like to see the people with deaf disability been accommodated as much as accommodated.
DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: What sort of disability do you have?
JANTJIE: I'm suffer from schizophrenic, which is controllable, and I'm under treatment.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, he told the Associated Press that he has been -- that he's been violent in the past and hospitalize in a mental facility for more than a year. He also told the Associated Press and other media that he was hallucinating at the Mandela memorial seeing visions of angels and hearing voices while up on the stage with President Obama and other world leaders.
The South African government is now looking how he got a security clearance for the job and how qualified was he. He got very defensive when our David McKenzie asked him to sign for him. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCKENZIE: Can you show me some of the signs?
JANTJIE: What are you referring to me -- you tell yourself that people that was interpreted for them for all these years, they said I'm not -- I'm like -- I'm -- I'm speaking rubbish and nothing been done and now something has been done and I must again make another signs. You want to tell me what? You tell -- do -- me, you want me to call me what?
MCKENZIE: No. I'm just asking if you can show me some signs?
JANTJIE: No, let's be realistic.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: That didn't make any sense. He refused basically. Tonight, a lot of people are wondering just who this guy is and how he got the job. CNN's Robyn Curnow joins us from South Africa with more.
Robyn, the bizarre interview the interpreter gave today raised more questions than answers. He wouldn't even answer very simple questions about his qualifications and I know the South African government issued a statement today. What did they say?
ROBYN CURNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, they admitted that there were mistakes, but they refused to say that he was a fake, essentially saying the reason for all of this confusion is that the interpreter was speaking in a different dialect, however, this minister in the cabinet did say that they were trying to investigate the security vetting procedures, and they had tracked the company from which they had hired him, however, the minister, the deputy minister did say that the people who worked for this company had vanished into thin air and that's a direct quote.
COOPER: I mean, we've heard from people in the South African deaf community who said that this wasn't just a different dialect, that even the words, the names of, you know, Nelson Mandela or Oliver Tambo, he didn't know, he didn't use facial expressions. The government says the company has been providing substandard services for years. Did they say why they continued to hire this man?
CURNOW: No, and I think that's the point. There seems to be a lot of blaming going on. The government not giving a lot of answers where this minister was speaking really probably also confused a lot of us more than it should have because there really is a sense that there is finger pointing going on.
I think a lot of questions why the government hired a freelancer for this huge event. When apparently, there are some deaf interpreters on the government books, as full-time employees. So I think really, as you said earlier on, a lot of questions, not a lot of answers.
COOPER: And the deaf community in South Africa showed outrage and said they complained about this interpreter before.
CURNOW: Absolutely, they say -- and they have given a number of instances where they say this guy wasn't up to their standard. They say he's not part of the deaf community, they don't know who he is and obviously from that interview with CNN, this interpreter, not being very forthcoming about his qualifications. The deaf community saying he was meaningless, his hand signals were out of link with the words.
But the real key give away, the dead giveaway, he didn't make very many facial expressions, which is very much part of communicating here in South Africa with the deaf community. They are outraged and say something should be done and they find it an embarrassment. COOPER: Robyn Curnow, fascinating. Thank you very much, Robyn. We'll be right back.
COOPER: That's it for us. Thanks for watching. Up next, CNN Films presents "An Unreal Dream, The Michael Morton Story."