tv Anderson Cooper 360 CNN October 23, 2013 10:00pm-11:01pm PDT
in britain calling me about it, so many people have seen it and feel so proud of you guys and uplifted by what you've done. we wish you all the very best to all that are having treatment. and thank you for just putting a little bit of spring in our step and reminding us what's important in life. so, thank you all very much for joining me. >> thank you so much. >> amazing people. that's all for us tonight. "ac 360" starts right now. tonight robert f. kennedy junior will join me to talk about his reaction of tonight's breaking news. the possible release from prison of his cousin, michael skakel. skakel was convicted of a brutal murder that went unsolved for a quarter of a century. his conviction was set aside and he could be out of prison. the judge ruling that his appeal ruled his defense counsel provided ineffective counsel. this was relating to the killing of martha moxley when he and she were just 15.
and it hit just about every hot button imaginable. in a moment, bobby kennedy jr. who has long maintained his cousin's innocence. first, deborah feyerick on how this all began. >> reporter: the last time 15-year-old martha moxley was seen alive was the night before hallowe'en, october 1975. she went to a party with friends that night and was seen flirting with 17-year-old thomas skakel, nephew to ethel kennedy. she never returned home. the next day moxley's body was found in her yard in greenwich, connecticut, bludgeoned and stabbed to death by a broken golf club that was found near her body. that club was traced back to the skakel home. though no fingerprints up were found. >> it hit her so hard that the golf club broke. and then they took the shaft and they stabbed her with it six of seven times. >> reporter: suspicion immediately fell on thomas skakel, the last person seen with moxley the night of the
party. another suspect was ken littleton, a skakel family tutor who moved in with the family the day of the murder. the police never charged either of them, citing a lack of evidence. for two decades the case languished. a series of books on the high-profile crime led to renewed interest and new tips. a new suspect in january of 2000, 40-year-old michael skakel, thomas skakel's little brother. michael was also 15 at the time of the crime, which meant 25 years later, he was charged as a juvenile. he turned himself into police after an arrest warrant was issued, all the while proclaiming his innocence. >> to my knowledge there's no physical evidence, there's no dna evidence, no scientific evidence or anything that links michael skakel to this crime. >> reporter: despite that, a number of witnesses placed him at the crime scene the night of the murder. two witnesses testifying they heard skakel boasting he could get away with murder because he was a kennedy. prosecutors claim michael skakel was jealous of his older brother's relationship with moxley and killed the girl in a jealous rage, a charge he denied. the judge eventually ruled michael skakel should be tried
as an adult. >> everyone assumes he's guilty. he's been arrested. he's a kennedy cousin. there's books. there's movies. a lot of spin, a lot of disinformation. no one really knows the jury. a jury trial will expose the evidence to the public. >> reporter: the trial began in 2002. skakel was found guilty and sentenced to 20 years to life for moxley's murder. >> i can't give up. martha was very special. i have two children. and to lose one was a major major thing. and i'm just not going to give up. >> reporter: deborah feyerick, cnn, new york. >> robert f. kennedy jr. has staunchly maintained his cousin's innocence. he joins us now along with cnn legal analyst jeffrey toobin. welcome to both of you. mr. kennedy, thank you for joining us. you've long maintained your cousin's innocence. i know you want to get to some of the specifics of why you say he's innocent. let me start off by asking your
reaction to tonight's news. >> well, i think everybody who knows michael is overjoyed with it. we actually, my family, prays every night for michael skakel and has done so for 12 years, that he gets justice. and so this is really a -- it's a blessed event for us. >> have you been in touch with michael? i mean, when is the last time you talked to him? how's he doing? >> well, he wasn't doing too well. he was in jail for 12 years for a crime that he didn't commit. and the jail that he was in was not like a country club jail. it was a very, very tough place. and he was -- he had a tough time there. >> now, your mother -- >> luckily -- go ahead. >> your mother is ethel kennedy. she's obviously also michael's aunt.
i'm wondering if you've had a chance to speak to your mother about this and what her reaction has been. >> no, i haven't. but i know that she'll be overjoyed. she knows also that michael is innocent. anybody who looks at the evidence to this case, michael was 11 miles away with 5 eyewitnesses at the time that the murder was committed. he has an air-tight alibi. but unfortunately, he had a -- he was very poorly represented. and the lawyer in this case did not call those witnesses. one witness who said that michael confessed who died of a heroin overdose, gregory coleman, prior to the trial and his testimony had to be read at the trial admitted previously that during his testimony of the grand jury he was high on heroin. during his testimony at the evidentiary hearing he was high
on heroin. and there were many, many witnesses who testified he was a pathological liar and that the only reason that he appeared was to collect the reward money. >> i want to bring in my colleague and cnn senior legal analyst jeffrey toobin. i know you two know each other well. jeffrey you covered this case. you said you were stunned by the news tonight? >> stunned. amazed. particularly stunned at the reasoning of the judge. >> i want to get into some specifics. just to bring people up to speed, this happened in 1975. the trial was in 2002. what is happening now 11 years later in 2013? >> he has exhausted every appeal. he's directly appealed the
conviction. he's filed for a writ of habeus corpus. finally he's filed for a writ of habeus corpus alleging that his lawyer mickey sherman was incompetent, a claim that is made all the time in our courts and almost never succeeds. it is simply astonishing that it succeeded this time. >> he said he had a bad lawyer. >> yes. there are lots of bad lawyers out there and lots of people in prison with bad lawyers. why michael skakel gets out because of that is one of the many mysteries of this case. >> so do you think he's going to get out? is he going to be out of prison? >> i think he'll be out within the week. i think he is now -- his conviction is set aside, and he is a good bail risk. he is not a danger to the community. he is not going to flee. i think he's going to get out on bail. >> i want you to address some of the points that mr. kennedy is making as well. but let me go back to you, mr. kennedy, for a second. you say you know who actually committed the murder of martha moxley. and do authorities, people who are investigating this, do they have some of the same information that you have? >> the police officer investigating this was the one really responsible -- there was a group of people responsible for orchestrating the conviction of michael skakel. one of them was mark ferman, the
other dominic dunn, both writers. and the third was frank garr who was what i would call a crooked police officer who was just dogged in his determination to put one of the skakels in jail and who dug up evidence from people who were absolutely incredible. since i published an article i think in 2003 "the atlantic monthly" about the case after the trial. after that i was contacted by pun of the people by a man named toby bryant who's actually a cousin of the basketball player, kobe bryant. and tony bryant told me that he was there the night of the murder, that he brought to greenwich the two men who murdered martha moxley. he said prior to the murder that they were going to, that they
were going to take her caveman style. they were to kids from new york city, a very big man was 6'3", 250 pounds, who now lives in bridgeport, connecticut. the other one lives in portland, oregon. i have spoken to both of them. one of them is black. when martha moxley's body was found, it was covered with hairs from a black person -- >> wait a second, robert. let me interrupt for one second. your article in "the atlantic". >> is this jeffrey toobin? >> yes. your article "the atlantic." >> you should disclose that from the beginning you have absolutely been dogged long before michael was convicted that michael was guilty. that was your bias from the beginning. and that was every news report that you did on that, jeffrey -- >> my bias was watching the trial and the evidence. i like the jury thought he was guilty. but what i read in today's opinion was that the judge completely rejected the whole kobe bryant thing -- toby bryant thing. he rejected the argument that mickey sherman made to the jury and the argument that you made
in your "atlantic" article that the real killer was ken littleton. what the judge said in today's opinion -- >> no, no. jeffrey you're up to it again. you're up to it again. you're twisting the facts here. the judge in this trial said that mickey was -- he would not fault mickey for not having found kobe bryant -- i mean tony bryant and those -- and the gentleman who were with tony bryant. he didn't reject that theory of the case. he didn't fault mickey for not finding them. i would agree with. what he did fault him for -- >> this is the key point. the judge said the evidence all points to your other cousin, thomas skakel. he said the failure here -- >> no. this is what you did with
michael. >> that's what the judge said. >> you're trying to convict somebody before they have a trial. thomas skakel has never been on trial for this. and i never said that kenny littleton did this murder. and i wouldn't do that because i wouldn't convict somebody before they went on trial like you do, jeffrey. what i said is -- [ overlapping speakers ] >> what i said there was stronger evidence against many other people than michael skakel, and what his attorney failed to do, which any attorney their first year criminal attorney would do studying criminal law us you bring in that evidence because that goes to reasonable doubt. if you can point to somebody else and say, this person is more likely to have committed this crime than the person who's on trial, why, that is the basis for reasonable doubt. and that's what the judge was
saying. >> now he's got a point. >> the judge was not saying that tommy skakel was guilty and you should apologize for that. tommy skakel for besmirching his name the same way you did for a whole year on cnn against my cousin michael skakel who is innocent of this crime and who was as i said was 11 miles away with five eyewitnesses that mickey sherman failed to turn up and that were right in front of him. and that's why the judge said that he was reversing this, because those people said he was not there. >> he's right about that. >> jeff, let me ask. so that evidence sounds pretty compelling. what he's essentially saying is michael skakel was 11 miles away, plenty of eyewitnesses. is that part of this incompetence of his lawyer again? what exactly is that? >> it is. robert kennedy and i disagree about a lot about this. but he's certainly right that the failure here was to raise other avenues of defense. what mickey sherman did in that trial was bet everything on the defense that ken littleton, the tutor, did it. which i thought from day one was a very implausible theory based on the evidence.
but there were these other suspects. certainly tommy skakel was a suspect. but what mickey sherman did not do was point the finger at him. and that's the core of the judge's opinion. and now -- >> you know what? i can tell, jeffrey -- >> i'm trying to agree with you. >> i know. you read the first 20 pages of the decision. you didn't read the sections about higgins and coleman and the other witnesses. >> i certainly did. >> and yeah, he talks about tommy skakel during the first part of his opinion but it's 136-page opinion. he just released it. i don't blame you for not having read the whole thing. but for you to settle on tommy skakel and say on national tv that tommy skakel did this crime -- >> i didn't say that. >> -- that's unethical and you shouldn't do it and it's the same thing you did to michael skakel for an entire year. >> i said it because there was evidence at trial. >> you said it again and again, jeffrey.
again and again, jeffrey. >> no question a long history here. let me read a statement from mickey sherman says "i've always believed in michael's innocence. i'm happy for his release." that was obtained by sunny hostin his attorney back in 2002. look, we're going to have to leave it at that. and we'll see what happens tomorrow. if he actually is out of prison. robert f. kennedy jr., jeffrey toobin, thank you so much. coming up for us tonight, new fallout in the health care reform mess. democrats now calling for delays in parts of the law. one even calling for people responsible to lose their jobs. later, tragedy strikes yet another school as one more community mourns a fallen teacher. ren ] yes, i am you said in a focus group, "they just mask the smell." i'm going to ask you to find the smelliest item in your home. here. okay. [ laughs ] very, very strong dog odor. this is febreze free. it has no perfume. wow. now it smells clean,
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in raw politics tonight, the health care mess which is now drawing criticism from those who were critics but also those who preserve it. democratic lawmakers calling for delays in parts of the law, some saying heads should roll. president obama briefed congressional democrats and health care executives at the white house. spokesman jay carney has
promised daily briefings from health and human services on all of the website problems. meantime, house republicans prepare for hearings tomorrow. and as we mentioned, a number of democrats began voicing concern and criticism. dana bash joins us now with all this. and, dana, these democrats are making their displeasure known i think more than we've seen before. what can you tell us? >> reporter: that's right, they are. it is mostly democrats in the senate who are up for re-election next year. because they realize that politically they need to get in a place where they are aggressive in making their constituents know that they are as frustrated as they are. and jean sheheen, senator from new hampshire, one of the 2014 democrats sent a letter to the president saying she thinks the the enrollment deadline should be delayed. because of the problems people have getting on the federal web site. she was joined by mark bagitch from alaska, mark pryor from arkansas all up for re-election next year. i was told by a democratic strategist involved in trying to re-elect democrats, the most vulnerable saying the same thing or even going further by the
day's end. they are really being encouraged by democratic political strategists to not wait, to not in the words of one be listless and not be quiet and accept these problems. >> what does the white house -- are they hearing this? do you see any action? what are you hearing from them? >> reporter: certainly they are hearing it. they understand the politics even the democrats have to face with regard to these problems. but one thing that they also are going to have to face is legislation. joe manchin, another democrat who's not up for re-election but is from a very conservative state, west virginia, he is going to release legislation next week, sanjay, to say that he wants to delay the penalty that people will have to pay if they don't get health insurance for a year. because he's saying, why should people pay if they aren't actually able to get on the website. it's a fairness issue. >> if it's too hard to actually sign up. these are democrats again.
dana, thanks so much for that. want to get more now with chief political analyst gloria borger, cnn political commentator and democratic strategist paul begala and erin stewart who served with the rick santorum and michele bachmann presidential campaigns. welcome to all of you. paul, you are no stranger to damage control. damage control in the white house. were you surprised? i talked to the secretary sebelius last night. she told meet president was not aware, made aware of the problems before the launch. and there were some significant problems out there. i mean first of all, does that make sense to you? and why would that possibly be? >> it makes sense. it's a big mistake. but it makes sense. nobody likes to carry bad news to the president of the united states. after all, he's got his finger on the nuclear button. you don't want to make him mad. but frankly, the more loyal thing to do would be to come to him and say, sir, i've got real problems here. and clearly there are these
problems. but i have to tell you, the politics of this just as a political consultant? the winning message on obama care has been for a year or more, mend it, don't end it. when the republicans said they wanted to abolish it, support for it went up. four polls in the last week show more support for obama care. not because people like computer glitches. it's because they don't want to do away with it but fix it. you see the smart democrats running just a deadline here or there. mend it don't end it will went in the polls. >> let me follow up quickly, paul, on that point there. the white house really has been driving the development of this website all along. not secretary sebelius. yet whenever the white house is asked about it they say talk to hhs, talk to the secretary. it seems like a lot of this. that's what people are seeing. no one's taking responsibility or accountability. is that what it seems like to you as well? >> as i understand, the website was put together by health and human services. in fact the department you know well called cms, center for medicare and medicaid services. it runs medicaid and medicare. and those are the folks who were
supposed to have been coming up with this. ultimately the secretary is responsible for that. nobody thinks that the white house, which actually as a federal agency is a pretty small one. when i worked there about 1,200 people. would actually be putting together all these exchanges covering i guess about 35 states. what you're seeing is computer glitches. but what the white house needs to be doing -- and they are doing -- is explaining to people 85% of us get the benefits of obama care without ever having to go online. i've got a college kid he just turned 21 a few weeks ago, i get to cover him. my mom gets in free with medicare. my dad has closed the doughnut hole with prescription meds. without logging on to the website. those are the messages the white house is trying to put out. >> that's what the president sort of led with in the speech in the rose garden. gloria, today jay carney white house spokesman basically did not rule out this idea of scrapping the entire website and
starting from scratch. that's not the focus now specifically. but how big a political liability is that for the president? and some other democrats? >> i think don't there's any indication, sanjay, they would scrap this and start all over again. what they're trying to do is change a flat tire when they're going 50 miles per hour. and it's really hard. and it's a huge political liability for them right now. they're probably longing for the good old days of the shutdown, right? because during the shutdown, the popularity of obama care went up, the popularity of government itself went up. and what they've done now, we spent the last two weeks talking about how the republicans were stepping on their own message about health care reform. well, now the president's message that paul succinctly stated is being stepped on by his own team, whether it was hhs or whoever you want to point the finger at.
now they're finding that they have to explain and answer republicans who are now saying, look, if you want the government to run your health care, look at how well they were running this web site. so do you trust them? so you give that whole line of thought another life, and as dana pointed out earlier, democrats are running scared who are running for re-election in red states. >> let's talk a little bit more about just how significant this web site is. alice, let me bring you in as well. house speaker john boehner advising republicans not to focus entirely on the web site. assuming that's eventually going to be fixed. he's counselling them instead to focus on gloria is saying as what this problem with the web site might represent overall. that is a wise approach do you think? >> well, that's certainly one approach. i think the key is that this is more than a glitch, this is a systematic failure with the rollout of obama care.
and it's based on the fact that the website was not set up properly. and one of the key things is that in your interview with secretary sebelius last night, one of the key questions you asked was, now is the administration open to delaying the fine? she said no that's not really the question it's whether or not we can continue to make this thing work. the key is, this does not work. and the problems with the rollout are symptomatic of the overall illness of obama care. and the fact that now that after all this time republicans have asked to delay the implementation, they have key house democrats or senate democrats that are asking for it. would be very hypocritical for the president to delay at this point but he absolutely needs. to to paul's point, no one likes to deliver bad news about how this was to be rolled out. any administration i've ever worked for or campaigned, when you isolate the person at the top and don't deliver the important news it shows an overall systematic failure in leadership that he does not want to receive the information and those under him don't feel the responsibility to provide it. that's why we are where we are today. >> we'll be talking about this for days and weeks to come, i have a feeling. but tonight we're going to have to leave it there.
gloria borger, paul begala, alice stewart. thanks for joining us. coming up, my remarkable conversation with dick cheney. his heart problems, how he's doing now, and a bombshell about how far he went to protect his heart from get this a potential terrorist attack. also another school killing. people mourning yet another fallen teacher who made a difference in so many lives. [ male announcer ] campbell's homestyle. mmm! this is delicious katie. it's not bad for canned soup, right? pfft! [ laughs ] you nearly had us there. canned soup. [ male announcer ] they just might think it's homemade.
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in crime and punishment for the second time in a week there's this tragic news to report. a math teacher killed, allegedly by a student. first there was the shooting death of a teacher at a nevada middle school and now another beloved teacher is being mourned tonight. 24-year-old colleen ritzer was found dead in the woods in
danvers, massachusetts, north of boston. blood was found in the bathroom where ritzer taught math. now a 14-year-old student from the school is in custody charged with murder. don lemon has the latest. >> reporter: colleen ritzer had just graduated it college in 2011, a young teacher just 24 young enough to still live with her . >> she was a young girl who had the whole world ahead of her. and to be taken so tragically, it's awful. >> reporter: a young teacher whose ideas and passion for her students filled onto facebook, twitter. >> the teacher to go the extra mile for students. >> reporter: why would 14-year-old philip chism, one of her own students, allegedly kill her? according to court documents, he beat her to death, tossed her body in the woods behind the school she loved. >> your honor, the defendant before the court is 14. >> the fact that he's arraigned in adult court. >> reporter: investigators in
danvers, massachusetts, allege chism incriminated himself in interviews with police. there was evidence on video cameras in the high school, blood in a second floor bathroom. >> he's quiet. kept to himself. news to the society but he's a good kid. didn't seem like anything bad. nothing out of the ordinary. a quiet normal kid. >> reporter: the discovery of colleen ritzer's body was a surprise ending to what started tuesday as a hunt for missing student philip chism. he was new to the community, had recently moved there from tennessee. facebook lit up with the search for the high school soccer player. "phillip is my neighbor" said one post. he's a polite and friendly boy. i pray for his safe return. then a twist. ritzer's family contacted police to say she was missing. >> as a result of that report, danvers police initiated a search for the teacher and discovered blood in the second floor bathroom at danvers high school. >> did kill and murder such person. >> reporter: the teen was found in a nearby town.
the teacher's body some time later. >> you couldn't find a more precious girl than colleen. yeah. very special. you don't expect for that to happen. if you had a kid that might have been on drugs or hanging out with the wrong group of people. but she was just perfect. >> reporter: prosecutors say they will ask a grand jury to indict chism as an adult. the teen's attorney argued otherwise. >> in this case, the defendant wishes to have services to evaluate him. i think the case speaks for itself. >> reporter: but the case doesn't speak to the mystery surrounding his possible motives as a community gathers to grieve the loss. >> don lemon joins me now live. don, do we know anything about a possible motive here? and also the relationship between this victim and suspect? >> reporter: still no motive. the only thing that they would say is that he incriminated, according to sources, incriminated himself when police were speaking with him. so, no motive there.
but the only relationship that anyone knows about is that he was indeed her student. that's according to the prosecutor's office. that just came out just a short time ago, sanjay. i just have to say that there's a memorial here at the school that's just letting out. and it's hard -- we've been standing here watching the faces of the people who are leaving this memorial. it's really just heart breaking. >> we've covered too many tragedies like this, don, you and i over this past year. thanks for bringing us a story, though. just ahead, my interview with dick cheney who's just now revealing how close to death he came before his heart transplant. and also how his fight for his own survival intersected with 9/11 and other crucial moments our nation's history. what's the healthiest and best way for them to grow so that they really become cauldrons of prosperity and cities of opportunity? what we have found is that if that family is moved into safe, clean affordable housing, places that have access to great school systems,
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liberty mutual insurance -- responsibility. what's your policy? for the first time we're learning details about dick cheney's fight for survival while he was working in the highest reaches of government. cheney describes his decades-long battle with heart disease in his new book called "heart" he's written with his cardiologist. as a doctor, i have often wondered how he was being advised by his own doctors. and i had a chance to talk to him about that. in an interview that first aired on "60 minutes" we talked about how close he came to death. one of the most surprising details to come out was this unprecedented action he took just 67 days after becoming vice president. >> basically what i did was i resigned the vice vice-presidency. >> there was a letter of resignation pending.
>> pending. >> cheney discovered there was no provision in the constitution to replace a vice president who was alive but incapacitated. so, he drew up a letter of resignation to give to the president. >> it said "in accordance with section 20 of title 3 of the united states code, i, richard b. cheney, hereby resign the office of vice president of the united states." >> how did president bush react when you told him about this? >> he was a little surprised. but he thought it was a good idea. >> it was just three years ago, cheney says, that people gasped when they saw how frail he had become. today, just 20 months after his heart transplant, his weight is back to normal. the color has returned to his skin. he has no shortness of breath. >> how are you feeling? >> fantastic. now i'm to the point where i literally feel like i have a new heart. a lot more energy than i had previously.
there aren't any real physical limits on what i do. i fish. i hunt. and i don't ski, but that's because of my knees, not my heart. so, it's been a miracle. >> dick cheney is a product of modern medicine at its best. he has suffered five heart attacks, undergone open heart surgery, multiple catheterizations and angioplasties. had a defibrillator implanted and pump connected to his heart before age 71 each time cheney reached the precipice of death, a breakthrough in medical technology extended his life. bad hearts run in dick cheney's family. and early on he did little to take care of himself. he had his first cigarette at age 12. and by the time he was president ford's chief of staff at age 34, his daily staples included fatty food, beer, and up to three packs a day. >> all the cigarette companies donated cigarettes in a white box with gold trim around it embossed with the presidential seal.
that was kind of a -- cocktail party in washington you whipped out your presidential cigarettes and lit it up with a pack of matches from air force one, that was sort of a status symbol. >> after his first white house stint, cheney returned to wyoming to run for congress. at just 37, his genetics and his lifestyle caught up with him. he suffered his first heart attack, and doctors thought he should quit the race. but he didn't want to hear it. >> you were pretty persuasive. they said it would be wise to drop out of this at the present time. >> they said that in the medical records. >> they didn't tell you that? >> well, i don't recall.
what i took away from the conversations was that key phrase "hard work never killed anybody." now. >> patients like to hear what they want to hear. >> that may have been the case as well, too. but they also emphasized that stress comes from doing something you don't want to be doing. >> he won that election, and five more after that. but his heart disease was steadily progressing. by the time cheney took over as the first president bush's secretary of defense in 1989, he had suffered three heart attacks and undergone qaudruple bypass surgery. it was a time of global upheaval. and dick cheney was in the center of it all. the collapse of communism, the uprising in china's tienemen square and the first gulf war. >> the army, navy, air force and marines, prepare for one of the largest land assaults of modern times. >> looking back, do you think the stress affected your heart disease and your overall health? >> i simply don't buy the notion that it contributed to my heart disease. it was in fact that getting back to work, getting back to that job, whatever that job might be, was important enough that i, in fact, kept them separate i guess would be the way to think about it. >> but do i wonder as a doctor, is that really plausible? can you really keep such a significant medical history and
such a significant job separate? >> i did. >> but when george w. bush asked cheney to be his running mate in 2000, there was enough concern that the bush campaign sought out the opinion of world-renowned texas heart surgeon denton cooley. after speaking with cheney's cardiologist, dr. jonathan reiner, dr. cooley told the bush campaign that cheney was in good health with normal cardiac function. >> the normal cardiac function wasn't true. >> well, i'm not responsible for that. i don't know what took place between the doctors. >> this idea that you have this respected heart surgeon from texas who didn't see you, didn't examine you and then writes something saying that you have normal cardiac function, that just wasn't true, mr. vice president. >> well, go ask denton cooley about that. >> sir, you saw -- >> listen to me. i think the bottom line is was i up to the task of being vice president? and there's no question i think
based upon the fact they did it for eight years they were right. >> how were they able to say that you were able to do the job? >> the way i look at it, sanjay, first of all i didn't seek the job. the president came to me and asked me to be his vice president. the party nominated me. the doctors that consulted on it reached a common conclusion. the people elected me. now, what basis do you want to override that decision-making process? >> do you want to have an offshoot where we check with sanjay gupta and say is he up to the task? that's not the way it works. >> despite cheney's insistence he was fit for office just four months after being cleared by his doctors cheney suffered another heart attack, his fourth. >> so it was there, chest discomfort, sufficient so i thought i ought to check it out. >> this time it came while the country was embroiled in the 2000 presidential recount.
cheney needed a stent to prop open clogged artery. >> are you ready to take the oath? >> i am. >> please raise your right hand and repeat after me. >> yet again, modern medicine had helped dick cheney dodge a bullet. but nine months later cheney confronted what he considers one of the biggest challenges of his life, 9/11. with president bush in florida, cheney was in a bunker under the white house helping make decisions, even given authority by the president to shoot down passenger airliners. i mean, as far as stress goes, and again as a doctor with your heart history, how worried were you about just your health in the midst of all this? >> didn't occur to me. >> not at all? >> no. i didn't think about my health. i was thinking about the problem we were dealing with. >> what cheney didn't know was that his cardiologist, jonathan reiner, had received the results of a blood test that morning showing his potassium levels were dangerously high, a condition called hyperchelinia.
>> big concern. how big are we talking about? >> potassium 6.9 can kill you. >> this is a huge problem. >> yeah. i laid awake that night watching the replays of the towers come down and not thinking that oh, great, the vice president's going to die tonight of this. >> another blood test the next day showed cheney's potassium levels were normal. but this level of scrutiny over dick cheney's health is a reminder. he is no ordinary patient. and caring for him often required extraordinary precautions. in 2007, when cheney needed his implanted defibrillator replaced, dr. reiner ordered the manufacturer to disable the wireless feature, fearing a terrorist could assassinate the vice president by sending a signal to the device telling it to shock his heart into cardiac arrest. >> and it seemed to me to be a bad idea for the vice president of the united states to have a device that maybe somebody on a
rope line or someone in the next hotel room or downstairs might be able to get into, hack into, and i worried that someone could kill you. >> it might sound far fetched. but years later, this scene from the showtime drama "homeland" showed just how it could be done to the fictional vice president. >> i'm killing you. >> what did you think when you watched that? >> well, i was aware of the danger, if you will, that existed. but i found it credible because i knew from the experience we'd had and the necessity for adjusting my own device that it was an accurate portrayal of what was possible. >> the precariousness of cheney's physical health raises questions about his state of mind when he was helping make decisions, including those about war and peace.
>> you were instrumental in many big decisions for the country, including going into afghanistan and iraq. >> and terror surveillance program and immense investigation. >> wiretapping, enhanced interrogation. you'd had four heart attacks, three catheterizations at this point. a defibrillator. bypass surgery. >> right. >> did you worry about your physical health impacting your judgment, your cognition? >> no. >> not at all? >> no. >> were you the best that you could be? >> well, the answer to that question just ahead. plus cheney's reaction when i asked him about the research that shows how heart disease often does affect cognition. what his doctors tell him about that. need a spoon, dear? not anymore.
we're back with part two of my interview with dick cheney that first aired on "60 minutes." as a doctor i'm aware of how heart disease can affect cognition. before the break you heard me ask cheney if he was the best he could be while making crucial decisions in the white house. that's where we pick up. you'd had four heart attacks, three catheterizations at this point, a defibrillator, bypass surgery. >> right. >> did you worry about your physical health impacting your judgment and your cognition? >> no. >> not at all? >> no. >> were you the best that you could be?
>> well, i was as good as i could be given the fact that i was 60-some years old at that point and a heart patient. >> cheney didn't want to acknowledge numerous studies that show a significant connection between severe heart disease and memory loss, depression, a decline in decisionmaking abilities and impaired cognition. or that he could be one of the many patients vulnerable to these side effects. >> did they talk at all about potential side effects, again because of limited blood flow to the brain on cognition, on judgment? was that something that you had heard about in any way? you didn't know about it? weren't worried about it? >> no. >> both? >> i wasn't worried about it. >> did anyone counsel you at all on that? >> not they recall. >> what about to even the things like depression? >> no. >> and that's all he wanted to say about that. but what dick cheney was eager to talk about was his transplant, detailed in his new book "heart."
>> when you emerge from that gift of life itself, there's this tremendous feeling of emotion. but it's very positive. i think my first words when i came out from under the anesthetic and they said it had worked great was "hot damn" literally. >> cheney and dr. reiner wanted to show us just how dramatic his transformation has been. this is an image of cheney's ravaged and diseased heart just moments after it was removed. >> this is a rather large basin. and here is your heart. >> that's what i lived with for 70 years. >> normal heart would basically be about the size of two fist fists clamped together, maybe a little smaller. this is half a foot wide. >> old heart new heart. old heart new heart. it's one of those situations where bigger is not necessarily better. >> that's because a bigger heart can't effectively putsch blood
through the body. the x-ray on the left shows cheney's enlarged heart, twice the normal size and pushing on his other organs. on the right, his new heart. and then there's this comparison. again on the left, cheney's diseased heart, weakened with narrowed arteries. and his new heart with healthy vessels and no blockages. >> dramatically displays how sick i was. >> today, cheney says he's taking good care of his new heart. he spends much of his time back in wyoming with his family and playing rodeo hand to granddaughter gracie. >> you wake up every morning with a smile on your face. because you've got a new day you never expected to have. there's a sense of, well, of wonderment. nothing short of magical. >> magical? wonderment? your words? those aren't words you typically hear or expect to hear from you.
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tomorrow night cnn is going to air the television premiere of the fascinating documentary "black fish," which tells the story of a seaworld trainer who was killed by a 12,000-pound orca named tilikum back in 2010. the film goes beyond that story and raises questions about whether killer whales should be kept in captivity at all. filmmaker spoke with a number much of other seaworld trainers about a number of their own dangerous experiences.
>> i believe it's 70-plus maybe even more killer whale trainer accidents. maybe 30 of them happened prior to me being hired at seaworld and i knew about none of them. >> i've seen animals come out at trainers. >> something is wrong. >> i've seen people get slammed. >> the whales are either just playing or upset for a second. it was just something that happened. >> this culture of you get back on the horse and you dive back into the water.
if you're hurt we've got other people that will replace you. and you came a long way. are you sure you want that? >> tune in tomorrow at 9:00 p.m. eastern and pacific for cnn films "blackfish." right after 11:00 stick around for an anderson cooper's special "blackfish: killers inside captivity." you'll also hear from one of the filmmakers. thanks for watching. erin burnett "outfront" starts now. www.vitac.com "outfront" next the conviction of michael skakel thrown out. and a white house mole un-earthed. >> it's more worrisome to me the president continues to say he's unaware of everything that's going on around him. plus did a 14-year-old boy beat his math teacher to death? >> i think it's insane. i'