Return to Transcripts main page


President Obama's Damage Control; Pilots Grounded After Landing At Wrong Airport; Lack of Oversight at W. Va. Chemical Spill Site; Rodman Returns from Basketball Diplomacy Tour

Aired January 13, 2014 - 19:00   ET


DON LEMON, CNN GUEST ANCHOR: Next President Obama finally responds to a White House PR nightmare.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: What is important is that we got the policy right, but that this is hard and it always has been.


LEMON: Plus a Southwest plane full of passengers lands at the wrong airport.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Rest assured we are safe and sound here and people know we are here.


LEMON: How could this happen? And new developments in the so-called thug cycle baby case. Let's go OUTFRONT.

Good evening, everyone. Don Lemon. Start of the week, I'm in for Erin Burnett. Tonight, President Obama's damage control, for the first time the commander in chief is addressing sharp criticism from his own former defense secretary. In a new book, Robert Gates questions Obama's leadership, his micromanaging team and accuses the president of losing faith in his own policy on Afghanistan. Tonight, the president had his turn.


OBAMA: War is never easy and I think that all of us who have been involved in that process understand that. But I want to emphasize that during his tenure here Secretary Gates was an outstanding secretary of defense, a good friend of mine and I will always be grateful for his service.


LEMON: Let's straight out to Brianna Keilar at the White House now. Brianna, this has been a PR nightmare, if you will, for the Obama administration, a former member of the president's inner circle speaking out while the president is still in office. How much is the administration just wants this to go away.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, this certainly, Don, is unwelcome for the administration especially because when you think of Secretary Gates, he is someone who is considered to be measured, though he obviously served George W. Bush and was a carryover for President Obama. He has also criticized George W. Bush. He is seen as someone who is a straight shooter.

So this has been what those close to President Obama have told me is very disappointing for them but at the same time I think there is a sense from White House officials and those close to the president that perhaps this will subside down, at least as far as President Obama is going.

The most serious of the charges, though, and I think this is particularly alarming is the charge that President Obama committed troops to a mission that Gates said he didn't feel that he was really dedicated to. So that is really the most serious charge and troubling for the administration.

But you'll notice today when you heard President Obama speaking this is the White House strategy as we've seen it for days now, which is not to attack Secretary Gates for fear that that will back fire. Also, we have sort of seen White House officials and we saw President Obama do this today highlighting the fact that differing discourse when it came to what to do in the war in Afghanistan.

They sort of highlighted that as a positive, sort of building on what once you've heard officials called a team of rivals. People have different opinions and certainly they valued Secretary Gates'-- Don.

LEMON: Brianna, I want to get to this because we are talking about the administration. Tonight we are getting new Obamacare enrolment numbers from the administration. We said many times on this show that the success of Obamacare hinges on the numbers. The initial target was 3.3 million enrolees in the first year, about 39 percent of that young and healthy people. Good news or bad news for the president today?

KEILAR: Well, you know, t is not great news, but it could have been worse. These numbers are really important, Don, and that's because while we've been getting enrolment numbers of how many people have signed up, getting these numbers of who all is signing up is key.

And this is the first time that we've had a shot. This is key to the formula of Obamacare working as it was supposed to from the get go, which is young people tend to be inexpensive to ensure and there are essential to offsetting older, more expensive folks.

So what we learned today was that the enrolment numbers so far from federal and state exchanges is 2.2 million, that's more than a million short than what the administration was expecting at this point. So that is obviously not great, 24 percent of those who have signed up through December are that coveted age group of 18 to 34. The target as you see there, Don, was 39 percent, so 15 percent short.

That's pretty significant, but White House officials, administration officials are trying to paint this in a positive light. They say this is enough for their formula. They expect there is going to be more young people who sign up, but they say this is enough to ensure that costs don't get much higher, which was really the concern. Of course, across the aisle Republicans are saying that this is a bust.

LEMON: Brianna Keilar at the White House. Brianna, thank you for that.

We are going to move on now and talk about two Southwest pilots. They have now been grounded tonight after making a potentially deadly landing on Sunday. The pair mistook a small airport in Taney County, Missouri for the larger Branson Airport just 7 miles away. There are 124 passengers on board the plane when it landed on the run way about half the length it should have been meaning the pilots only had half as much room as normal to stop the plane. Of course, Rene Marsh, all the details for you now.


RENE MARSH, CNN AVIATION AND GOVERNMENT REGULATION CORRESPONDENT: Grounded for 24 hours, Southwest Flight 3014 gracefully took off and was finally headed in the right direction. Rewind to Sunday night, two veteran pilots were at the controls, but it appears they made a rookie mistake, the plane with more than 100 passengers on board should have landed at Branson Airport in Missouri.

Instead it touched down at Taney County Airport about seven miles away. The 737 quickly runs out of runway. The pilot jams the brakes and the plane stops just 300 feet from a steep embankment.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I had my seat belt on, but it was a good thing because we all lurched forward and we braked for a sustained amount of time, and you could smell the burnt rubber of the tires.

MARSH (on camera): Could this be anything other than pilot error at this point?

MARK WEISS, THE SPECTRUM GROUP: It certainly points in that direction.

MARSH: The run way at Taney County Airport just over 3,700 feet long, about half the length of the run way at Branson. Minutes after touchdown a contrite pilot.

UNIDENTIFIED PILOT: Rest assured that we are safe and sound here. Thanks again for your patience. We apologize.

MARSH: The run ways at the two airports are only a few miles apart, a different GPS technology would have picked up. Mark Weiss, an experienced pilot, said the pilots cleared to land at Branson must have assumed the first airport they saw was the right one.

WEISS: There is enough compasses in the airplane to validate any heading that you -- where you are, what you want to do. So what you are doing is you are cross-checking one to the other. If one of the pilots didn't catch that the other one should have. (END VIDEOTAPE)

LEMON: Rene, I'm almost feeling like this is Groundhogs Day because I remember asking you a very similar question not long ago if there was new technology that you have been looking at that could have prevented this from happening. What is going on here?

MARSH: That is a great question. You know, Don, of course, we know that even the old technology could have prevented this if it was working and the pilots were paying attention to it. Then there is this new technology that would have made it even harder to make this kind of mistake.

We recently visited Rocco Collins in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and they showed us heads up technology, which you're looking at right there on your screen and the data from your instruments, they are essentially superimposed on the real world, so to speak. So pilots looking up and through their window will not only see everything that is going on outside, but that data is right there in front of the pilot's eyes.

Meanwhile, Don, we should let you know that Southwest is really doing some damage control. They are offering refunds and travel credits to the passengers on this flight.

LEMON: I wonder if that is going to be enough. Thank you, Rene Marsh. Appreciate that.

We turn now to Mr. Richard Quest. Richard, you have been covering aviation for eon and eons and eons here on the network when I was just a wee baby you were covering it. I'm just messing with you.


LEMON: In the past two months, we have seen a number of the similar incidents where planes go to the wrong airport or land at the wrong airport, is it common?

QUEST: On average, here's the list -- eight pages of it, all right. Now on average one or two of these incidents happens every year somewhere in the world. So in 2009, a Turkish Airlines 737 landed at the wrong airport. A Polish Airline in 2002 landed, A Saudi Arabian 747 Jumbo Jet landed at the wrong airport.

It happens every now and then. It is inexcusable and usually I wouldn't be prejudging this issue, usually there is an element of pilot error because they weren't communicating with each other. They weren't looking at the instruments but it happens.

LEMON: Yes, I figured we were talking about this and I said this cannot be that common that this happens. You said it happens a couple of times.

QUEST: The first one was in 1935. In 1935, when the Zeppelin landed at the wrong field by accident and I was not covering it -- LEMON: That's because you were on vacation. Shouldn't they have known from the air if you see a run way that that's short way? This is a big plane we can't go to that runway.

QUEST: Well, not necessarily from the air because the perspective could be a little bit off. I mean, admittedly one is 7,000 and one is 3,500. They should have been checking their instruments. Air traffic control should have been able to see. That he couldn't see them out of the window at the tower. There is all sorts of ways this could have been avoided.

Ultimately, of course, they got the shock of their lives when they were coming in on final approach over the threshold, put the aircraft down and suddenly realized the red lights at the end of the run way coming at them much faster and at that point full on the brakes.

LEMON: Yes, I know and when you're on a short runway at the airport, you're supposed to land, you can feel it --

QUEST: And the run way incidentally I might add that had a very steep drop at the other end. Thank God nothing went wrong here in the sense of nobody was injured, but there is no question this is a serious incident. It does happen.

LEMON: Our senior -- I'm kidding with you, our aviation expert. Thank you, always a pleasure to see you. Thank you, sir.

Still to come here on CNN, four days, hundreds of thousands of people had been unable to drink tap water or bathe, but tonight that could be about to change.

Plus Governor Chris Christie faces new allegations, critics say he misused millions of dollars in Sandy relief money.

And the latest developments in the so-called thug cycle baby investigation. And today a judge ruled where the child will end up.


LEMON: Tonight more trouble for New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. First reported here on CNN, federal officials are now investigating whether he misused relief funds for Superstorm Sandy. Investigative correspondent, Chris Frates, broke the story.


CHRIS FRATES, CNN INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When Hurricane Sandy hit New Jersey, Chris Christie led from the trenches. And his skillful response to the devastating superstorm rocketed him into political superstardom.

But a new federal investigation into how the New Jersey governor spent some of the Sandy relief money could threaten to wash away the foundation of his political brand. CNN has learned that federal investigators will examine the state's $25 million tourism marketing campaign, a campaign that was paid for with Sandy recovery money. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Jersey Shore is open.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The word is spreading.

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: Because we're stronger than the storm.


FRATES: A campaign that featured Christie and his family during an election year.

Democratic Congressman Frank Pallone, a vocal Christie critic, requested the investigation and federal officials tell CNN it's now moving ahead. But Pallone says this is not about politics.

REP. FRANK PALLONE (D), NEW JERSEY: This was money that could have directly been used for Sandy recovery. And, as you know, many of my constituents still haven't gotten the money that is owed them, you know, to rebuild their homes or to put their -- you know, to raise their homes or to help.

FRATES: Pallone says promoting New Jersey tourism after the superstorm was a good idea, but he has a big question about how much taxpayer money was spent to make those ads. The winning bid, a $4.7 million campaign featuring Christie and family. The next lower bid that lost out was nearly half the price at $2.5 million and wouldn't have feature United States the governor, according to Pallone.

The ads caused controversy as they hit the airwaves while Christie was running for reelection. Christie's opponents slammed him, arguing it gave him the incumbent governor unfair advantage. And Senator Rand Paul addressed it at a hearing in November.

SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: I think there might be a conflict of interest there. You know, that's a real problem. And that's why when people try to do good and trying to use taxpayers' money wisely, they're offended to see our money spent on political ads. You know, that's just offensive.

FRATES: At the time, Christie aides said the winning ad provided more value. And, today, the governor's office released a statement saying: "Federal agency reviews are routine and standard operating procedure to ensure that funds are distributed fairly. We're confident that any review will show that the ads were a key part in helping New Jersey get back on its feet after being struck by the worst storm in state history."

But after an initial review of the Sandy relief spending, the Office of the Inspector General at the Department of Housing and Urban Development has concluded that there is enough evidence to launch a full-scale investigation.

PALLONE: Taxpayer dollars that could have been used for Sandy relief were used for ads promoting the governor, because he was in them with his family, during an election campaign. FRATES: Christie's office questions the timing of the investigation. Indeed, it couldn't come at a worse time for the scandal-plagued New Jersey Republican. Christie's already facing two probes into whether his staff tied up traffic near the country's busiest bridge to punish a Democratic mayor who refused to endorse him.


LEMON: Chris Frates joins us now.

Chris, interesting report.

What is next now for Christie when it comes to this case?

FRATES: Well, Don, the HUD inspector general's office confirms that they are investigating. And Congressman Pallone tells us it will likely take a couple of months at least before a full report will be released to the public.

And, already, we're seeing Christie's camp is pointing to a major story in a newspaper in New Jersey saying at least two Democratic mayors believe the governor was the right man for the job to star in those ads.

So, the political battle here is just beginning, Don.

LEMON: All right, Chris Frates in Washington, thank you. Appreciate that.

Still to come tonight: one person dead after a movie theater shooting -- what the shooter says provoked him to fire.

Plus, A-Rod's fight back tonight -- how he is responding to a season- long ban amid accusations he used performance-enhancing drugs.

And the Golden Globes slammed for having too much estrogen? The critic who says it is time to bring back a male host joins me next.


LEMON: Watch the Golden Globes last night? A lot of people did. Golden girls at the Golden Globes, you can call them. I'm talking about Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. The hosts of the 71st Golden Globe Awards helped the show draw its highest audience in 10 years last night. That's according to Nielsen ratings -- 20.9 million people watched the Golden Globe.

And in case you missed it, the two former "SNL, "Saturday Night Live," stars made a -- made women a focal point from the get-go.


AMY POEHLER, ACTRESS/COMEDIAN: A very good evening to everyone here in the room and to all the women and gay men watching at home.

(LAUGHTER) TINA FEY, ACTRESS/COMEDIAN: Meryl Streep, so brilliant in "August: Osage County" proving that there are still great parts in Hollywood for Meryl Streeps over 60.


FEY: "Gravity" is nominated for best film.


FEY: It's the story of how George Clooney would rather float away into space and die than spend one more minute with a woman his own age.




LEMON: But did the two comedians inject too much estrogen into Hollywood's annual awards show?

According to "New York Post" writer Kyle Smith, the show could have been called "Girls" and he wants a male host back.

He's OUTFRONT tonight.

Where is your sense of humor, Kyle?

KYLE SMITH, "NEW YORK POST": There is a lot of tradition of trying to get ahead of the comedy. If you are fat you make a fat joke first, so they can't make the joke.

LEMON: Right.

SMITH: So, they felt, all of our jokes have to be about women. But why can't your jokes just be funny?

LEMON: You said that this was a -- the night was a deep dive into a pool of estrogen.

The show delivered the largest audience in 10 years. How can you complain about that?

SMITH: Well, all I'm saying is, if the Golden Globes want straight men like me to watch it, they're going to realize that there's two forces at work for awards shows, two reasons people watch. One is masculine and one is feminine.

The girly reason is, oh, look at Zooey Deschanel's pretty dress or her daisy...


LEMON: But that's the first reason. SMITH: The masculine reason, the reason guys are interested in awards shows...

LEMON: Because they want to look at her dress.

SMITH: ... is because five warriors go into the forest and only one can emerge with that bloody trophy. And the others are losers, because that's life. There's winners and losers. There's competition.


LEMON: What show are you watching? People watch for the fashion. That's why they have the red carpet. The red carpet is not for guys, and then the dress. And is she going to make it up the stairs? Is she going to cry? Really, women I think more so -- they said women and gay men. That's who really watches awards shows. Guys are watching football or something.

SMITH: Well, the football game was over, so I had to watch the Golden Globes.



So, you said Ricky Gervais. You said it's time for -- I think your line was, it's time to bring Ricky Gervais back, because you said, "Gervais reminds us that showbiz, like in life, is mainly a tale of losers."

But I got to say, Ricky Gervais hosted in 2012. The show's ratings went up 17 percent the next year with Tina and Amy. So, someone is enjoying these ladies.

SMITH: Ricky brought the edge back to the show. He brought some publicity back to the show. And Tina and Amy kind of built on that.

But the award show last night, it spread the awards out among so many TV shows and movies that it was like the Little League moms who insist that every kid has to get the same size trophy.


SMITH: If everyone is a winner, no one is a winner.

LEMON: Are you a masculinist?

SMITH: Oh, I'm a masculinist. That is exactly what I am.


LEMON: All righty, interesting. I think a lot of people did enjoy it. But you're right. It was a lot of lady jokes and a lot of ladies. Appreciate it. Thank you. Come back and see us, Kyle Smith from "The Post." Still to come: A chemical spill poisons a water supply in West Virginia -- why it has been two decades since inspectors visited the company's water storage facility.

Plus, Dennis Rodman returns. Our cameras caught up with him today. We will show you what he had to say about the North Korea trip.

And new controversial photos of crack-smoking Toronto Mayor Rob Ford at a nightclub.


LEMON: Welcome back, everyone, to the second half of OUTFRONT.

Baseball player Alex Rodriguez is continuing to fight his suspension. The New York Yankees' third basemen filed a federal lawsuit against Major League Baseball, the MLB Players Association and the baseball commissioner's office in an effort to overturn an arbitration panel's decision which suspended him for the 2014 season for alleged use of performance-enhancing drugs.

Rodriguez alleges the arbitrator in the case was biased. The arbitrator's decision upheld Rodriguez's suspension, but reduced it from 211 games to 162 games.

Major League Baseball Players Association executive director Tony Clark responded to the suit by saying the claim is completely without merit.

One man is dead after a shooting at a Florida movie theater. Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco tells CNN it all began when the victim started texting on his cell phone.

It led to a verbal altercation and then a violent one, after the suspect, a retired Tampa police officer, pulled out a handgun and shot a man and his wife who was wounded. Only one shot was fired. A witness said this occurred during the previews to the movie "Lone Survivor."

It is no secret that Toronto Mayor Rob Ford likes to have a good time. This time, he took the party to a downtown Toronto nightclub. Instagram pictures show the mayor hanging out with patrons. Though it is worth nothing none of the pictures shows the mayor drinking.

Ford's brother Doug who's serving as a manager of the mayor's re- election campaign said the stop was part of a campaign strategy.

And now to West Virginia and the toxic water crisis they are facing right now. For four days, more than 300,000 people in the state haven't been able to use tap water because of a chemical spill, not to brush teeth, not to breakthrough or even use wash a dish -- you can't use a wash cloth to wash a dish. Tonight, about 5,000 residents can and they're starting to use their water again. But many questions remain about the companies responsible for this massive chemical spill.

We're going to go to our Jean Casarez first for the story.


JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): These tanks hold hundreds of thousands of gallons of chemicals. They just sit a mile from Charleston, West Virginia's only water treatment plant. And yet the state has not inspected these tanks since 1991. That's because it says the tanks are now considered storage.

RANDY HUFFMAN, W. VA. DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION: The material that they were storing there is not a hazardous material.

CASAREZ: And because they are considered nonhazardous, they don't have to be fully regulated by the state or federal government and that means no inspections.

DOUG WOOD, FORMER W. VA. DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL PRETECTION BIOLOGIST: It is a pollutant, of course. It's something that doesn't belong in the river.

CASAREZ: Doug Wood, a water biologist who worked for 33 years at the state's Department of Environmental Protection says just because it is considered a pollutant does not mean it's not dangerous and doesn't mean it shouldn't be regulated.

WOOD: A class of thousands of chemicals that haven't been studied.

BOOTH GOODWIN, U.S. ATTORENY FOR SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF WEST VIRGINIA: These are tanks that should have been inspected, I would imagine.

CASAREZ: West Virginia's U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin has launched an investigation and says regulated or not, hazardous or not, no one is above the law when it comes to keeping the water safe.

GOODWIN: The tanks were in bad shape, secondary containment systems were shoddy. If they had a release, saw it and didn't report it for a while -- all of those things are things we would be looking to.

CASAREZ: Goodwin says it is too early to know if laws were broken, but the fact that the facility just changed ownership might make it easier to determine who knew what and when.

GOODWIN: If you violate federal environmental laws, you will be prosecuted.

CASAREZ: The mayor of Charleston who calls this the worst disaster in his city welcomes a criminal investigation but does not let the government off the hook.

MAYOR DANNY JONES, CHARLESTON, WEST VIRGINIA: I'm not sure what responsibility the state has here but if not them, who?


CASAREZ: The former biologist with West Virginia's Department of Environmental Protection tells me the issue here is the chemical. It has never been fully tested so it's not known how hazardous it is. And because of that, the storage facility was never inspected because it's not regulated.

He believes if it had been regulated, that pollutant, as it is called, or if it were fully tested that would have changed everything of what happened in the last few days.

LEMON: Jean Casarez -- thank you, Jean.

Joining me to talk about this, environmental activist Erin Brockovich. She's on the ground in West Virginia, trying to figure out exactly what's going on.

Erin, officials say some people in West Virginia can now use their tap water. But you said that doesn't mean it is necessarily safe. Should residents still be concerned there?

ERIN BROCKOVICH, ENVIRONMENTAL ACTIVIST: Yes, you know they should be. You can't magically turn the water on and everything is OK. This chemical can still be in the system. We definitely advise people that have elderly parents who may be recovering from cancer or immune system at risk or children to still continue to use bottled water for drinking.

LEMON: We are hearing according to a spokesman for West Virginia Environmental Protection that the last time an environmental inspector visited that site where the chemical leaked was 1991. You have been saying this since I spoke to you last week, that this is an oversight problem.

Why isn't there more oversight?

BROCKOVICH: You know what, that is the $64,000 question that I think that we have been asking for 20 years. We believe that there is this oversight in place for it. You can call it a lot of agencies at a state level, Department of Environmental Protection, the EPA.

We found over 20 years more often than not they are absolutely absent. Why that is? I don't know. It is a huge problem. And it is inexcusable that there is this lack of safety that ends up causing these types of disasters.

Now, it is at everybody's attention here in West Virginia because it's 300,000 people. But I'm going to tell you something in my world, on a day to day basis this is occurring across the board. And it's become a really big problem, and we are going to eventually have a really big disaster and we're going to have to start looking at why we have so little oversight of these tank farms that carry lethal, hazardous chemicals that are just left to rot and deteriorate until we have a disaster. That's crazy.

LEMON: Erin, I spoke with the U.S. attorney in the short time that we have left last week and he said they were considering charges, the possibility of criminal charges. Do you think that any criminal charges could be warranted in this situation? BROCKOVICH: I definitely think what happened was a crime. It was from negligence that you disregarded a leak that has caused this type of problem. And you harmed people. You have damaged business. You have damaged the state. You have damaged the environment. Yes, I think that's criminal. Time and time again we go in and sue somebody. Money exchanged hands but that's still not solving the problem.

Maybe if someone's feet were finally to the fire, you are accountable for the situation and you caused this kind of damage, you caused harm to these people, you are going to face the consequences of a criminal charge. If we do that outside and go harm somebody or assault them what happens? It's criminal. You go to jail. Maybe it's time we do that.

LEMON: Erin Brockovich, thank you.

BROCKOVICH: Thank you.

LEMON: We turn now to Dennis Rodman. He returns, just moments ago, the former NBA star touched down in the U.S. after a week of controversial basketball diplomacy in North Korea. Rodman didn't say much as he walked through Newark International Airport. But our cameras caught up with him in Beijing where he apologized again for his drunken meltdown on CNN last week.


DENNIS RODMAN, FORMER NBA PLAYER: I'm sorry for what is going on in North Korea about certain situation. I'm not God. I'm not an Ambassador. I'm no one. I just want to show the world the fact that we can actually get along in sports. That is it.


LEMON: Rodman insists he was only in North Korea to play basketball. Not trying to help free detained American Kenneth Bae. But did his trip do more harm than good? Kenneth Bae has been held in North Korea for more than a year.

And Terri Chung is his sister. She joins me. Welcome.


LEMON: I know anytime an American goes in or out of North Korea, there is hope that your brother will be coming home. Did you have any hope that that would -- that he would be on the plane with Dennis Rodman?

CHUNG: After Mr. Rodman's meltdown on camera, no. We did not. That was totally uncalled for so we didn't expect any assistance there this time.

LEMON: You mentioned the meltdown. It was a meltdown while he was over there. I want to remind our viewers of what he said. Take a listen.


RODMAN: Do you understand what Kenneth Bae did?


RODMAN: Did you understand what he did in this country?

CUOMO: What did he do? You tell me. You tell me. What did he do?

RODMAN: No, no, no, you tell me. You tell me. Why is he held captive?

CUOMO: They haven't released any charges.


CUOMO: They haven't released any reason.

RODMAN: No, no. (EXPLETIVE DELETED) I don't give a rat's ass what the hell you think. I'm saying to you, look at these guys. Look at them!


LEMON: He has since apologized claiming he was drunk. He also said he is sorry about what is going on inside North Korea.

But, Ms. Chung, are you concerned his actions may be detrimental to your brother's situation?

CHUNG: Definitely. We don't know what the lasting damage will be on Kenneth's case. You know, I don't think anybody realizes or Dennis Rodman realized just the precariousness of this American whose life is on the line in North Korea and has been for the past 14 months.

LEMON: You know, one of the players on the trip told CNN's "NEW DAY" that he was surprised by the backlash that the game caused and he wasn't aware it would coincide with Kim Jong-un's birthday.

Do you think that they were wrong to go there?

CHUNG: You know, what private citizens do on their own time is their own business. We certainly hope that, you know, they'd be willing to advocate for a fellow American. But our concern is just any harm -- if you are not going to help at least do no harm and stay out of the way of real diplomatic efforts in progress.

LEMON: You have to admit, though, that this whole incident with Dennis Rodman has gotten North Korea back in the news, your brother's story back in the news, probably a little bit more so than if he had not gone.

What do you think is next for your brother's case?

CHUNG: We are thankful for the outpouring of public support as well as the prominent Americans speaking out on Kenneth's behalf, including Governor Richardson and Senator McCain and Reverend Jesse Jackson. So, we're hoping -- we don't know of anything specific in the works but we are hoping just the attention to his plight really will bring some real diplomatic efforts in progress to bring Kenneth home now. It's been far too long.

LEMON: Terri Chung, we always appreciate your time. Thank you so much for joining us here on CNN.

CHUNG: Thank you for having me.


Still to come, a major ruling about the so-called thug baby's future. Plus, a major heroin epidemic sweeping through the U.S., one U.S. state and probably not a state you would expect.


LEMON: Time to check in with Anderson Cooper to see what's coming up on "AC360".

Hi, Anderson.


Our lead story tonight -- something we will see only on the program on "360", the strange disappearance and suspicious death of a young African-American man in Texas. The question is, was it a murder and was it a cover-up? That inclusive investigation ahead.

Also keeping them honest tonight, the Newtown school shooting tragedy now possibly includes another painful chapter, scammers profiting by raising money to help. Drew Griffin is looking to how $73,000 of donations has now gone missing, and so has the only man with access to that money.

Those stories and a lot more and tonight's "RidicuList" at the top of the hour -- Don.

LEMON: See you then. Thank you, Anderson.

Nebraska toddler taken into custody after unleashing a lewd tirade will soon be back with his mother. An Omaha juvenile court deciding today that the 2-year-old and his 17-year-old mom will be placed with the same foster family. The two, along with three other minors have been in protective custody ever since this video.

The video of that toddler went viral. It was reposted by the Omaha Police Union along with the commentary on the, quote, "terrible cycle of violence and thuggery."

CNN's George Howell is in Omaha with story.


GEORGE HOWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This video caused a fire storm.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Pose for the camera, dog. Say I'm thugging with my diaper on (EXPLETIVE DELETED).

HOWELL: A 2 year old being provoked to curse and say all kinds of profane things.

But behind the video, there is another more personal story to tell about a 2-year-old boy being raised by his now 17-year-old mother who lived with her 19-year-old sister and their 38-year-old mother recently incarcerated on gun charges.

We learned there were other children in the house, as well.

County attorney Don Kleine believes there was a constant danger.

DON KLEINE, DOUGLAS COUNTY ATTORNEY: Some of the danger we have seen previously was the history of gang involvement. There was a shooting involved that, in fact, one of the children was injured by shrapnel from shots fired.

HOWELL: In court, the state took action. Cameras weren't allowed inside to see the teen mother who appeared for a custody hearing, alongside the toddler's grandmother and his aunt. The 17-year-old will now be placed in the same foster care home as their son. They won't be able to return to the home where they lived and the mother will only be allowed to see her son under supervision.

In a previous interview, the child's mother tells our affiliate a friend of her brother shot the video while she was in another room. Her face here blurred because she is a minor.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That video was not me. It was a person who came to my house and recorded it. So, for everybody that thinks I'm a bad mother, I'm not. I'm a good mother to my son.

HOWELL: The teen's appointed, Jackie Barfield, shut down the chance that her client will speak again.

JACKIE BARFIELD, LEGAL GUARDIAN: I asked the court -- I said it was not in the best interest to speak to the media about this case, not even a young mother, because I want this case play out in court. And the court is equipped to handle it. They handle these types of cases every day.

HOWELL: No doubt it's this video that got people's attention. But now, the toddler's legal guardian Thomas Incontro says the focus should be on the bigger picture, the welfare of this family.

THOMAS INCONTRO, LEGAL GUARDIAN OF TODDLER IN VIDEO: So this case involves more than just the video that everyone seems to have seen. It involves a family that needs some help. And I believe that the state of Nebraska is trying to provide this family with the help.

(END VIDEOTAPE) HOWELL: So the question we have been trying to track down is when will this toddler, when will the teen mother be placed into foster care? Will it be tomorrow? Will it be next week? Right now, Don, it's still unclear. But one thing is certain, that neither of them will be returning to the home where they once lived.

LEMON: All right. George Howell, thank you in Omaha, Nebraska, for us tonight.

Let's talk about this now, about this and other cases like it around the country.

I'm joined now by Sergeant John Wells. He's president of the Omaha Police Union, which posted the video. And also, Judge Glenda Hatchett.

Thank you both. It's good to see both of you. And let's discuss this, because this isn't the only case I'm sure that's similar to this around the country.

Sergeant Wells, you first -- you suggested this mother may be in your words a little tone deaf on the issue after she defended her parenting skills. Is it a good idea to have this mother and son under the same roof with the same foster family?

SERGEANT JOHN WELLS, PRESIDENT OF THE OMAHA POLICE UNION: Ultimately, I'm not a child psychologist. It's tough to go to that conclusion. But I'm sure there is some consideration knowing the courts, that they look at the full weight of the situation and determine that it's probably in the best interest of that small child, because I imagine there is some trauma from removing the child from his mother.

As I understand it, that they are going to get counseling, both of them. But ultimately, it's a much safer place that they're in, in a foster home, with a caring foster parent than the situation they were in which was clearly dangerous prior to this.

LEMON: OK. Judge, do you agree with that?

JUDGE GLENDA HATCHETT, AUTHOR AND SPEAKER: Well, let me just say this, that the court is charged with doing what is in the best interest. And actually I applaud the fact that the judge has removed them and put them in protective custody. And that's what we need to focus in on, the words "protective custody" is what we are dealing with here.

And the fact that they are going to be in the same foster home is wonderful. It gives that young mother a chance to be and bond closer with this child under the protection of a foster parent and I think that's the way we need to do this.

LEMON: But, Judge, not everybody is happy that this child was removed. There are many people who are saying, what -- who's business is it for the police department or for the state or whomever to take this child into protective custody?

HATCHETT: Oh, my goodness! Oh, my goodness, Don. This child was in a situation.

This did not just start with this video. Let's move back quickly. June, they were being monitored. They were moved. There was a drive- by shooting.

There was another case later in the year, where there was a party and several people were arrested. Illegal weapons seized. This has not been a stable environment.

LEMON: So why the outrage from people who believe that this kid should not be taken? Why are people outraged by it?

HATCHETT: I don't understand it. I have seen thousands of children, Don -- I mean, you know in my work, as a juvenile court judge, I have seen thousands of children who, unfortunately, have had to be put in protective custody, and this is a situation that we need to put this child in a stable situation, because whether people acknowledge it or not, that is a form of abuse. That child, what happened in that video, he was not just repeating what he was being told, he was also --

LEMON: OK. Judge, I'm going to play devil's advocate here.

HATCHETT: OK. All right, Don.

LEMON: There are lots of people of kids of every race cursing. You'll see white kids, you'll Hispanic kids, you'll see Asian kids, who are cursing online. What makes this one different?

HATCHETT: No, no, no. This was not just about this child cursing online. It was about him being prompted to do so by people in that home. He was -- you know, he was not getting the kind of attention and the kind of nurturing that he needs.

But it's not just this video, Don. And I want to stress that to everyone who's listening to this. This has been a family in crisis for a while. And I think that this video was kind of a last straw in a series of things.

And I'm hoping that this will be a nurturing environment in this foster home so that this young mother and her son will be able to thrive. Now, the critical question is, what happens once this mother is --

LEMON: What happens after this, right.

HATCHETT: That's the question.

LEMON: And if she goes back to the same sort of behavior and environment that got them into this predicament in the first place. But, Judge, you are the first person who's come on, I believe, with Sergeant Wells here, to sort of back up what he was saying.

HATCHETT: No -- wait, wait, wait. Wait, hold it right there. I absolutely am appalled that the union posted this video. Let me just be real clear about that. I think it was inappropriate. I think it was inappropriate for that child's face to be shown. I don't think that that really was a constructive matter. And I take real issue with the union posting that video. I mean, let's be very clear about that.

I do agree with the result of the judge putting the mother and the child in foster care.

LEMON: That's what I'm saying here, is about the cycle of violence. We're not talking about the posting of the video. We're talking about the cycle of violence. Posting of the video is a different story.

Do you want to respond to what she said, Sergeant?

WELLS: Well, as far as removing the child from the home, I think it was the best interest. And I think the judge makes a very clear distinction about the protective custody, that it really is about the interest of this child and what's best for this child at this point.

And granted, part of the story is the fact that the mother, herself, in a lot of people's view, is still a child herself.

HATCHETT: And she is.

WELLS: It will be interesting to see in the next couple of years, months and years, how the state treats that, because, again, if she puts herself back in these situations when she's no longer a minor child, and she is, in fact, an adult, we still have to deal with the child's best interests, and whether or not the child should be removed from her at that point.

But, clearly, at this stage, the state has done the right thing. I think it's a positive step, and I'm hopeful for a positive outcome.

LEMON: Listen, both of you have --

HATCHETT: It doesn't justify the video being posted.

LEMON: Sergeant Wells, she said, it doesn't justify the video being posted. Sergeant Wells, you said it's not a rare occurrence. You said that, Judge, you've dealt with thousands of children who have been taken away from their parents and put into protective custody. Besides from putting out a video about breaking this sort of cycle, what more needs to be done to keep children with their parents, to keep them in a safe environment and out of protective environment and out of protective custody?

First, Judge.

HATCHETT: It is a very complicated situation, Don, and there is no simple answer. But what I did, often, on the bench was to do early intervention. Any saw signs, if I saw some problems, we would try to do early intervention with the parents, so that we didn't have to remove the children. But it's about education. It's about support. It's about us as a community paying attention. LEMON: And, Judge -- that's going to have to be the last word. Judge and Sergeant, thank you very much. Appreciate both of you coming on CNN.

And still to come, Vermont's governor devotes his entire state of the state address to heroine addiction. We're going to tell you why, next.


LEMON: There's been a lot of discussion about marijuana these days, but the legalization of recreational marijuana in Colorado. This and other media outlets have featured a number of pieces about pot in the past month, because -- well, pot is hot. If there is a more pressing drug issue facing this country, I'm talking about heroin.

And surprisingly, the situation is particularly dire in Vermont. Last week, the state's governor, Peter Shumlin, devoted his entire state of the state address to the heroin epidemic gripping Vermont.

Since 2000, Vermont's treatment of opioid addictions is up 770 percent and nearly twice as many people died from heroin overdoses in 2013 as the year before. State legislators estimate $2 million worth of heroin and other opiates are trafficked into Vermont every week. And 80 percent of Vermont's incarcerated population is addicted or imprisoned because of drug addiction.

Which brings us to tonight's number, $1,120. That is what it costs the state every week to keep someone in prison. Compare that to just $123. That's what it costs each week to house the same person in a state-financed drug treatment center. That's according to the governor.

It's easy to get caught up in all the hoopla surrounding the legalization of marijuana. However, it's equally important to focus on the real problem of illegal drug addiction and the lack of treatment for it in this country. It is a story that is very important to us, and I'm going to have a lot more on the subject tomorrow night and I hope you will be able to join us then when we focus in on it a little bit more.

I'm Don Lemon. Thank you so much for watching tonight.

"AC360", Anderson Cooper starts right now.