Return to Transcripts main page


AOL CEO Apologizes For "Distressed Babies" Comment; Committee Expands Christie Bridge Probe; Committee Expands Christie Bridge Probe; French President Goes to Washington Solo; Sexism at Sochi Olympics?; Family Remembers Jordan Davis

Aired February 10, 2014 - 19:00   ET


ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Next, the CEO of AOL blamed, quote, "distressed babies on cuts to employee benefits." Tonight, the mother of one of those babies OUTFRONT.

Plus who does Hillary Clinton really blamed for the Monica Lewinsky scandal? New documents reveal what Clinton was thinking during her husband's affair.

And the production rests in the so-called "loud music" trial where a white man is charged with shooting and killing a black teenager. Was it a premeditated murder and who is that teenager? We'll tell you tonight? Let's go OUTFRONT.

Good evening, everyone. I'm Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight distressed babies, two words thrown out extemporaneously by the CEO of AOL. Two words that now have the nation talking. Tonight, we're joined by the mother of one of those distressed babies, but here's how we got here.

It all started last week when Tim Armstrong, the AOL CEO started discussing some cuts in 401(k) contributions at the company. First, Armstrong said the cuts were due to the rising cost of health care citing Obamacare. Then he got more specific on an employee wide town hall referring to two quote, "distressed babies" that he said cost the company $1 million each.

The reason he said those babies pushed health care costs up for the entire company something Armstrong says forced him to make a decision, to make cost cuts somewhere. That's where the 401(k) got cut. Now Armstrong never mentioned the children by name. But in AOL's pool of about 5,000 employees news traveled fast. Within a few minutes an editor at AOL's "Huffington Post," Peter Goodman's started getting emails isn't he talking about your baby?

Goodman's wife, the author, Deanna Fei, found out quickly. Diana Goodman's daughter, Mia, was born four months premature in October 2012. At the time, she weighed less than 2 pounds. Her skin was reddish purple. She was bruised all over. She spent three months in neonatal intensive care enduring blood transfusions, head ultrasounds, breathing tubes and feeding tubes.

They wrote a blog post about her reaction to Armstrong's "distress babies" comment saying, his remarks, quote, "exposed the most searing experience of our lives, one that my husband and I still struggle to discuss with anyone, but each other for no purpose than an absurd justification for corporate cost-cutting."

Well, the good news is that Mila beat the odds. Our cameras caught up with her today. She's buzzing around like a 1-year-old do and she is a happy and healthy 1-year-old girl, a miracle by American medicine.

Back at AOL, Armstrong has been under fire. Now he apologized to employees. He's reversed the 401(k) switch. He's also called Deanna Fei who is OUTFRONT tonight and I do want to note, we invited Tim Armstrong to appear on this program, but he has declined.

Now, Deanna, let me start off by saying it must be as a new mother myself, I mean, you must look at her every day and think of the miracle. You write about how you didn't want to name her or connect with her because you didn't think she was going to live.

DEANNA FEI, MOTHER OF AOL "DISTRESSED BABY": That's true. I mean, it was the most traumatic experience that my family has ever gone through. But, I mean, seeing her eat her macaroni, seeing her take her first steps just this past week, watching her just fight for every minute of her life in the hospital, I am so grateful for the doctors and nurses who looked after her.

And I'm grateful for the fact that we had health insurance in a country where a lot of people are not so fortunate and that we were covered in this situation where we experienced something that no one could foresee and there was nothing to do to prevent.

BURNETT: How did you first hear about Tim Armstrong's comments? I mean, how did that day go down for you?

FEI: I mean, I was home taking care of my daughter. I had started getting some e-mails from my husband, and when I first saw the headlines, I just couldn't believe it. You know, I just sort of couldn't process that the girl who was in front of me was the subject of these headlines about a distressed baby who cost the company too much money, and was sort of being accused of having been, you know, a drag on the company's bottom line.

At first I didn't want to think about it because the last thing I want to do is relive those days where she was on life support. But, you know, as the firestorm started to erupt over his remarks the more I started thinking, you know, this is such an injustice to single out any individual let alone a newborn baby for simply undergoing, you know, a medical crisis and then using their health benefits.

So, I felt the need to speak up and defend my family. I felt like we had been exposed and that our privacy had been violated. And I also felt like, you know, where does this end? If we could be singled out like this, I mean, what about a woman who gets diagnosed with breast cancer. Would anyone dare to suggest that that was, you know, somehow a luxurious option that we paid to save her life? BURNETT: Tim Armstrong has apologized in a company-wide memo and I know you and he had a very personal conversation. He's the father of three. You believe that to be very sincere, right?

FEI: Yes, do I.

BURNETT: What more do you want from AOL?

FEI: Well, you know, I think AOL is actually a company that does strive to take care of its employees and we have generous benefits. But I think that, you know, in the future just with any discussion of health care expenditures, which are important and necessary for to us have on a national policy level. You know, I think it's legitimate for SSS and health care experts to talk about what's appropriate in terms of caring for extreme preemies.

You know, given what the costs are and how many people have to do without health care. But, I think in this situation it was certainly not the time or place to have this kind of conversation. You know, we're talking about a company that just posted its best quarterly earnings in years, and paid its CEOs $12 million.

So I would just hope that, you know, when we have these necessary conversations that we approach it with more sensitivity and when we're talking about the dollars and cents that we're mindful of the actual human lives that are at stake.

BURNETT: Do you think that Tim Armstrong -- what do you think should happen to him? Should he keep his job after this?

FEI: You know, I feel like that's not for me to say. I don't think that he's a villain. I'm not interested in raking him over the kools. I this he's genuinely regret what he said and the pain that he caused my family. There was never any malicious intent in that.

BURNETT: You've talked about what a violation of your family's privacy. I know he didn't call your family out by name, but you know, as we said your husband started getting emails. People -- everyone knew who he was at the company. You know, legal experts said that there could have been a violation here of medical privacy laws. Do you think that there was? I mean, are you all considering a lawsuit or anything else?

FEI: You know, I have not thought about that. I don't know the legality of the issue. All I know is that on an emotional level it felt like a violation and that among, you know, a lot of people who just knew my husband and knew us, they had heard about our situation because it was so shocking at the time.

And so it was really immediate, you know, the way that they were able to connect that to us personally. And when I started, you know, seeing the reports that were out there and all tweets about distressed babies which quickly turned into jokes about, you know, just about this whole media gossip, it was extremely painful for me.

BURNETT: And what is it like now? I mean, you're a professional mom. You're an author. What's it like every day?

FEI: Every day feels like a gift. You know, I mean, there's not a single thing that I can take for granted because her condition was so dire when she came out. We didn't know if she would ever eat. We don't know if she would ever sit up. We didn't know if she would ever be able to nurse. We didn't know if she was going to be able to breathe on her own. Just being able to hold her and being able to, you know, see her smile when she wakes up every day is a wonder and I'm grateful.

BURNETT: It brings tears to my eyes to look at it. Thank you so much for coming on and sharing your story.

FEI: Thank you so much.

BURNETT: All right, OUTFRONT next, who did Hillary Clinton call a narcissistic loony toon? Plus the newly single president of France fairly highly eligible I hear this from many French sources. He's going to be in the United States for a White House State dinner. How showing up stag is causing a problem.

And a Special Forces operation caught on surveillance camera, the incredible video of a top al Qaeda suspect snatched in the middle of the night. We'll explain.


BURNETT: Bad news tonight for New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, the bridge scandal about to grow a little bit bigger. The co-chairs of the state committee investigating the matter, both Democrats, say they are going to issue an 18 additional subpoenas tomorrow, 14 to people or offices who haven't previously been subpoenaed in the case, some for people who actually work in the governor's office.

So how bad is this for Christie. My guest is the newest member of the CNN family. We are very excited to have him. Michael Smerconish, we've been watching him forever. It's his debut here on CNN. So I'm very lucky to have you, the host of a new weekly program that is going to be live on Saturday morning in addition to your duties as host of the "Michael Smerconish" program on Sirius XM, columnist for the "Philadelphia Inquirer." I don't know how you'll do it all, but welcome.


BURNETT: So no one has proven Christie is involved in closing these lanes for political retribution. This has been going on for a while and a lot of people looking for that smoking gun. Haven't found it, but the slow process of the investigation obviously has taken a toll in the polls. So here's the question to you and you've watch this and watch so many elections. Can he turn this around for 2016 even if he's cleared?

SMERCONISH: Well, it's interesting that you characterize this as bad news, Erin, because I'm not so sure it's bad news. The nature of our political process is to build up candidates, tear them down and build them back up again. If these subpoenas should bear fruit and if someone should uncover a particular document or a witness that shows that Chris Christie wasn't truthful in that marathon press conference then he's finished.

But at some point, if so many individuals are subpoenaed, and there's no yield, I think the pendulum swings back in his favor, he gets to play the victim card and that will play very well particularly among hardened Republicans.

BURNETT: Because people say, look this really was a pile on. They tried and tried and tried, I mean, especially when you look at the people with the subpoenas, right? I mean, it's Democrats. It's not exactly bipartisan.

SMERCONISH: Yes. I think especially in these fiscally challenged times, at a certain point, residents of the garden state will say how much are we spending to find out who knew what about the bridge closure. You know, the victim card, to which I refer. Take a look at the fact that Chris Christie now is going to CPAC this year where last year they didn't want to hear from him. I'm sure that's some can go in, thump his chest, rail against "The New York Times" and blame it on the media.

BURNETT: It's true. It's actually had the effect of winning over the far right, although he's lost some independents. I guess the question is how that trade will work.

So -- so two weeks ago you wrote a column about your own run-in with Chris Christie, which I thought was just kind of interesting, so I thought you might -- you might be able to share it.

Is the notion -- I mean, and this is what it comes down to, is the American public in areas way far removed from the northeast get to know this guy, right? Is the notion that he would exact political payback by closing a lane on a bridge to a small-town Democratic mayor in a governor's race he was going to win by a landslide. Is that notion too far-fetched to you?

SMERCONISH: It's not too far-fetched for me. And I think in my case and in another individual's cases it has had us all re-evaluating and reconstructing past exchanges that we've had with the governor and taken a second look at the brand.

I mean, you know, that verbose mannerism that he has and the way in which he conducts himself that plays so well on the stage in New Jersey, I've longed believed is going to be a problem nationwide when you put together on a two-minute clip all of those outbursts, all of those confrontations at the town-hall meetings. So his greatest asset is also his chief liability.

BURNETT: Well, isn't that -- you know, isn't that what it's supposed to be for all of us? Right? We all have that.

All right. But, now let me just ask you. Because you look at the polls, right? Obviously, he has fallen dramatically. We saw a complete reversal. He would have beaten Hillary, and now he would lose to Hillary. And obviously, between now and 2016, you know, it's politically 50 lifetimes. I realize that. But let's talk about Hillary Clinton for just a moment.

A conservative Web site, the Washington Free Beacon, broke the story today with the subheading, quote, "Archive of closest friend paints portrait of ruthless first lady."

The site was the first to reveal some old notes and diary entries belonging to an close friend and long-time confidant of Hillary Clinton. But he said that what Hillary said of Monica Lewinsky when she talked about the affair was, quote, "It was a lapse but she" -- as in Hillary -- "says to his credit he tried to break it off, tried to pull away, tried to manage somebody who was clearly a narcissistic loony tune, but it was beyond control."

Is that sort of a revelation hurtful to Hillary? I mean, does this kind of make her look more of a political operative, as opposed to just a hurt human, in that case?

SMERCONISH: I don't think so. I mean, look, it reads like a novel. It's great for prurient interests, but I don't think it moves the needle politically. Real news would be that, in these notes, in these diary entries from the friend, that she wasn't condescending toward Monica Lewinsky. What would we expect her to say about the woman who carried on this relationship with her husband? We'd expect her to say exactly what it is she apparently said.

BURNETT: Fair point. Fair point. I mean, do you think they have any chance, Republicans, of making this Lewinsky scandal hurt Hillary now? I mean, Rand Paul is certainly trying, right, calling Bill Clinton a sexual predator.

SMERCONISH: Yes. Erin, I don't understand it. I really don't get it. The only conclusion I can come to is that Rand Paul uses this because, you know, it stirs the waters among the Republican faithful, and it's probably a great fundraising tool.


SMERCONISH: But I don't think this thing sells in a general election. I don't think independents give a damn about this sort of thing. It will fire up the base. It will help you win a nomination. It is not going to help you win a general election.

BURNETT: All right. Well, I'm really excited that you're going to be here for the general election with us. I've always loved watching you. And thank you so much. We're so excited to have you on our team.

SMERCONISH: Thank you. I'm psyched. Thanks very much.

BURNETT: All right.


BURNETT: Michael Smerconish, as we said, here on CNN. And you, of course, are the lucky beneficiaries of that, too.

Still to come, the Obama administration considers using a drone to kill an American overseas. Here's the question: Should the president have that power? And when you answer yes, realize of course, to be intellectually consistent, you'd have to say that you could drone an American on American soil, too.

Plus Francois Hollande arrives in the United States all alone. How his stag status is making for an awkward state dinner at the White House.

And cringe-worthy moments. This where a TV anchor confuses Samuel L. Jackson with a different actor of color.


BURNETT: Monsieur Hollande goes to Washington alone. And things could get a little awkward.

Today President Obama welcomed his French counterpart, President Francois Hollande, with a tour of Thomas Jefferson's estate at Monticello. But tomorrow is when things could get dicey for the newly single French president at an official state dinner at the White House. This is a really big deal. You're looking at a preview of the set-up for that dinner.

The arrivals are going to happen live during this hour tomorrow night. Should be really exciting. We're really excited. Special coverage is planned for you.

But typically the partner of the visiting head of state is seated next to the president of the United States. These things are not just chance and they are not just, oh, when this president comes in, we'll do it this way and that one, this way. No, no, no, no, no. It's very specific.

Hollande, though, recently announced his split from a partner of seven years amid reports he had cheated on her with a younger actress.

Anita McBride, a former chief of staff to Laura Bush, who helped plan state dinners just like the one tomorrow night.

Anita, thank you so much. I mean, this -- this whole situation, you know, sort of tabloid meets politics, has enraptured France and the United States, and this isn't the first time a French president has shown up solo. Because you were the one when Hollande's predecessor, Nicolas Sarkozy, attended the dinner, right after he split from his wife.

So how does it go? Who sits next to the president then?

ANITA MCBRIDE, FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF TO LAURA BUSH: Well, there is a wonderful guest list that's already been put together, obviously, selected by the president and first lady, with people that they've wanted to have at the dinner. So there will be plenty of other people that they could select to sit next to the president, for sure. BURNETT: So, why don't the two heads of state sit together? That's what I was wondering? I was thinking, you know, more chance to talk, or is it, I guess, the whole point that they actually don't ever want to talk and that's why you separate them?

MCBRIDE: Well let's remember, they're going to spend the entire day together at meetings and talking about important issues, which is the real reason why a foreign head of state is invited to come here, because there is important business to discuss.

But, you know, one of the biggest reasons why, and it's a matter of precedent and protocol, of course, over hundreds of years. But also, this gives an opportunity for more people to sit with the principals rather than putting all the principals together at one table. You can have them be hosts at various tables, and then more of your guests have an opportunity to visit with you.

BURNETT: And of course, we just -- we end up losing out. I mean, I remember when David Cameron and Samantha Cameron came in.


BURNETT: Nice to see them and, you know, what they wore.

Anyway, we'll lose out on that this time. But I'm sure perhaps there will be another state dinner, and he'll have someone to come with next time.

MCBRIDE: They really are wonderful events. That's for sure.

BURNETT: All right. Anita, thank you.

MCBRIDE: You're welcome.

BURNETT: And now, it's time for the "OUTFRONT Outtakes."

The Sochi Olympics have been a superb showcase for the world's top athletes. Well, the male athletes, anyway.

So last night I was watching the coverage of the men's alpine skiing, specifically the run of Swiss skier -- and I'm sorry if I mispronounce this, but Carlo Janka, it looks like. Janka recently underwent heart surgery. And while discussing his recovery, the NBC announcer shared a comment that Janka had reportedly made, saying, quote, "There was a point when Janka said, 'I don't even belong on the women's downhill tour.'" Well, the announcer who shared the comment was laughing as he said it. That's why it caught my attention.

And then, and you know, I kept watching. I love watching the Olympics. A few hours later I heard another announcer say this about a female snowboarder, quote, "That was a great run. Just five or ten years ago that would have been a great men's run."

So women are just five or ten years behind the men.

Look, I understand that women are physically not as strong as men. That's generally a fact. But to have a guy in booth dismiss all female athletes is pretty bad.

Of course, when it comes to coverage of the Olympics, this kind of inequality is not new. James Angelini, a professor of the University of Delaware, watched every second of the 2010 Olympics. And what he found is in line with what I just reported. In 2010, 62 percent of NBC's primetime Olympic coverage went to men. And of the 20 most mentioned athletes, 75 percent were male. In fact, they received 336 percent more mentions than the female athletes on the list.

What's more, Angelini found that, when discussing victories by men, announcers cited their abilities, while talk of women winning was often about how they got lucky.

It's 2014. We can do better.

OUTFRONT next, prosecutors wrap up their case against a man for the murder of a black teenager.

Plus, a covert operation caught on camera. We're going to show you Special Forces and how they nabbed a high-ranking member of al Qaeda.

And how Samuel L. Jackson responded when a TV anchor confused him with a different actor of color.


BURNETT: Welcome back to the second half of OUTFRONT.

We have new video showing American force capturing al Qaeda leader Anas al-Libi. Now, he's the man accused of playing a role in the embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania in 1988. "The Washington Post" first obtained this footage from a close circuit camera.

And here's what you're looking at. Al Libi arrives at his family's home in Tripoli, October 5th, for early morning prayers. And as you can see what happened, another white car, a white van and another car box him out. And al-Libi pulled from his car so quickly he doesn't have time to put it in park. We can rerack that for you.

You can see the car roll away as commandos speed away. So, it's just literally lying in wait. Al-Libi was interrogated then aboard a Navy ship and brought to New York to face terrorist charges.

Well, things happen on live television. It's not pain free. Just ask KTLA anchor Sam Rubin, who mixed up Samuel Jackson with Lawrence Fishburne during an on-air interview.


SAM RUBIN, KTLA: Did you get a lot of reaction with that Super Bowl commercial?

SAMUEL JACKSON, ACTOR: What Super Bowl commercial?

RUBIN: Oh, you know what. My mistake.

JACKSON: You're as crazy as the people on Twitter. I'm not Lawrence Fishburne.

RUBIN: That's my fault. I know that. That was my fault. My mistake.

JACKSON: We don't all look alike. We're all-black and famous but we don't look alike.

RUBIN: I'm guilty.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He thought you were Bob Dylan.

JACKSON: You're an entertainment reporter? You're an entertainment reporter for this. You don't know the difference between me and Lawrence Fishburne.


BURNETT: Rubin later explained what happened.

RUBIN: I indicated to Samuel that I've seen him during the Super Bowl and he thought I confused him with the commercial Lawrence Fishburne had done for a car company. Of course, Captain America ad also ran during the Super Bowl but I felt so dumb. He gave me the shellacking that was well-deserved.


BURNETT: Now, Rubin did go on to say he's really embarrassed and apologized to Jackson and anyone else who was offended.

Well, prosecution rests in the case of Michael Dunn. That's the man accused of killing 17-year-old Jordan Davis, who was a black teenager. Police say he was unarmed and killed over playing loud music.

This was a dramatic ending to the state's case this morning. Prosecutors brought out Davis' shirt, tank top and boxers for the jury to see, with gunshot holes clearly visible. These shots according to the prosecution were premeditated. They said Dunn deliberately had to put more than six pounds of pressure on the trigger every time he fired one of the shots.

But the defense brought forth their own witnesses. Family and friends who claim Dunn is not a violent man.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you aware of Mr. Dunn's reputation for peacefulness?


BEVERLY BERRY, FRIEND OF MICHAEL DUNN: Never have I observed anything other than a very calm demeanor.

RANDY BERRY, FRIEND OF MICHAEL DUNN: I've always thought he was a gentleman. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: Similar words are also being used to describe Davis, a young man we still know little about. Trayvon became a household name, Trayvon and the hoodie.

Our Martin Savidge is OUTFRONT with more on his story, the 17-year-old whose life is cut short.


MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Sitting in her son's bedroom, Lucia McBath reads from a journal she started soon after 17- year-old Jordan Davis was killed.

LUCIA MCBATH, JORDAN DAVIS' MOTHER: Every where I turn, Jordan, I see you. I keep remembering all the things we used to do and all the places we used to go.

SAVIDGE: You pretty quickly realize we are eavesdropping on a conversation between a heartbroken mother and the child she can no longer see.

MCBATH: I need the country to know you and our God. Help me and your father to make the changes necessary to make our world a little bit safer. I don't want anyone else to die.

SAVIDGE: In the shorthand of news, Davis is simply the black teen shot and killed by a white man allegedly over loud music. That's how he died. Not who he was.

RON DAVIS, JORDAN DAVIS' FATHER: He was athletic. He liked sports. He played a little base bubble.

MCBATH: Humorous. Fun loving. Jokester. Full of a lot of understanding and wisdom.

SAVIDGE: Due to medical issues, his parents feared they would never have children. The came Jordan, named for the river of biblical fame.

MCBATH: Jordan was raised definitely on a strong spiritual foundation, and I had -- we had him in private Christian school for a few years until fourth grade. Then pulled him out and I home schooled him from fourth grade to eighth grade.

SAVIDGE: He wasn't perfect. Jordan's grades and attitude seemed to take a turn for the worse as an early teen. So, he went to live with dad in Jacksonville. Some tough love turned him around. He began talking about joining the military, becoming a marine. Mom says friends naturally followed him. He liked that.

MCBATH: He was always wanted to be the first. Always wanted to be leader.

SAVIDGE: That is now all in the past.

Back in Jordan's room, Lucia confesses to occasionally wearing his prized Air Jordans.

MCBATH: I know this kind of silly, but it just kind of makes me feel like he was with me.

SAVIDGE: The only thing she cherishes more is a photo taken on an early Christmas gift Jordan begged to have, an iPad.

MCBATH: This was actually the night before he was murdered. In his bedroom in Jacksonville with his friend. This was the very last picture we have of him.


SAVIDGE: This was probably the most difficult day of the trial for the family because it was the medical examiner that took the stand. You have the graphic images, you have the bloody clothes, you have this very clinical description by a doctor describing how your child dies. For the parents, it was too much. They had to leave the courtroom before they listen to all of that. It was the first time they were not in court since this trial begun.

Tomorrow, Michael Dunn himself may take the stand -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Martin, thank you. I want to bring in Trayvon Martin's family attorney, Benjamin Crump, and criminal defense attorney Janet Johnson.

And, Ben, let me start with you. You know, I'm just thinking -- you know, in the Trayvon martin case he quickly became a first name across the country. The president, you know, said if I had a son, he would look like Trayvon. And yet -- now, frankly, as Martin said Jordan Davis gets referred to as the black teenager shot by the white hand.

And I'm wondering if you see parallels between these cases. I mean, part of the reason Trayvon became a household name was people like you who went out and told his story and made sure people knew about him. Do you think that Jordan Davis should also be known like that?

BENJAMIN CRUMP, ATTORNEY: I think all our children should have a value and respect because their lives mattered. Remember, Erin, at the beginning, nobody was saying Trayvon as a household name. In fact, it was easily going to be swept under the rug if it wasn't young people who said I could be Trayvon. What's ironic is Jordan Davis took a photograph with him in a hoodie to show support for Trayvon.

No way he could have imagined, you know, months later that he would be killed and his killer would say stand your ground, and it's just so tragic on so many levels.

BURNETT: And, Janet, let me ask you. A lot of this case in terms of the stand your ground defense rests on this one issue, which is why Michael Dunn would have shot Jordan Davis and shot some times. And as you heard the prosecution say, every time, you had to put six pounds of pressure on that trigger in order for the bullets of which they were saying today 10.

How can that be self-defense?

JANET JOHNSON, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, that may be answered tomorrow. The defense is proposing to put on an expert in acute stress disorder and I think that expert might address that when you're under stress, adrenaline might take over and might shoot more times than are necessary to what we would think.

That may or may not come in tomorrow because Angela Corey is objecting to that witness. She's actually deposing him tonight and the judge will decide tomorrow whether that comes in. That could be a crucial piece of information that the jury is going to be asking for answer to. Why did he shoot some times?


And, Ben, what's your take on that question? Because -- I mean, do you in your mind think there's any way the jury could exonerate Michael Dunn? I mean, do you -- what do you think? Is it possible, Ben?

CRUMP: Well, you know, we thought in Trayvon's case it was clear cut and we certainly think this is even more clear cut because there are three live witnesses left.

The troubling thing is just like the killer Trayvon Martin, the killer of Jordan Davis, they put themselves in harm's way. And, you know, Trayvon's killer could have stayed in the car and drove away. Jordan Davis's killer could have stayed in the car and drove away.

And that's tragedy because if you reversed the roles, you have Trayvon's killers, his killer, and you have Jordan's killer, nobody would be saying whether it was first degree murder or not, and that's the most troubling thing as an officer of the court to look at these double standards.

BURNETT: Double standards because of race?

CRUMP: Well, certainly nobody can deny the fact of race in these cases.

BURNETT: Janet, let me ask you, because when it comes down to what's going to happen here to Mr. Dunn, the defense called a character witness for him, his son. His son named Chris. He told the jury his father was in a good mood at his wedding, which was just before the shooting.

And I want to play what he said when he was cross-examined because this is something that if he is exonerated, it's going to rest upon these personal character -- you know, these people vouching for his personal character.

And here's how the exchange went.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How many times did you see your father Michael Dunn in the last 15 years prior to your wedding?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Three times. Total?

DUNN: Yes, ma'am.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is it fair to say you didn't know your father very well prior to having him at your wedding?

DUNN: Yes. Yes, it is.


BURNETT: So, Janet, that's who they are going to as a character witness. Yes, it's his son, but he said it's fair to say I didn't know my father very well. I've seen him three times in 15 years.

Is that the best they have, are you worried?

JOHNSON: Well, and his ex-wife as well. And she wasn't giving a stellar recommendation. I think that's one of the reasons Dunn has to testify because the jury is going to think this is bad character that came out as well. What kind of dad doesn't see his son in eight years and I think he's going to have to take the stand tomorrow and explain that, explain why he didn't tell anyone he saw the gun. I think he is going to have to testify, which is a very difficult thing for a defense attorney to sit through, having his client on the stand.

BURNETT: All right. Well, thanks very much to both of you. And as Martin reported, if he does testify, that will likely happen tomorrow. We'll continue to cover that case, but we did want to give you a chance tonight to know a little bit about Jordan Davis.

Still to come, should the Obama administration use a drone kill an American, if this American happened to be involved in al Qaeda? But is it a slippery slope? Would you do it at all?

And mutt stuff at the Westminster dog show. Did any of them win? Jeanne Moos is coming up.


BURNETT: An American citizen may soon be in the crosshairs, according to senior U.S. be officials. The Obama administration is considering a drone strike to kill an American citizen overseas who is involved with al Qaeda and suspected of plotting attacks against the U.S.

Now, we don't know who the suspected terrorist is or where he -- we assume it's he, could e a she, he is living. But lethal military force can only be use when there is proof of imminent danger against U.S. citizens, and there's no chance of capturing them.

OUTFRONT tonight, General Spider Marks, CNN military analyst, with deeper operational and combat experience with drones. I know you've been in the room when these decisions are made. But let me just start off with this first of all. What's your point of view? Should this be something that the U.S. does, by the way? We've done it before.

GEN. SPIDER MARKS, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Erin, we should. That's a capability that the United States has. It should be kept in a discussion as an option to go after folks like this. And individuals, again, the discussion becomes very legal whether they are a U.S. citizen or not where they are located and what their activities are. So, you get in the discussion of levels of detail in terms of intelligence.

But the short answer is: yes, it needs to remain in the discussion as a capability to be used.

BURNETT: So, all right. So, the president in that big speech he made about drones, it was kind of a lot of pomp and circumstance and then nothing sense. So, he said killing an American with a drone strike is unconstitutional without due process but he did justify drone strikes.

Let me just ask you, because you've been in the room when decisions are made on whether to strike somebody, right? And tell me who is in the room. There's lawyers in the room.

I mean, how does that qualify satisfying due process?

MARKS: Well, the definition of due process has to be provided by a lawyer. But having been involved in discussions on the use of unmanned aerial vehicles, drones, and in terms of their capabilities to strike or not strike, there's always legal representation in the room and the operational commander at various levels that makes the go/no go decision.

So, lawyers are talking to not only the intel guys, but also the guys that ultimately give the decision on pulling the trigger. So, there is a legal determination. And wrapped around all of this, Erin, is a discussion of collateral damage. That is who else is potentially going to be damaged or hurt as a result of this discussion or this strike.

BURNETT: There's also the fact and people have laughed at this point, but to me, it's very important. That is if you're going to have a conversation about whether it's OK to kill an American who happens to be overseas, who is plotting attacks against America, suppose that person was sitting in Des Moines or in Washington, D.C., all of a sudden people go oh, that would be ridiculous. We would never do it.

Intellectually, it's the same person plotting the same thing. If we would kill them with the drone overseas, it would only be intellectually consistent to be willing to do it on American soil.

MARKS: My answer to that is, why not? You are exactly correct. In fact, go back to 1996 with Timothy McVeigh and the Murrah Building in Oklahoma City, and the great tragedy that occurred in that. Here's -- let's assume for a second that drone technology existed. It did not in sufficient precision and detail back then. But let's assume intelligence was known about McVeigh, his rental truck was en route to Murrah Building, we knew and positively identified he was in the vehicle, it was ready to explode and it was moving in the direction of the Murrah Building.

Why wouldn't we have used a drone to go after that thing instead of putting a bunch of law enforcement folks at risk to stop that building -- I mean, to stop that vehicle?


MARKS: It would have made perfect sense to use a drone.

BURNETT: And we'll leave everyone with that because it makes people think about that. I know public opinion is still against strikes on American soil but, again, there's an example and it would be intellectually consistent.

Thanks to you, General. It's good to talk to you.

MARKS: Sure, Erin. Thank you.

BURNETT: Well, the use of drones in the United States is not yet widespread or common just yet, but there are cities across this country that are already testing the latest technology. Grand Forks, North Dakota is one of them. And that's where our Kyung Lah went OUTFRONT for a behind a scenes look at the future of what drones are really going to do in this country.


KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The icy plains of Grand Forks, North Dakota. Not exactly a place most of us think of as cutting-edge until you look up. That's the southern of an unmanned aircraft system or UAS, or what many of us refer to as a drone. By propeller, on wings, sometimes catapulted into the sky, they hum daily high in Grand Forks' skies.

The sheriff's department has deployed four of its UASes to help bust a sex predator and search for a man who went missing in this flood. Deputies deploy their UASes along choppers and found the truck though the driver had died.

Drones fighting street crime? Delivering your packages? Not a flight of fancy, says North Dakota, one of six FAA test sites for unmanned test craft systems.

(on camera): Has the future of UAS technology already arrived here?

ROBERT BECKLUND, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, NORTHERN PLAINS UAS TEST SITE: Here, yes. We're as far out in front of the nation as it can be.

LAH: And it's continuing to race ahead, says executive director Robert Becklund. Part of the reason is Grand Forks is home to the U.S. military base that houses the predator drone. The explosion in drone technology is now meeting a commercial craving -- to deliver to your front door.

But here's the challenge. When this beer company jokily showed off its home made beer drone, the FAA grounded it, because it hasn't figured out how to fly drones safely amid all the other flying objects in our airspace.

BECKLUND: When the Wright Brothers making airplanes, they had no idea how they were going to be used in the future. Same thing with unmanned aircraft.

LAH (on camera): The technology is undeniably cool. But here's where some people are getting cold feet about it. It's small. It's relatively stealth. You can easily attach a camera to it.

(voice-over): That camera which in many cases stream hi-def video live to the controller raises huge privacy concerns. During testing, pilots here must post signs, so you're on notice. Not that we could find any locals worried about it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't think they're, you know, hovering in my backyard or anything, looking to my window.

LAH: Privacy won't stop the inevitable, say this University of North Dakota aerospace student. Among the first in the country getting a degree in UAS piloting.

JACOB MANLOVE, UND AEROSPACE STUDENT: I see this as probably the same sort of revolution that happened when the jet engine was invented. It's going to change aviation and the rest of the world that much.

LAH: Kyung Lah, CNN, Grand Forks, North Dakota.


BURNETT: That is the future, looking at that little buzzer.

Still to come, for the first time in more than 100 years, this is a major, major milestone. And this is what it is. Mutts, which are better than all purebreds, are allowed at the Westminster dog show. How did that happen? Yes, I was editorializing there. But they are better.

Jeanne Moos is next.


BURNETT: For the first time in more than a century, the Westminster dog show welcomed mutts into the mix. So, how did they do?

Here's Jeanne Moos.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Finally, mutts are back at Westminster. At least they're allowed in Westminster's new agility competition that takes place before the main event.

How do you separate the purebreds from the mutts?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Neither one of them is a mutt.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She's an Australian shepherd.



MOOS: A mere question was enough to offend a purebred Border Collie.

Out of 225 dogs competing on the agility course, only 15 were mutts.


MOOS: Meet Sadie from Connecticut.


MOOS: And though some of the mutts accidentally went around jumps, or seemed to be slow running the weave poles. Still, even the purebreds messed up, this one had to do a do-over, but once again the poles near the end appeared to be distracting.

The winner of the agility champ was Kelso, the purebred Border Collie, a husky mix named Roo, won for highest scoring mixed breed.

They don't use the word mutt around here.

(on camera): Does Woody have in anything against mutts?


MOOS (voice-over): The purebreds competing without mutts were blissfully unaware of any breed warfare.

PETA accuses of Westminster of promoting a master race.

Don't tell that to the masters.

(on camera): (INAUDIBLE) just my worse.

(voice-over): At least mutts don't have to deal with much tongue twisting names.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Portuguese Podengo Pequeno. MOOS (on camera): Now, say it fast five times.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We call them pods.

MOOS: It's enough to make a blood hound cover his ears about.

(on camera): What's his wing span?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm not sure, he's never been measured.

MOOS (voice-over): His grandfather made the Guinness Book for having the longest ears on the dog. The right one was almost 14 inches.

But will Westminster ever hear of allowing mutts to have the equivalent on best in show?

(on camera): What about best in mutts?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Got to have a standard about.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think they better keep it on the view.

MOOS (voice-over): The view awards the coveted fire hydrant to best mutt in show. Some at Westminster don't see breeds. They don't see anything. They seem to be holding invisible dogs as they practice their own run through the agility course. And when it comes to best announcer, we're putting our money on Woody.

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


BURNETT: What was he doing to that mic.

Thanks very much for watching.

"AC360" starts now with John Berman.