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Russia Accuses U.S. of Arming Syrian Rebels; Jamie Dimon Before Congress; Israeli President Shimon Peres Receives the Presidential Medal of Freedom; New York City Passes Legislation to Fight Sex Trafficing; Wife and Girlfriend of Thomas Kinkade Fight Over Assets; Trial of Jeffrey Stern Takes an Odd Turn; Debate Over U.S. Action to Remove Syrian President; Jamie Dimon Apologizes to Congress; Victims of Jerry Sandusky Testify Against Him in Court
Aired June 13, 2012 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CADE BERNSEN, ATTORNEY: And that is why that this story deserves national attention.
Two weeks ago marked the 14-year anniversary of when James Byrd Jr. was dragged to death. Race problems still exist in Jasper. And the national community needs to call for action to prevent this type of stuff.
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: I understand, sir. And we appreciate -- we appreciate you both coming on.
And I just have to reiterate, we have yet to hear the other side of the story. And, again, to the mayor of Jasper, Texas, I would love to have you on the show as well.
Rodney Pearson and Cade Bernsen, gentlemen, thank you.
RODNEY PEARSON, FORMER POLICE CHIEF: Thank you.
BERNSEN: Thank you very much.
BALDWIN: Now this. Top of the hour here. Welcome back.
I'm Brooke Baldwin -- $2 billion gone, poof. Now, as he gets called a crook, the man in charge of J.P. Morgan explains his company's big-time screw-up. But he doesn't stop there -- why Jamie Dimon warns something has got to be done about the economy before November.
You are going to hear everything, but first to this.
The Russians are turning the table on the United States today. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, this is him here on the left side of your screen. Today he is accusing Washington of arming the Syrian rebels. The United States saying, uh-uh, no way.
You may remember about this time yesterday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton slammed the Russians over Syria once again. She accused Moscow of supplying attack helicopters to the Syrian government. The U.S. says the Russians are propping up the Assad regime which yesterday was accused by the United Nations of torturing children in its bid to quash Syria's armed resistance.
Joining us now from Washington, Pentagon correspondent Chris Lawrence.
So, what's going on, this back and forth between the United States and Russia over Syria? This is getting serious.
CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Very serious. Brooke, I mean, the accusations are really flying back and forth now. But when you look at some of the what's coming out of the State Department and the Pentagon, the Russians may be getting slightly mixed messages from the U.S. government. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Our question remains, how can the Russians conscience their continued military sales to Syria?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Russia has been extraordinarily helpful. And we're grateful for the assistance that they have offered with respect to logistics routes in and out of Northern Afghanistan.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LAWRENCE: What he is talking about there is the northern distribution network. And what that means is Afghanistan is landlocked. On one side, you have got a country like Iran, very limited options to get food, supplies in there. And so a lot of that comes through this very winding route through multiple countries and smack dab at the center of it all is Russia and a lot of former Soviet states.
And so NATO and the U.S. is very dependent on that network. They also use Russian helicopters to supply the Afghan forces for their defense. So, that's why you may be hearing a more muted tone coming out of the Pentagon, as opposed to the accusations now flying from the State Department.
BALDWIN: So, Syria's rebels, they are getting weapons. They are getting arms from somewhere. Washington says, it's not us. Where are they coming from?
LAWRENCE: Well, what Washington is saying is that, yes, they have been supplying the rebels in Syria, but with non-lethal aid, things like communication equipment, things like that help them, but they're not directly supplying arms.
What the U.S. is accusing Russia of is continuing to send attack helicopters and arms to Syria's regime. Now, we know that Syria's had a relationship with Russia for quite some time. That's no surprise.
LAWRENCE: And so naturally a lot of the arms that Syria has are Russian-made.
But what the U.S. is now saying is that those supplies continue even after this crackdown. They are accusing Russia of still sending these weapons to Syria.
BALDWIN: Chris Lawrence at the Pentagon, Chris, appreciate it.
The head of J.P. Morgan is on the hot seat after billions in losses at his company. But Jamie Dimon has kept his job, his eight- figure salary and the ability to make another billion-dollar mistake. So says one industry observer who is going to talk to me live about Dimon and the -- quote -- "corporate mugging of America."
Plus, Piers Morgan, he's going to join me live about what exactly happened behind the scenes of Casey Anthony's very first interview since being cleared in her daughter's death. Don't miss that.
BALDWIN: Here's a hypothetical for you.
Say the economy is in a tough spot and you made some bad decisions in the past. So what do you do to get yourself on level ground? Lay low? Try and save a little here and there or you're going to risk it all and either win big or lose big?
J.P. Morgan's CEO went to Capitol Hill to explain why the Wall Street firm took the risky route and lost $2 billion in the process. Jamie Dimon did apologize in front of the Senate hearing, basically says the banks massive loss can be blamed on insufficient risk controls, insufficient risk controls.
I don't know about you. We thought we would get a little help here understanding how exactly $2 billion gets lost before someone pulls the plug.
To help with that is Nomi Prins. She joins me live from Los Angeles. She is also is the author of "It Takes a Pillage: Behind the Bonuses, Bailouts and Backroom Deals From Washington to Wall Street."
So, becoming an author, she worked on Wall Street.
So, first, your take on this testimony today, Jamie Dimon.
NOMI PRINS, AUTHOR, "IT TAKES A PILLAGE: BEHIND THE BONUSES, BAILOUTS AND BACKROOM DEALS FROM WASHINGTON TO WALL STREET": Thanks, Brooke.
Well, basically, the testimony showed a lot of posturing around the notion of regulations, the Volcker rule, what should be a more systemic type of regulation for the banking industry.
And on those answers, Jamie Dimon was trying to help the people, the senators that wanted to have less regulation on the institution and on the industry. The problem with that is the $2 billion loss, which I should point out doesn't matter in the scheme of J.P. Morgan Chase's balance sheet. As it was said, they made $19 billion last year. And Jamie Dimon said throughout the course of his testimony, hey, they made more before they knew they lost the $2 billion.
PRINS: ... don't even know that it's $2 billion.
BALDWIN: Is that just what it is? It's just such a minor chunk of change, Nomi? When we talk $2 billion, have we just become so accustomed to big losses perhaps also that people shrug this off? I'm just curious. It feels like there's a dearth when it comes to outrage.
PRINS: Well, that's the thing. There isn't enough because again the fact that we can look at this as small, which is what I was getting at, is really not the point.
The point is, it could have been bigger. It can be bigger. The game can be bigger. But the fact that the risk is being taken and that it's being taken because this institution and other ones like it has the benefit of a lot of our money, of deposits underlying the risks that they take, that's the problem.
The size, if it's a good day or a bad trading day, that should scare us. A $9 billion win or a $2 billion or $5 billion loss back to back, that is scary.
BALDWIN: Let me play a little exchange. This is from today's hearing, obviously. This is between Senator Bob Menendez and Jamie Dimon. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMIE DIMON, CHAIRMAN, J.P. MORGAN CHASE: When I mentioned the anti-American thing, I was talking about between Dodd-Frank and Basel, things were being skewed against American banks. And we -- American banks can't have preferred stock, like the foreign banks can have. American banks can't do qualified mortgages...
SEN. ROBERT MENENDEZ (D), NEW JERSEY: Did you not specifically say as part of your un-American comment that the requirement for banks to hold money -- more money was un-American?
DIMON: I did not.
MENENDEZ: Well, you know, I would be happy to look at that again. I think you might want to review that.
What your bank has been lobbying extensively against is the very types of protections that at the end of the day can guarantee that the American taxpayer doesn't become responsible. (END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: So to your point there, Nomi, talking about the American taxpayer. But Jamie Dimon says, look, times are tough. Tough for American banks? You agree?
PRINS: American banks have had a tremendous amount of support from the Federal Reserve, from zero interest rate policy. It's Americans, even if we have moneys in deposit accounts, in savings accounts are getting no interest. So, even the ones that can save aren't getting anything on it, whereas banks can take this capital and the deposits and make these risky bets in order to -- and this was the crux behind what Jamie Dimon was just saying in that point -- in order to compete globally.
And his definition of competing globally is to have as few regulations as possible on the U.S. banking system, so that it can do what it wants to globally, which puts not just the U.S. taxpayer and depositor at risk, but the entire international citizenry.
BALDWIN: You use the words pillage and heist. Is that what has happened, that the American taxpayer has been pillaged, our mortgages, our 401(k)s?
PRINS: Yes, our money in all those modes and the fact that we can't retain any interest on our money because of the policy that is supporting the banking system, which is as risky as it is.
Let's not forget the derivatives, the most risky type of thing that the banking system accumulates, is 20 percent higher today, 20 percent higher than it was before the 2008 crisis. So, the risk is inflating.
The pillage or the heist that I talk about from the American people, it's not just the bailout. That is one thing. It's zero interest rate policy that allows the banks to fund these types of transactions, but doesn't funnel through to the American public, not in interest to savings account and not in a lot of mortgage restructuring.
BALDWIN: Nomi Prins, author of "It Takes a Pillage: Behind the Bonuses, Bailouts and Backroom Deals From Washington to Wall Street," Nomi, thank you.
She has been called the most hated woman in America, and she spoke exclusively with Piers Morgan, talking about Casey Anthony, talked to him, told him something he never said to jurors.
Plus, what exactly happened behind the scenes of this interview? How did he land this? Did it get awkward? Piers, he is going to spill the beans next.
BALDWIN: A CNN exclusive: the very first interview with Casey Anthony ever since she was cleared of killing her daughter. Anthony just dropped out of sight when she was acquitted of murder. That was last July. Her 2-year-old daughter, Caylee, disappeared in 2008. Her body was found months later.
And Casey Anthony, she stayed quiet for so long. But she decided to break her silence with our own Piers Morgan. He talked to her on the phone and then he relayed the details on his show.
Here it was.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PIERS MORGAN, HOST, "PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT": I said to her, what are the biggest misconceptions, do you think, about you? And she said, well, I -- I mean there's obviously several misconceptions. Obviously I didn't kill my daughter. She said that very firmly. If anything, there's nothing in this world I have ever been more proud of and there's no one I loved more than my daughter. She's my greatest accomplishment.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: Piers Morgan joining me live.
And, Piers, I got a lot of questions for you, first being, how did you land this interview in the first place?
MORGAN: Well, it was very unexpected, because I was interviewing her lawyer.
And he had been booked a few days before. And he came into my office here in New York at CNN at Time Warner Center and he began talking to me about how the interview might go out. And I said is there any chance that Casey Anthony could call in? Is that even a remote possibility?
And he said, well, no, not on air. But what I can do is get her on the phone for you right now. And he called her.
BALDWIN: And you said yes.
MORGAN: Yes. I thought it was an extraordinary moment. I wasn't expecting it at all. I was pretty shocked. He then called her on his cell phone.
He put her on speaker after he clarified with her that she was happy to talk to me. And I had this sort of rather bizarre 10-minute interview if you like, with Casey Anthony, in which I was able to fire off a few questions and get a lot of I think rather fascinating answers.
BALDWIN: Well, tell me, what -- what surprised you the most in this 10 minutes?
MORGAN: I think the fact that she was quite self-aware of she -- how her reputation was and how she had come over in some of the interviews we have seen in the court case.
She said that when she looked back at those interviews, she said that it was horrible for her. She knows she has a terrible reputation. I had already said to her earlier it can't be easy to be one of the most hated people in America. And she said it's been a nightmare for her. In many ways, it's been like being in prison, even though she was acquitted of course of killing her daughter.
I thought it was interesting when she said to me that she was ashamed in many ways of the person that she was. It was a recognition by her that even though she had been acquitted of killing her daughter -- and she protested absolutely vehemently that she hadn't killed her daughter -- that she still had behaved in a way that ashamed her, particularly the lying to the police authorities for over a month and all the rest of it.
BALDWIN: Did she say why she did? She was convicted of lying.
MORGAN: Yes. She was quite interesting about that.
She said -- I have got the quotes here -- because we took notes in the interview. She said, "I didn't trust law enforcement then because of my relationship with my father, who is ex-law enforcement. I didn't give them the benefit of the doubt, which is part of the reason they didn't give me the benefit of the doubt."
So, she conceded that she had lied. That was obviously why she was found guilty of that. And she regretted that. So, there was definitely a sense of self-awareness. I got a sense of somebody who is just treading time. She's in this secret location.
MORGAN: She rarely goes out because of the security fears, lots of threat on her life. And she just watches TV.
BALDWIN: Reading "The Hunger Games," is that what she told you?
MORGAN: Reads "The Hunger Games," which I thought was a very strange thing to be reading, given what had happened to her. It's a popular book, I guess.
But it was -- the whole experience was quite strange. It hard to describe it. One minute, I'm talking to her lawyer. The next minute, without any warning, I'm talking directly to the woman that everyone in the world's media has been trying to talk to for a very long time. So it was a...
BALDWIN: But at the same time, I'm sure that you just so badly wanted to roll on the video, whether it was video or audio. MORGAN: Yes.
BALDWIN: Did you ask her multiple times or is that -- the whole -- what they laid out at the get-go, you can talk to her, but nothing is recorded?
I mean, just to clarify, it was pretty clear, made very clear to me from the very this right would not be broadcastable. We didn't record it. We made a note. I had a producer in there taking a -- that made some note of the conversation because it was on loudspeaker on the cell phone.
MORGAN: And it was I think -- I think a case of testing the water, that she wanted to communicate a few things. She was pretty exercised about a lot of what she called sort of media myths about her.
There have been -- I thought this was quite interesting, that she saw no distinction in the rumor mill about her between "The National Enquirer" at the tabloid end of the market and, as she put it, the exact quote was "the reputable media people, like 'The New York Times' or 'The Boston Herald.'"
She felt a lots of untrue rumors had been allowed to spin. She said: "I have never been a -- quote, unquote -- 'party girl.' I don't drink now. I have probably had only a handful of beers since being on probation. I have never done drugs, apart from a little bit of marijuana in my early 20s. I'm not 500 pounds."
Her lawyer said she's near 120 pounds. And she also, interestingly, said she's not making gazillions of dollars at the hands of other people or trying to sell myself. She said, "I don't give an 'expletive' about money."
So, she was pretty angry about a lot of stuff that's been published in various media.
BALDWIN: Yes, I wanted to ask about her tone. Did she at all sound nervous to you? And this is the first time she's spoken sort of publicly. Was she nervous, was she timid, was she loud? And what one question did you not get in?
MORGAN: No, I had about 10 minutes and then the lawyer cut off the conversation.
He had I think been watching this show, my show. And he felt comfortable with her talking to me. And, obviously, I was keen to get a proper interview on camera at a later date. She is not able to do that for various legal reasons at the moment.
But I got the feeling that she wanted to say something and she wanted to have an outlet to say it. And she didn't want to make money. It was never a question of payment. We didn't -- obviously, we don't pay for interviews at CNN anyway.
MORGAN: And she knew that. I think she felt it would be a more credible discussion with a news organization that wasn't paying her.
BALDWIN: Piers Morgan, we will look forward to the day where she sits down with you in person.
Until then, we thank you.
And want to just remind everyone don't forget to catch the interview with Jimmy Fallon tonight, 9:00 Eastern right here on CNN.
Piers Morgan, thank you.
It's been two months since artist Thomas Kinkade's death. And now the focus here has turned away from his paintings and onto his handwriting at the center of this court battle between his girlfriend and his wife, and millions now are at stake.
BALDWIN: Jury deliberations are about to begin in the case against a retired Texas firefighter accused of killing a popular gym teacher over a loud party.
Raul Rodriguez was trying to get his noisy neighbors to tone it down. He actually made a video of this encounter and it was played in court.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why don't you all turn that down, please?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey. Well, who are you?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I live over here. Turn it down.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, don't go hollering at me.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm hollering because you can't hear me. I told you all -- I told you all repeatedly to turn it down.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I hear you screaming.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, why don't you all turn that garbage down, please? Some of us are trying to sleep.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: So, the situation escalated when the partiers confronted Rodriguez as he called 911.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's about to get out of hand, sir. Please help me. Please help me, sir. My life is in danger now.
He's about to -- he says he's going to go in the house. He's going to come out. He is going to be more than equal than me. Now I'm standing my ground here. Now these people are going to try to kill me. I'm not listening to these people anymore. I'm just going to just tell them to stay back when they come. They are drunk.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: You hear that gunshot. In total here, three men were shot.
This man, teacher Kelly Danaher, died. The final witness in the trial was Danaher's widow, Mindy. She broke down when prosecutors showed her a picture of her husband's body.
In closing arguments today, prosecutors call Rodriguez -- and I'm quoting them -- "a neighborhood bully." Rodriguez's attorneys say he made a split-second decision while defending himself under Texas's version of stand your ground. Rodriguez did not testify during the trial.
New York, the city's new training program targets human traffickers. But it's not for police. It's for cab drivers.
Plus, a big moment is going down inside the White House right now behind closed doors. We're going to go there live next.
BALDWIN: A big moment happening right now at the White House and an unprecedented sex trafficking law targeting cab drivers. It's time to play "Reporter Roulette."
I want to begin at the White House with Athena Jones, talking about this Medal of Freedom ceremony happening. How often does this go to non-U.S. citizens?
ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's not that common, Brooke. This is a big deal medal. It's the highest civilian honor that America gives.
In the past, last year, for instance, German Chancellor Angela Merkel received it. Back in 2009, then former Prime Minister Tony Blair got it. And Nelson Mandela was awarded in 2002.
It's a big award. It goes to people who have made a lasting impact, an impact over a lifetime on a lot of people, whether in politics or world peace or sports or the arts and, certainly, President Peres fits the bill there.
He served in 12 Israeli cabinets, he was prime minister twice and then, back in 1994 as foreign minister, he got the Nobel Peace Prize for his work for Middle East peace talks that led to the Oslo Accords.
So you remember back in May, Peres was not at that ceremony when the president handed out the awards this year. He's getting his own special dinner tonight to get the award. Just another sign of how close that Israel and the U.S. are, in terms of that relationship.
But President Obama did say that Peres had done more for the cause of peace in the Middle East than just about anybody alive, so it's certainly a big deal tonight, Brooke.
BALDWIN: Athena Jones for us. Athena, thank you.
Next on "Reporter Roulette," we have Richard Roth in New York and we're talking to you because I know advocates are speaking out on this new law that targets cab drivers who participate in sex trafficking.
Tell me more about it.
RICHARD ROTH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Brooke, every year, thousands of young men and women are brought to New York against their will and become victims of sex trafficking and a key part is transportation. Hence, prostitution rings pay cabbies and delivery drivers to bring their victims of sex trafficking to various locations, hotels and resorts.
City council of New York passing legislation to target drivers and livery drivers who are using the women and the men for sex trafficking.
Christine Quinn, New York City council speaker, explains on the need for the legislation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRISTINE QUINN, NEW YORK CITY COUNCIL SPEAKER: I'm not going sit around and let 4,000 children plus countless men and women be brought here against their will, forced into prostitution and do nothing about it.
Now, the advocates working with us also have shown us facts, as has the district attorney and the attorney general, that part of the ring in New York City around trafficking are taxi drivers, livery car drivers. Who would have thought they are in on it?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROTH: Now, in a few weeks, Mayor Bloomberg will sign the legislation and it will become law. There will be criminal prosecutions for those drivers who are complicit and civil penalties, fines and the loss of their licenses.
And also, New York City will now mandate that cab drivers take a sexual trafficking course, watch a video to spot potential people involved in this.
But the legislation was softened so that drivers will not be allowed to just target and single-out passengers who are innocent, if they think they may be involved in sex trafficking, Brooke.
BALDWIN: Sure. Well, good. I'm glad they are cracking down. Richard Roth, thank you so much for us, in New York.
He's accused of murdering his own people, responsible for bodies, shelling, the alleged torture of children. So should the U.S. take the president of Syria out? One man says it's not that farfetched.
BALDWIN: I know you all have seen his work. It's in about one in every 20 homes in America. I'm talking about Thomas Kinkade, but when the painter died, he left behind much more than a collection of popular paintings.
He left an estranged wife, a girlfriend and a fortune. Two women are now fighting it out over it in court.
Sunny Hostin is on the case. Sunny, what exactly do these ladies want and what's the basis for the girlfriend's claim here?
SUNNY HOSTIN, CNN LEGAL CORRESPONDENT: The girlfriend wants money. She wants a home. She wants money and she actually wants control over his estate which is apparently about $66.3 million, so a significant estate.
The basis of her claim, interestingly enough, Brooke, is that she says he gave it to her. He wrote two notes, one in December of 2011, another one in November of 2011. In one note, she says that he gave her $10 million in cash and this wonderful and beautiful estate in California.
In the second note. she says that he gave her 10 million to establish the Thomas Kinkade museum, as well, again, as this estate in California. We're showing pictures of the notes. You can see ...
BALDWIN: The handwriting, Sunny Hostin, it's not so great. He was a decent painter, but maybe not so much when it came to the penmanship, so I guess part of the issue here is proving these came from him.
HOSTIN: That's right. And that certainly is going to be an issue. My understanding is that this is all going to be hashed out in court, whether or not these notes will constitute a will, whether or not he even wrote them.
Because his wife, while estranged and they hadn't been together for about two-and-a-half years, says that this woman is a gold digger and she is really disputing the validity of those notes, the alleged will.
And she says that this woman is trying to take away the estate from Thomas Kinkade's rightful heir.
So we'll see this end up in court. I know a lot of folks are saying, how could these notes be considered a will? Well, it's quite possible, but that's an issue that will be litigated and we'll hear more about it because everyone knows about Thomas Kinkade, right? I think I have one of his prints somewhere in my home.
BALDWIN: Do you? Aren't you fancy? Let me move onto case number two.
So there's a strange twist in the trial of Jeffrey Stern, the Bellaire, Texas, lawyer who is accused of plotting with his mistress to hire hit men to kill his socialite wife, not just once, but three times. What's the deal now?
HOSTIN: Get this. His girlfriend, Michelle Gaiser, he did have an affair. They are no longer together. He's with his wife. She admitted to hiring a hit man to kill his wife, Yvonne Stern.
Now, interestingly enough, she took a plea. She's in jail awaiting trial and awaiting his trial, so that she can testify against him, but apparently, she wrote a note to another female inmate trying to put a hit on Jeffrey Stern, her former lover. She offered $20,000 for his death.
So what does that mean for the case against him? Because he denies being involved in this murder-for--hire plot. Some people are saying this is the death knell for his case. I don't necessarily agree with that.
We have to figure out if this truly was a murder-for-hire note, whether or not the note has been fabricated or not. And perhaps they did this together and now she's just angry with him and trying to put a hit out on him.
So I think it's too soon to say this is game-over for Jeffrey Stern's case, but certainly an interesting twist and I think it will be helpful to the defense.
BALDWIN: It comes down to the notes, these cases. Sunny Hostin, thank you so much, on the case with us.
Bashar al-Assad accused of slaughtering Syria's women and children, so is it possible the U.S. could just take him out, assassinate him? My next guest says that's not that radical of an idea.
BALDWIN: As if we hadn't already known that Bashar al-Assad is a full-scale butcher, here comes the United Nations, now accusing the Syrian leader of presiding over the widespread torture of children in his drive to quash Syrian rebels.
Calls for action against Syria continue to reverberate all around the world, but no one is taking the lead. So how about this? Should the United States kill Bashar al-Assad? A noted columnist for "The Daily Beast" says maybe
That's right. Peter Beinart, right, at "The Daily Beast" says maybe America should try to kill Bashar al-Assad. Maybe.
Peter Beinart, what exactly are you saying here? We, the U.S., should kill Bashar al-Assad?
PETER BEINART, SENIOR POLITICAL WRITER, "THE DAILY BEAST": No, I'm actually not proposing it, but I thought it was useful to do the thought experiment. I can think of good reasons we shouldn't because, for instance, someone in his own Alawite clique might just take power.
But if we're actually going to contemplate bombing Syria ...
BALDWIN: Hang on a second. Forgive me for cutting you off so quickly, but if you look at the headline of the article - and I read the whole thing - you devote this entire piece to building a case to justify an assassination.
We're going to get into some of that here in a moment, but what exactly ...
BEINART: No, no, no. I'm sorry, but I said very explicitly in the piece that I thought there were very good reasons not to do it, but what I wanted to do is use this to look at the ethics of humanitarian warfare. Why is ethical to bomb large numbers of Syrians, but it wouldn't be ethical to assassinate the leader?
BALDWIN: Obviously, I read this, multiple people on my team read this and one thing I have to take you to task, one of your facts here, because you write, quote, "There is an executive order against assassinating heads of state, but we don't abide by it."
As examples, you cite the deaths of South Vietnam's Diem, Chile's Salvador Allende in U.S. aided coups, but our ban on assassinations actually began after the deaths of Diem and Allende, in part because of the deaths of those two men. We decided that was a bad, bad idea. Why go on that right now?
BEINART: I also mentioned that we started the Iraq war in 2003 with a decapitation attempt, aimed at assassinating Saddam Hussein. That was in 2003.
BALDWIN: But why then address Allende and Diem because we know the first executive order banning assassinations was actually issued in '76 by President Ford.
BEINART: Yes, but I gave a couple of examples that were much more recent than that, again, the Iraq example, and I think, in fact, our war in Libya, clearly, we were not upset to see that war end in the death of Gaddafi.
But the Iraq example is the most direct one. That was in 2003, far after the executive order, and, in fact, we specifically tried to start the war by killing Hussein.
BALDWIN: So then what about the issue of retaliation? Let's say we do kill Assad. What does Syria do to us?
Let me just read what you say. Quote, "The U.S. violates other countries' sovereignty in all kinds of ways. We wouldn't appreciate it if they did it to us and the reason they don't retaliate is because they lack the power."
So, is it OK to kill Assad because simply that we can?
BEINART: No, my point was, again, to raise the question of why we would be concerned about retaliation in the case of assassination, but not be concerned about retaliation in the case of, let's, say, bombing Syrian conscripts in order to try to overthrow Assad.
In both cases, it seems to me the fear of retaliation is really quite low. Syria is not in a position to retaliate for either humanitarian bombing or sanctions or assassination.
BALDWIN: This is ultimately the point you get to toward the end of your piece which is, if the U.S. were to kill Bashar al-Assad, what exactly does that get us?
So here's what you write. "It might not do so much good. Kill Assad and some brother, cousin or allied general might take over where he left off."
So, ultimately, the conclusion of your article is what? Don't bother killing him.
BEINART: No, the point of my article is to raise the question of why it's publicly acceptable in American public discourse to wage humanitarian war in Syria, in which we would presumably drop bombs on Assad soldiers, but not acceptable to discuss killing him.
It seems to me there's a contradiction there and that's what I wanted to get out in my piece.
BALDWIN: I tweeted out your piece and I really got mixed reactions. Just curious as to what kind of action you got from your readers.
BEINART: I think a lot of people think this is a very bad idea, but those people who think it's a bad idea also generally think that military intervention is a bad idea.
What interests is the people who would be opposed to this, but supportive of military intervention. That's the position that I don't quite understand.
BALDWIN: Peter Beinart, "The Daily Beast." Peter, thank you.
BEINART: Thank you.
BALDWIN: Jamie Dimon called a crook today, but as the head of JPMorgan apologizes to members of Congress, he also sends a warning about the economy and what needs to happen very, very soon before trouble hits. Erin Burnett joins me live to break that down, next.
BALDWIN: When JPMorgan CEO headed to Capitol Hill today, he was armed with an apology for his Wall Street firm losing $2 billion and, also, a warning - some, perhaps, could see it as a threat.
He warned the Senate banking committee that Congress needs to act soon to avoid a, quote, "fiscal cliff." Here, he was.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMIE DIMON, CEO, JPMORGAN CHASE: The one thing to keep in mind with the fiscal cliff is it may not wait until December 31st. Markets and businesses may start taking action before that that create a slowdown in the economy, which would be a bad thing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: Erin Burnett, host of "Erin Burnett OutFront," good to see you. How are we to take that? Translate that for me. Is it a threat? Is it a warning?
ERIN BURNETT, HOST, "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT": It's sort of a little bit of both, Brooke. Part of what he's saying is, look, with all of these deadlines happening at the end of the year, for companies with payroll taxes, there's all kinds of things, not knowing what tax rates are, you have to go ahead and program things in in advance.
And, obviously, if you don't know what it's going to be or if the Bush tax rates are going to go up at the end of the year, that gets programmed in. What it means is companies will be hesitant to hire. They won't know what the rules are going to be.
So, in part, it's just a warning, but he's also threatening and basically saying, please, do your job so that doesn't happen.
I have to say, Brooke, that was classical Jamie Dimon-style, though. He is there to talk about one thing and he turns the tables and starts lecturing Congress about something else when he was the guy who supposed to be lectured.
BALDWIN: I noticed that. He's saying look over here, look over here. Even though I'm supposed to be talking about this specifically, but I guess when he's talking about Wall Street businesses, what specifically does he want from Washington?
BURNETT: What Jamie has said repeatedly that he wants is a sort of a grand bargain. And I've interviewed him a lot over the years. Jamie Dimon is someone who for much of his life had leaned Democratic. People had talked about him being a treasury secretary under President Obama.
It's unclear given what's happened on financial reform and Dimon's pushback on that, whether that's still the case, but what I think he's really looking for like a Simpson-Bowles kind of a deal, a grand bargain sort of a deal where they know the rules and feel like the situation's being dealt with.
The downgrade that happened to the debt of the U.S. is a really big issue on Wall Street and really can roil markets and that's what most all of Wall Street wants to avoid happening again.
BALDWIN: Gosh, Simpson-Bowles, what was that, two Januaries ago? That didn't fully come through.
BURNETT: Right. Everyone keeping saying, do it, do it, right? But they can't actually get the votes together. So I think he's in the group that says, please, that's the thing that needs to get done.
BALDWIN: What about the term he used, fiscal cliff? What is the feeling overall on Wall Street? Do they agree?
BURNETT: They absolutely agree. As you know, it's not just the Bush tax cuts. It's the extension of unemployment benefits that goes away. It's the need to raise the debt ceiling at the end of the year. It's the payroll tax cut that will go away. All of these things are going to happen at the end of the year.
They refer to it as a cliff, Brooke, because it's a sense that if all of these things happen at once, people's tax rates go up, that could really send the economy back into a recession, really send us plunging off that cliff.
Ben Bernanke was using the word just the other day, so that's what they're talking about and want to avoid. Of course, the great irony is to avoid it at this point to extend the tax cuts means more spending.
BALDWIN: Well, I know you're going to be all of this. You have interviewed Jamie Dimon many times in the past. We'll look forward to you at 7:00, "Erin Burnett OutFront." Erin, thank you.
BURNETT: All right, thanks, Brooke.
BALDWIN: And the pressure on President Obama to free convicted Israeli spy, Jonathan Pollard, is mounting. Will the White House grant him clemency? Wolf Blitzer is in "The Situation Room" with some guests ready to weigh in.
WOLF BLITZER, HOST, "THE SITUATION ROOM": We're going to have a full discussion on this very, very sensitive subject. The Israeli president, Shimon Peres, is getting ready to go to the White House. He's receiving the highest civilian from the United States, the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
But at the same time, he has already said he will ask President Obama to provide clemency to Jonathan Pollard, the former civilian Naval intelligence analyst who's serving a life sentence for spying for Israel. Other presidents have been asked similar requests from Israeli leaders, including President Bill Clinton. They've always rejected it.
He's been in jail now for about 25 years, Jonathan Pollard, so we've assembled a panel to assess what's going on in "The Situation Room." One congressman, Eliot Engel, Democrat of New York, has teamed up with conservative Republican Chris Smith of New Jersey. They're circulating a letter to the president, saying go ahead and release pollard, 25 years is enough.
We've got Eliot Engel in "The Situation Room," Joseph E. DiGenova, the former U.S. attorney in Washington, D.C. who was the chief prosecutor of Jonathan Pollard, and Bill Harlow, formerly of the CIA. He worked with George Tenet at the CIA when Tenet told Bill Clinton, if you release Pollard, I will resign in protest.
So we're going to discuss what's going on. It will be a good thorough discussion on a very sensitive subject right now that will come up at the White House in the next few hours.
BALDWIN: Wolf, we'll look forward to it. We'll see you in five minutes. Thank you.
Day three here in the trial of the man many blame for damaging the name, the reputation of Penn State. Hear what allegedly happened to one victim, an alleged victim, after he rejected Sandusky's advances. We're live outside the courthouse.
BALDWIN: Three more accusers testified today against former Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky. One alleged victim, identified as Number 10, testified that Sandusky sexually abused him, threatened him and then apologized and professed his love for him.
Jean Casarez was in the courtroom. She's a correspondent for TruTV's "In Session." And I know you were in there for accuser Number Seven. What did he say?
JEAN CASAREZ, TRUTV'S "IN SESSION": You know, this young man, he's 25-years old now and he testified much like the others have testified. There are basically three places where these take place - in the car of Jerry Sandusky as he's driving them somewhere; in the showers at the Penn State University's coach's locker room; and then also in Jerry Sandusky home while his wife is there.
And this accuser said that he's in the car and he's in the front seat. Jerry Sandusky puts his hand on his thigh and then works his way up the pants. And he said that he would just move over to the side of the car as hard as he could to get away from him.
At the home, he would be going to bed, Jerry Sandusky would come and give him a hug, cuddle with him and he would just struggle to get away and say I have to go to sleep.
And then in the showers, he said at least it happened once, that Jerry would come and try to lather him with soap and he would just break away and go to another shower. Well, this young man suddenly didn't get the tickets to the football game anymore, he testified. And he didn't know what he did wrong. He felt he did something very, very wrong. Hard cross- examination on him, though.
BALDWIN: So in 30 seconds, you have Jerry Sandusky listening to this testimony. Is he shaking his head throughout or what?
CASAREZ: No. But when his defense attorney said you didn't say any of this to the grand jury. In fact, you said he never touched you without clothes on and never touched you inappropriately.
Jerry Sandusky seemed very satisfied as the jury left for the break at that point. Sandusky looked at every single juror as they left the room.
BALDWIN: Jean, we just got some news as you've been talking to me here outside the courtroom that the judge has now said that the prosecution will rest by Friday. By Friday.
Jean Casarez, we appreciate it, outside that courthouse in Pennsylvania.
Thank you for being with me the last two hours. I'll be right back here tomorrow. I'm Brooke Baldwin.