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Extreme Weather Threatening July 4th; Congress for Sale?; Fight for Iraq; Israel Striking Back against Hamas; Standoff at the Border over Immigration; Toddler Left in Hot Car; Accident or Murder?; Boarding School Teenage Suicide; Who Killed the McStay Family?; Team USA Knocked Out of World Cup

Aired July 1, 2014 - 20:00   ET


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone. John Berman here, in for Anderson. And breaking news tonight, late-word on tropical storm Arthur, gaining strength for a run from Florida to Maine.

Also tonight, what the folks here did to make it harder for you to find out about their first class junkets. Just when you thought congressional approval ratings couldn't drop any lower.

Plus, one of America's least reliable friends going into the Iraq war resurfaces. And just like then, he wants to run the country. The question tonight, is Ahmed Chalabi doing this to administration what he did to the last?

We do begin, though, with the breaking news. Tropical Storm Arthur, the first of the season, to predicted to become the first hurricane of the season, too, and the path it is on could send it straight into Sandy territory right up the eastern seaboard.

Seconds ago, the National Weather Service released an update on the storm and where it's headed. So let's get down to Atlanta and Chad Myers crunching the numbers for us.

Chad, so how big is this Arthur and where is it going?

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Earlier today, it was nothing. It was 35 miles per hour. Now the Hurricane Center's latest forecast says by the 4th of July around 2:00, a 90-mile per hour still category one but on the border of that.

There is the storm. Much more menacing this hour, John. And we've had over the rest of the day, although the radar is not that impressive, that's because the radar doesn't go that far. Satellite looks down, radar looks out, by the time the radar gets there, a lot of the rainfall is actually on the other side, can't see it. But -- some of these showers are all the way to Tampa and Sarasota. One of the outer bands. Now we'll get many, many more outer bands as the storm moves to the north.

The biggest threat with this storm will be the rip currents. All the way up the East Coast as the wind that pushes waves on shore, the water is going to pile up at the beach and it's going to run away from the beach and you don't want to be in that water when it runs away.

Day by day, Thursday, tomorrow afternoon 2:00, and even -- Thursday afternoon we start to move this thing up. So Wednesday, Thursday, and then finally into Friday, right through Nags Head, and that right there is a 90-mile-per-hour storm.

If you can wait, wait a day, and wait for it to get here, Saturday and Sunday it's long gone. It's in Halifax. It's in Atlantic Canada, but people are going to get impatient and they're going to want to get to their beach vacation. And I'm kind of saying no, don't do it. You can't get in the water anyway. The tidal current, the rip tides here will take you away at 30 to 45 miles per hour.

I know they say swim away from them. I was caught in one rip current. Tell you what, it's tough. You don't think about that. All you want to do is get back to shore. The water comes over the sand bars, comes right to where you are, you're playing in this water then the rip current breaks through the sand bar, and all that water runs away and if you're in it, you're in trouble.

Nobody in the water if you don't have to. If you do have to get out, please, please wear a life jacket. It's going to be that dangerous in the water this week.

BERMAN: Yes. Good advice. And again this is all up and down the East Coast for the next several days.


BERMAN: Chad Myers, thanks so much.

MYERS: You're welcome.

BERMAN: Now, "Keeping Them Honest," how lawmakers in Washington quietly, very quietly acted to make "Keeping Them Honest" a whole lot harder. Ordinarily our elected representatives turn nearly everything they do into a press release or a photo op, but not this time. No one wants their fingerprints on this one. A move that so to speak sheds darkness, not light on those overseas fact-finding trips that lawmakers seem to love. The kind that take them to exotic places with big money interest groups picking up the tab.

Let's get more now from justice correspondent Pamela Brown.


PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Members of Congress have had the travel bug for years. Visiting places like the Old City in Jerusalem to get a sense of the age-old problems there. In fact, Israel, France, Turkey and Ireland rank among the most popular destinations for lawmakers who are traveling there for free because private sponsors pick up the tab totaling millions of dollars each year.

It used to be each member of Congress must reveal who paid their tab on their personal financial disclosure forms. One of the most high profile forms lawmakers must file. Now that requirement has changed.

MELANIE SLOAN, EXEC. DIR., CITIZEN FOR RESPONSIBILITY AND ETHICS IN WASHINGTON: It's clearly been done to allow members to escape accountability for lavish trips. Whenever a member of Congress takes an expensive trip, watchdog groups and their constituents ask questions, why did they need to take this trip? And if they don't have to reveal this trip on their financial disclosure forms, people won't know about it.

BROWN: Buried on page 35 in the House Ethics Committee's Guidelines provided to Congress members, states the change, meaning the gift of travel regardless of its dollar value and paid for by a private source, does not need to be reported.

The unpublicized change went unnoticed until a reporter with the "National Journal" spotted it. The chairman of the House Transparency Caucus says that's part of the problem.

REP. MIKE QUIGLEY (D), ILLINOIS: I only know what I read in the newspapers. I did not know this had taken place.

BROWN: Now Congress members must disclose all their travel records to the clerk's office instead. The House Ethics Committee says the information is still easily accessible and the change streamlines the process.

Congressman Quigley disagrees.

QUIGLEY: A wise Supreme Court justice said that sunshine is the best disinfectant. It doesn't hurt us to be duplicative. I think it helps us at a time when trust in Congress is at an all-time low to be as open and accountable as possibly we can.

BROWN: The trips in question are financed by private non-profit groups usually billed as fact-finding missions. House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi is speaking out about the change in a statement asking the House Ethics Committee to reverse course.

"While the committee's aim was to simplify the disclosure process, Congress must always move in the direction of more disclosure, not less," she says.


BROWN: And in a statement the Ethics Committee tells CNN that it, "continues to enforce the requirement that all House members and staff who wish to accept privately sponsored travel must continue to receive prior approval and file detailed paperwork about any such trip within 15 days. Neither of those requirements have been changed or diluted in any way."

And John, the committee is committed to effective and efficient public disclosure, according to the Ethics Committee in this statement that it provided to CNN.

BERMAN: You know, Pamela, we always complain about the lack of bipartisanship in Washington, and I suppose that the good news here is a bipartisan shrouding of disclosure and fact-finding here by the Ethics Committee.

Explain to our viewers who this committee is. You know, we have the names and the pictures right now. We're going to put them up on the screen right now. This is a rare committee because it works differently than the others in Congress.

BROWN: No, that's absolutely right, John. So there are 10 members of the House Ethics Committee and it is the only standing committee that is split evenly among Republicans and Democrats. Now we don't know how each member voted in this case because those votes are kept secret but we do know there has to be a majority for a vote to pass and that means that members of both parties would have had to have signed off on this requirement change -- John.

BERMAN: As I said, a bipartisan shrouding going on here.

Pamela Brown, thanks so much.

I want to bring in Peter Schweizer, the president of the Government Accountability Institute. He joins me live right now.

Peter, you know, you're an expert in this type of thing. How concerning is this move? This change in the dead of night to you?

PETER SCHWEIZER, PRESIDENT, GOVERNMENT ACCOUNTABILITY INSTITUTE: Well, it's just another example of how Congress is operating. You talked about it. You've got this bipartisan shrouding. This is one of the few areas that we seem to get both political parties to cooperate on, and that is limiting the access that people have to information on who is trying to influence them, who is giving them favors.

But the second problem is this notion that the emphasis is entirely on their own convenience. The rationale that they're giving for changing this disclosure requirement is it's more convenient for them.

Now we don't want them to do unnecessary paperwork, but, you know, John, when was the last time they tried to make government forms for us more convenient? To me, it's just an example of Congress being detached from the very real concern that people have about ethics in Washington.

BERMAN: And to be clear as you were saying, they still have to disclose this type of information. They have to disclose it in fewer places, one place rather than two and for reporters, it's not the place that we usually look for this information so it is harder to get. Isn't that the issue here?

SCHWEIZER: That's exactly right. You have to really know where to look for it. In other words, you have to go to the House Ethics Web site. You can search for it. But what it does, really, John, is it depersonalizes it.

Look, the reason that people are sponsoring trips for powerful members of Congress on certain committees is they want to influence them. They want access, they want time with them. They want to give them a nice trip because they're hoping that they will courie favor.

If that's not on their personal financial disclosure form but it's instead on this sort of data base on this Web site that you've got to know about to find, it depersonalizes it and for voters who are interested in understanding what perks or favors are being done for members of Congress, it really makes it difficult to find and if we are going to have self-governance in this country, we need to have voters that can access that kind of information easily.

BERMAN: And knowing is all voters really want here because there are legitimate reasons to go on trips like this. Congress people can work together which is always a good thing. They can learn more about the issues they're covering, which is always a good thing.

The flip side of that, though, is when you get these Jack Abramoff situations. Everyone always remembers him, the lobbyist, who eventually indicted, served time in prison for, among other things, bribing public officials. Is that the concern here?

SCHWEIZER: I think it's the combination of things. I mean, certainly you have special interest whether they are corporations, labor unions, trade associations, that will funnel money to, say, a non-profit organization, which is the legitimate entity that will funnel money to, say, a non-profit organization, which is the legitimate entity that can, you know, sponsor a trip like this that they can interest them.

But I think it's not just sort of the extreme cases like the Abramoff case. I think just this is sort of the currency of how Washington works. And that is, members of Congress, I think it's human nature, are going to feel more beholden to somebody who has given their family or themselves a nice trip to, say, Europe or Asia. It's just the nature of the way human beings operate, and especially if they get more face time with them. So it's part of the influence industry. We're all realistic and recognize that it takes place. But it's got to be disclosed and it's got to be accessible in an easy way where voters and reporters can find it.

BERMAN: All right. Peter Schweizer, maybe they will change this decision. They do have that chance. Appreciate you being with us.

A quick reminder, make sure you can set your DVR whenever you can, watch 360 whenever you'd like. And go do that right now.

Just ahead for us, Ahmed Chalabi, one of the most widely disgraced, discredited, divisive figures in the Iraq war, he bamboozled Washington once, now he's trying to become Iraq's prime minister. And as you will soon see, some in Washington think that wouldn't be so bad.

And later, more breaking news. The fight over immigration spilling out into the streets of one small town, protesters block buses carrying undocumented immigrants.

We will tell you where it happened and what happens next.


BERMAN: So here is a saying for you. Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice, welcome to Washington. Welcome to America's longstanding bipartisan trouble distinguishing global friend from foe from out-and- out con artist.

Whether it's South Vietnamese despots, Pakistani dictators, Vladimir Putin's soul -- wherever that is -- American presidents Democrat and Republican have embraced them all only to regret it later.

The Bush administration launched the Iraq war in part on bogus intelligence from one Ahmed Chalabi, who wanted to be prime minister of Iraq. He still does. And now many believe he is conning Washington again.

Here is Brian Todd.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He had President Bush's ear, was a guest at the State of the Union address. He relentlessly campaigned for America to throw Saddam Hussein out under the premise that Iraq had the world's deadliest weapons.

AHMED CHALABI, IRAQI NATIONAL CONGRESS: I believe the U.S. will find Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. They certainly found the software. We've been talking to many of the scientists who were involved in these programs and they confirmed the manufacture of those weapons.

TODD: Ahmed Chalabi's pronouncements and the intelligence he fed to U.S. officials influenced the Bush administration's decision to invade.

And the information was spectacularly bogus. Now Chalabi is being talked about as a senior contender to replace Nuri al-Maliki as Iraq's prime minister. The very idea brings back bad memories for some American observers.

MICHAEL O'HANLON, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: This is a crazy world and I can't really believe this is a good leader for Iraq. On every single issue he was either dishonest, self-promoting or, you know, vengeful towards his previous enemies, and I just saw nothing good in the man.

TODD: Chalabi had American military and political leaders thinking the Iraq war would be a cake walk. Later he was accused of tipping the Iranians off to American intelligence secrets and effectively banned from the U.S. embassy in Baghdad. He denied the claims. Before the war, Chalabi was convicted and sentenced in a massive bank fraud case in Jordan and escaped to London.

(On camera): The questions about Chalabi's credibility are serious enough but in this contorted political climate in Iraq, there are also serious concerns over how effective he would be as prime minister. (Voice-over): During the war Chalabi who's Shia headed up the effort

to push top Sunni leaders out of their jobs but despite that a spokesman for popular Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr told us, Sadr's followers, a key bloc in Iraq's parliament, believe Chalabi is a viable candidate who can work with Sunnis and unite the government.

James Jeffrey, a former U.S. ambassador to Iraq likes Chalabi, calls him courageous, and says in the current spiral of violence, there aren't great alternatives.

JAMES JEFFREY, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO IRAQ: Iraq is disintegrating before our eyes. This is a total emergency situation. The only way out of this thing and there's only limited chances of that is for Iraq to find a replacement to Prime Minister Maliki. If he's the lowest common denominator, let it be, let's give this guy a chance.

TODD: How does the Obama administration feel about Ahmed Chalabi possibly becoming Iraq's next leader? The White House and the State Department says it's not the role of the U.S. to support any candidate.

Our efforts to get Ahmed Chalabi himself to comment for this story were not successful.

Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.


BERMAN: So as you heard Brian mentioned there, keeping track of Ahmed Chalabi who spent decades in and out of the shadows, is no easy job. Investigative journalist Aram Roston has done it better than most. He currently writes for "BuzzFeed" and has authored perhaps the book on Mr. Chalabi, "The Man Who Pushed America to War: The Extraordinary Life, Adventures and Obsessions of Ahmed Chalabi."

Aram, I got to say, you know, I was there for the invasion when U.S. troops were looking for weapons of mass destruction. I was there after the invasion when there were no weapons of mass destruction. I was there a year later when U.S. forces were part of a raid on Chalabi's home because they no longer trust d the guy. And now 10 years later, he's in the mix to be prime minister? It's dumbfounding.

ADAM ROSTON, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER, BUZZFEED: It is dumbfounding. But he's an astonishing fellow. He's got drive that most people can't even fathom.

BERMAN: You know, it seems like he's not particularly well-liked or trusted in the U.S. anymore. He's not particularly well-liked or trusted in Iraq. So how is it that he -- you know, he's got one seat. His party has got one seat in the parliament and it's his. So how does he positioned himself to perhaps be the next prime minister?

ROSTON: Well, I don't think the -- the U.S. is almost irrelevant in -- right now in this process that they're using to choose a prime minister. Virtually everybody except for Nuri al-Maliki wants to replace Nuri al-Maliki. There is this wide consensus that -- to change prime ministers there but he won the most votes. He won the plurality of votes.

Chalabi has positioned himself the way he always did but is brilliant, brilliant horse-trading he does. He's able to form these alliances with people he once fought with, with former enemies and he's brought them into his camp. And he really has -- it's astonishing to me, too, because I wasn't really -- I wasn't prepared to believe it. But now I do.

He's convinced some Sunni leaders that he's a consensus candidate and that he's overcome his previous antipathy to the Baathists and to the Sunnis. And he's convinced the Kurds to support him -- some Kurds to support him. So his trick will be can he built up enough seats in parliament to support him as prime minister? And then of course there's the issue that you dealt with in the piece, would he -- would he make any difference? Could he be a leader? Is he -- is anything he said believable and all that?

BERMAN: You know, Aram, a lot of times with Ahmed Chalabi you worry that a lot of the spin or the stories about him are coming from him. Is he spinning this notion that he's a viable candidate? You just said you actually believe it could happen.

ROSTON: I'm not saying he's a great candidate but I believe he is doing a good job at gathering support. Even by -- from some Sunni leaders, I mean, as we wrote in "BuzzFeed," he has got some Sunni support, limited Sunni support, but some people believe he's just some sort of consensus candidate. Now he has no constituents in the streets -- in the streets of Iraq. When there have been votes, when there have been elections where there is a popular vote, he's won less than 1 percent of the popular vote.

So he -- somehow but he's got the support of the Sadrs. We all remember Muqtada al-Sadr, whose troops fought the Americans. He's got the support of other Sunni-Shiite clerics. And he has some limited support from Sunnis. And so it's odd to be somebody looking at this sort of political process in Iraq and judging it from here. But there are some who believe he's one of the very few credible candidates because there are so few. It's almost as if who else could it be?

BERMAN: Perhaps the least bad option in politics that often wins.

ROSTON: Right.

BERMAN: Aram Roston, great to have you with us, really appreciate it.

ROSTON: Thank you.

BERMAN: As always, you can find out more about this and many other stories on I encourage you to take a look.

Next for us, another part of that region erupting. Israel launching dozens of air strikes pledging to make Hamas pay. Hamas issuing warnings of its own. The question now how far will each side go?

And later, what we are learning tonight about the mother of that toddler who was left to die in a hot car, that and what we expect to learn from the father's court hearing. That's coming up.


BERMAN: Tensions extremely high between Israel and Hamas tonight with more airstrikes overnight in Gaza, amid increasing calls for revenge after three Israeli teenagers were found dead. Hamas has denied it is behind the abductions. Still, airstrikes have been stepped up. The Israeli military saying it is responding to rockets being fired from Gaza.

Funerals for three teens were held today. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is promising that the teenagers' deaths will be avenged. That the people involved in their kidnapping-murder will bear the consequences.

Their bodies were found yesterday nearly three weeks after they were abducted while hitchhiking home from school in the West Bank.

Senior international correspondent Ben Wedeman joins me tonight from Hebron.

And, Ben, what's the latest on the Israeli troop movements?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it seems to be a fairly quiet night so far, John. There are Israeli operations in various parts of the West Bank but in fact nothing out of the ordinary. There have been no airstrikes so far this evening according to the Israeli military. However, there is a security cabinet meeting on going. By my account it's now going more than five hours and 15 minutes.

Before that meeting, we heard the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu saying that Israel is sort of following three lines of action at the moment they are pursuing the kidnappers, the killers of those three teenagers. They are cracking down on the infrastructure of Hamas in the West Bank. And he said they will operate against Hamas in Gaza. But until that security cabinet meeting concludes, we probably won't have a clear idea of sort of -- what Israel's next step is -- John.

BERMAN: What's the goal of the action against Hamas? Is it merely to avenge the deaths of these three teenagers to split Hamas from the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank or was it to destabilize the Hamas regime in Gaza?

WEDEMAN: Well, Prime Minister Netanyahu has made it clear from the beginning of this drama on the 12th of June that the operation in the West Bank was aimed at two things -- finding the teenagers, punishing their captors and cracking down on Hamas, which he's made clear held completely responsible.

As far as Gaza is concerned, the question is what will Israel do next? Let's keep in mind, John, that in late 2008, early 2009 Israel conducted a three-week offensive against Hamas in Gaza and in November 2012 a shorter offensive against Hamas in Gaza, but Gaza remains in control and some Israeli officials are beginning to say perhaps Hamas cannot be budged from Gaza and the worry is, if you were to remove Hamas, who takes its place?

BERMAN: All right. Ben Wedeman, across the -- West Bank tonight. Stay safe, Ben. Appreciate it.

Back home, we do have some breaking news to tell you about. A standoff in Southern California over immigration. Protesters blocking three buses carrying undocumented families heading for an immigration processing facility forcing the bus to back off.

Stephanie Elam is there. She joins us now.

Stephanie, give us a sense of what exactly happened there today and the buses filled with these people. Where are they now?

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right, John. It was an interesting scene to watch play out here. Early in the morning there were some protesters already lined up on the street outside of this facility, which is usually held here to house people who are smugglers or caught on the nearby interstate but they changed it over to process these 140 undocumented migrants who were coming in actually from Texas and flown this morning here to the San Diego area and then bussed out of here to Marietta, California.

These protesters lined the streets with signs saying "no illegals," "send them back," "impeach Obama," all these kind of signs. And when the three buses with these migrants were approaching the facility, they crowded in the street and it became a very heated yelling match as some people who were supporting the people on the buses saying this is a humanitarian issue as they are fleeing what's going on in their countries and violence there, and others saying we don't need any more people here taking our jobs. This is something I actually heard.

Right now we know that the buses went back, it backed down the street eventually when they saw they weren't going to get through. They took them to another facility in Chula Vista about an hour and a half away from here as well. We understand that they are being fed there. But more than likely, they believe that they will likely make their way back here. The question is and what we don't know is when they're going to come back -- John.

BERMAN: All right. This is of course the backdrop for the discussions or lack of discussions on immigration reform in Washington.

Stephanie Elam, thanks so much for that. Appreciate it.

There is a lot more happening tonight. Susan Hendricks has the "360 Bulletin" -- Susan.

SUSAN HENDRICKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John, a federal judge has ruled Kentucky's ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional. But gay and lesbian couples won't be able to tie the knot just yet. First an appeals court will rule on the matter since the state plans to fight that decision.

And the deadly Ebola virus is surging in West Africa. The World Health Organization now reporting 759 cases including 469 deaths in Guinea, Sierra Leone and also Liberia. The director of operations for Doctors Without Borders is warning the epidemic is out of control.

Want to tell you about a strange scene at Wimbledon. Serena Williams appeared disoriented and had trouble playing in a doubles match with her sister Venus. The five-time Wimbledon champ withdrew from the competition due to a viral illness.

And in case you didn't see, the U.S. is out of the World Cup after losing to Belgium 2-1 but if you looked at the highlights Tim Howard, you would think the U.S. ran away with it. It truly was truly amazing.

And John, you're going to talk with Chris Cuomo who's there in Brazil on the site to get firsthand account of what he saw there.

BERMAN: Belgium. Belgium.


BERMAN: All right.

HENDRICKS: How dare they?

BERMAN: Susan Hendricks, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

Sure enough. Coming up for us, another story that's really captivated the nation. Will a father stay in jail for allegedly murdering his son by leaving the son in a hot car? A judge in Georgia will decide this week. Meanwhile, we are learning more about both parents.

Also ahead, an entire family vanishes only to be found later in shallow graves in the desert. The lingering questions years after they disappear -- what really happened to the McStays? A CNN Special Report with Randi Kaye coming up.


BERMAN: A hearing later this week will decide whether there is enough evidence to keep a man in jail. A man charged with murder in the death of his 22-month-old son.

Justin Harris left his soon Cooper in a hot car for seven hours while he went to work. He's pleaded not guilty.

Martin Savidge joins me now live from Marietta, Georgia, with the latest.

Martin, I know you continue to look into both of the parents. What more have you learned tonight about Cooper's mother?

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Leanna Harris, this came up as a result of the revelation that she apparently made to authorities that she, too, like her husband, had been researching on the Internet about the possibility of a child dying in a very hot car and of course, remember, it was when the father admitted that to authorities that jaws-dropped given the fact that that's exactly what happened.

But now that the mother has admitted that same thing, we want back to authorities to find out well, does that mean that she is under investigation? And authorities pushed back and said no, it means that she is part of the investigation but not under investigation.

By the way, she is a registered dietitian and she is working currently for a kidney care company, a company that provides dialysis care to patients -- John.

BERMAN: All right. The big day we're waiting for is Thursday, a hearing on Thursday and that, Martin, is when we will probably learn new details of what the police investigators think happened.

SAVIDGE: Yes, this is a day that everyone is looking at and believing it's going to be a real ah-ha moment. At least that's the way the authorities are trying painting it behind the scenes. It seems quite clear that just the evidence that's come forward so far is saying that a father has researched on the Internet doesn't seem strong enough to hold him on the charges they've got which is that he killed his son in some way deliberately.

So what is going to come forward, we expect this to be motive. It's going to look like a trial. There will be a judge, he'll be weighing the evidence. You'll have the lead investigators that will be taking the stand. There will be the chance for the defense to cross-examine. So we expect the bones of the case to be laid out including motive and we also expect that at some point they'll discuss the issue of bond. We don't know whether it will be granted but I am sure the defense will ask for it.

One last thing I should point out, John. Many people have said, you know, if the prosecution feels this case is so strong, why are they doing this probable cause hearing? Why not go right to a grand jury?

One argument that's been put forward saying that well, this has been a very public case, a lot of people had thought that the father is being improperly prosecuted this way, early on, the county can put forward why they believe this was not an accident. A grand jury of course acts in secrecy when they indict -- John.

BERMAN: It'd be interesting to see if those facts exist.

All right, Martin Savidge in Marietta, Georgia, thank you so much.


BERMAN: Appreciate it.

Now a 360 follow. A solemn anniversary this week for the family and friends of a young girl in Pennsylvania. A good student who loved kayaking and writing stories. That was in her obituary which ran one year ago after Abbie, just 14 years old, committed suicide.

Abby had struggled with depression but her family says it was the actions of the administrators at her boarding school that pushed her over the edge.

Gary Tuchman reports.


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Abbie Bartels loved where she went to school. The Milton Hershey Boarding School in Hershey, Pennsylvania, a prestigious secondary school in a small town, a school with a $12 billion endowment and a huge picturesque campus. But it wasn't just a school to her. It was a second home.

Julie Bartels is her mother.

JULIE BARTELS, ABBIE'S MOTHER: I was proud of her. She was doing -- she was, you know, honor roll, she was on the anti-bullying committee, she was on the swim team, she would effort in conduct. She made student of the month, she was doing everything she was supposed to do and doing it well.

TUCHMAN: In addition to her mom, the 14-year-old also had a father, stepmother, brothers and a step grandfather, but her father has had trouble with alcohol and the law and medical record showed that as well as other family issues contributed to Abbie getting very depressed. The records indicate Abbie frequently thought about killing herself and that all became relevant because the Hershey school which pride itself on admitting disadvantaged but promising children has a policy that students need to be free of serious emotional and behavioral problems.

In the spring of 2013, the school said Abbie needed to be professionally treated at a mental health institution that does work in conjunction with the school and its students.

BARTELS: They told me that if I did not put her in the institution she would lose her enrollment. And she wanted -- this was -- I mean this was her goal. She wanted to be in this school.

TUCHMAN (on camera): Abbie Bartels had been going to school here since she was 4 years old so she had spent most of her life at this boarding school. She was approaching important and proud milestones. She was about to finish eighth grade. She was about to graduate from middle school.

(Voice-over): On June 5th, 16 days before her graduation day, a psychiatrist at the Full Haven Institution discharged Abbie, declaring she had made good progress but should receive after-care in the supportive environment of the structured support of returning to Milton Hershey School. She did go back to school for two days but had a relapse and was then sent to a different Pennsylvania institution.

Abbie's family was told at the very least she would have to take a leave of absence for a year while she continued treatment. But she was released from that second institution two days before the graduation ceremony. She looked forward to at least being in the audience her graduation and going to a graduation party to see her friends. She missed them all so she had made these cards for each of the girls who lived in her residence hall.

But Abbie's mother was stunned when the school told her Abbie was not invited to either event and Julie Bartels said the school her security would keep them out if they tried to come.

The Milton Hershey School told CNN, "We must balance the goal of keeping a child at the school with the absolute mandate to ensure the safety of all children entrusted to our care." In other words, the school believed Abbie could be a danger to other students.

Abby's stepmother told the 14-year-old the bad news.

KAREN FITZSIMMONS, ABBIE'S STEPMOTHER: And I said the school does not want you to attend graduation because you've been in the hospital.

TUCHMAN: Abbie was devastated. Her mother called the school.

BARTELS: Abbie has been through so much, been through so much. This will be devastating to her. I cannot believe you are doing this. I said, are you a child care professional at all? I said what are you, a bunch of morons?

TUCHMAN: The school did not budge. Eight days after the graduation she wasn't allowed to go to, Abbie's step grandfather was in the house and called Abbie's name. He did not get a response. He walked up to her room and saw her in the closet.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I said oh my god, Abbie, what did you do? And I was kind of waiting for an answer but I knew it wasn't going to come.

TUCHMAN: Abbie was dead. She had hanged herself on the clothing rod in her closet.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I miss her. I wish she was still here.

TUCHMAN: Abbie's family believes the Hershey School made an inhumane decision by barring her from campus on a day she had looked forward to for most of her life.

BARTELS: They crushed her.


TUCHMAN: We wanted to find out why this school couldn't have allowed this child to at the very least say good-bye to her friends she went to school with for nine years. We looked through on the 400 pages of Abbie's medical records given to us by family lawyers after they received them from the school. They did indicate Abbie received quality care by the school and particularly from a school psychologist named Dr. Benjamin Herr. But they also showed no concern that Abbie could be dangerous to any other children.

Last April, Abbie acknowledged putting her arm around a house mate's neck after that house mate complained of aggressive behavior. Abbie told faculty she was playing around. It sounds like it could have been a serious incident but Dr. Herr, the school's own psychologist, downplayed it, writing, "We agree that Abbie is not a malicious girl and did not intend to harm her house mate."

And there is more from Dr. Herr. Two days before the graduation he declared, "Abbie is an excellent student. Abbie is a well-behaved student."

So does this school stand by its decision not to allow Abbie on campus on graduation day?

(On camera): My name is Gary Tuchman with CNN.

(Voice-over): During our visit we were told the school administration did not want to talk on camera but the chief public relations woman at the school sent us written statements which declare in part, "Abbie made clear to us that she wanted to keep her struggles private. Even if this were not the case, school policy and law require that we keep her medical records and details surrounding this tragic situation confidential."

Ric Fouad is one of Abbie's family attorneys and also a graduate at the Milton Hershey School.

RIC FOUAD, ATTORNEY: It's almost as if they went out of their way to be as mean spirited as possible.

FITZSIMMONS: I love her and if she would have just given it some more time that it -- she would have got over what the school denied her.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

TUCHMAN: After Abbie died, a funeral was held on the school grounds. And one of her house parents who lived in her small residence hall gave the eulogy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Her smile conveyed her compassion. She cared for others in a way that I -- I have not seen in many people in my life.

TUCHMAN: And this school, which did not permit Abbie to go to the graduation did permit her to be buried in the Hershey school section of the local cemetery.

Gary Tuchman, CNN, Hershey, Pennsylvania.


BERMAN: Anyway you cut it, a tragic loss for that family.

Coming up for us, four years after an entire family disappeared, investigators still trying to find out why. Is this a missing person's mystery that turned into a murder mystery?

And later, we're going to go to Brazil where the USA was knocked out of the World Cup just a short time ago. Belgium.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BERMAN: Tonight Randi Kaye has a special report that will air on CNN right after this program. It is a fascinating and heartbreaking look at the mystery of a missing family that turned into a murder mystery.

The McStay family was last seen alive more than four years ago. Their remains were found just about eight months ago in shallow graves in the Mojave Desert. Investigators have not named any suspects in this case and for the man who lost a son, a daughter-in-law and two grandchildren, the questions are overwhelming.

Here is Randi Kaye with a preview of tonight's special.


PATRICK MCSTAY, FATHER OF JOSEPH MCSTAY: From day one, I just had this gut feeling that I was never going to see them again. I just -- I just knew. Something told me I wasn't going to see them again.

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Four years ago, Patrick McStay lost everything he loved. Four years ago, his son Joseph, daughter-in-law Summer, and their two little boys, 4-year-old Gianni and 3-year-old Joseph Jr. vanished.

MCSTAY: I don't think they knew what was coming. I really don't.

KAYE (on camera): How did you find out that they had gone missing?

MCSTAY: Friday I tried calling him. Couldn't get him. Sunday I tried calling, I couldn't reach him. Now I'm getting a little worried.

KAYE (voice-over): Worried since Patrick says he rarely went a day without a phone call from his son.

MCSTAY: Every time I talk to him, the last words out of my mouth before we hang up the phone is, I love you, son.

KAYE (on camera): If he was in trouble and had the ability to reach out to you, do you think he would have called you? Don't you think he would have?

MCSTAY: Absolutely.

STEPH WATTS, FREELANCE INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALIST: This case is unique. I've never seen anything like it.

KAYE (voice-over): Freelance investigative journalist Steph Watts has followed the case closely from the beginning.

WATTS: They just literally disappeared and nobody noticed. For days.

KAYE: Thursday, February 4th, 2010 began as an ordinary day in the McStay home.

MCSTAY: That morning I spoke to Joey on the phone.

KAYE (on camera): But he didn't let on anything was wrong?

MCSTAY: No. Nothing was wrong. No, everything is fine.

WATTS: He was planning on having a lunch meeting with a business associate around noon so he had to quickly wrap up and get out of the house.

KAYE (voice-over): Summer spent the day caring for the kids, overseeing their home renovation.

(On camera): Did they have any plans for that weekend?

MCSTAY: Yes, they had little Joey's birthday party scheduled for that Saturday, the 6th.


KAYE (voice-over): But little Joey Jr. never made it to his third birthday party.


BERMAN: That is so sad to see the pictures of that family, this family of four, killed. You know, why do investigators think they left the house so suddenly?

KAYE: Well, they're not really clear just yet, John, to be honest with you. I mean, they know that they left in a hurry. There is absolutely no question about that. They left eggs sitting on the counter, they left bowls of popcorn right in front of the TV sets, sitting on the futon, and their beloved dogs which they really considered part of the family. They left him tied up outside in the backyard.

They never would have done that unless they left so suddenly. And here is the problem, the sheriff's department from the San Diego Sheriff's Department, they didn't enter the home until 15 days after this family disappeared.


KAYE: They didn't get a warrant to go inside that home in all that time. And in that time other people, other family members entered the home. Joseph McStay's mother went in there with her other son Michael. And she cleaned the counters. She put away the eggs that were rotting and threw some of them out. She threw away the dirty diapers she told. And she actually wiped down the counters. So who knows how much evidence was lost in all that time.

BERMAN: So many leads that may have been there. Where do they think they might have gone at first?

KAYE: Well, at first, the San Diego Sheriff's Department, which was the first to investigate this case, thought for sure they went to Mexico. And here's why. They did -- they took a look at their computer at home and they found searches for paperwork that you would need to get your children into Mexico. They also found the family's Isuzu Trooper which was the last car to leave their home the night that they disappeared. They found that parked right near the Mexico border.

But this was the key, they got the security camera video from the border and they saw a family of four that looked very similar to the McStays, but even though some of the family members said, you know, Joseph didn't walk like that, the kids didn't look like that, Summer never wore her hair up, that was wife in the case. So there was some question about whether or not it was really them but the investigators in San Diego really focused on the fact that it was.

And Patrick McStay, the father who you saw in that piece, he said, you know, no way was it them. Summer would never have taken her kids to Mexico. She didn't like Mexico. They left their surf boards at home. If they were going to Mexico, why would they have done that. And meanwhile their remains were found more than 100 miles north of their home, far north from the border.

BERMAN: What an amazing story. What an amazing tragedy.

Randi Kaye, thanks so much.

Stay tuned for the CNN special report "BURIED SECRETS, WHO MURDERED THE MCSTAY FAMILY" at 9:00 Eastern and Pacific right here on CNN. And it is gripping.

Next for us tonight, the World Cup heartbreaker for Team USA. That is where it happens. That was the site of the heartbreak. We will take you to Brazil when 360 continues.


BERMAN: The U.S. World Cup run is over. As we mentioned earlier, Team USA lost 2-1 in a nail-biter against Belgium. Belgium.

Our own Chris Cuomo was in the stadium. Chris joins us tonight from Brazil.

And Chris, this was an absolutely amazing game. A devastating game. But I get the sense that you, who are in the stadium, leave without a heavy heart or heavy peck in your case.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR, NEW DAY: That's exactly true, John Berman, and as you might notice, I have a 1 on my chest, and there are four reasons for the 1. And here's why. One, it's the number of goals we scored. That sucks.


But it's also the number of unity and I believe that the country is more together than ever. It's also representative of one nation, one team, and for me that's the takeaway of the World Cup is that the U.S. soccer team has captured the hearts of the country the way it never had before and lastly, it is the number of Tim Howard. And as you well know, as a soccer fan, this was the stuff of history he did tonight, not just the numbers, 16 saves, and I think that's low, but how he did it.

Many of the shots were against men who were unguarded. He did it with hard shots. He did it in critical moments. He is the man and I believe he is the personification of the team. He's big, he is bold, he is strong, and he's about commitment, respect.

BERMAN: He played out of his mind, and the key, as you mentioned, is he didn't give up. And the team didn't give up. They fell behind 2-0 in the overtime, and I think everyone in the world thought this game was over, it was cooked. Then they came back and scored a goal.

Julian Green, 20 years old, his first touch, he buries one in the net. They just would not quit and that counts for something.

CUOMO: I think it counts for a lot. I think that the team should leave bitter because they could have won. Yes, without Thomas it could have been 4-nil as well in regular time but they missed opportunities. Their big guys didn't show up in critical moments so they should be bitter and that's good because that shows they felt they could have been in it. But I think the game off the field is way more important.

Sport is often metaphor, John. You know, you've talked about that brilliantly many times in the past. The impact on the folks at home, there in the U.S., they're watching, their thoughts about soccer, the feelings about the culture, much bigger than one game and the World Cup as far as I'm concerned.

BERMAN: It was. What a game it was. Soccer here in the United States I think to stay.

Chris Cuomo, great to have you with us from Brazil. Really appreciate it.

CUOMO: You're number one, John.

BERMAN: Thank you. That was the fifth reason you're wearing the number one.

That does it for us tonight. We'll see you again at 11:00 Eastern for another edition of 360. The CNN special report "BURIED SECRETS, WHO MURDERED THE MCSTAY FAMILY" starts right now.