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Keystone Pipeline Report Released; Amanda Knox Found Guilty in Italian Court; Dennis Rodman Speaks Out

Aired January 31, 2014 - 15:00   ET


BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Two days ahead of Super Bowl Sunday, and you see the crowds behind me.

Hey, guys.

We got some Seahawks fans. We got some Denver Broncos fans. They're ready for the game. This is Super Bowl Boulevard. The excitement is building up, of course, for Sunday night's game right across the river from me.

And we are talking everything from pot in the NFL to busts over fake merchandise. We will get to all of that over the next hour here as I sit at Super Bowl Boulevard.

But, first, two days before the big Games, letters containing this white powder sent to at least five hotels, that's the latest number we have, five hotels near MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey hosting the Super Bowl and to the Midtown Manhattan office of former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

CNN national correspondent Susan Candiotti is working the story for us. She's at one of the hotels there in East Rutherford.

Susan, we know at least one of the letters contained cornstarch according to the testing here. What about the others?

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We know about the letter sent to and former Mayor Rudy Giuliani as well. We are told by police that that contained what is described as a nontoxic substance.

Therefore, we know in at least two cases, one was cornstarch and one tested to be something that is not considered be to toxic. We also have additional information for you. I just got off the phone a little while ago with the New York Police Department in regard to the letter sent to former Mayor Giuliani.

That is this, that it was sent to him, mailed to him from Toronto, Ontario, Canada and the letter is described to me as being not threatening in nature, at least not containing any language that would seem threatening and included the phrase "always in my thoughts, always in my thoughts."

Of course, initial field testing at the locations can sometimes prove to be wrongly or odd. They will be doing additional testing just to make sure that at least in two of these instances they are nontoxic. At this time, this investigation is considered to be routine. It is an annoyance, but it's certainly being taken very seriously as they have to check out things like this and frankly it's not uncommon in this huge metropolitan area to get these on a fairly frequent basis. But, of course, they are not happening on the heels of and the near eve of the Super Bowl -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: Yes, understandably not taking many chances. Susan Candiotti, if you get more information, let us know. Thank you so much.

Now to Amanda Knox. She is a convicted murderer again. She is vowing to fight tooth and nail to get what is now her second murder conviction in Italy overturned. Knox and her former Italian boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito were found guilty of killing her British roommate, Meredith Kercher, back in 2007.

This is, as I said, their second conviction in the case, and the first came with much attention and that was in 2009. But that guilty verdict was overturned two years later. And Knox grabbed her chance to run. She returned back home to the United States, to Seattle. Now she has been retried in absentia. And as we're reporting, she was found guilty, Knox telling ABC's "Good Morning America" today the latest verdict hit her like a train.


AMANDA KNOX, FOUND GUILTY OF MURDER: I'm going through waves of emotion in response to it. My first reaction was no. This is wrong. And I'm going to do everything I can to prove that it is.

And I felt very determined. And my family felt very determined. But it was only on my way here that I really got my first cry. This really has hit me like a train. I did not expect this to happen.

I really expected so much better from the Italian justice system. They found me innocent before. How can they say that it's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt? I will never go willingly back to the place where I -- I'm going to fight this until the very end.


BALDWIN: Amanda Knox just this morning.

joining me now, CNN legal analyst Sunny Hostin and also Drew Griffin, our CNN investigative correspondent.

Sunny, first to you. I want to talk about double jeopardy laws. Right here in the United States, you can't be convicted of the same crime twice. Obviously, it's a much different situation in Italy. How might that affect a possible extradition request back to Italy, who want her back to serve time?

SUNNY HOSTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I think legal opinions at this point have sort of split. Some folks are saying this is not really the classic double jeopardy, because in Italy while she was tried and convicted on appeal, she was acquitted and then retried. It's not the classic double jeopardy and then others are saying, well, no, in the United States legal system, certainly this is that sort of thing. It is very different here and this would not have happened, so double jeopardy would apply.

I suspect though ultimately this is going to be a long road for Amanda Knox. Brooke, bottom line is we don't even know how the -- why the judges came down the way they came down. The judges have about 90 days until they write their decision. And then I think at that time we can sort of discern why they made this ruling and what the next steps would be, what the basis would be for trying to fight extradition.

BALDWIN: It really was incredible because it was the same science and the same evidence that proved her acquittal a couple of years ago and now we have this guilty verdict.

Drew Griffin, we saw this entire documentary you and the investigative team put together here at CNN. You looked into this and the lead prosecutor in the case, this prosecutor apparently had a tarnished past. He was even found guilty of abusing his position. You talked to him in your documentary "Murder Abroad: The Story of Amanda Knox." Tell me what he was like. What did you find out about him?

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Giuliano Mignini is the prosecutor who was convicted actually of abuse of power in yet another murder case that he was investigating which he claimed involved satanic rituals and such.

He eventually appealed and won, partially won his case. So, even though he was sentenced to 16 months in prison, he didn't serve any time. Some of the charges against him expired because of the term limits on them.

But I think -- and I'm interested to get Sunny's opinion on this. When you look at the case, there really is no substantial or really any kind of forensic evidence that points to the guilt of Amanda Knox or Raffaele Sollecito.

But behind it all in the beginning was this prosecutor who back in 2011 told me even before any forensic evidence was in he had a hunch that it was Amanda Knox and Raffaele who did this and that really was the driving force behind her original conviction.

HOSTIN: Brooke, I think Drew...

BALDWIN: Yes. No, my question just coming off of Drew would be, then we know this was the top Italy Supreme Court overturning that acquittal, if I am even legally saying that right. Is there an anti- American sentiment in Italy? Why?

HOSTIN: Yes. I think to Drew's point, I'm having a bit of trouble hearing you, Brooke, I think what is going to be very interesting is that there doesn't seem to be any DNA evidence linking Amanda Knox to this, especially because some forensic experts, independent experts have said, listen, this is just not valid DNA evidence. I think if Italy decided to try to extradite or put in the extradition request, I think the State Department will really look at that, the lack of evidence and the fact that Italy has had sort of three bites at the apple to this. Ultimately, it will be up to the State Department to decide whether or not they will even entertain the request.

I suspect this is a request that they wouldn't entertain, because we're not in a situation that sometimes people are in, where they allegedly commit a crime abroad and then flee to the U.S. We're talking about someone who submitted herself to the laws and the jurisdiction of Italy and was tried, was convicted, spent about four years in prison, and then through their own system was acquitted and sent back home. I think that's a very different posture for a case like this. I suspect the State Department will look at it that way.

BALDWIN: Let me hit pause on the conversation, because, Drew, I really want to play -- this is a clip from Drew's documentary. Take a lock.


GRIFFIN: Prior to the forensic investigation, prior to everything really, your intuition or your detective knowledge led you to Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito?

GIULIANO MIGNINI, PROSECUTOR (through translator): After the first few weeks we were convinced because of the behavior of the two people and especially Amanda that they were both involved in a crime.

GRIFFIN: You were fixated, according to the defense, on Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito and kept imaging new scenarios that made these two people guilty.

MIGNINI (through translator): No, absolutely not. I did what I did because I was convinced given the evidence that had been gathered that they were responsible. I am absolutely convinced.


BALDWIN: So, Drew, I hope you can hear and I know it's loud here in Times Square, but give us just a little bit more context. That was the investigator, the prosecutor and also the point on this case, the lack of evidence here.


And what he was saying, it was a very long interview. He spent maybe four hours with us. And this was just before he eventually lost the appeal in the case and the convictions were overturned.

He was telling us, Brooke, that he could just look at Amanda Knox and know she was guilty. He made that assessment prior to any of the forensics coming in. When the forensics came in and kind of jumbled up everything and excluded certain people that he had also charged, he kind of remade the whole story, but then again included Amanda and Raffaele.

We see this time and time again when prosecutions foul up. It's almost universally the same. They have a suspect in mind and they just get tunnel vision on that suspect, and instead of using the evidence to rule out certain things, they see the evidence to rule into their particular suspect.

It's very dangerous. I think that's what happened in this case. Like Sunny said, we will have to see what the judges say. But the DNA testing in these last two cases, the appeal and this current trial, were done independently by the Italians and they came back with even less and less evidence that Raffaele or Amanda were involved at all. I really don't understand how this conviction took place. I can't understand it.

BALDWIN: Stunning. Stunning. Drew Griffin and Sunny Hostin, thank you very much.

Leaving that there, I want to get you back to the story we have been following here out of New Jersey and New York on the substances, this white powder found and these suspicious letters received here in Midtown Manhattan at the office of former Mayor Rudy Giuliani and also in a number of hotels right around MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

They have been deemed nonhazardous and this according to a tweet from the FBI here in New York, nonhazardous. Additional testing will be doe, according to the FBI, but again, here you have -- we're making this point, but leaving no stone unturned with the massive, massive event coming up here just across the river from me, but think of all the resources and attention focused on something now that has come up to be nothing, thank goodness.

Coming up, Dennis Rodman, he speaks to CNN live from rehab. What he said about his treatment and his outbursts on CNN, that's with Chris Cuomo. That's coming up.

Plus, the story that has a lot of people talking. Administrators at this one school taking lunches away from the kids because the money has simply run out on their accounts, which, of course, humiliating for these middle kids. We will tell you what happened next.

You're watching CNN's special coverage two days before Super Bowl Sunday. We are live here on Super Bowl Boulevard.


BALDWIN: Just in, the State Department releasing its final report on the controversial Keystone oil pipeline project which according to critics would damage the environment.

Supporters say it would reduce imports of foreign oil and would add jobs right here in this country. This is a pipeline, we have talked about this, it will go all the way from Canada down south to Texas. Could the findings get the Obama administration on board?

Let's go straight to the White House to our senior correspondent there, Jim Acosta.

Jim, the study has been done. What does it say?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brooke, I think the study basically puts this project in the pipeline to approval.

Basically, what this report outlines is the environmental impact that the Keystone pipeline would have. According to the report, and we have been going through it for the last several minutes, it essentially concludes that it would not have a significant impact on greenhouse gas emissions, would not have a significant impact on climate change.

That was sort of the threshold that the president set forward as to whether or not he would want to recommend approving or not approving this project. And so that is a big blow to environmentalists, at least at this point. We should point out there is a 90-day I guess review process that will go on with all the federal agencies looking at this, and they will have a chance to weigh in on it.

That was essentially the message that White House Press Secretary jays delivered at the briefing earlier today, that this environmental impact statement from the State Department is not the final word, but certainly one of the last words in the process. Here is what he had to say.


JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I would note that when that document is released, it does not or will not represent a decision, but rather another step in the process. To go to your question about that process, there will be an opportunity after the release of the EIS for both the public and other government agencies to comment before the State Department makes its final national interest determination.


ACOSTA: Because this project, as you mentioned, Brooke, would take oil from the tar sands production areas up in Alberta, up in Canada from Alberta down to the Gulf of Mexico, this environmental impact study also said that about 42,000 jobs would be created. That is why Republicans have been talking about this project so much, urging the president to approve it.

Here's a quote, a statement from Senator Mitch McConnell, the Senate minority leader, that just came out this afternoon. It says -- quote -- "Mr. President, no more stalling, no more excuses. Please pick up that pen you have been talking so much about and make this happen. Americans need jobs. Americans need these jobs."

Now that this environmental impact statement is out, Brooke, you can rest assured that Republicans will be putting even more pressure on the president now and on this administration to finally approve the project -- Brooke. BALDWIN: We will see what happens after that 90-day review. Jim Acosta, thank you very much.

Now to Utah. One Utah school gave a very troubling punishment against its students and their parents. Who could be to blame here? Staffers at Uintah Elementary School, they snatched away the trays of lunches from dozens of kids, because their meal accounts were too low. Now those officials are under fire for doing this.

Some parents say their kids were brought to tears.

CNN's Miguel Marquez is following the story for us today.

We should say, Miguel, some of these kids are low-income. Apparently some of the kids are just victims of bad accounting, didn't have all the money on their cards on that given day. Their parents didn't know their accounts were zero. Is that right?

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, this is akin to the school bully saying hey, kid, give me your lunch money and it turns out the bully is the school itself. It applied across the board to anybody regardless of income status.

What the school district, Salt Lake City school district, is saying happened is that a manager from the district went to the school to look into arrears in some of the accounts on Monday. They made some calls and they started telling families they were in arrears and on Tuesday, just 24 hours later, the kids get their lunches and walked up to the cashier and they swipe their card and they say, you are in arrears and we are taking the lunch away, throwing it in the garbage, because they can't give it, by federal standards, can't give it to another student and all they got was milk and some fruit.

Here's how one kid and her mother described the situation.


SOPHIA ISOM, STUDENT: She took my lunch away. And she is like, oh, go to milk. I'm like OK. And then I come back up and I'm like, what's going on? And then she gave me an orange. She is like, you don't have money in your account. So, you can't get lunch.

ERICA LUKES, MOTHER: There were lots of tears and it was pretty upsetting for them.


MARQUEZ: Now, keep in mind, this is an elementary school and that these lunches were denied to elementary school students.

The school district said that that district manager and the cafeteria manager are now on paid leave. There's all -- investigation under way into all of this and they expect some results from that investigation and into the processing and policies of the school lunch program there by next week -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: Those kids in tears, those poor little kids. Miguel Marquez, thank you.

Coming up here, Dennis Rodman currently in rehab for alcohol addiction talking once again with CNN's Chris Cuomo and tells him why he likes to drink.

But coming up next, we will talk to a psychotherapist who actually knows Dennis Rodman quite well and she counseled his ex-wife during his stint on "Celebrity Rehab." Do not miss this conversation. .


BALDWIN: Welcome back. I'm Brooke Baldwin live here in Times Square which has been transformed into Super Bowl Boulevard.

I'm looking out of the corner of my eye, a special someone who knows a thing or two about playing in a Super Bowl. Stay tuned for that guest. He's looking at me. That's your tease for that.

But let's talk about Dennis Rodman, because it only has been a couple of weeks since he went into rehab after that we will call it explosive interview from North Korea live with my colleague Chris Cuomo.

Today, Chris Cuomo actually went to that rehab facility for another exclusive sit-down with the former basketball star and they talked about everything from Rodman's odd friendship with the dictator of North Korea to the alcoholism that landed him where he sits today in rehab.


DENNIS RODMAN, FORMER PROFESSIONAL BASKETBALL PLAYER: For me, the reason why I drink is because I'm bored.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: You drink because you're bored?

RODMAN: Absolutely. I have been saying that for years, ever since 1993, because I need to be active, I need to be productive and keep my mind on life in general.


BALDWIN: Throughout this interview, and let me tell you, it's a lengthy interview, whenever the subject turned to problems with alcohol, Rodman vacillated between admission and denial.


RODMAN: You create this monster, Dennis and, all of a sudden, you can't get out. I can get out. It just depends if I want to get out.

If I drink two or three days in a row, yes, I'm an alcoholic.

Absolutely. I have no shame in that. I have no shame in that. But I told Dr. Drew when I was on the show that, you know, he asked me "can you stop drinking," and I said, "I don't think so."

I have been curbing my addiction. I have been curbing it. Believe me, curbing it.

CUOMO: Curbing it?

RODMAN: I have been curbing the fact that, you know, when you have to start somewhere.

People are going to see me in public. And the first thing people are going to say, well we just saw him at a club, we just saw him at a hotel, we just saw him here, we saw him there. The first picture you're going to see about me, oh, my God, he's had a drink or he's doing this.

That didn't really work for Dennis. Guess what, really?

CUOMO: Can you not drink?

RODMAN: No, I can't play this.

CUOMO: Can you not drink?

RODMAN: Let me play this. It's like saying, can I not drink?

CUOMO: Can you not drink?

RODMAN: You mean water?


BALDWIN: Sherry Gaba, I have been looking forward to talking to you. A Sherry Gaba is a psychotherapist and author of the book "Law of Sobriety." She was on that season of Dr. Drew "Celebrity Rehab" that Dennis Rodman referred to in today's interview.

Sherry, welcome to you. Nice to have you on.

SHERRY GABA, PSYCHOTHERAPIST: Hi, Brooke, how are you? That was very telling.


BALDWIN: Dennis Rodman in his sunglasses sitting down in this rehab facility. You heard all those bits and pieces. What's your reaction to Dennis Rodman now?

GABA: When he said he can curb it, that's really an unusual statement in recovery, because in recovery it usually means abstinence.

And one of the issues is that you need long-term recovery. You need sober living. I think it's great that he is in rehab right now, but what he really needs is long-term recovery. That what is really going to work for him. The way he lives his lifestyle, there will be a lot of yes-people that will continue to give him -- or will say yes to him in terms of the alcohol.

It's just around him everywhere. He needs to be around sober people in a sober community like a place that I consult, like SOBA Malibu. He needs to be around other people, a fellowship. I didn't see a lot of emotional sobriety in the interview.

BALDWIN: Emotional sobriety?


GABA: Right. He was blaming Chris for the questions, instead of really taking responsibility.

Drinking is just part of it. It's also looking at the consequences and the wreckage of your behavior underneath the drinking. Drinking is just the symptom. And I did see -- I would agree with you completely -- a lot of shades of denial there.

BALDWIN: What about, Sherry, when you talk about his overall lifestyle here, he says he can't follow the 12 steps. He believes following half of them means he's won half of the battle. Does that even make sense to you?

GABA: So it may mean that he's half in, half out, which is going to mean he will continue to drink. He's not completely embracing sobriety.

But we have to start where somebody is. I don't see a lot of willingness. Again, I want to give him credit. He is in recovery. He's in a rehab right now, and I wish for the best for him. I worked with him on "Celebrity Rehab." He's got a big heart and I'm hoping for the best.

But the deal is you really have to embrace it fully. You have to give your life to it really. It has to be your or there is no life.


BALDWIN: In 20 seconds, Sherry, since you worked with him, do you see a different Dennis Rodman at all from the time in "Celebrity Rehab," or is he the same guy you knew?

GABA: I think he's pretty much the same guy. I think he's pretty much the same guy.

BALDWIN: Sherry Gaba, thank you very much. We wish him well. Truly do. Sherry, thanks.

GABA: Yes, of course.


BALDWIN: Of course.

Coming up, here's a question. Should NFL players be allowed to smoke marijuana to perhaps deal with concussions? The league commissioner actually addressed that point today. We will talk live to an NFL legend who is standing by and we will get his thoughts.

You are watching special coverage live from Super Bowl Boulevard.