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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Congress for Sale; Cold Temperatures Create Ice Up To Three Feet Thick In U.S. Waterways; U.S. Warns Russia: No Provocative Actions; New Arizona Uproar; Do Men Have A Biological Clock?
Aired February 27, 2014 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone. You have to see it to believe it. Lawmakers and lobbyists at swanky resorts. And you better believe money is changing hands. We'll tell you about weekend fundraising getaways that may be legal but they sure smell funny if you think that votes should matter more than dollars.
Also tonight, President Obama making it personal speaking about the obstacles that young men of color face. And the mistakes that he made in his own life. Going to talk about his new initiative for turning at-risk kids into achievers and his decision to really bare part of his soul.
Later we'll take you where lakes and rivers are freezing, rising and dangerously on the move.
We begin tonight with a truly outrageous new installment of our "Keeping Them Honest" series "Congress for Sale."
In Washington we all know access is power. Money buys access. And access can be bought just about every weekend of the year. This is what you may be don't realize because nearly every weekend including this past one politicians serve it up retail, inviting lobbyists and other influence seekers to fundraising getaways at posh resorts. Ski vacations, spa resorts.
Lawmakers in both parties do it, Republicans and Democrats, including some who tell voters just the opposite. Lawmakers who are actually on the record saying they are fighting the good fight against lobbying. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MIKE LEE (R), UTAH: We need a new corporate tax code and regulatory system to eliminate lobbyist loopholes and giveaways. Level the playing field between businesses, big and small, and foster a dynamic globally competitive private sector.
The left today no longer represents the little guy, but rather the crony clients of the ever expanding special interest state. Progressives have become the party of Wall Street, K Street and Pennsylvania Avenue. We must become the party of Main Street everywhere.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: K Street, by the way, what he's talking about, that's where a lot of the lobbyists are in Washington. That's Utah Tea Party Republican Senator Mike Lee.
"Keeping Them Honest," though, when he's not publicly crusading against lobbyists, guess what? He's privately asking them for money.
Drew Griffin tonight caught him at it. Take a look.
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's 8:00 a.m. in Snow Bird, Utah. And that early gondola heading up the mountain an hour before the slopes of this luxury resort even open is filled with lobbyists. But not just lobbyists. Utah Senator Mike Lee is here, too. In fact, it's his Political Action Committee hosting a fundraising ski getaway.
Cold weather not your thing? Tee off at San Diego's Torrey Pines Golf Course. It's a fundraising for California Democrat Congressman Juan Vargas. Teeing off at the 9:40 tee time his special guest, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer.
For a Washington, D.C. lobbyist, this is the world of unlimited access. Political fundraising junkets leave D.C. every weekend. They meet at luxury resorts where lobbyists schmooze, drink booze, dine slope side, and get one lobbyist told CNN is the most valuable access you could have.
Critics say it's the epitome of pay-to-play politics. And surprisingly, less than a month ago, the senator having this slope side lunch with lobbyists was one of those critics.
This is Senator Mike Lee giving the Tea Party State of the Union response, chastising the business as usual that goes on in Washington.
LEE: Critics might push back and argue that my own party has been part of the problem. Too often joining the Democrats to rig our economy to benefit the well connected at the expense of the disconnected. I know because I'm one of those critics.
GRIFFIN (on camera): You won't find many of the disconnected here. Lobbyists have paid as much as $5,000 for the opportunity of a ski weekend with Senator Mike Lee. Ski with the senator, eat lunch with the senator, Apre ski drinks with the senator. All part of the well- connected crowd.
(Voice-over): Shortly after this slope side lunch for 22 friends, we decided to ask Senator Mike Lee just why he's doing this.
(On camera): Just want to ask you why they're so important? I mean, you're not the only guy that does these?
LEE: Yes. I didn't really consent to an interview right now I don't think. GRIFFIN: Well, I'm just wondering if we could ask you a few questions about why you have these -- in general why you have these kind of weekends for the lobbyists.
LEE: Politicians raise funds. And this is what we do.
GRIFFIN: Do you like to do it? You spoke so eloquently about the disconnected not being represented? I just wonder if you like this.
LEE: I enjoy skiing. Thank you very much.
GRIFFIN: You enjoy skiing?
LEE: Yes. Thanks a lot.
GRIFFIN (voice-over): It may have been an uncomfortable moment but in that brief interview, the truth. They're supposed to legislate, but this is what politicians do -- constantly raise funds. And according to one who did it, many do hate it.
TIM WERTH, FORMER CONGRESSMAN AND SENATOR: Their job in the Congress is now only two days a week at most. You know, it's a part-time job. The full-time job is raising money. So they're out raising money.
GRIFFIN: Former U.S. congressman and senator, Tim Werth of Colorado, got out of public office more than 20 years ago because he saw then what's only gotten worse. He says right now if you want to stay in office, stay in power, stay here, only one thing matters, money.
WERTH: A lot of people up on Capitol Hill know that it's very poisonous. It's very corruptive to your system. So I left. That was 20 years ago. And that was kid's play compared to what goes on now.
GRIFFIN: And according to Werth, as long as politicians need money they will sell the one thing every lobbyist wants on Capitol Hill -- access. A cycle that creates government decisions, says Werth, driven by special interests, especially the interests who can pay the price politicians demand.
(On camera): What is the language? Are we talking about political extortion?
WERTH: We are. I mean, extortion is one part of it. You know, bankruptcy is another part of it. Getting paid for political outcomes, you know, is a way of describing it. It's basically corrupt. And it is legalized corruption. And people aren't going to say that. They will recoil when you say it. But it's true.
GRIFFIN (voice-over): And if you're looking for any change from within Washington, Werth says forget it. There's too much money to be made and too much access to be sold, which this weekend includes a spring training trip to Florida, a spa weekend in Mississippi, or if you'd like, skiing in Alaska.
(END VIDEOTAPE) COOPER: Drew, that was an awesome report. And I -- before we even move on, I've just got to go back to that interview with Mike Lee. Did he actually put his hand up like saying he didn't consent to an interview in a public space?
GRIFFIN: Yes, he was coming out of a lunch. And obviously, Anderson, he had no idea we were there. Caught off guard maybe for a moment and forgot that he was indeed a public official. But then he did take his hand down and at least ask -- answer a question.
COOPER: And it was amazing, I mean, his answer, this is what we do. This is what politicians do. I mean, that's actually quite true.
GRIFFIN: Anderson, this is what politicians do. This is what they're doing all the time. And as we started to look into this reporting that we've done, there are fundraisers as we've reported on your show almost every morning in Washington, D.C. It's how you start the day.
COOPER: So you can go to a spa with one of these senators or Congress people?
GRIFFIN: You can pick your spa sometimes. Some weekends you can pick which spa you want to go to, pick which party you want to go to the spa with the. It is crazy.
COOPER: And what's one thing, I mean, Mike Lee to have done this right after, you know, making, as you said, this eloquent talk during the State of the Union, his response to the State of the Union about the, you know, politically connected and he's a critic of that kind of system.
I mean, wasn't all this traveling with lobbyists and paid trip, wasn't that supposed to stop years ago with the law basically banning gifts from lobbyists?
GRIFFIN: The new law back in 2007 was that draining of the swamp legislation that we heard about. Basically banning all sorts of these gifts, travel, even meals from lobbyists to politicians, Anderson. I remember after that was passed I couldn't even buy a cup of coffee for somebody on Capitol Hill.
But there is a loophole. And here's the loophole. Instead of lobbyists supplying the gifts, politicians through their Political Action Committees essentially supply the gifts which can be purchased for the cost of a donation. So politicians are now taking the lobbyists on trips and making them pay for the privilege.
It is ridiculous. And in the end, many think the change is designed to drain that swamp only made that swamp deeper and a lot worse.
COOPER: I mean, this is just -- we got to do more on this stuff because it's just unbelievable to actually see it all play out. And you said this happens every weekend basically.
Drew Griffin reporting. Thanks, Drew.
You can read about Drew's yearlong "Keeping Them Honest" series on big money and influence in Washington on our Web site at ac360.com.
You know, what's really interesting about that as I was tweeting about this just a short time ago, and a lot of people responded back saying well, this isn't really new information. What's the big deal about this? The fact that yes, this isn't new information but the fact that you catch these people in the act and the fact that people just think this is business as usual and that it's not a big deal is pretty stunning. It's really -- it says something about where things are in D.C.
Let us know what you think. You can follow me on Twitter @andersoncooper. Tweet using #ac360.
Coming up next tonight, President Obama unveiling a new plan to help young men of color revealed a lot today about the young man he says he was.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I could see myself in these young men. And the only difference is that I grew up in an environment that was a little bit more forgiving.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: And later on tonight, the ice cometh. We're going to take you where the flooding arrives -- take a look at this. The flooding arrives in frozen form. It's a frozen river moving fast. We'll be right back.
COOPER: Remarkable moments at the White House today. President Obama who's got a reputation fairly or not for being cool, cerebral, even emotionally detached at times, he was none of the above. Instead, he was emotional, passionate, and deeply personal speaking from the heart about a subject so obviously close to his own and central to his identity.
Surrounded by promising young men of color, community and business leaders, the parents of Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis, Magic Johnson, former New York Mike Bloomberg and others, the president unveiled a new public-private initiative called My Brother's Keeper and $200 million of seed money from nine foundations to bring business, nonprofits and local government together to try to help young black and Hispanic men stay in school and get good jobs.
Now in laying it out, the president recounted the story that he recently told a gathering of at-risk school kids in Chicago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: And when it was my turn, I explained to them that when I was their age I was a lot like them. I didn't have a dad in the house. And I was angry about it, even though I didn't necessarily realize it at the time. I made bad choices. I got high without always thinking about the harm that it could do.
I didn't always take school as seriously as I should have. I made excuses. Sometimes I sold myself short. And I remember when I was saying this -- Chris, you may remember this -- after I was finished the guy sitting next to me said, are you talking about you?
I said yes. And the point was, I could see myself in these young men. And the only difference is that I grew up in an environment that was a little bit more forgiving. So when I made a mistake, the consequences were not as severe. I had people who encouraged me, not just my mom and grandparents but wonderful teachers and community leaders. And they pushed me to work hard and study hard and make the most of myself.
And if I didn't listen, they said it again. And if I didn't listen, they said it a third time. And they would give me second chances and third chances. They never gave up on me. And so I didn't give up on myself.
I told these young men my story then, and I repeat it now because I firmly believe that every child deserves the same chances that I had.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Quite a moment at the White House today. The question now, what to make of it and the initiative and the president's decision to make this so deeply personal.
Joining us "New York Times" op-ed columnist and CNN political commentator Charles Blow recently met with the president, also CNN commentator Michaela Angela Davis and Reverend Kevin Johnson of the Bright Hope Baptist Church in Philadelphia.
Charles, let me start off with you. You met with the president talking about this in an off-the-record meeting. What's your understanding of what this actually means? This initiative?
CHARLES BLOW, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, first, I think it's very personal to him. I think he -- it's a very sincere effort on his part. I think that he really feels that this is an area where he would really like to make a difference. And he's both now and -- I mean you also have to remember it's a very young president. He's going to have a very long career --
COOPER: This is something he plans to have the focus of his life after he leaves the White House.
BLOW: I believe -- I believe that it is something he plans to start now and probably commit the rest of his life to doing. And it is that kind of a personal passion for him.
COOPER: Do you think he's focusing on issues in the black community more or feels empowered to do that or desiring to do that more now as the end of -- you know, as he -- the end of his second term is in sight?
BLOW: I think I would use the word feels more free to do it. I think the president in general focused on niche parts of the populations. So the president has made a big part of his presidency focusing on women's issues, whether they be health or pay, equal pay issues, gay rights issues and getting rid of DOMA, "Don't Ask Don't Tell."
He's gone out of his way to make sure that he kind of engages with particular communities to say, I understand you. I feel your pain.
BLOW: And I want to help you. And I think that now -- but he -- there may have been some aversion to doing that --
BLOW: In the race question because it's already complicated with his presidency. But now I think that it's getting to a point where he feels so stymied on other bigger issues that he cannot get around to things that he says will --
COOPER: Reverend Johnson, you wrote an op-ed last year where you said President Obama, and I quote, "was a president for everyone except black people."
Do his actions today in your opinion change certainly how you feel?
REV. KEVIN JOHNSON, BRIGHT HOPE BAPTIST CHURCH: Well, I've always loved the president. I think he's doing an outstanding job. And even today when I looked at the fact that he had those persons of color around him, the young men and the fact that he has begun this initiative, it says to me that the president really not only cares about these young men but he cares about America.
When you look at the present industrial complex and the fact that the overwhelming majority of them are black and Hispanic young men, the fact that the president would be so bold today to use his bully pulpit to talk about this important initiative that really not only helps to improve our communities but helps to improve the American society.
COOPER: Well, that's -- then that's an important point, Reverend and Michaela. I mean, to think -- it's kind of limiting to think of this as something which is, you know, just for African-American males or people of color. This is something for America. I mean, if people in this community do better, and, you know, then we all do better.
MICHAELA ANGELA DAVIS, CNN COMMENTATOR: And I think that's what was so profound about what he talked about today. He really had some connectedness, that this affects us all and that we are all our brother's keeper. And I think what's also significant, he's got two 19-year-old martyrs on his watch during his -- you know, his time as president. He's got Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis. So it probably made this idea more urgent. Like something really profound happened during his --
COOPER: And he talked about Trayvon Martin.
COOPER: And I want to play that for our viewers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: That's why, in the aftermath of the Trayvon Martin verdict, with all the emotions and controversy that it sparked, I spoke about the need to bolster and reinforce our young men and give them the sense that their country cares about them and values them and is willing to invest in them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: And, Michaela, in your (INAUDIBLE), this is something people are still trying to wrestle with and heal from.
DAVIS: My goodness, yes, I was talking to Charles backstage this. I said, this felt like a bit of an exhale. After the Jordan Davis trial, it was almost too much.
DAVIS: Like we've been walking around with a bit of sobered and then so heavy and so heartbroken and so enraged, everything that he said that we should be feeling, a part of the community has been feeling for almost too long. So this moment was almost turned the light on. Like there's a little we do see you and that also that he's getting other men to be accountable for boys and boys' issues was also very powerful because you were thinking, where are all the men? Like where are they?
DAVIS: And who's paying attention to our boys? So just changing the conversation could start -- could start a healing process.
COOPER: Charles, I mean, to Michaela's point who's paying attention, that this not even a story that is even covered on a regular basis, a kind of on a nightly news. That it doesn't make headlines the obstacles facing many people of color in many parts of the United States.
BLOW: Only it does -- only it does -- but it doesn't make it in the obvious kind of straightforward racial way. So that's what you call like the invisible structural racism issues. It was very important what the president said. And people shouldn't look past it. He had structures, supportive structures in place.
COOPER: So are you skeptical about this program that he's talking about?
BLOW: I'm not skeptical about the program. I think they're going to try to flesh it out, they have a task force, they're going to try to figure out which programs around the world -- around country work, which ones they think they can scale up. But I think that many of those programs focus on personal character traits, which is, you know, you have a deficit of hope and a surplus of hurdles.
And so they try to deal with the hope is part of it. And they say let's build you up, build this character up because you have all these hurdles to deal with. I say let's do both things as once. You have to deal with the structural problems, all the things that we say that are not really getting covered but they are. Because, you know, if somebody is predatory lending for mortgages and that's disproportionally black people, that is structural racism.
That is a structural violence against the black family, against the black community, against black men. Every one of those things, whether it be mass incarceration or drug -- you know, disproportionate drug arrests or any of that, violence in schools or suspensions of black boys, in particular, higher ratio wise.
All that is a structural violence against those boys. And they happen to endure that from the time they are born into the time they leave this planet.
COOPER: Sorry you got --
BLOW: No, I'm just saying, so we have to look at -- we have to look at those and call those out for what they are and say, we have to deal with all of those, both what the boys need to do differently but what we need to do differently as a society.
COOPER: I also want to bring in Boyce Watkins, he's the founder of yourblackworld.com.
Boyce, some people in the African-American community already obviously on board with this announcement. Do you feel like that is smart or are you hesitant?
BOYCE WATKINS, FOUNDER, YOURBLACKWORLD.COM: You know, I grade it the way I grade my student in my class. No matter what your grade was before, good or bad, I'm going to evaluate you solely on your performance. So I think with this program I think it's in the category of better late than never as Professor Michael Fontleroy might say.
I think that we have to go deeper into this issue and not sort of look at this as a scenario where we have to lift up black men and make them better more productive people. I mean, that's certainly important. But at the same time we have to realize we live in a society where in some neighborhoods it's easier for a black man to get a gun than it is for him to get an education. We have to realize that there are systemic factors in mass incarceration and other things that are doing -- that are systemically destroying black families all across America. And so I think as president of the United States, I think this program can be amazing, it can be extraordinary.
But my -- my question to the president would be, you've got allies, you've got friends in Chicago like father Michael Flagler who are out there fighting this battle every single day. Not just for glory, not just to get votes but because he actually cares.
Are you giving him the resources he needs to keep doing what he's doing? Because if you want to learn how to plant flowers you should go talk to the gardener and help him buy more seeds. So what are the resources being put into this program? That's one of the next questions I would ask.
COOPER: Reverend Johnson, the people -- the president also talked today about high unemployment rate for African-American men, about 12 percent compared to 5 percent for white men. I just want to play that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: And the worst part is, we've become numb to these statistics. We're not surprised by them. We take them as the norm. We just assume this is an in inevitable part of American life instead of the outrage that it is.
That's how you think about it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: And I guess, Reverend, that was my -- what I was trying to say to Charles not very eloquently about how this doesn't even get covered. This is not a headline, the difference in the unemployment rate. These -- people are not yelling at the top of their lungs about this as we all should.
JOHNSON: When I was a student at Morehouse College, I read a book by Ralph Ellison called "Invisible Man" and really what the president did today is that he brought to the forefront the cries of young men who are incarcerated. When you look at the juvenile rate at how many of the African-American men are being sent to prison, how many of the young people are gone on a prison trajectory but also not able to get jobs, I am just elated.
I'm excited at the fact that the president, instead of us being invisible, he brought us to the forefront and he is helping to light a torch that hopefully that torch will be taken to the cities of Philadelphia, taken to the cities of Atlanta, New York, and everywhere else so that we can light this lamp.
You know, I'm a preacher so I got to say it. We've got to let our light shine. And I thank God for the president for moving forward today.
COOPER: Preach it. Reverend, thank you very much.
COOPER: Reverend Johnson, thank you. Boyce Watkins, Michael Angela Davis, Charles Blow, I appreciate it all.
Because this is such a rich conversation we're devoting an hour to it later tonight. It's called "My Brother's Keeper," Don Lemon's special report. You can see it right here at 11:00 p.m. Eastern Time on CNN.
Also as always for still more on this story and others you can go to CNN.com.
Coming up, rising tension in Ukraine. Armed men seize a government building, raise the Russian flag. A direct challenge to Ukraine's new leaders. And there's a lot of Russian troops on the border you should know about as well.
Also extreme weather here at home. Massive dangerous ice. Take a look at this. That is an ice river rushing down what should just be a regular river. Our Gary Tuchman is in the middle of the nasty conditions. His report next.
COOPER: Well, the deep freeze that has settled over parts of the country is creating some dangerous, but frankly fascinating conditions in U.S. water ways. They are called ice jams and they are just one of the hallmarks of this winter that just won't seem to quit. Frigid temperatures in the Midwest and northeast, downpours in Louisiana and out west possibly mudslide and flooding in the forecast. A lot to get to. Let's start with the frozen Midwest. Gary Tuchman joins me now live from Wilmington, Illinois -Gary.
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, this is the Kankakee River. Below me the currents continue to flow. Below me the trout and walleye and carp and catfish continue to swim. But on my level that I'm on right now, this is a scene you would hope to see if you took an Alaskan cruise. It is very beautiful. It's also very dangerous.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There it goes.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): This is what communities across the Midwest and parts of the northeast fear. A frozen river jammed with ice suddenly breaks free. The fast-moving water and ice sweep up everything in its path. Inundating whatever is downstream. The arctic temperatures that continue to grip much of the nation are creating ice up to three feet thick in many waterways.
Already backed-up rivers broke their banks in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Indiana. And experts worry these few instances are just a taste of what's to come. Here in Kankakee County, Illinois, there is a serious concern about bridges.
(on camera): This is the warner bridge that spans the Kankakee River. It's an important structure because the closest other bridge to here is about a 30-minute drive away. But you can walk in the middle of it with no cars. It's been shut down, engineers are very concerned about its integrity. Take a look over here at river.
It looks like the ice age is returned. The ice is getting so high that county engineers say it could imperil this bridge. When you see ice boulders like this in Alaska or Northern Canada, it's often ice that's been around for eons. These boulders have been here for a few days.
Have you ever seen anything like this before?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nothing close. Just bizarre.
TUCHMAN: Ice jams occur when large chunks of ice in rivers become trapped in shallow water or against structures like bridges. The National Weather Service says ice jams cause damage in many parts of the country each year, costing upwards of $125 million.
The Army Corps of Engineers monitors the ice regularly and will sometimes use explosives to break apart the ice. From overflowing ice to a deluge of rain, downpours in Louisiana not dampening spirits in the big easy. For Mardi Gras, parade routes are lined with mud rather than beer and beads.
(voice-over): And in water-starved California, much-needed rain is causing major headaches on the roadways. A one-two punch as a series of systems will drop up to 8 inches of rain, bringing drought relief but also bringing fears of flooding and mudslides. Residents are hoping sandbags will protect vulnerable areas burned out by last month's unusual wildfire.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It burned all the way right down to the garage right here and you can see where the ends of all these trees got hit. Hopefully the storm is not as bad as they say it's supposed to be.
COOPER: So Gary, for the people who live along the river where you are, how much concern are you hearing from them about potential flooding?
TUCHMAN: Best way for me to answer that question is to walk out of the Kankakee River and show you. This river is usually about 15 feet below the house level in this area, but because of the ice it's now the same level where right out of the river now you can see it's already cracking over here a little bit.
You can see this is what's going to happen to all the ice behind me and here's the house right over here. Here's just one of the many houses. So the house is literally 10 feet away from this. So when the weather starts getting warmer, this turns to water and flows into here these people are definitely afraid of what's going to happen.
The forecast, Anderson, is going to stay very cold at least until the end of next week. But then it's supposed to start warming up and that's when the trouble will occur.
COOPER: And amazing to see that the river is usually 15 feet below the house level, but now is pretty much even. Gary, I got to say the gentleman that you interviewed before, that was the most interesting sound bite visual I've ever seen. I was trying to figure out for a while exactly what was going on. I realized that's his beard on the bottom and he has a hat with some sort of thing across his mustache, correct?
TUCHMAN: It was quite a contraption, but anything that will keep you warm, will keep you warm.
COOPER: It was just kind of surprising to see. Gary, appreciate it. Thanks very much. Our best to all the people there whose homes especially are in danger.
Now to the South Ukraine, Crimea where tensions are rising. Today armed men seized the regional parliament building, raised the Russian flag in Ukraine. Just over half of Crimea's population is ethnic Russian. Demonstrations have turned violent between pro and anti- Russian protesters.
This comes obviously a day after Russian troops ordered surprise military exercises on Ukraine's border. About 150,000 troops are taking part. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has warned Russia the U.S. is keeping a sharp eye on the moves.
The concern is that President Putin could be planning some sort of a power grab. Chief national security correspondent, Jim Sciutto joins us now with the latest. Despite these Russian military exercises, troops mobilizing on the border, the Obama administration seems pretty confident Russia will not actually be moving troops into Ukraine, right?
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: That's right. That's the administration's assessment, the Pentagon's assessment that they're not going to act. What's changed in the last 24 hours is that because the Russians have moved these troops. They mobilized these war planes, put them on alert as well. That if President Putin decided he did want to go in, they could move so quickly that the U.S. would not have a chance to react to it.
That's increased the level of nervousness among administration officials. What would the U.S. do in reaction? We're talking really about only diplomatic means, protests, et cetera because the Supreme NATO commander and American General Breedlove says Europe is not planning certainly any military reaction if the Russians were to go in.
COOPER: I mean, it would be a huge deal if they went in obviously. The question is what would happen inside the Ukraine. People there, the country dividing. What about Putin? I mean, I know he spoke to President Obama by phone last week. Otherwise, he hasn't said a lot publicly throughout this, has he?
SCIUTTO: You're right. He's been silent in every way, but in actions, right, because these actions are provocative. Mobilizing these troops, you have exercises starting tomorrow, putting war planes on alert. That's how he's sending his message now. That's what's led to this counter message that's come from administration officials today. You heard it from Chuck Hagel, John Kerry, saying very publicly and very sternly, don't do anything that can be misinterpreted.
Don't go into the country, but it's interesting. Do they trust Putin? That's a question. John Kerry was asked that question today and his answer was very interesting. He said, listen, he has made these assurances. And in Kerry's words those assurances have quote, "some value." It's not exactly a winning endorsement of the trust that U.S. officials have in President Putin.
COOPER: What about Ukraine's ousted president? I mean, he's still -- whereabouts unknown, right?
SCIUTTO: That's right. He is, but he's made plans to have a press conference tomorrow in Russia. And Russian state media is reporting that he is in fact already in Russia. You know there's been an arrest warrant issued for him in Ukraine, Russian state media saying that Russia has accepted his request for security. But this is something else that John Kerry referred to today.
He said that Vice President Biden has tried to reach him for over the last 12, 24 hours repeatedly. Those calls have gone unanswered, and Biden was speaking to him pretty regularly before then. So he is out there as far as American officials are concerned.
COOPER: All right, Jim Sciutto, thanks very much.
Up next was is racist or just a roast? Tonight, there is some outrage over comments made by an Arizona lawmaker during a roast of Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Critics say his jokes are racist. He used Latinos as the punch line. Sheriff Arpaio says they were, quote, "funny." Hear and decide for yourself.
Also ahead tonight, take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We cannot breathe back here. Go.
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COOPER: Chaos and panic onboard a Delta flight after the cabin started to fill with smoke. How passengers got out and exactly what happened coming up.
COOPER: Welcome. As if lawmakers in the state of Arizona didn't already have enough negative national attention. There is this, it comes from Arizona Republican State's Representative John Cavanaugh. He is actually one of the leading defenders of the now vetoed SB 1062 and took great care to say it was really no big deal.
This weekend as the controversy was heating up Mr. Cavanaugh spoke at a roast for Phoenix's controversial Sheriff Joe Arpaio at the center of Arizona's last controversy over SB 1070, the so-called papers please immigration law. Here is part of what the state representative said at this roast.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm not the federal monitor. How many Hispanics did you pull over on the way over here, Arpaio? Sheriff Joe is the kind of guy that you've got to love as long as you have papers.
Going out with Sheriff Joe is always an adventure because usually when we walk into a restaurant, most of the wait staff and cooks dive out the back window. And when they don't, I never know what the hell's in my food. There's a great one. Get 'em, Sic 'em!
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COOPER: As you might manage those remarks set off a firestorm in the Latino community. We wanted to ask Mr. Cavanaugh what he has to say about it. We invited him on the program of course. He accepted then later he backed out. The invitation stands.
In the meantime, the question remains, is this kind of thing really what Republicans nationally want to be known for out even in Arizona? Joining us CNN political commentator, GOP strategist and fellow at Harvard's Institute of politics, Ana Navarro and CNN correspondent, Ana Cabrera.
So Ana, you actually met up with Sheriff Arpaio today and got reaction from him. What did he have to say?
ANA CABRERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: He graciously send our request for an interview. He answered all our questions. He adamantly defended his friend Representative John Cavanaugh who made the controversial comments and turned the tables, Anderson, and started talking about he feels he has been victimized by what many would consider hate speech. Listen to this.
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CABRERA: And were you laughing? Did you find his roast funny?
SHERIFF JOE ARPAIO, MARICOPA COUNTY, ARIZONA: Well, it was a little funny, yes. But it's not -- it's jokes. It's a roast. It's a little different. Now, there's a double standard around here. Everybody's talk about him. What about all the activists and these civil rights that call me Nazi and Hitler? For four years they've been doing that. On street corners and everywhere else. Where isn't there an uproar about going after me, calling me every name in the book? Why are they worried about just some roast?
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CABRERA: So bottom line, you hear him say he feels that these comments were maybe unfairly picked apart or at the very least maybe people overreacted to the roast. But clearly there are a lot of people who don't agree.
COOPER: Ana, what do you think of this as a Latino, a Republican?
ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Look, Anderson, first of all, I'm beginning to think that the legislature in Arizona has just overspent my outrage level per state quotient. I mean, I don't know who else they can possibly offend at this point. They've offended Latinos. They've offended gays. They've, you know, offended Muslims. It's really ridiculous and yes, there is a double standard.
And that double standard is this, when you are a public official, you are held up to a different standard, a different level of scrutiny. You represent people of all makes and models, colors and ethnicities, and you should have some degree of sensitivity. You are a public servant. You are at the service of the public, which includes all these different types of people.
And so what may be funny to him is certainly not funny to many Latinos like me, and it's not funny because it strikes so true. And because of his record. So I would say, yes, there is a double standard because you have chosen public service. And to put yourself out in the public eye.
If you want to be a comedian, of course, you need some comedic humor and you need some talent if you want to be comedian. But if you want to be a comedian go and do that. If you want to be a public servant, behave accordingly.
COOPER: So Ana, you're saying this is different. If this was a roast for a comedian or whatever, this would still be offensive. But it wouldn't be -- it would be different than it is now with this guy being a public servant.
NAVARRO: Well, it would be different if it wasn't a public servant, and it would be different if it wasn't a public servant that's been accused of racial profiling. Part of the reason why it's offensive is because it strikes so true and so close to the bone.
COOPER: Ana, what did Sheriff Arpaio say about the timing of all of this?
CABRERA: Well, certainly the timing is interesting. Two things we talked about with the timing. He first wanted to get across he doesn't understand why this group, Southern Poverty Law Center, decided to release this video when they did. That roast happened on Saturday. They didn't release the video until just yesterday, which of course was the same day that Arizona Governor Jan Brewer came out and vetoed that bill.
And Arizona was in the national spotlight for another controversy and more talk about discrimination. Now, the other side of all this has to do with the timing and just kind of this ripple effect that's happening and the focus on Arizona that has created in many ways a perception at least from outsiders looking in that Arizona is battling with a culture of divisiveness and perhaps even intolerance. And when he talked about that he just sort of dismissed that idea all together -- Anderson.
COOPER: All right, Ana Cabrera, appreciate it very much. Ana Navarro, always good to have you on. Thanks.
There's a lot more happening tonight. Susan Hendricks has a 360 Bulletin.
SUSAN HENDRICKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, North Korea fired four short range missiles into the E.C. today. This move comes just days after the start of annual joint military exercises between South Korea and the United States. The Pentagon downplayed the incident.
For the first time, video of the Supreme Court in action has been recorded and posted online. It was shot during an oral argument disrupted by a spectator. It's not known how the camera made it past security.
Tonight, we're getting a first look at the terrifying moments inside a Delta jet that filled up with smoke shortly after landing. Take a look.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Leave all your belongings and get off this aircraft! Go, go!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We cannot breathe back here. Go.
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HENDRICKS: The frightening moments there. The regional flight from Los Angeles to Oakland was carrying 75 passengers plus the crew members. Luckily though, Anderson, no one was hurt.
COOPER: That's alarming. Susan, thanks very much.
Just ahead why men who want to have children might want to start paying more attention to their biological clocks. Men's biological clocks. Dr. Sanjay Gupta joins me to explain.
COOPER: Tonight, a new study is raising questions that might surprise you. Should men who want to have kid be paying attention to their biological clocks? The study found that children born to older dads have special problems, bipolar disorder and a range of other psychiatric problems even schizophrenia. Chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta joins us tonight.
Men's biological clock according to the study could be a very real thing.
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I think that's fair to say. In the way that we think about a biological clock, that things change as we get older with regard for having kids. We've known for some time a man's sperm will actually accumulate mutations. Sounds like a weird thing to say. But the body always has various mutations in the younger cells.
When we're younger we are better able to repair those mutations. As we get older the repair mechanisms start to go down and we have more mutations. That's happening in men as in women.
COOPER: External factors, education, income level, mother's age, those didn't seem to matter, I mean, the risks still remain?
GUPTA: Yes. That's what distinguished this study in many ways. It's a large study, over 2 million people who are followed for a long period of time. And in the past, you had this sort of -- this confounding factor. An older man may have accumulated these mutations, but perhaps they were in a socioeconomic position to better care for a child or get the child the types of treatments they may need.
Even if you controlled for that, you still saw some high rates, increasing rates of various things like autism, for example. Three times more likely in a man who had a child after the age of 45 as compared to men between the ages of 20 and 24. Bipolar disorder, 25 times more likely in this particular study.
GUPTA: But it's a good point. Even after you account for the advantages of age, socioeconomic status, maturity, things like that, it still remained.
COOPER: There have been studies before that looked at how the age of a father might affect a child. Nothing this conclusive this, far- reaching, correct?
GUPTA: The thing that was really specific about this study, and I like the study because of it is that what they would compare before were older fathers and younger fathers. What they essentially did in this study, they looked at the same father and instead looked at siblings. So that father may have had a child in his 20s then when he was older had another child.
They were looking at those siblings. Obviously the same genetics, perhaps a similar environment, but they were able to much better control that. And when they looked at those sibling studies, that's when some of these differences really emerged. COOPER: So the bottom line, if you're a guy over the age of 40 years old and you're considering having a child or if you've had one over the age of 40, what do you need to know?
GUPTA: Well, look, first of all the likelihood is it's not going to have any of these things that we talk about whether it's autism, bipolar disorder, even though he increased likelihood is there. The risk is still pretty small.
COOPER: So the majority of dad over 40 will not have any of these things.
GUPTA: Yes. And I think that's the good news. I'm a bit of an older dad myself. So I pay attention to these sorts of studies, but the idea that it will affect any given individual is still pretty small. What I would say from a cultural standpoint we talk a lot about the fact that women in advanced maternal age has become more common, advanced paternal age has become more common as well.
You know, women freeze eggs, for example when they're younger. And men, the idea they would freeze sperm, use sperm banks and things like that, we don't hear about that as much, but talking to some of the study authors and experts in this area, if you're really worried about this that may be an option as well for somebody. That's an interesting idea as we've had children later and later, the impact that we see.
COOPER: Yes. All right, Sanjay, thanks very much. Fascinating stuff.
GUPTA: Thanks, Anderson.
COOPER: We'll be right back.
COOPER: A quick note about our segment on Arizona, State Representative Cavanaugh who would not come on the program has issued a statement. I should have pointed that out. I apologize. You can find it at AC360.com, our Web site.
Also be sure to tune in at 11:00 Eastern tonight for a special report on President Obama's powerful moment today at the White House and the program he unveiled. That report is called "My Brother's Keeper"; it's a Don Lemon special. It's at 11:00.
Thanks for watching. CNN Films presents, "And The Oscar Goes To..." starts now.