Return to Transcripts main page


Immigration Reform; Amanda Knox Found Guilty Again; Another Norovirus Outbreak on Cruise Ship

Aired January 31, 2014 - 12:00   ET



MILEY CYRUS, MUSICIAN: And party at your house.

JAY LENO, HOST, "THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO": Yes, yes, that's very good.

CYRUS: Buy a house and add a club to it.

LENO: OK. Well, now, I mean you -


ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: She said buy a house and add a club to it. How about this? Lay low on the weekends.

Have a good weekend, everyone. Thanks for watching. AROUND THE WORLD starts right now.

MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: Amanda Knox says there is no way she'll return to Italy without a fight after being convicted of murder again. So can anyone make her go back?

Also --


DENNIS RODMAN, FORMER NFL PLAYER: You know, I'm not a traitor. I've never been a traitor. I've never been anything but one thing, to make people happy in the world.


SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN ANCHOR: Dennis Rodman's first interview from rehab. Ahead, you're going to hear his offer to trade places with the American held in North Korea.

Welcome to AROUND THE WORLD. I'm Suzanne Malveaux.

HOLMES: And I'm Michael Holmes. Thanks for your company today.

Today we are hearing from President Obama in a CNN exclusive. It's his first interview since his State of the Union Address.

MALVEAUX: The president is candid about a wide range of issues, including his stand on immigration reform, as well as marijuana. Now, the nationwide debate about pot, it was reignited last week when the president told "The New Yorker" that marijuana poses no greater health risks than alcohol.

HOLMES: So, that's where we begin. Our Jake Tapper pressed the president on whether he wants to decriminalize pot.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I stand by my belief based, I think on the scientific evidence, that marijuana, for casual users, individual users, is subject to abuse just like alcohol is and should be treated as a public health problem and challenge.

But as I said in the interview, my concern is when you end up having very heavy criminal penalties for individual users that have been applied unevenly and, in some cases, with a racial disparity. I think that is a problem.

Over the long term, what I believe is, if we can deal with some of the criminal penalty issues, then we can really tackle what is a problem, not just for marijuana, but also alcohol, also cigarettes, also harder drugs, and that is try to make sure that our kids don't get into these habits in the first place. And, you know, the incarceration model that we've taken, particularly around marijuana, does not seem to have produced the kinds of results that we've set.

But I do offer a cautionary note. And I said this in the interview. Those who think legalization is a panacea, I think they have to ask themselves some tough questions too. Because if we start having a situation where big corporations with a lot of resources and distribution of marketing arms are suddenly going out there pedaling marijuana, then the levels of abuse that may take place, I think -

JAKE TAPPER, HOST, CNN'S "THE LEAD": Are going to be higher?

OBAMA: Are going to be higher.

TAPPER: Let's talk about areas where you might be able to make some progress.


TAPPER: I know that a pathway to citizenship in immigration reform is very important to you -

OBAMA: Right.

TAPPER: And it's very important to Democrats and others. It's possible that you might be able to get an immigration reform bill on your desk that has legal status for the millions of undocumented workers who are in this country, but not citizenship. Would you veto that?

OBAMA: Well, you know, I'm not going to prejudge what gets to my desk, but, but, but the one --

TAPPER: Right, but what is that principle?

OBAMA: Well, I think the principle that we don't want two classes of people in America is a principle that a lot of people agree with, not just me, and not just Democrats. But I am encouraged by what Speaker Boehner has said.

Obviously, I was encouraged by the bipartisan bill that passed out of the Senate. I genuinely believe that Speaker Boehner and a number of House Republicans, folks like Paul Ryan, really do want to get a serious immigration reform bill done.

If the speaker proposes something that says right away folks aren't being deported, families aren't being separated, we're able to track top young students to provide the skills or start businesses here and then there's a regular process of citizenship, I'm not sure how wide the divide ends up being. That's why I don't want to prejudge it.


MALVEAUX: Want to bring in our Wolf Blitzer, live from Washington, along with Juan Carlos Lopez, who's a correspondent for CNN en Espanol.

And, first of all, Wolf, does it seem like the president is open to potentially an immigration law that doesn't include a pathway to citizenship for the 11 million people who are here illegally in the United States, or do you think it's going to go by this stage by stage, step by step that he's actually been talking about before?

WOLF BLITZER, ANCHOR, CNN'S "THE SITUATION ROOM": Well, if you read carefully what the Republican conference came up with yesterday, some of the principles they came up with, there may be some wiggle room there for a compromise solution that will satisfy both sides. Not necessarily completely, but it will get close enough to move the process forward.

What the Republicans are proposing is enabling these 11 million or 12 million illegal immigrants to apply for legal status here in the United States, letting their children, who, of no fault of their own, have grown up here, they would have that direct pathway to citizenship, but letting the adults, at the same time perhaps, not necessarily immediately have that pathway to citizenship, but they could then go to the end of the line and start the documentation process.

So it's a little bit more complex, a little bit more difficult, but at least the 11 million or 12 million people in the United States who are now undocumented, they would have documentation, they would be able to live here legally, lawfully, and at some points the kid, the so-called dreamers, they could begin that process towards citizenship. Their parents, it would take a little bit longer, maybe a lot longer, but at least there would be some opening down the road. They're not there yet. There are still differences, but they're getting closer because I think both the House speaker, John Boehner, and the president, they want a deal.



HOLMES: You know, Juan Carlos, let's bring you in on this now. During the State of the Union Address, the president called on House Republicans to move this reform forward this year. What's the feeling in the Hispanic community? Would they support anything short of a law that would grant legal status to undocumented immigrants and also citizenship, as Wolf was saying there, to the so-called dreamers?

JUAN CARLOS LOPEZ, CORRESPONDENT CNN EN ESPANOL: Well, Michael, what's interesting is, we have a set of principles by the Republicans. We don't have a bill. Once there is a bill, once we know the details, then we'll have a better idea of what could happen.

But if you hear the president's interview, he is very specific about saying that they're not going to speak only with groups that advocate for immigrants, but also with the immigrants themselves. The issues of deportation is one that is very important for Latinos, but there was a poll by the Pew Research Center in where Hispanics said they prioritized legalization to citizenship.

So, eventually, citizenship could come, but the priority would be to be able to work, to be able to travel and something that would include legalization, I believe, would have a lot of support from the Hispanic community.

MALVEAUX: Wolf, I want to bring you back into the conversation because we heard the except from the president telling Jake about - discussing his stance on marijuana, that it's no more dangerous than alcohol that he used to smoke in the past. It seems that the emphasis, at least in this interview, he's clarifying this, that he really wants to put the emphasis here, the focus on easing the laws against people who smoke pot and that there is a difference in terms of how people are treated, yes?

BLITZER: Yes, it's very different to the president because, if you go into the minorities communities, whether Latinos or African-Americans, you find that if you're arrested for either possessing or selling marijuana, you usually get a more - a stiffer sentence than in the more affluent suburban communities for basically doing the same things. He hates that. He wants to see that changed.

Various ways you could go about doing that. It's not going to be easy. The attorney general of the United States would have to basically accept a DEA, a Drug Enforcement Agency, recommendation that would ease some of that potential based on research could move marijuana to a different category. Right now it's a category one substance, sort of like heroin or LSD or crack cocaine or whatever. They could do that, the DEA. The attorney general would then have to make a decision.

The president suggested in that interview, Congress could go ahead and change the Controlled Substances Act, which is the law of the land. If Congress wanted to decriminalize marijuana, Congress could do it as well.

There are various formulas that could be done, but the president clearly is upset, Suzanne, exactly at the point you're making about this - you know, the double standard, as you will, of the criminalization of marijuana use or possession or selling marijuana.

HOLMES: All right, Wolf, thanks so much.

MALVEAUX: Thanks, Wolf, appreciate it.

HOLMES: Yes, Wolf Blitzer there.

And, of course, Juan Carlos Lopez from CNN en Espanol, thank you.

MALVEAUX: And we're also following this, former NBA star Dennis Rodman now talking to us from rehab. He says he is not a traitor. He doesn't hate the president either.

HOLMES: And lots of other things too. We'll get to that.

And also this, Amanda Knox says she will fight that new murder conviction, in her words, until the very end. She was found guilty of murder again in Italy. But can anyone make her go back there? That's the question. We'll discuss, next.


HOLMES: All right, Amanda Knox says there is no way she's going to go back to Italy willingly. She, of course, the American woman who was convicted, then acquitted, and now convicted again of murdering her roommate in Italy, Meredith Kercher. That was six years ago now.

MALVEAUX: Well, an appeals court in Florence retried her without her present, decided yesterday to return a guilty verdict. Knox told an interviewer this morning that she's still in disbelief.


AMANDA KNOX, CONVICTED AGAIN OF MURDERING ROOMMATE: I will never go willingly back to the place where I -- I'm going to fight this until the very end. And it's not right and it's not fair. And I'm going do everything I can. Granted, I need a lot of help. I can't do this on my own, and I can't help people understand this on my own.

Like there are people who know better than I do the way these systems work, and the way that there was this entirely preventable thing that happened that was systematic. And I really hope that people try to understand that like when you have overzealous prosecutors and when you have a biased interrogate - like a biased investigation and coercive interrogations, like these things happened, and I'm not - like, I'm not crazy.


MALVEAUX: Wow. Sunny Hostin is here, our legal analyst here at CNN. Also Barbie Nadeau, the Rome bureau chief for "The Daily Beast." And, Sunny, I want to start off with you here first. I mean you can't help but really be compelled by what she is saying and the emotion that's coming from her. Is there anyone essentially who can force her to return to Italy?

SUNNY HOSTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, absolutely. I mean the United States can force her. And there is this extradition treaty between the United States and Italy. And Italy would have to request extradition from the State Department.

And the State Department, quite frankly, at that point in time, Suzanne, can decline the request. And the State Department done that previously. If the State Department says, you know, I'm going to forward this on to federal prosecutors in Seattle, then Amanda Knox would have the opportunity to fight it in U.S. courts.

My sense of this though is, I understand that really in Europe I think most people believe she is guilty. In the United States, a lot of people are uncomfortable with the three bites of the apple that the Italian judicial system has already had with this case, the unreliability of the DNA evidence. I just - I can't imagine, given the sentiment here, that the State Department would approve an extradition request. I mean stranger things have happened, but I just - it doesn't seems realistic to me.

HOLMES: Yes, Barbie, I want to bring you in here now. You know this case very, very well, you have covered this extensively from the beginning. And when it comes to the Italian legal system, as we've seen with the former prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, it can go on and on and on. This court, in fact, had ruled last time they didn't like the acquittal. What is the situation -- what was new about this for them? What was the evidence that compelled them to say the acquittal was wrong?

BARBIE NADEAU, ROME BUREAU CHIEF, "THE DAILY BEAST": Well, this court has 90 days in which they have to write up their reasoning and deliver their opinion, and only then will we really know why they decided to uphold the conviction for both Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito.

But I think we can - we can take a few things from what happened in the court. We can look at the knife, for example. This court decided the only piece of forensic evidence they wanted to look at was this knife. Highly contested. The defense has always argued that there is just not enough DNA attributed to Meredith Kercher and not enough inside to double test it that this is not the murder weapon.

This court actually chose to take a look at the knife. The appellate court that set Amanda Knox free had discounted it. This court revived it. And I think what we're going to see in the reasoning is some attention drawn to that knife.

This court also really focused in their questioning and some of the testimony and some of the witnesses we heard on her false accusation against her former bar boss. She accused him, if you remember back in 2007, she accused him of the murder. She said he did it, Patrick Lumumba. HOLMES: Yes.


NADEAU: He didn't do it. And, you know, he spent two weeks in jail and Amanda Knox didn't say, oh, I was wrong, it wasn't actually him. I don't know what happened. Instead she let him, you know, wither away in jail. And another man was eventually arrested. Of course, the case is too complicated to sort of sum up this way.


NADEAU: But those are a couple of the things that this appellate court was really interesting in hearing about.


MALVEAUX: And, Sunny, I want to bring you back into the conversation here because, I mean, some people here would be kind of confused and think, you know, how does this even happen? In our system, in the United States, you're not going to retry somebody for the same crime after being found not guilty. There's this protection of double jeopardy. Does that exist at all in Italy?

HOSTIN: Yes. You know, it's -- that's a great question because I think legal experts here are sort of divided on this. My position is, listen, double jeopardy, the concept is, you can't be retried for the same crime. Then there are some analysts that are saying, well, that's not really correct because she was convicted, but then acquitted by an appeal. So we're not really talking about double jeopardy.

I disagree. I mean I think that the Italian legal system certainly doesn't seem to contemplate double jeopardy the way we do here in the United States, which is why we're seeing this - a bite of the apple, a bite of the apple, a bite of the apple.

I don't know that that would ever happen in the United States. But I think that there is an argument, Suzanne, to be made that she was acquitted, she was sent home, and the case -- the evidence remains really the same. And so to have another court retry her in absentia, she wasn't even there, using the same evidence and coming up with a guilty verdict just, I think, flies in the face of our system here in the United States, which is why I just can't imagine that the U.S. would honor an extradition request.

MALVEAUX: All right. Well, we'll see how this all plays out. It is really quite bizarre.

Sunny, Barbie, thank you so much. We appreciate your perspective, you analysis.

HOLMES: Important too to remember that there's other people involved here. Raffaele Sollecito, her former boyfriend, he's tied up in this as well in this new verdict, if you like, and he's facing 25 years. He got picked up on the border with Austria today and his passport taken away. He's on - out at the moment while this all goes through the system.

And let's not forget Meredith Kercher, the victim in this.

MALVEAUX: Yes, the victim and the victim's family too -


MALVEAUX: Who must be reliving this every single time there's another bite of the apple.

HOLMES: Very upset about it. Yes, they're worry that they will never find out exactly what happened that night. Yes.

MALVEAUX: We're also covering this. This is another cruise ship coming home early. This is lots of sick, sick people, passengers. It happened again for the second time this week. Nasty stomach bug spread from passenger to passenger. I'd hate to be on that thing. Oh, gosh.

HOLMES: Yes. Is it the dreaded norovirus that we've been talking about in the past? We're going to talk to one man who did get sick aboard the Caribbean Princess. That's coming up next.


HOLMES: Well, it has happened again. Just hours ago, another cruise ship carrying six -- sick passengers finally docked in Houston. And there was a lot more than six of them, too.

MALVEAUX: Yeah, they were carrying more than 3,000 passengers, if you can believe that, a crew of more than 1,000. At least 174 people on the Caribbean Princess, believed to be sick from the norovirus.

HOLMES: Yeah. That is likely the same nasty bug that sickened almost 700 people on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship earlier this week.

Now, that outbreak set a record for the most sick passengers on a single cruise in the past 20 years. You don't want to be part of that record.

MALVEAUX: No, you don't.

One of the passengers who fell ill, this is Murray Sharkey (ph). He's joining us live on the phone from Houston. And, Murray, just explain to us what happened here. I understand you and your wife were on the ship. You were having a great time on vacation and --

MURRAY SHARKEY (PH), SICK PASSENGER (via telephone): We were having great time. We left port on Saturday. Had a nice cruise on Sunday. Monday, we went to Cozumel.

Monday night when we got back to our room, we were given an information packet that said that the norovirus had an outbreak onboard and there'd be precautions taken.

MALVEAUX: When did you know you were going to get sick? SHARKEY (via telephone): I didn't know. That was Monday night. But then Tuesday was the problem. Tuesday night was the start of managed misinformation.

The captain got online and spoke to everybody and said that because of fog that was expected in the port of Houston, we had to turn the ship around Tuesday night and head right back to port.


SHARKEY (via telephone): (Inaudible) I'm sitting on my balcony looking at the port of Houston and I can look out for a good 10 miles, and I see ships going in and out of the Houston ship channel.

HOLMES: Murray, what help did you get? I think you were quarantined in your room. What was offered to you?

SHARKEY (via telephone): That was on Wednesday morning. On Wednesday morning I did throw up and didn't feel too well and got a little feverish. And that (inaudible) of the misinformation. We were told not to go to the infirmary.

And it seems that Princess was now saying 164 sick people went to the infirmary. Did they include the number that they told not go to the infirmary? Right?

MALVEAUX: So you're stuck in your room there, Murray, and your wife as well.

Did you get any help? Did doctors see you? What actually happened?

SHARKEY (via telephone): Some young -- nice young fellow from Australia came in and took my blood pressure and my temperature and said, oh, you have a fever, and since I did throw up, I had a gastrointestinal infection.

MALVEAUX: And I understand they charged you, right?

SHARKEY (via telephone): What's that?

MALVEAUX: I understand they charged you. They charged you for the doctor's visit.

SHARKEY (via telephone): And then they charged me $45 for him to come back. I did protest and it was removed.

But that's a good game if you can just make people sick and try to charge them.

MALVEAUX: Unbelievable.

HOLMES: That's good that you've got your sense of humor still, but, yeah --

SHARKEY (via telephone): Oh, sure.

HOLMES: How are you doing now?

SHARKEY (via telephone): The other nice thing -- I'm doing fine. I'm waiting to get off.

They won't let me get off until I speak to the CDC, which will be in the next 15 minutes.

And then another item that is interesting is that they did refund us for the one day that they cut the trip short, so that was the reimbursement.

MALVEAUX: Would you use it, Murray? Would you get back on a ship and use the coupon, your reimbursement?

SHARKEY (via telephone): I don't think so.

MALVEAUX: Or are you thinking second thoughts on that?

HOLMES: Say that again, Murray.

SHARKEY (via telephone): My wife is a lovely woman, and she works hard, and this is her one-week vacation, and it didn't add up to what we want, and that's the sad thing.

MALVEAUX: Yeah. Maybe you'll stick to the land.

HOLMES: All right, Murray. Thanks so much, Murray Sharkey.

And that -- and again, if it's the norovirus as we said last time, it spreads like wildfire.

MALVEAUX: It's not pleasant. I've never had a pleasant cruise experience.

HOLMES: Really? I've never been.

MALVEAUX: I go all the time, so I don't know. I wouldn't have recommend it.

HOLMES: Oh, boy. Now, remember that rant from former NBA star Dennis Rodman right here on CNN?

Well, back for round two.

MALVEAUX: This time is a face-to-face interview from a New Jersey rehab center.

We're going to tell you what he told our own Chris Cuomo, up next.