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tv   The Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer  CNN  May 31, 2012 4:00pm-6:00pm EDT

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and we've got a lot of breaking news today. the jury in the john edwards' federal corruption trial reaches a verdict on just one of the six counts against the one-time presidential hopeful. the defense asks for a mistrial, but the judge tells the jury they've got to keep at it. let's go straight to cnn's senior correspondent, joe johns. he's in greensboro, north carolina. joe, what is going on down there? >> reporter: well, you know, it gets stranger and stranger every minute. quite frankly, just a few minutes ago, gloria, we got the word to stay tuned. it may not be over yet, even for today. the jury just sent yet another note to judge katherine eagles here in greensboro. we're waiting to hear the contents of that note.
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they've been a very communicatetive juror. it could be they just want to talk about scheduling. usually around 4:30 eastern time is usually when the jury breaks for the day. but recapping, it's been a very unusual and probably most extraordinary day in the entire trial here in greensboro. that is because earlier this afternoon, we got word that the jury had, in fact, reached a verdict in this six-count indictment against john edwards. but when they got into the courtroom, it became clear that they had reached a verdict on only one of the six counts. that would be the third count, which is a count of accepting illegal campaign donations from 2008 from a woman named bunny mellon. rachael bunny mellon from northern virginia, a 101-year-old woman who's very rich, who back in 2008, when john edwards was running for president, gave hundreds of thousands of dollars, ostensibly, for a personal purpose, her friends said.
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nonetheless, the prosecution has always alleged that this money was intended to keep the campaign aspirations of john edwards alive. as to the other five counts in the indictment, no decision yet. so the judge after conferring with the lawyer, administers what is known as an alan charge. this is a charge, a series of words, a few paragraphs that she reads to tell the jury to try harder, to go back and recan consider your positions, if you feel that's appropriate, and told them to go back to work. that's where we stand right now, but the immediate thing, gloria, is we want to hear what this next note is, whether it has to do with scheduling or some other matter, or if it, in fact, relates to their deliberations and reaching a verdict on some of those other counts. gloria? >> okay, joe, thanks so much for keeping us up to date on that and i'm sure you'll be doing it over the next few hours. let's bring in our senior legal
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analyst, jeff toobin. jeff, you've called this a mess, which i think is a pretty accurate description. is there any way out of this now without a mistrial? >> oh, sure, there is. i mean, there is plenty of precedent for a jury having struggled, eventually coming together and reaching a full verdict. what's unusual about this situation is that instead of saying, look, we are hopelessly divided on everything, they did reach a verdict on one count. that presents additional complexities, because if there is a verdict on that one count, the jury, there could -- and a mistrial on the remainder, the jury -- the case could be retried on the five counts, but it is very awkward to retry a case where there's been a partial verdict. that's why the strategic situation here is the defense is saying, let's take the verdict, let's end the trial, mistrial, end of story. >> sure.
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>> they are gambling that they won on the single count. they are gambling on an acquittal in count three. the prosecution is saying, let's send the jury back to work. let's hope to resolve the full case. and so far, at least, the judge has sided with the prosecution, but there's another note that we don't know the contents of, and this story is really changing minute to minute. >> you know, this is a very complex case. it's about campaign finance law, it's very arcane, it's been kind of sordid, but it's a very difficult case to really prosecute here. you're asking these jurors to kind of decide what's a campaign contribution and what isn't a campaign contribution. so i guess we have to ask the question, in asking a jury to really try and do this, and they're clearly working at it, did the prosecution blow it? >> well, i think we need to reserve judgment on that until we see what the jury does. this, i think, was a very marginal case.
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this was a case that not every u.s. attorney in the country would bring. you know, it is important to remember that 99 out of 100 criminal appeals fail. you know, appeals courts generally affirm jury verdicts. if this case ends in a conviction, i think edwards will have a very serious chance at winning an -- and having his case overturned. there are judge who is simply would not approve of a prosecution like this. the issue is so complicated and the legal question is so difficult that i think there are some appeals courts who would simply just throw this case out. >> well, it's not only that the legal questions are difficult, but what's also been interesting to me to watch is that all of the major players are absent, either because they've died or because edwards is not
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testifying himself, or because they're aging, like bunny mellon, who's over 100 years old. so that makes it more difficult too, doesn't it? >> gloria, i have never seen a criminal trial with more of the protagonists offstage. >> right. >> the two people who gave the money, what was their intent? that's obviously a critical issue in this case. >> we don't know! >> exactly, we don't know. because bunny mellon's 101 years old and fred baron died suddenly and unexpectedly. elizabeth edwards, alas, as we all know, died. rielle hunter, whose behavior, who is the, in many respects, the protagonist in this case, she wasn't called by the prosecution or the defense, and of course, john edwards, as was his privilege under the fifth amendment, chose not to testify. the only key person who testified in this trial was andrew young, who served essentially as the bag man, the intermediary between the donors of the money -- >> and he's not above reproach,
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right? > >> to say the least. to say the least. he admitted on the witness stand that some substantial amount of the money that bunny mellon gave went into his pocket and his wife's pocket and went to build their dream house in north carolina. which is a very favorable fact for the defense in this case. because how can it be a campaign contribution if it went to build this guy's house? i mean, again, it's one of the many complexities in this case. but he is the only major figure whom the jury actually heard from in the course of this trial. >> okay, jeff toobin, thanks so much. and of course, we'll be calling you here on-set again, to standby, yeah, to see what happens in this case. it's so interesting and unresolved. thanks a lot, jeff. and president obama's team launches an all-out attack on mitt romney's record and has tough words for anyone who
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disagrees. >> you can't handle the truth, my friends! that's the problem. >> they are bringing their case to romney's home turf. and to say it got lively is really an understatement. stand by. plus, a gotcha moment, staged by anti-abortion activists and caught on tape. how can it play into the race for the white house? and it kind of felt like a flashback to 2008 in the east room today. former president george w. bush returned to the white house and he had everybody laughing. stay with us.
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and jack cafferty's here with the cafferty file. what do you have, jack? >> good afternoon, gloria. europe's financial crisis, a warning siren for the united states, but many americans aren't paying attention. a new gallup poll shows only 16% of those surveyed say they're following the news about europe's crisis very closely. 33% say somewhat closely, 21% say not too closely, 29%, not at
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all. the poll also shows even though all americans aren't paying attention, 71% are concerned about the impact of the european financial crisis on our economy. that includes 31% who are very concerned. it's been suggested that american american's concern about europe might be higher if more people were actually paying attention, and it's too bad they're not. what's going on in europe is a big part of the reason why we've seen such volatility in u.s. markets. the dow jones industrial market up only five days for the entire month of of may. that hasn't happened in 43 years. if europe continues to spiral downward, we could see a drop in u.s. exports, less european investment in the united states, u.s. banks could decrease lending here at home due to worries about their exposure in europe. meanwhile, things are going from bad to worse in europe. on top of concerns about greece's debt crisis, spain is dealing with a huge banking crisis.
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many of spain's large banks are crippled by bad debt, money is fleeing the country in massive amounts. portugal, ireland, and greece have already had to seek international bailouts due to high borrowing costs by their governments. in the case of greece, the citizens made it very clear in the last election, they're not interested in the government spending less money. they want their handouts, come hell or high water. sound familiar? oh, and our government isn't paying attention either. many of the things leading europe deeper into crisis are running rampant right here and washington does nothing. here's the question. most americans aren't too focused on europe's financial crisis. should we be? go to cnn.com/caffertyfile and post a comment on my blog or go to our post on "the situation room's" facebook page. gloria? >> thanks, jack. i think we do need to pay attention to that, but, i'll e-mail you. thanks a lot. a caught-on-tape gotcha moment staged by anti-abortion activists has helped to push house republicans for a new
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anti-abortion law. that bid was just voted down. but the entire drama may be tied into the battle for the women's vote this november. our senior congressional correspondent dana bash is digging into this. dana, strange story. >> very much so. as you well know, abortion is always a highly emotional and divisive politically issue, but what the house voted on today, which the republicans called gendercide, takes the politics and emotion to a whole new level. what you're looking at is a sting operation. an anti-abortion actor undercover at a texas planned parenthood clinic, pretending to want an abortion if she's having a girl. a planned parenthood staffer helps, giving detailed advice on how to find out the baby's gender. >> but do you think i still just shouldn't worry about telling them that i'm -- that i would be terminating if it's a girl? >> right. >> just keep it quiet and then come here? >> yeah, i would -- i would probably -- because more than likely, they -- i mean they
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could even we fuse to see you if you're just going to terminate. >> reporter: planned parenthood released a statement saying it condemns sex selection motivated by gender bias, and it fired its employee caught on tape appearing to do just that. in another video from new york city, an employee doesn't support it, but doesn't condemn it either. >> reporter: it's no secret that lila rose released these edited videos this week. rose carefully coordinated with house republicans, pushing new anti-abortion legislation banning what they call gendercide. >> we are going to allow little girls to be killed before they're born, simply because they are little girls. >> on to the legislation, doctors who knowingly perform abortions chosen because of gender would face up to five years in prison and fines. abortion providers could also be
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subject to civil penalties, including punitive monetary damages. >> today the three most dangerous words in china and india are, "it's a girl." we can't let that. happen here. >> reporter: republican authors of the bill cite multiple studies claiming evidence of a rising number of u.s. abortions based on the sex of the fetus, but abortion rights advocates take issue with the studies. the reality is, it's hard to know the truth about such a private issue. politically, republicans are trying to turn the democrats' charge that there's a gop war on women on its head. >> this, mr. speaker, is the real war on women. >> reporter: democrats called the legislation a political stunt. >> attempts to restrict or deny access to safe abortions is harmful to women's health and would ultimately take us back to the days of back alley abortions. >> now, the bill got 246 votes, well over a majority of support in the house, but it still
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didn't pass. why? now, republicans who run the house, they structured this to allow only a limited debate and require a two-thirds majority to win approval. and that didn't happen. so that allowed republican leaders to highlight the issue of abortion, but avoid an extended debate on it, and that, gloria, would take away from the issue that is number one for them politically, which is the my. >> so are you telling me there are political games being played on the house floor? >> are you shocked? >> totally shocked. dana bash, thank you very much. and president obama's re-election team goes into serious attack mode and does it on mitt romney's home turf. but did they expect all of this heckling? and one couple's marriage gets off to a rough and very scary start. what happened that as the husband saying he cried.
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several explosions have rocked baghdad. lisa sylvester is monitoring that and some of the other top stories in "the situation room" right now. lisa, what do you have? >> hi, gloria, at least 14 people are dead and dozens injured from multiple explosions over a three-hour period. the bombs with went off in both shiite and sunni neighborhoods and it's unclear who committed the attacks or even if they're linked. the attacks come after an especially violent april, in which the interior ministry says 126 people were killed. the pakistani taliban are vowing to kill the doctor who helped the u.s. find osama bin laden. a taliban spokesman tells cnn, quote, we will cut him into pieces when we find him. he spied for the u.s. to hunt down our hero, osama bin laden, end quote. a court sentenced shaquille freedi to 33 years in prison, not for helping the u.s., but for his alleged ties to
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pakistani militant group. and talk about a bad way to start a marriage. a newly married couple was driving down interstate 95 in florida when a six-foot metal pole came crashing through the windshield. the couple was covered in glass, but okay, just terrified when they realized how close the pole came to hitting them. investigators aren't sure where that pole came from. but very, very lucky when you look at those pictures. >> i'd want to know where that pole came from, i tell you. thanks, lisa. and an attack team from the obama campaign runs into some pro-romney hecklers. >> you can shout down speakers, my friends, but it's hard to etch a sketch the truth away. >> can did the democrats make a mistake by launching an expensive in mitt romney's backyard? i'll ask deputy campaign manager, stephanie cutter. crazy, right ? well, with this droid razr by motorola on verizon 4g lte, you guys can stay in touch. ( grunts ) cool.
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and we have breaking news from the john edwards' trial. let's go right to joe johns. joe? >> reporter: well, basically, what we have found out now, as we told you earlier, the jury had reached a decision on count three. now, gloria, we do know, the jury found john edwards not guilty on count three, in this six-count indictment. on the other charges after a note and some long discussion, the judge has concluded and taken the jury's word for the fact that they're deadlocked on the other five issues in this indictment. so john edwards is not guilty. that's where we stand right now, looking for a little bit more color in the courtroom. the long and short of it, after a long trial, huge expense by the federal government, and now the ninth day of deliberation here in greensboro, north carolina, john edwards found not guilty on one count, the jury deadlocked on the other five
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charges. >> and joe, that count, count three, was illegal campaign contributions from bunny mellon in the year of 2008, because she'd also given him some contributions in 2007. >> reporter: that's right. >> so the does that tell us anything about the way this jury is thinking? because, of course, bunny mellon has not testified herself. >> reporter: well, as my understanding is that the jury has, the jury's been dismissed. so on these other counts, it seems very much as if they're deadlocked on it and the judge has decided they're not going to be able to reach a decision. of course, the question would be, whether the united states government would want to retry on those other charges that the jury was deadlocked on. the thinking here at the federal court has been that the federal government would be very unlikely to try to retry, because it's very complicated
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case, and the facts and the law blurry in many ways. so a jury coming back in this posture isn't all that surprising. a lot of people predicted from the very start that this case against john edwards was going nowhere and that seems to be borne out here. >> and let's bring in our senior legal analyst, jeff toobin. we've just listenearned, with j the jury has been dismissed for the day -- >> no, wait, not for the day, they're gone. >> they're gone. >> this trial is over. >> this trial is over? >> john -- let me just clarify that with joe, but that's my understanding. >> okay, we now have the mistrial confirmed. we did not have that before. so let's just reset the table here. >> right. >> what we have is that he was acquitted, john edwards was acquitted on count three and the rest of the trial, thrown away.
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>> there is no verdict on the other five. so the question now is, will the department of justice decide to retry him, start this whole trial all over again, on the five counts, where there was a hung jury. my strong sense is, the answer to that question is no. there's a new administration. this case was begun under the george wi. bush administration. this was an enormously expensive trial, where there was not a lot of jail time likely to be given in any case. john edwards is no longer an american political figure. i would find it inconceivable that this trial would be retried. so to be clear, john edwards won this trial and the department of justice lost this trial. it's not as clean as a straight-out acquittal, but the happy team today is abbe lowell and his defense team and the unhappy team are the united states attorney's office in
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north carolina, who brought this case. this was a win for john edwards, and there will be a lot of questions asked about why this case was brought at all. >> and let's bring joe johns back in, who has some more from on-scene. joe? >> reporter: yeah. yeah, well, i mean, that's exactly right, and that's the end of it. this trial was, it was kind of remarkable, from the very start. some people called it a political prosecution, here, just because it was a republican united states attorney, if you buy that, bringing these charges against john edwards. and a lot of people said it was about sex and the fact that john edwards cheated on his wife, who was dying of cancer. and these are the kinds of arguments that sort of came up before the jury here. abbe lowell, who clearly has won probably one of the biggest cases in his career, in a career of big cases, argued to the jury
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that john edwards committed many sins, but no crimes. and apparently the jury bought that on the one count that they could actually reach a verdict on. on the other five, a mistrial in some very difficult circumstances, where, you know, the facts of the law are not clear. so i guess what this tells you is, it's a tough day for the united states government, the justice department. you know -- and maybe it's too early to start talking about this, but the united states justice department has brought some other huge cases and had some real disasters. the one that comes to mind, immediately, is the case of senator ted stevens of alaska. this was a conviction that they got that had to be overturned, thrown out because of multiple allegations of prosecutorial conduct. now the justice department has really got to be sitting back
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thinking, gosh, what do we have to do to get a big defendant locked up? because it certainly didn't happen today. >> jeff, i want to bring you in here, because i know you're thinking that the government would probably not re-file on this. what's the impact in the long-term on campaign finance law, if any? it's so complicated. it's so obtuse. and these cases, as we saw today, are very difficult to bring. >> and add to that stew of complexity that it's a moving target. >> yes. >> this case involves conduct that took place before the supreme court's decision in the citizens united case, which is the case from 2010 where the court said that corporations have the unlimited right to give as much money as they want in support of political candidates.
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now, why that is relevant to this case is that they -- the supreme court has found that the act of giving money to political campaigns is more protected by the first amendment than many of us and many courts had thought, for many, many years. so it's entirely possible that the whole notion of bringing criminal cases, based on campaign contributions is much more difficult than it used to be, since 2010. >> well, then, how do you enforce the law? how do you enforce the law then? >> well, i think you don't. >> if there's no -- >> you don't. i think one of the things the supreme court has said is we want this law rederegulated. we want less government involvement than there has been. this was the key fight between the five justices in the majority and the four justices in the dissent in the citizens
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united case where the majority, anthony kennedy, wrote the opinion. he said, look, giving money to political campaigns is an act of political activity that is protected by the first amendment. and we don't want the government overly involved in that process. criminal process is a great deal of government involvement. so i think we are going to see many fewer cases brought, of any kind, trying to enforce the campaign finance laws, because the supreme court has said we want more deregulation in this area. we want more freedom from government regulation, because the first amendment says that money is speech, which is, of course, the famous line -- >> and before we get -- before we get back to joe johns to tell us a little bit about john edwards and what's going on in greensboro, i want to bring in paul begala, who is part of a super pac, who works with a
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democratic super pac, what's your read on this and what this means for organizations like yours, which raise money for democrats? >> yeah , it is -- first, just let me say, this is one of those days where i'm glad i paid my cable bill so i can listen to toobin explain this. it brings such clarity to it. >> me too. >> the political side of it is, it's the wild, wild west. we don't need no stinking badges. i would like to work myself out of a job and actually wish -- and i know the supreme court watches, because they're very close to toobin, i wish they'd rethink citizens united. this is nuts to have a system where people can give millions and millions of dollars in this -- i'm participating in it, i'm part of the problem in this sense, but at least i understand it's a problem. in terms of the edwards prosecution, i think even without citizens united, my guess is, it's tough to get jurors to say that having your
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wealthy friends support your mistress and new baby was a campaign donation. i think that might have been the problem with the jurors. i have no idea, i haven't talked to them. but i think that's a bit of a stretch. it's in the like these millionaire supporters of edwards were secretly running television ads, which is what campaigns generally do. campaigns generally don't buy houses or rent for mistresses and babies. >> thanks a lot, paul. and we're going to come back to talk more about this edwards verdict. we have a producer who was there inside the courtroom. we know, just to recap, and we'll be coming back to talk about this, that john edwards was acquitted on one count and a mistrial on the other five counts. stay with us. you want to hear our producer who's coming out of the courtroom as we speak. of warning lights and sounds vying for your attention. so we invented a warning.. you can feel. introducing the all new cadillac xts, available with the patented safety alert seat.
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breaking news today. in case you just joined us, there's been a verdict in the john edwards corruption case, and john edwards has been acquitted on one count. the other five counts have been declared a mistrial. we're waiting to see if john edwards will come out and speak
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or whether his attorney, abbe lowell, will come out and speak. whether the government will come out and speak. right now we've got joe johns with us, our correspondent on the scene in greensboro, with our producer, who was in the courtroom for all of the events, heard the verdict being read. that would be ted metzger. let me go to you, joe, and get a sense of what it's been like there today. >> right. well, you know, a crazy day here in greensboro, quite frankly. and for john edwards, obviously a very big day for him. this was a huge risk for john edwards, when you think about it. he decided not to take a plea deal, according to multiple reports, and decided to fight it out here, because among other things, he wanted to be able to keep his law license. and so it turns out to be a success for him. not guilty on count three of this six-count indictment. the other five counts now a mistrial. the jury was not able to reach a
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decision in those other five counts, so a huge day for john edwards and his defense team, led by washington attorney, many have called a super lawyer, abbe lowell. with me right now is my producer, ted metzger, who was in the courtroom and couldn't get out, because the judge had threatened all of us with a contempt citation. >> that's correct. >> reporter: and you saw what went on in the courtroom. give us some sense and some of the flavor of what was happening there, ted. >> it was interesting, because it was a very short time before the judge had instructed the jury to go back and deliberate, and they came back with a note that they gave the lawyers to read, including john edwards got a copy to read along with his lawyers, of this note where the jury said they had exhausted all the possible options and edwards read the note carefully, didn't really give much expression when he first read the note, but had his glasses on, went over with it with his lawyers. the judge brought the jury back
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in. after the jury was back in, she went over the charges with the jury. the jury said they were not guilty on count three. on the other counts, they said they had exhausted all the possible options to reach a verdict and edwards really had an expression of relief, but also an expression of pain that this might have to go on. and cate gave his reassurance, but it was a moment of mixed emotions for john edwards. >> so there wasn't really any cheering, because the judge had admonished everyone, i don't want any cheering, so it was dead quiet? >> it was dead quiet in there. there wasn't even gasps or anything -- everyone was just intently watching what was going on. and there really wasn't even any reaction from the jury of any kind. the jury stays very stoic
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through the whole time. some of them looked to the court watchers for the very first time. they were probably instructed not to do that throughout the trial. i saw one juror, juror one, take a long look at the members of the court watchers for the very first time. so it was really an interesting moment, which is sort of an anti-climatic moment, because there really wasn't much res lau resolution for john edwards or this judge or for this jury. >> reporter: but i take it there were no contempt citations issued in this courtroom, because this judge at times have been very tough on the audience and the attorneys. >> and she didn't say anything to anyone in the audience about bad behavior. and it was really restrained. in fact, one of the least restrained people was abbe lowell, who had sort of a cheshire grin on his face, and started looking at the journalists in the audience, and started taking credit for what
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he thought was an ill-advised case in the first place, and really was quite possibly the most expressive person courtroom. >> reporter: absolutely, and he hasn't been expressive for quite a while, i can tell you that from seeing abbe lowell around this courtroom. he's looked quite worried and had his head down and, you know, just didn't want to talk to anyone, quite frankly. gloria, back to you. >> joe and ted, i would like to ask you this to sort of explain to our viewers how john edwards could have been acquitted on one count, which was campaign contributions from bunny mellon in 2008, but they couldn't decide on the other campaign contributions, from her -- oh, wait a minute, excuse me -- >> reporter: well, it's clear they were having problems -- >> here we are seeing a live departure. >> what'd you say, gloria? >> we're watching the jurors leave the courthouse right now, joe. i'm sorry to interrupt you. go ahead. go ahead. >> reporter: okay, yeah.
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right, i mean, these are jurors that we have not been allowed to take pictures of or to speak with ever since the beginning of this trial. so it's obviously a moment of freedom for those people. i believe it was -- what was the count? it was something like seven and five, maybe seven men, five women, and then there were four alternates along those lines. the one thing i can tell you, also, is that when i was sitting and watching some of these developments, this is when the note first came that there was actually a verdict on the one count, though we didn't know what it was, john edwards was the most active of the people in the courtroom. he was looking around. i saw him two or three times in the space of like five minutes, pouring water. obviously, he was a little parched. and clearly, very nervous, because i can't tell you what a gamble this was for this man who
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ran for president twice, twice, and once was actually on the ticket as john kerry's vice presidential nominee, to find himself facing the possibility of 30 years in prison. so a huge day for him. and clearly, a huge day for abbe lowell, not to mention some of these other lawyers. the other, little fine point i've been trying to get on tv for the longest time, that's just interesting to me personally. there are so many ties in this case. and one of the most fascinating ties i've found is andrew young, who was a star witness for the prosecution in this case, whose credibility was attacked again and again by abbe lowell, allison van laningham, who was a key defense attorney, who did the opening statement for the defense in this case, and the prosecutor, george holden, all three of these people, somehow, crossed paths in the same class in law school at wake forest. >> small world. >> which is a little-known fact
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that the attorneys passed on to me. >> small world. >> reporter: it is a very small world, and now they meet in this "titanic" clash over campaign finance payments here in greenboro, north carolina. >> okay, joe, i want you and ted to stay there. we are awaiting a statement from possibly john edwards, his prosecutor, abbe lowell, possibly the prosecution. this is a man, john edwards, who took a big gamble and a rejected a plea agreement, and it worked out for him. stay tuned. we'll finally be hearing from him.
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and we're back with the
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breaking news in the verdict of the john edwards trial. john edwards' acquitted on one count, and as you see there, a miss trial declared on all the rest of the counts. there were six counts in all, this is someone who could have had a plea agreement. john edwards, he rejected this plea agreement. he took a huge risk and today it seemed to pay off for him. john edwards acquitted on one count and a mistrial declared on the five other counts. we have a team with us, analyzing every bit of this today. and let me start with our senior legal analyst, jeff toobin. jeff, this is a jury that has deliberated for 50 hours on this case. you're a former federal prosecutor. you know what it's like to deal with juries like this. and take us inside what you
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think must have been going on in that jury room, as it tried to dissect this incredibly complex case about campaign finance reform. after all, yes, it was scandalous. but at the very base of it was a case that maybe they could never have been able to decide. >> well, what made this case so difficult is something that comes up often in white collar criminal cases, which is that it is, like the lawyers like to say, an intent case. the broad outlines of the facts were very much agreed on between both sides. there was no doubt that bunny mellon, the heiress in virginia, and fred baron, the trial lawyer in texas, paid hundreds of thousands of dollars, which they intended to be used for the sort of rielle hunter and her baby. that was agreed. the question in the case was, what was inside john edwards' head? what did he think? did he think that money was a campaign contribution that
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needed to be reported? or did he think that this was simply money that meant to go to his family and to support his extremely complicated and unfortunate family situation? so what was so difficult for the jury is trying to figure out what was inside john edwards' head. that's, in many respects, harder than a traditional sort of blue-collar crime cases. did the murder take place? you know, did john doe commit the murder? are those his fingerprints? was that his dna? when you're talking about figuring out what's inside someone's head, it's often very hard to get 12 people to agree, especially when you did not have john edwards' on the witness stand or any of the protagonists, including, of course, the two people who actually gave the money, mellon and fred bairon.
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>> let me bring in paul begala here. you know edwards quite well and see what he's gone through in this trial. if you were advising him right now, would you say come out and speak? >> i guess if i were advising him, i would say, come to the airport and move to new zealand. of course as a political matter, he's through. i hate to use such a harsh word, but he's a despised figure. i never worked for john edwards, but as a former political staffer for a lot of politicians, it was the pain of the parade of those former aides who invested their time and their talent in this guy and who believed in him. and then were rewarded by having to be dragged through the most tawdry criminal trial. they were never charged with anything, of course, they didn't do anything wrong, but the pain those wiomen and men went throuh is extraordinary. my heart goes out to them. they did not deserve this. of course, the case may not have been a meritorious case to dpben
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with, but the whole thing is just so sordid. but the sense that he'll go and practice law again, maybe, but i can tell you as a political matter, he's got maybe a popularity, a favorable rating of 3, 4, 5. i mean, it's not like juries are going to look at him as a trial lawyer again and say, i can trust him. >> right. joe johns, let me bring you in here. because you and i both cover politics. and paul begala was talking about those campaign aides coming, being pained about testifying in this case. doesn't this show us how little we really know when we cover a campaign about what's boccurrin behind the scenes? >> absolutely. and it's just incredible. ted and i are talking about, four years ago, 2008, january, that was right around the time of a big debate that we were all at in south carolina, had no clue all of this was swirling behind the scenes. in fact, a lot of people dismissed the notion that this
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tabloid stuff about john edwards that came out could possibly have been true, but turns out, it was. >> i mean, you can't make this stuff up. thanks so much, joe johns. and stay with us. we'll be right back, we're awaiting possible statements from john edwards, from his attorney, abbe lowell and the prosecution. stay tuned. last season was the gulf's best tourism season in years. in florida we had more sun tans... in alabama we had more beautiful blooms... in mississippi we had more good times... in louisiana we had more fun on the water. last season we broke all kinds of records down here on the gulf. more people more good times. this year we're out to do even better... and now's a great time to start. the sun's out and the beaches are even more relaxing. you can go deep sea fishing or enjoy our world-class restaurants... our hotels and rentals have special deals for the whole family. go golfing, kite boarding, or build the worlds biggest sand sculpture... with the world's best sand. so come on down to mississippi...
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[ male announcer ] stop the uh-oh fast with kaopectate. a verdict in the corruption trial of former senator john edwards. he is acquitted on one count and the five other count have said declared a mistrial. a very good day for john edwards in this verdict. he faced 30 years in prison and a $1.5 million fine. that is not going to kooccur. this was a risk that john edwards took. he rejected a plea agreement, decided instead to go to trial on what was a very sordid case and a complex campaign finance case. again, john edwards acquitted on one count, five counts mistrial. let me go to joe johns in
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greensboro to kind of reset the scene for us. joe, you watched those jurors day in and day out struggle with this. in the end, they could only come up with a verdict on one count. what happened here to the prosecution's case? >> reporter: tough case, tough law, tough facts, and politics probably played a role in it too. gloria, i just wanted to show you this. this is the verdict sheet that the judge always gives to the jury. they work off of this sheet as they go through the counts to try to determine the guilt or the innocence of the individual who's on trial. and as you can see, the way it's put here, no unanimous decision, and it goes all the way through. no unanimous decision on five of the counts. the only one that has an "x" here next to guilty or not guilty is count three. that is a count from 2008 involving alleged illegal
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contributions from rachel "bunny" mellon in virginia to john edwards. so the jury just didn't buy it, at the end of the day, as that seemed to be the case, and rest of it was just too difficult to decide. it was clear from the body language of these jurors, now, la looking in hindsight, that they really were torn on many of the issues that were put before them. and while john edwards took a gamble in some ways, his attorneys took a gamble too. abbe lowell deciding to keep their defense lean and mean after something like 14 days of testimony from the prosecution, the defense only took three days to put on its case and kept it very tight and focused on the issue of whether campaign finance laws have been broken. again and again they said, he may have committed a lot of sins by cheating on his wife and having an affair with a mistress, having a child with a mistress, but he committed no crimes. and from this, it looks as
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though the jury agreed with him, gloria. >> let me bring in david fromme, a former republican presidential speechwriter. david, as you well know, the decision was made not to have john edwards testify. that his attorney, abbe lowell, did not want him to testify. so did that turn out to be a smart move? >> look, i am -- i have no appetite to see john edwards go to prison and to the extent this case is about john edwards, i think we can have some human sympathy. but to the extent this case is about what is about to happen to the american campaign finance system, i think we should be very, very afraid. supposing john edwards had been elected president and supposing this story had been kept secret, wouldn't he have owed a colossal favor to fred baron. wouldn't he have been in a position where he could not have refused anything fred baron ask? and if this verdict stands -- >> or his aide, andrew young.
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>> exactly. we are in a situation where vast, undisclosed amounts of moneys can be raised outside the presidential finance system, for a presidential candidate, to be used for any person, including buying the silence of people with damaging information about them. that is a very scary outcome. i think with this and combined with citizens united, we have a lot of annoying paperwork requirements, but there's no campaign finance system in the united states at all anymore. we have gone back, essentially, of a system of unlimited, secret donations for any purpose. >> jeff toobin and i were talking about that earlier and he called it wild, wild west. and let me just bring in mike duffy for a moment, who covers politics, washington bureau chief for "time" magazine. do you agree that now this kind of is sort of anything can happen when it comes to campaign finance at this point? >> we've known for a long time that these are really hard cases to prosecute, but i think the edwards team had a special wild card, and that was john edwards. this is a man who before he was a vice presidential candidate or a presidential candidate or even a defendant, was one of the best
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courtroom readers north carolina had ever seen. he knew how to read a jury, he knew how to read a judge, he was really good at that. and his defense team had him as a consultant in his own case. and you could see, that's why they did -- >> not as a witness. >> no, not as a witness, they had made that decision not to. that was another "x" factor, and i think both sides had decided for days that the it would end with him walking. >> so jeff, what does this mean for money in politics now? >> it means that this is really something that is being deregulated. the message of citizens united, the message of this trial is that the legal system is less and less involved in american politics, at least the financing of it. and we are simply leaving it to the private market. you know, i thought david fromme made a very good point about how department john edwards would have been on fred baron.
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how about if newt gingrich were elected president, how dependent would he have been on mr. adelson, who essentially single handedly funded his campaign. >> or what about being dependent on unknown donors that the candidate may know about, but maybe we don't? >> right. at least at the moment, disclosure requirements are still okay with the supreme court. they still uphold the requirement that donations to super pacs have to be identified by who gave the money. but as a result of citizens united and the is cases that followed, there are no limits on how much anyone can give. so we have situations now where single people underwrite entire political campaigns, as it was with mr. adelson and the gingrich presidential campaign. here you have a situation where a great deal of money changed hands between bunny mellon, fred
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baron, and people associated with john edwards and that is not something that is part -- you know, we now know, a jury has found as criminal. now, my mentor in journalism was michael kinsley, and he likes to say, the scandal isn't what's illegal, the scandal is what's legal. because it's what society chooses not to punish that tells you sort of where you are as a society. and i think all this money sloshing around with nobody being prosecuted, nobody stopping it, that tells you much more in a way than any criminal prosecution will tell you. >> mike duffy? >> we were also seeing both parties say nothing about this. they're both going to be at this the trough for this entire political cycle. neither party really saying, let's fix this. i don't think john edwards is going to start a fourth career. so i think we're going to see a period where there are no rules. >> let me bring in paul begala.
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are you still with us? >> i am, gloria. i'm part of the super pac that's supporting a president, yet i want to see the system reformed. the president, i'm pretty sure about this, has even called for a constitutional amendment to overturn citizened united. it's not true that both sides like the current system. it is true that both sides are participating in the current system. let me put a little finer point on it. even before citizens united, individuals could give unlimited amounts to independent groups. that's how we got the swift boat attacks on john kerry. citizens united was about corporate money. so to take david fromme's analogy further, what if the next time there's some scandal like this, instead of wealthy friends, and i knew fred baron, and he was a dear friends of john edwards, instead of wealthy friends, what if it is corporations? and that need never be disclosed, because it could be done through various groups. a corporation could give money to some other group, the group
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could then support your mistress, in the case of mr. edwards, senator edwards, and you would not just even owe your friend, fred baron, you would owe x, y, z corporation. and that's the new wrinkle of really pernicious and -- >> paul -- >> -- corporate money. >> paul, let me interrupt you for a moment, if i might. we are just about to get a statement from john edwards. you see him there with his mother and his father and his daughter, cate. we're told he's not going to take questions, but will speak. >> well, we wanted to say first thank you for the jurors and their incredibly hard work and their diligence. they took their job very, very seriously, as we saw both during the trial, the attention they paid to the evidence during the trial, the presentations of the lawyers, and the fact that
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they've now spent nine, almost nine full days deliberating, trying to reach a fair and just result under the evidence in the law. and all i can say is, thank goodness we live in a country that has the kind of system that we have. and i think those jurors were an exemplar for what juries are supposed to do in this country. they were very, very impressive. the sec thing i want to say just a word about is responsibility. and this is about me. i want to make sure that person hears from me and from my voice that while i do not believe i did anything illegal or ever thought i was doing anything illegal, i did an awful, awful lot that was wrong. and there is no one else responsible for my sins. none of the people who came to court and testified are responsible, nobody working for
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the government is responsible. i am responsible. and if i want to find the person who should be held accountable for my sins, honestly, i don't have to go any further than the mirror. it's me. it is me and me alone. the next thing i want to say a word about is the people that i love, because it's been an incredible experience for me to watch my parents, my dad just turned 80, my mom, who's 78, tromp up here from robin, north carolina, every day to be with me and to support me, and i love them so much, and they did such a wonderful job raising me and my brother, blake, and my sister, cathy, who i also love dearly. i also want to say a word about my own children.
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ka cate, who most all of you have seen, has been here every single day. she has been here no matter, no matter how awful and painful a lot of the evidence was for her. evidence about her dad, with evidence about her mom, who she loves so, so dearly, but she never once flinched. she said, dad, i love you, i'll be there for you, no matter what. and i'm so proud to have had her with me through all this process. and then, finally, emma, who turned 14 recently, emma claire and jack, who just turned 12, who i take care of every day, and i've not been able to see them quite as much, but i see them in the morning, i get their breakfast ready, get them off to school, and then we get home at night and we all eat supper together, and i love them both so dearly. and they're such an important part of every day of my life.
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and then, finally, my precious quinn. who i love more than any of you could ever imagine. and i am so close to and so, so grateful for. so grateful for quinn. i'm grateful for all my children, incoming my son, wade, who we lost years ago. but you know, this is the last thing i'm going to say. i don't think god's through with me. i really believe he thinks there's still some good things i can do. and whatever happens with this legal stuff going forward, what i'm hopeful about is all those kids that i've seen, you know, in the poorest parts of this country and in some of the poorest places in the world, that i can help them.
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in whatever way i'm still capable of helping them. and i want to dedicate my life to being the best dad i can be and to helping those kids who i think deserve the help and who i hope i can help. thank you all very much. >> that was an amazing statement from senator, former senator, john edwards, who spoke about the legal case, but really spent most of his time taking responsibility for his personal actions and he said, if i want to find a person responsible for my sin, it's me and me alone. and then named all of his children whom heloved, including quinn, the child he had out of wedlock with rielle hunter, and his son wade, who died in a car crash at the age of 16. and then he made a statement saying, i don't think god is through with me.
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i'm hopeful there are things i can do and i want to dedicate my life to helping people. let me go right to joe johns, who's there on the scene to get your reaction, joe. >> reporter: yeah. the first thing, i think, you have to say is, that's the kind of statement that you would have expected him to say to a jury if he could have said to a jury and was not subject to cross-examination, which he would have been if he testified. clearly, he's remorseful for all that he did. i was going to say, all that happened, but all that he did, and clearly he's now trying to look forward, even though he sort of pointed out in that statement, he doesn't know what's going to happen going forward on retrial or no retrial of these charges. which the prosecution, the united states government, has the option of doing if they want to. the other thing that was very interesting in there, gloria, i mean, you pretty much covered everything, but very interesting that he referenced all of those kids i've seen in the poorest
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places of the world. john edwards had suggested that one of the reasons he fought very hard and actually took this case to trial was because he wanted to retain his freedom and his law license, because he wanted to start some type of poverty law practice to help some of the poorest people in the world as you know, for years and years, back during the time he was running for president, he talked about poverty, the two americas, the least among us. it's been a continuing theme in his life, and it's pretty clear that he wants to continue with that theme, presuming he doesn't have anymore legal exposure here. but that, of course, is still an open question. a lot of speculation that the government wouldn't try to bring a case like this again. there's been some other speculation that the government just might want to bring a case like this again, simply because during an election year, the obama administration might think twice about playing favorites for a democrat in a state like
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north carolina. be that as it may, it's down the road and who knows what's going to happen next. a big day for john edwards, one of the biggest of his life, not to mention for his lawyer, abbe lowe lowell, who took this case against a lot of people's recommendations, perhaps, and went ahead and won it. >> okay, paul begala, david fromme, i want to get your reactions quickly to what we just saw from john edwards. paul? >> well, you know, what you saw there was a terribly emotional man. i think you'd have to have a heart of stone not to feel at least something for the guy, particularly when he talked about that baby who he had disavowed on national television when she was born. and you could clearly see that he knows the pain that he's caused. i think that's a good thing. you know, the only dumb thing f. scott fitzgerald ever wrote was that there are no second acts in american life. there are second and third and fourth acts, as we have seen. but senator edwards has got a long way to go. i think he probably did himself
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some good. i was -- the one omission that john edwards already pointed out, he needs to thank that lawyer of his, abbe lowell, who did a wonderful job. >> right. david? >> well, i have no appetite to see john edwards punished further. he's been dragged through the limelight in a way that has to be pretty horrible for him and for his family. but i think we will rue this day. if this is a legal precedent, we have just ripped off the last limits on what people who might be president can do with the money they ask for from powerful friends. >> okay. and let me just go to mike duffy, quickly, about you've covered john edwards, you've watched him a lot. >> i'm aware of how good a speaker he can be. even having said that, that was one of the most, i think, unprecedented moments of self-contrition i've seen in a while. who knows now genuine it is. i can't speak to that. you can't imagine that he's going away. i think he's -- i see a charitable foundation in his future somewhere. >> here is john edwards leaving
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the courthouse now, heading into his car. there is his daughter, cate. the pickup truck. and let me ask you, mike, i heard a little bit in the end of his speech, the two americas that we used to hear so often on the campaign trail, when john edwards ran, and also when he ran as vice president on the ticket with john kerry. >> you just can't make any predictions anymore about what becomes of someone like this. he's just -- it's in his blood. we'll see what he does. but he is not done. >> no, i don't think so. jeff toobin, i want to bring you in on this. he did thank the jurors for their hard work and their diligence. and he thanked god he lived in this country, because -- and thanked the legal system, because in a way, more than anyone else, john edwards seemed to have faith in this legal system and decided not to cut any kind of a deal before going to court.
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>> he knows his business. and he was a trial lawyer long before he was a politician and he was apparently one of the best in the country. he was famous for not taking many cases. he was not one of these plaintiff lawyer who is took a high volume of cases. he would investigate cases very carefully, and decide, these are the ones that i think can generate a tremendous amount of money in damage awards, and he had an extraordinarily high batting average. he decided to roll the dice with this jury and he won. i mean, you know -- >> right. >> frankly, you know, i'm not sitting there in washington with you. i thought it would have been better if he simply stopped after he said, this is all my fault. it sounded a little bit like a campaign speech to me after that. >> oh! >> you know, helping young people and all of that. you know, like, why don't you just go off and do something privately. i mean, i just think, what he did was wrong. he, i think, was prosecuted in a
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case that shouldn't have been brought. but, i think that's it. >> and he did take responsibility, which is something we don't hear a lot in political speeches. >> i thought that was the best part of his statement. he said, this was just my fault. he repeated the refrain that abbe lowell, his lawyer, did so effectively, which is that i'm a sinner, but i'm not a criminal. but i thought that was enough. >> okay, jeff toobin, thanks so much. all of these fine folks will be with us. stay with us. we'll have much more on the john edwards verdict and other news, so stay with us for the next hour. >> and this is about me. i want to make sure that everyone hears from me and from my voice that while i do not believe i did anything illegal or ever thought i was doing anything illegal, i did an awful, awful lot that was wrong. [ woman ] it's like a magnet. pulling us together for different reasons.
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and now on to the presidential race. mitt romney went to california today to a place where he could hit president obama in a vulnerable spot. he made a surprise appearance at the failed energy company, solyndra. here's our senior political correspondent, jim acosta. >> reporter: mitt romney showed up across the street from the failed solar panel manufacturer, solyndra, to hand out a stinging indictment. the president used taxpayer money to reward his campaign contributors in a scheme that never helped the economy. >> free enterprise for the president means taking money from the taxpayers and giving it freely to his friends. heads and his cronies win and tails and the taxpayers lose. >> reporter: it was two years ago this week that president obama visited solyndra to highlight the results of a $500 million in federal loan guarantees, complements of the stimulus program. >> the true engine of economic growth will always be companies like solyndra. >> reporter: but solyndra has been a disaster for the
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president. not only has the company filed for bankruptcy, its offices were raided by federal agents after an energy department inspector general found d.o.e. officials did not provide sufficient transparency in awarding loans. a d.o.e. official connected to the deal, steve spinner, was also a big obama contributor in 2008. >> the decision to put money in this enterprise represents a serious conflict of interest. >> reporter: for days, romney's solyndra event was a closely guarded campaign secret. even in the hours before the san francisco area visit, reporters covering his campaign were kept in the dark. >> we don't know where we're going. >> that's true. >> they could be dropping us off at alcatraz for good. >> a one-way ticket. >> a one-way ticket to alcatraz. there's no telling where we're going. >> reporter: about a half hour after reporters boarded the campaign press bus. >> good morning, how you doing? >> reporter: romney got on as well, and staff members revealed
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the final destination, they said that secrecy was a must, because they feared that president obama would somehow try to shut down the solyndra event. but romney would not go that far on camera. >> why is there so much secrecy surrounding this event? one of your advisers said that it was because that you were afraid that president obama would try to shut it down? >> i think there are people who don't want to see this event occur. >> reporter: still, the messaged discipline stood in stark contrast with the circus surrounding obama campaign strategist david axelrod's campaign news conference across the country in boston, as romney supporters tried to disrupt the event, axelrod pointed to the former massachusetts governor's 47th in the nation job creation record. >> you can't handle the truth, my friends! >> reporter: romney defended his team's efforts to make mischief, saying obama supporters do the same thing. >> what's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. >> reporter: and all of that secrecy surrounding the solyndra event may have gone to waste, as
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mitt romney was stepping off his bus here earlier this afternoon, all of the news networks were switching over to the white house, where president obama was honoring former president george w. bush with a portrait hanging there. and gloria, truth be told, we all sort of guessed it was solyndra earlier in the day, and so did much of the news media. they had satellite trucks here. there was even a news chopper over our heads when we all arrived. gloria? >> no surprise there, right, jim? >> reporter: we can guess, that's right. >> that's right. >> reporter: it took a little bit of guessing, but the parlor game eventually turned to solyndra. >> thanks a lot. okay, up next, a rare moment. three presidents at the white house. and it made for a lot of laughs thanks to former president george w. bush. plus, new york mayor michael bloomberg's latest move to make the city healthy. but it's making a lot of people angry. what's with you?
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at the white house today, some laughs, a few tears, and
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not much politics. the bush clan returned for the unveils of george w. bush's official portrait. and the former president stole the show. watch this. >> from time to time, those of us who have had the privilege to hold this office find ourselves turning to the only people on earth who know the feeling. we may have our differences politically, but the presidency transcends those differences. we all love this country, we all want america to succeed. the months before i took the oath of office was a chaotic time. we knew our economy was in trouble, our fellow americans were in pain, but we wouldn't know until later just how breathtaking the financial crisis had been and still, over those 2 1/2 months, in the midst of that crisis, president bush, his cabinet, his staff, many of you who are here today, went out of your ways, george, you went out of your way, to make sure
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that the transition to a new administration was as seamless as possible. president bush understood that rescuing our economy was not just a democratic or republican issue, it was an american priority. i'll always be grateful for that. the same is true for our national security. none of us will ever forget where we were on that terrible september day when our country was attacked. all of us will always remember the image of president bush standing on that pile of rubble, bull horn in hand, conveying extraordinary strength and resolve to the american people, but also representing the strength and resolve of the american people. and last year when we delivered justice to osama bin laden, i made it clear that our success was due to many people in many organizations working together over many years, across two administrations. that's why my first call once
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american forces were safely out of harm's way was to president bush. finally, on a personal note, michelle and i are grateful to the entire bush family for their guidance and their example during our own transition. george, i will always remember the gathering you hosted for all the living former presidents before i took office, your kind words of encouragement, plus, you also left me a really good tv sports package. i use it. >> mr. president, thank you for your warm hospitality, and madame first lady, thank you so much for inviting our rowdy friends to my hanging. laura and i are honored to be here. mr. vice president, thank you for coming. we are overwhelmed by your
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hospitality. i am pleased that my portrait brings an interesting symmetry to the white house collection. it now starts and ends with a george w. when the british burned the white house, as fred mentioned, in 1814, dolly madison famously saved this portrait of the first george w. now, michelle, if anything happens, there's your man. i am also pleased, mr. president, that when you are wandering these halls as you wrestle with tough decisions, you'll now be able to gaze at this portrait and ask, what would george do?
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i am honored to be hanging near a man who gave me the greatest gift possible, unconditional love, and that would be number 4 41. >> the portraits by john howard sandion show bush standing in the oval office, while mrs. bush is in the green room which she helped refurnish ir. and new york city wants to ban supersized soft drinks. it may be a move for our health, but should government be making decisions about our diet? a debate on that, next. plus, arrested for dui on a lawn mower. jeanne moos is next with a week of vehicles ending up in places they should not. i wanted to make droothraki feel kind of like an old book or maybe some comfortable clothes that have been worn, shoes that have been walked in for miles and miles. >> for instance, he mentioned there's no phrase for "thank
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after pounding away at mitt romney's record as a business leader, the obama campaign is now targeting his term as governor of massachusetts. the democrats took their attack to romney's backyard today, but they ran into some republican resistance. cnn chief white house correspondent jessica yellin is here with us. yeah, they did run into some resistance. >> they did, gloria. you might call it a noisy rollout, complete with dueling news conferences and rowdy protesters. when the obama campaign turned up in boston and they took aim at romney's record as governor and a job creator. next time the opposition visits the romney campaign's home turf, they might want to rally at an indoor location. >> repeated, it is great to be in the city of springfield. >> reporter: those are romney supporters blowing bubbles on the sidelines and trying to drown out the obama campaign's message. >> you can shout down speakers, my friends, but it's hard to etch a sketch the truth away. >> reporter: that's the obama
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campaign's top strategist, david axelrod, opening a second front in the war on romney's economic record. first, the argument that romney's time at bain does not make him an economic guru. >> it brought the orientation of a financial engineer, whose career has not been about generating jobs, it's been about generating short-term profit. >> reporter: now he's making the case that romney's record in massachusetts proves it. >> and it wasn't happenstance, folks, that massachusetts stumbled under governor romney. >> reporter: this obama campaign video argues romney's message hasn't changed from 2002 -- >> i know how jobs are created and how jobs are lost. >> reporter: to now. >> i know why jobs come and why they go. >> reporter: and it insists the former governor did not deliver in massachusetts. >> by the time that romney left office, we were 47th in the nation in terms of job growth. >> reporter: the fact checking organization, politifact, says the claim is accurate, but massachusetts' sluggish growth
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was not all romney's fault. >> massachusetts made a gamble on high-tech, and those jobs went away in the late '90s, early 2000s, and mitt romney had to kind of -- and the others in the legislature and the state had to kind of find jobs to fill that vacuum. >> at a dueling press conference, romney's supporters defended his record. >> that under governor romney, massachusetts created more net new jobs in the state than president obama has created in the last four years, in the last four years of the united states. >> reporter: polling in massachusetts shows the former governor trailing the president by 25 points. >> he also promised to -- >> broken record! >> reporter: a point the campaign made over the din. >> these may be the only voters, right here, for mitt romney in massachusetts. >> it was a rowdy scene. now, the point of the obama campaign showing up there was try to convince voters that romney's record at bain and at private equity did not prepare him to be governor and similarly does not prepare him to turn
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around the nation's economy. and gloria, you can also expect them to take on mitt romney's record at the olympics as well and to keep up attacks on all three fronts through the elections. >> it seems to be kind of a rollout. first they start with bain, then they go to massachusetts, then they'll go to the olympics. >> they'll keep it all -- it's all part of a package and a piece. >> romney economics, as they call it. >> yes. >> thanks a lot, jessica. and banning supervised sodas in the big apple? is that a good idea or is it just too much government? mayor michael bloomberg fires back at critics in three minutes. plus, you probably heard a lot of stories that start with some guy sitting in a bar. but not like this one. [ female announcer ] the sun powers life.
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new yorkers could soon see limits in how much soda they're allowed to drink when they go out. it's all part of a new ban the city is proposing on supersized sugary beverages as part of its controversial war on obesity. let's bring in our mary snow with details. gulp. >> reporter: gloria, you know, this proposed ban would be far reaching, even affecting street vendors like the kind you see behind me. some are blasting this plan. others are applauding it. and because of other cities have adopted health initiatives that have been taken on by new york, this is getting a lot of attention. supersized drinks like this are
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the target of a first-of-its-kind ban that new york mayor michael bloomberg wants to propose. his proposal, prohibit sugary drinks larger than 16 ounces. he canceled an appearance at a news conference with his health commissioner and instead went on msnbc to answer to critics, who say he's running a nanny state that's gone too far. >> we're not taking away anybody's right to do anything. all we're trying to do is remind you that this is something that could be -- should be -- not should be, is detrimental to your health, and to do something about this national epidemic. it's not perfect. >> reporter: this is bloomberg's latest health initiative to make waves. he's banned smoking in public places, cut out trans fat in restaurants, and has restaurants post calories. in harlem, which has some of the highest obesity and diabetes rates in the city, there's mixed opinions. >> i think that's not a bad idea. because if you raise the price or if you ban it, then our children have a better chance of, you know, a healthy life. because the sugary drinks to me
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are really detrimental to our children. >> i think it's ridiculous. i think it's just another step in trying to control what people are doing, and i think it's unnecessary. >> reporter: right now at mcdonald's, this is a large. it's 32 ounces. but if this ban on large sugary drinks sugary drinks goes through. this small would be the new large. mcdonald's for one calls it a narrowly focused and misguided ban. a grade group for the city's restaurant say they would be hit with burdensome restrictions. movie theaters are calling it a nanny approach. vendors would be affected. supermarkets and convenience stores would not be impacted. do you think this will make any difference? >> i do think it will make a difference. >> reporter: dr. iliana vchl orgas says the city's obesity rate is particularly high in poor neighborhoods and she
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thinks sugar is a big problem. >> it is 13-14 teaspoons of sugar in this bottle. >> reporter: it is not the first battle they have had with mayor bloomberg. >> soft drinks are calories. we consume lots of other calories. let's try to do serious things to fight obesity and just picking on one source of food or beverage is not going to be the solution. >> reporter: the board of health is going to start considering this proposal next month. if it is approved, it wouldn't go into effect until next year. then, restaurants would have nine months before they face $200 fines. gloria? >> i can see a lot of free refills, mary. >> absolutely. if there are refills, they won't be able to have 16-ounce. they will only have 16-ounce cups. >> thanks, mary snow. two american tourists kidnapped in egypt are now free. our lisa sylvester is monitoring
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that and some of the other top stories in the situation room. what do you have? >> the state department confirms two men have been released unharmed. cnn spoke with one of them while in custody and denied a report that they were free. gunmen kidnapped the tourists demanding the release of a man arrested for drug possession. authorities are launching an international manhunt for canadian man suspected of dismembering an acquaintance and mailing the body parts to a political party headquarters. they suggested the man, a porn star, has fled the country prompting interpol to add him to their most wanted list. they found an online video of him committing the crime. a boost for gay rights supporters and the obama administration. a u.s. appeals court striking down a key part of the defensive marriage act, the federal law defining marriage for government purposes as unions exclusively
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between a man and a woman. federal benefits cannot be denied in marnriages that are legal under state law. gloria? >> thanks a lot, lisa. >> arrested for a dui on a lawn mower. got to hear about that. together, they raised ap test scores 138%. just imagine our potential... ...if the other states joined them. let's raise our scores. let's invest in our teachers and inspire our students. let's solve this. [ woman ] it's like a magnet. pulling us together for different reasons. music. games. photos. shows. we share stories, laugh... and truly engage.
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>> here is a look at this hour's hot shots. in india, police officers stand in formation during a ceremony for the outgoing chief. in london, an echo friendly lighting system illuminates the tower bridge with special lights for the queen's diamond jubilee. 15 couples in germy celebrate after renewing their
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vows. also in germany, a 7-year-old cougar balances on the shoulders of its keeper at a zoo in berlin. i should have said a seven-week-old cougar. a lawn mower in the middle of traffic. a truck busting into a bar, a car driving through a restaurant. it sounds like something made for fix but it all actually happened. here is cnn's jeanne moos. >> reporter: he sure wasn't mowing a lawn. at least he didn't mow down any peds as he waved at the officer in not so hot pursuit behind him. >> i hit my siren and he kept saying, go around, go around. >> he is in traffic with a lawn mower. >> reporter: the officer pulled him over into i aparking lot in jackson, wisconsin, where a curb stopped him. >> how much did you have to drink tonight? >> one beer.
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>> reporter: 69-year-old charles gray wasn't happy about having to take sobriety tests. turns out, he had three previous drur drunk driving arrests in cars. he took a breathalyzer and it resulted in his first arrest for dui on a lawn mower. it has been a weird week for vehicles ending up in places they shouldn't be. in a place called little canada, minnesota. customers at this bar were shooting the breeze, watch the woman on the end take a last sip and then boom. police say the 51-year-old woman who drove her truck into the bar likely had a diabetic condition. >> it happened like that. you didn't have time to react. pat sa zinsky was the bartender. he barely got out of the way in time. three people were pinned. a total of six went to the hospital. no one died. the impact left this customer days to watch the woman who had
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been beside him get up and lift debris out of the way. in huntington, long island, a 21-year-old accused of being drunk drove a red mercedes through a house ending up in the backyard. the homeowners weren't hurt. the new york daily news dubbed it a drive-through. speaking of drive-throughs, how about the guy that went loco over a taco a beef over too little beef or chicken. he picked up his food and came back to the restaurant saying he was short a taco. >> he was very sarcastic and rude. >> reporter: he drove through the front entrance. police followed a trail of fluid from his truck and arrested him at home. when they say take ut o, they don't mean take out the entrance. jeanne moos, cfn, new york. thanks for joining us.
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i'm gloria borger in for wolf blitzer in "the situation room." the news conties next on cnn. good evening. i'm john king. tonight, a bizarre twist in the john edwards trial. after nine days of deliberations, the jury finds the former senator and presidential candidate, not guilty on one count and deadlocks on the other five. a mistrial. an in your face day on presidential politics. president obama's top strategist visits the massachusetts mass state house to liable sh label mitt romney a failure. mitt romney visits a green energy company as proof that the president's stimulus package are disaster. george w. bush returns to the white house, or as he put it, his hanging. a portrait unveiling that was moving and very funny. we begin with this afternoon's messy and emotional ending in

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