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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
President Obama Defends Supreme Court Pick; Interview With Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright
Aired May 29, 2009 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight: President Obama answers the critics. You will hear him acknowledge his Supreme Court pick should have found better words when talking about her heritage. But he also says he can't find a better nominee and that what she stands for is OK with him.
Also, tonight, did an exchange student murder her roommate in a swirl of sex and drugs, or this a case of justice itself gone wild? An American woman in a foreign country facing trial in the middle of a tabloid tornado. Can she get a fair shake? We will ask her father. It's a 360 exclusive.
Plus, back home, the kind of a story that only comes if you dig a little. You will see an amazing and completely unsettling world hidden beneath an L.A. freeway -- all that and more in the hour ahead.
We begin, though, with President Obama defending his choice of Sonia Sotomayor for the Supreme Court, but also trying to clean up one of her most controversial statements. At issue, words she spoke back in 2001. To some, they suggest believes a Latina judge would reach better conclusions than a white male. To others, the full message of her speech was precisely the opposite, a warning to guard against making such assumptions.
In any case, they have thrown the White House a bit on the defensive. But, as you will see right now, President Obama believes the best defense is a good offense.
The latest from Ed Henry at the White House -- Ed.
ED HENRY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, tonight, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs is acknowledging that Judge Sotomayor used a poor choice of words in this speech eight years ago when she suggested that a Latina woman more often than not would reach a better conclusion than a white male in key cases.
The most important point tonight, though, is that despite saying it was a poor choice of words, from the president on down, they are still standing behind this nominee, saying that you read this entire speech from eight years ago, the broader point from Judge Sotomayor was basically that personal experience can influence your decision- making, but it's not necessarily the dominant part of that.
And in an interview tonight with NBC News' Brian Williams, the president went a step further, by firing away at Republican critics who have suggested that her comments were racist. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "NBC NIGHTLY NEWS")
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm sure she would have restated it.
But if you look in the entire sweep of the essay that she wrote, what's clear is that she was simply saying that her life experiences will give her information about the struggles and hardships that people are going through that will make her a good judge.
I think that when she's appearing before the Senate committee in her confirmation process, I think all this nonsense that is being spewed out will be revealed for what it is.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: So, Ed, when the president says all this nonsense being spewed out, who is he talking about?
HENRY: Well, he is certainly referring, without naming them, to people like Rush Limbaugh, Newt Gingrich, non-elected Republicans on the outside, who have suggested that the judge's comments were racist.
But what's significant is that we have now seen a Republican senator, John Cornyn, come out and say that those comments from Gingrich, Limbaugh are wrong, that they set the wrong tone. And why is that significant? John Cornyn, as you know, is the Republican in charge of electing more Senate Republicans in 2010.
By suggesting this is the wrong tone, he's worried there will be a backlash against Republicans if they go too far here. The other significant part of all that, top White House officials in private saying, they are more than happy to take a step back, let Republicans fight it out. They will focus on the nomination -- John.
KING: Ed Henry for us at the White House -- thanks, Ed.
And, as Ed mentioned, most GOP senators have been largely cautious. Conservative bloggers and radio voices, not so much. Causing perhaps the most heat, former Congressman Tom Tancredo objecting to Judge Sotomayor's membership in the Hispanic organization La Raza, calling it the equivalent, without hoods and lynching, he adds, of the KKK.
"Digging Deeper" now with Lionel Sosa. He's the executive director of Mexicans and Americans Thinking Together. We should also point out he's on the board of La Raze. And with us as well, our own Joe Johns.
Lionel, let me start with you.
You are on the board of La Raza. You also have been someone who has advised Republican candidates over the years. Let's look at Tom Tancredo's comments, also Rush Limbaugh and Newt Gingrich saying she's a racist because of some of her speeches and rulings. Your first impression on what this does to the image of the Republican Party. LIONEL SOSA, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, MEXICANS AND AMERICANS THINKING TOGETHER: Well, the image needs to be better among Latinos. There's no doubt about that.
I think we did a great disservice to ourselves by having people like Tancredo and others be against immigration reform. This is something that all Latinos are interested in. You talk against immigration reform, you talk against Latino families. And Latinos don't like that.
Now, being against this particular nomination is ridiculous. I think Tancredo is an idiot. I expect it from Rush Limbaugh, but I certainly expected a whole better from my good friend Newt Gingrich. Newt Gingrich understands the importance of the Latino vote. And he certainly needs to look at his statements a little bit closer, because anybody that opposes Sotomayor is going to pay the price at election time.
And I hope that Senator Cornyn comes -- comes loud and clear very, very soon. Sure, he has to ask the tough questions. And every Republican needs to ask the tough questions. But, in the end, we all need to be behind her. Why? Because she is perfectly qualified.
KING: Back to the Republicans in a moment.
But, Joe, I want to bring you into the conversation, because when the president of the United States is out trying to clean something up, it suggests they see an issue, if not a problem. The allegation of course was that Judge Sotomayor was practicing identity politics, saying that she was better than a white male judge because of her heritage in some cases.
Case closed? Have they cleaned this up, or still more for the judge to answer?
JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: Well, in the first place, he has to sort of get control of this thing. You don't want it to get out of control. Nobody is saying she's not going to be confirmed.
After all, a lot of Democratic analysts are suggesting, the question is whether she gets 65 votes or 80 votes. And a lot of people say, 65 votes, that suggested she's been painted as a true liberal -- 80 votes, she looks more like a moderate.
So, has the president cleaned it up? He at least has stepped up there and said what he had to say. The fact of the matter is, this president really could not embrace these comments because they sort of go against the way he ran in the last campaign. He did what he had to do. People don't want to get it out of control, because the situation turns toxic, as you know, that's a big problem for a Supreme Court nomination.
KING: Lionel Sosa, I want to come back to your point about Republicans, because some clearly have what they believe to be legitimate questions about affirmative action cases, about some of her speeches, about some of her other rulings.
Help me understand the language of this for you, because you're -- I'm sure you are not suggesting that they shouldn't ask about those cases and perhaps vote against her if they disagree with her rulings. But language, matters here, right?
SOSA: Well, I think that, you know, this is something that's going to happen.
And I think that Republicans need to be very, very careful how they ask their questions -- and certainly they do need to ask them -- but, in the end, that we come across compassionate and that we come across as friends of Latinos, because the Latino electorate is getting bigger and bigger every year.
And we are having a great influence on who is going to be elected and who is not going to be elected. So, they have to be extremely careful about this.
KING: And, Joe, help us break down this Republican divide. You have the Republicans out there like Newt, like Rush saying she's racist, Tom Tancredo saying what we have been talking about, but others out there saying let's tone this down. Let's set that language aside and let's look at the speeches. Let's look at her -- her judicial rulings from the bench.
Who is going to win in the end? I guess it's the elected senators who get to ask the questions and cast the votes.
JOHNS: Sure. And there are a lot of lawyers on the Senate Judiciary Committee sitting around scratching their heads wondering, when are we going to start talking about the law?
SCOTUSblog, which is very well-known for counting up and reading very carefully the decisions, says that there's something like 100 cases that the Second Circuit Court that she's on actually looked at with regard to race. They say they have gotten through about 50. And, frankly, very few of these cases actually that were even brought in and decided on the grounds of race.
So, if you go through the whole length and breadth of her record, it's a lot different from taking a sound bite, something she said at one point or another, and sort of blown it out of proportion. Some senators would really like to get to that.
On the other hand, as you know, many Republican conservatives have said it would be good idea to have a pretty good Supreme Court right, because they can talk about their own issues and sort of promote them to the American public.
Democrats say it's good for them because the culture war helps. So, supposedly, everybody wins.
KING: And, Lionel Sosa, quickly, in closing, Judge Sotomayor will start making the rounds on Capitol Hill. They usually don't say much in those meetings, but are Latino Americans, maybe Republican Latinos, in a state where you are, in Texas, what are they looking to hear from her?
SOSA: Well, they are -- as Republicans, we are supporting her. As Republicans, Latinos, we are supporting her, because I think it is very important that every qualified Latino have a chance to step up to their fullest potential.
So, whether we are Republicans or Democrats, we need to be behind this woman. She is exactly right for the job. And I'm sure she will make an outstanding Supreme Court justice.
KING: Lionel Sosa in Texas, Joe Johns here with us, thank you both tonight.
And there's a lot more to see online. Go to AC360.com to read the full text of that speech Judge Sotomayor gave back in 2001 in context, that speech drawing much of the heat. And decide for yourself what you think of her remarks.
As always, let us know what you think by joining the live chat, also at AC360.com.
And coming up: She dealt with North Korea the last time it got ugly. Now, with new signs of trouble there, tonight, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright joins Erica Hill for the 360 interview.
And, later, a strange journey to a land down under, under the earth, under a freeway in the middle of a city, where people lived, some for years, hidden from view. You will see it up close for the very first time and meet one of the residents.
Plus, New York is just wild about Harry, and Britain's party prince getting serious at ground zero. What he said about it and what New Yorkers said about him -- tonight on 360.
KING: New signs tonight North Korea might be preparing yet another missile test, after a week that saw six and one nuclear test, satellite photos showing missile carriers at a launch site, but apparently no missiles on them.
Also today, North Korea vowed retaliation for any upcoming U.N. sanctions, a chilling week, setting the stage for tonight's 360 interview, Erica Hill and former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright -- Erica.
ERICA HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, despite what is happening, even North Korea launching that sixth missile, the former secretary of state was clear with me this afternoon. When I asked her whether or not military action should be on the table, she said the focus should be on a diplomatic solution.
HILL: Madam Secretary, Secretary of State Clinton this week said North Korea faces consequences for its acts. Is it time to get tough with Korea? And, if so, what are those consequences?
MADELEINE ALBRIGHT, FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Well, the situation with North Korea is indeed grave. And they keep kind of escalating what they are doing.
And what the U.S. is working on, Secretary Clinton and Ambassador Rice, is to get a sanctions resolution up in New York, to get international condemnation of what the North Koreans are doing. I think that's a very important part, so that this is not just America alone objecting to what the North Koreans are doing. And I think that is a very appropriate way to go.
HILL: So, having that -- that international coalition of sorts coming together for this, China is obviously a key part of that. But it's important to point out, even though former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton said China could end this thing tomorrow, China and the U.S. have very different goals here.
Should the U.S. and the international community be relying so heavily on China to come in at this point?
ALBRIGHT: Well, I don't know that we have entirely different goals.
I think the Chinese also don't want to see a nuclear power on their borders. They are concerned about the complete collapse of North Korea, because they don't want a lot of refugees streaming into their country. So, obviously, that's different from where we are.
But what we need to do is to make very clear that the whole nonproliferation system is broken, and that there needs to be international action on that, and that we are in this together.
And the Chinese do have more influence over the North Koreans than we do. They played a very important role in the six-party talks. And while we can't outsource our foreign policy to the Chinese, they clearly do have an important role here.
HILL: When it comes to -- to starting talks up again, specifically with North Korea, you are the highest-ranking U.S. official to have met with Kim Jong Il. What exactly do you think he wants out of these tests, besides the attention that clearly he has already gained?
ALBRIGHT: Well, it was interesting.
When I met with him, the -- what he wanted was very different, was to have talks with the United States. And we were in the middle of talks. There was a missile moratorium. We were looking at a verifiable agreement to limit their missiles and their export of technology.
What I think, now, we are less clear about what he wants. From everything that I can tell, a lot of what he is doing has a domestic audience. He is not well, from everything we know. He is interested in making sure that one of his sons succeeds him. There's some kind of internal issues going on with the military.
So, I think that what he's trying to accomplish has more domestic significance than international. But, clearly, what he is doing is making the countries in the region nervous.
HILL: But -- but, based on, then, your experience with him, even if this may be more for a show within the borders of North Korea, from the outside, to a lot of people, he comes off as a bit of a madman, unpredictable.
But is he someone who, in effect, you believe, having met with him, could be reasoned with?
ALBRIGHT: Well, it's very different.
It was nine years ago. And, at that time, people thought that he was crazy. I didn't think so. We had some very rational discussions. And I found him very well technically briefed and someone who was certainly in charge.
What's interesting, though, is very few people have really dealt with him recently. Clearly, whatever health issue he has, has taken its toll on him. And, so, we really don't know. I think, from his perspective -- and one tries to do that when negotiating -- is that I think he believes he's acting rationally.
What is the real problem is that nuclear technology is the cash crop of the North Koreans. It's a very poor country. It wants to sell what it has. And that's the part, I think, that creates such grave concern for the U.S., and should for the Chinese and the Russians and everybody else involved in this.
HILL: And, for Americans at home, it does seem like a problem that is so very far away. Why should Americans be concerned about North Korea?
ALBRIGHT: Well, because I think that we do not want to see another nuclear power. It is unclear about what their intentions are. We have a very strong commitment with South Korea, also with the Japanese. And we do not want to see nuclear proliferation.
HILL: Madam Secretary, thanks for your time.
ALBRIGHT: Thank you.
KING: An interesting conversation there.
And Erica talked with Madeleine Albright about much more. Go to AC360.com to hear the former secretary of state's take on the crisis in Pakistan.
Up next: a New York City police shooting that's so different and so much harder to fathom than most -- you will see why.
Also tonight, the exchange student who is either is murderer or the victim of rough justice at the hands of -- quote -- "a maniac prosecutor." Those are the allegations flying back and forth tonight. We will tell you Amanda Knox's story and talk exclusively with her father.
And, later, what life is like in L.A. under a freeway deep in the ground. Uncovering a hidden world -- when 360 continues.
KING: Just ahead: Study abroad isn't supposed to involve murder and a possible life sentence. But tell that to the American student now on trail in Italy accused of killing her roommate during a drug- fueled orgy. Is she getting a fair trial? We will hear from her dad exclusively.
First, though, Erica Hill joins us with a 360 bulletin -- Erica.
ERICA HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John, a New York City police officer fatally shot another police officer who was chasing a man he had caught breaking into his car. The victim was killed just blocks away from the precinct where he had finished his shift. He was in plainclothes, as was the officer who shot him. That incident is now under investigation.
President Obama today releasing his long-awaited cyber-security report and pledging to make protecting the nation's computer networks a priority. Mr. Obama said he will appoint a coordinator to oversee efforts to prevent cyber-attacks, which he called a threat to national security and prosperity.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Cyberspace is real. So are the risks that come with it. It's the great irony of our information age. The very technologies that empower us to create and to build also empower those who would disrupt and destroy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HILL: (AUDIO GAP) their biggest three-month run since 2007. The Dow added 96 points, the Nasdaq 22. The S&P 500 tacked on 12.
And, for the first time, the Institute of Medicine is issuing guidelines on pregnancy weight gain for obese women. The agency says women with a body mass index of 30 or higher should only gain between 11 and 20 pounds while pregnant -- John.
It's always easy to try to limit those pounds when you're pregnant, trust me.
KING: Not touching that one.
HILL: Yes. KING: That is one of those things guys just -- I think will just be quiet and let that one go.
HILL: You're a wise man, John King.
KING: I'm wise at the moment, anyway. We will see you a bit later.
Still ahead: When we first heard about this story, it, frankly, didn't sound possible: a hidden cave behind a Los Angeles freeway, a real-life netherworld that dozens -- dozens -- called home. Coming up, we will take you inside this subterranean squatters camp and show you just how they lived.
And an American student on trial for murder in Italy, the details couldn't be more lurid or bizarre. She's expected to take the stand. Tonight, we will hear from her father -- a 360 exclusive interview.
Plus, Prince Harry in New York, his first adult visit to the city. He's known as bit of a loose cannon. We will show you how he handled himself today.
KING: We will just say up front this next story took our breath away -- not in a good way. It's deeply disturbing, but, at the same time, impossible to turn away from.
A raid in Los Angeles County has uncovered a hidden world beneath a busy freeway, a cave essentially about the size of two high school gyms. As many as 30 people have lived there in dark and filthy conditions. But, to them, it was home.
Paul Vercammen is "Uncovering America" tonight.
PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN SENIOR PRODUCER (voice-over): Underneath the 10 Freeway in Los Angeles, Caltrans workers welded shut a small hole that led to a vast cavern, a subterranean village for the homeless.
(on camera): The residents of the cave then crawled through, right here, came down, used kind of a makeshift ladder, got down into the cave. And this was their living quarters. This is where the people made their home on a daily basis. Now, Pearl did not live in the cave. She lived just outside it. But she visited all the time.
What was it like in here?
PEARL MIBBS, HOMELESS: What was it like in here? It was a home. It was a family. It had carpet. It had chairs. It had a couch. It had beds. It had comforters. It had sheets on it, like everybody else living.
VERCAMMEN: How many people lived here?
MIBBS: There were about 10 people who lived here and other people that came from the streets whenever they needed a place to rest their head or they were tired.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: First, when we come in here a few days ago, this area was -- you can kind of see the impression right here. There was some carpeting, some bedding, obviously a place that someone was living. A lot of magazines, a lot just things that you might find in your household were all in this area.
But, since we have had some crews come in here to clean it up, there's -- it's been cleared -- cleared out quite a bit. We can actually see the ground now.
MIBBS: We're not hurting nobody. All this stuff is just here. I don't know why you guys just keep taking things from us.
VERCAMMEN: Authorities say there was all sorts of pornography piled up over here. And then you can see the graffiti on the wall. We are shielding you from all the expletives.
And then, if you look right down here, you can see there's a telltale sign that someone was using drugs in here. It's musty down here and dank and it smells like urine back in some of these places. This is probably the biggest room in the cave. I would say it's about 40 yards this way and about 50 that way.
Some of the people who lived here would crawl up into these little spaces right here, these pigeonholes or cubbyholes, and sleep up there. And then there's another little trick here that, if you come up to this place right here, you scale the wall, you go up and over, and there's another secret living quarters.
The homeless residents of the cave then crawled over this way. And this is absolutely no place for a claustrophobic. You need to stoop down to crawl through here. It's also no place for those afraid of spiders.
The freeway is right above me. And this looks it was like a sleeping area, because there's a lot of sort of padded coats and jackets and things that look like they laid down on the floor, so they would not have to feel that hard ground.
KING: Paul joins us now.
Paul, disturbing and remarkable all at once. It begs the question, if there's one, are there more?
VERCAMMEN: Yes, John, there are more -- likely more -- given the amount of L.A. freeways and given the amount of homeless people in L.A.
However, Caltrans and others say there is no way that there's one that vast and that extensive underground.
KING: And a horrible place, obviously, for people to live. You pointed out squalid conditions. You pointed out the likely evidence of drug use there.
But, if they are not there, at least protected from the elements, where are they?
VERCAMMEN: Well, that's a great question.
Obviously, they could go downtown and seek shelter. But my guess is, from talking to that one homeless woman, especially, they are just seeking other places, other areas. Some might be sleeping in a nearby nursery or under other bridges.
KING: Paul Vercammen for us in Los Angeles.
It's a horrible story. Thanks for going in there and uncovering that for us, Paul.
You have got a comment you want to share on Paul's report or anything else we're covering tonight, join the live chat with other viewers happening right now at AC360.com.
Up next: another fascinating case, this one overseas, an American on trial. Amanda Knox, accused of murder in Italy, she may soon the stand. We will talk live to her father.
Plus, the swine flu threat tonight, grim news about the virus -- more deaths in the United States to report.
And a reality check for troubled reality stars -- "Jon & Kate Plus 8," a big family, and now the show is under investigation. We will tell you why ahead.
KING: Tonight, an American accused of murder in Italy. It has been called the trial of the year. And it has captivated the country. Today, the prosecution rested and the defense is promising the woman at the center of this spellbinding case to take the stand in her own defense. David Mattingly has more in tonight's "Crime and Punishment" report.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you taking movies right now?
DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This video posted to youtube shows Amanda Knox in Seattle drinking with friends, appearing as nothing more than an attractive fun-loving college student. But this is Amanda Knox now, a 21-year-old exchange student accused in the group killing of her roommate in Italy, on trial in a case that's sensational in any language.
LISA BLLOM, ANCHOR, "TRUTX": The prosecutors say there was a wild sex party that went on. Because the victim refused to comply with the demands of her killers that she was knifed to death, Amanda Knox denies being involved in it in any way whatsoever.
MATTINGLY: But to prosecutors, she's a cold-blooded killer. The devil with an angel's face, who along with two others stabbed and strangled her British roommate, Meredith Kercher in November 2007. Her family says she's innocent.
CURT KNOX, AMANDA KNOX'S FATHER: To tell you the truth, I want her cleared of everything because they need to know who she is.
MATTINGLY: Knox's Italian ex-boyfriend is also charged with the murder. Prosecutors say his DNA was found in the victim's bra. Both claimed their innocence in court. But a third defendant was tried separately and convicted of Kercher's murder. He was sentenced to 30 years in prison.
(on camera): Since the trial began in January, the jury has heard from dozens of witnesses testifying against Knox, commenting about everything from alleged strange behavior to comments she allegedly made in a diary. Prosecutors say she was boasting about her roommate's death.
(voice-over): Investigators even produced what they say is the murder weapon. This kitchen knife. Prosecutors say it has Knox's DNA on it. But the defense says Knox is being blamed for a crime she did not commit and says all the evidence against her had been tainted and contaminated by the police.
Her parents are fighting to clear their daughter's name. They also feel for the family of the woman she is accused of killing.
CURT KNOX: They got a telephone call. That's the worst one you could ever have. We got a different one.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And we're living through something, you know, something different. But, we have our daughter who is still alive. I can only imagine the pain that that family feel. It's unbearable.
MATTINGLY: They say the truth will come out in weeks ahead when Amanda Knox herself takes the stand and tells the court her story.
KING: And David Mattingly with us now. David, as we await her testimony, the drama of that. A lot of questions about the police investigation as well as the prosecutor in this case. Fill us in.
MATTINGLY: Well, supporters of Amanda Knox, and there are a lot of them here in the United States are questioning every aspect of this investigation. Most notably, the police's handling of evidence, saying they allowed it to become contaminated. They believe that contamination renders these evidence useless and it certainly doesn't prove Knox's connection to the crime. And the criticism doesn't stop there, John. Knox's supporters in the U.S. are also targeting the prosecutor, suggesting that he is incompetent and mentally unstable. The prosecutor confirmed for the BBC that he's being investigated for abuse of power in a previous murder trial. And that investigation is ongoing. But he's really taking offense to the comments about his mental stability, saying he plans a defamation lawsuit for the accusations that have been published against him here in the U.S, John.
KING: And David, if you watch the pictures in the piece, it looks very much like a U.S. courtroom. Are there many major differences? Again, we wait for the defense case. Amanda has to testify on her defense, any major differences in the conduct of the courts? How it plays out? The rules essentially, would Americans understand them?
MATTINGLY: Well, with Amanda about to take the stand on her own defense, the biggest difference we are going to be looking at from here on out is the fact that she doesn't have to take an oath. She doesn't put her hand on the Bible or she doesn't raise her hand saying that she promises to tell the truth. In fact, in Italy everyone expects the defendant to try and cover up and try to protect themselves. But this person is going to have to take questions from prosecutors, from the judge, from the defense attorney and the jury is going to have to sort it all out. So it's not like an American trial at all.
And she's going to be sitting there defending herself and doing it in Italian. She has been brushing up on her Italian, learning the language while she has been in prison. So it's going to be very interesting to watch how Knox defends herself as she goes up there in front of all these people.
KING: Interesting to say the least. David Mattingly, a fascinating look at a fascinating case. Thank you so much, David.
And up next, defending her daughter. We'll talk live with Amanda's father, Curt Knox joins us after the break, in a "360" exclusive interview.
Also tonight, Prince Harry, the latest on his royal visit to America and why his trip is so personal.
And defending his Supreme Court, President Obama stands by Sonia Sotomayor.
KING: Did Amanda Knox kill her roommate. Prosecutors in Italy say the 21-year-old from Seattle strangled and stabbed her to death. The defense maintains Knox is innocent and so does her family.
Joining me now is Amanda's father, Curt Knox. Mr. Knox, let me start this question. You heard in David Mattingly's piece, the prosecution case that your daughter and her Italian boyfriend and another man were involved in this heinous, horrible murder. What does your daughter tell you happened?
CURT KNOX: She told me that she was actually at Rafael's, her boyfriend's house at the time. And she spent the night there. And, you know, she had nothing to do. And she's 100 percent innocent of this crime.
KING: 100 percent innocent of this crime. You know, the police and prosecution pointed to Amanda what they say was her odd behavior, the day after. They said she went out to lunch. She seemed unnaturally calm or cold, then breaking down when she was fingerprinted. How does she explain that or did she say the authorities are making that up?
CURT KNOX: They are taking it out of context actually. When she learned of Meredith's murder, she actually did break down. But none of that has been brought out in court. And when she gets her chance to testify, she'll have an opportunity to provide her side of the story.
KING: And you mentioned, when she gets her chance to testify, that has to be a tough call. Number one, she obviously wants to stand-up and defend herself. But as her father, high stakes in, of course, putting yourself at risk in a courtroom like that. How does she approach that?
CURT KNOX: Well, first of all she knows she's 100 percent innocent. So she has nothing to worry about. She wants to take the stand. She wants to tell her side of the story for the court to hear and hear the truth.
KING: And how difficult is it for her? Let's start with her. Because I want to talk about the family as well, but for her to deal with the language barrier, the cultural barrier. That David just explained, the Italian court system, the rules are very different than what we would see her in the United States.
CURT KNOX: That's very true. She has actually elected to provide her testimony in Italian. When she first went over there, she knew very little Italian but she know being 18 months in prison, she's become very proficient at it now. So she feels comfortable in speaking the language.
KING: She feels comfortable speaking the language and help me understand, you live in the United States. My understanding is a family member tries to be in Italy all the time. How hard is this to deal with, both for her in getting the help from friends and family, the fact here in the States, and those of you who live and work and need to be here sometimes.
CURT KNOX: Well, it's been incredibly difficult. But we try to do everything we can to support her. I mean, she's 6,000 miles away from us in a foreign prison for something that she didn't do. So we are doing everything we humanly can to support her.
KING: And in terms of communication, can you talk to her at anytime? Are there rules on access to her, conversations with her? CURT KNOX: Absolutely. We are allowed to see her twice a week for one hour at each session. And the rest of the time, we wait in between court hearings and just the opportunity to go see her in prison. And that's what we have to deal with.
KING: And if I'm right about this, you have not reached out to her late roommate's parents, why not?
CURT KNOX: At this point in time, we want them to understand and them to hear in court that she had nothing to do with it and her found innocence. We have tried to portray to them our deepest condolences for the loss of their daughter. I mean nothing worse could happen to a family, but until Amanda is found innocent, I don't know how they would feel, us reaching out to them.
KING: And as you heard David discuss, a lot of questions about the conduct of the police in the investigation. A lot of questions about the prosecutor. Simple question, do you think your daughter is getting a fair shake?
CURT KNOX: I have to that believe she is. Obviously, being at the trial I've watched the lead judge and he really seems to believe or be trying to get to the bottom of the truth. But, it's very different from what's in the United States and how they go about their process. But I believe she'll get a fair trial.
KING: And what is your sense of how long it will take to present the defense?
CURT KNOX: My opinion is probably about two months. Italy takes a two month break during the summertime. And we hope to have the defense in by then. And then once the two months trial, two months break is over, then they'll do closing arguments.
KING: So in the middle of a murder trial that involves a potential life sentence for your daughter, there's a two-month break.
CURT KNOX: That is correct. It's very different from than the United States, that's for sure.
KING: And I want to ask you, I'm sure you are aware the murder trial is huge news in the Italian press, the British press, allegations flying around about your daughter beyond the murder charge. What is the toughest thing for you to deal with, as a parent as you're watching this unfold?
CURT KNOX: Well, I think the most difficult thing is the character assassination that's taking place regarding Amanda. She's a loving, caring - she's a great kid and they painted her as being this dark angel, which, she's literally 180 degrees different than anything people have heard in the press.
KING: Curt Knox, appreciate your time and your insights on this very difficult time for you and your family. We appreciate it, sir. We'll keep an eye on this case as it goes to court.
CURT KNOX: Thanks very much for having me.
KING: Thank you.
There's a lot more on the story online, go to ac360.com, where you'll find a complete account of the killing and all the alleged evidence surrounding it. Again, the address, ac360.com.
Up next, America gets a royal visit. Prince Harry hits New York. Does this mark a new chapter in the Prince's public image?
And Jon and Kate and their eight children, their lives on TV. Is this the reality show breaking the law? We'll tell you about the controversy, ahead on "360."
KING: He's a prince and to some, a problem. Tonight, Harry is in New York. 24, third in line to the British throne. The young royal is on his first grown-up visit to America. It's been at times a sobering visit, perhaps an attempt to change impressions of Harry. Erica Hill has an up close look.
ERICA HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For all his troubles liberally splashed across the world's tabloids, the Prince Harry who arrived Friday in New York is a much different young royal. His first stop on this two-day visit, Ground Zero, where the prince met with families who lost loved ones on 9/11, including Paula Berry, who lost her husband, the father of her three sons.
PAULA BERRY, 911 WIDOW: Personally, I was just struck by meeting someone who always lost a parent, it was very personal. And I think he identifies with these three boys who were quite young at the time.
PRINCE HARRY: What I said to the families is very personal between me and them. So I think we'll keep it that way.
HILL: From Ground Zero, he crossed the street to a fire house which lost six of their own that day. From there, the 24-year-old made his way to the British Memorial Garden and planted a Magnolia tree.
PRINCE HARRY: It is a great privilege for me to be here today in this beautiful garden right in the heart of New York City. My family is so proud to be so closely associated with it. And (AUDIO GAP) in the memory of the 67 British people who died here on September 11, 2001. Thank you.
HILL: There were some lighter moments. Fans snapping pictures at each official stop.
RICHARD QUEST, LONDON: This was not chosen by accident. Nothing in their lives ever is. This will not be the party prince we see. It will be the prince of good times and good works. HILL: Those party days including this Nazi costume chosen for a friend's party, well documented nights on the town and a faux pas like calling one friend a tacky, another a rag head. Now, making way for this new more serious Prince Harry, taking his turn as a diplomat.
Currently, training as an Army pilot, this Afghanistan vet also spent time privately with fellow veterans. On Saturday, the Prince heads uptown to the Harlem Children's Zone, drawing unmistakable comparison to his mother, the late Princess Diana.
Later in the day, he'll suit up for a polo match to raise money for charity, and will then head home without any chance for the missteps that brought the press in the past.
HILL: Definitely no missteps at least thus far. Of course, the trip isn't over yet, John. But we should also point out during this visit the V.A. Hospital here in Manhattan, he was accompanied by a British soldier who lost both his legs in Afghanistan, which also just added another level to that visit.
KING: Sure sounds it. Erica, you mentioned near the end of your piece there, he's going up to Harlem tomorrow. And you drew the comparison to when his late mother, Princess Diana, was there. Tell us a bit more about that.
HILL: That's right. It's sort of - there's sort of two things that play here. The fact that he is going to Harlem which on her visit in 1988, of course, Princess Diana went to the Harlem Hospital Center where she is very well remembered for the fact that she was visiting the pediatric unit and she was cuddling and holding children who had AIDS and she wasn't wearing gloves. Remember, this was in the '80s. So that was a very big deal at that point. and that also speaks to the point that Princess Diana was known for her love of children, for helping children. And that's something that Prince Harry has sort of adopted himself as well with some of his charity efforts and the charity that he started. John.
KING: We'll keep watching as the weekend and the trip continue. A busy night for you, Erica. It's not all you have, is it?
HILL: You know, I'm not done yet, John. There is another "360" bulletin. We're going to start off in Texas actually. On a very serious note where health officials have confirmed two more deaths linked to swine flu. One victim, a 24-year-old pregnant woman, the other a 42-year-old man. Both were hospitalized in El Paso. This brings the number of U.S. deaths linked to the virus to 15.
Music producer Phil Spector sentence to 19 years in prison for the 2003 murder of actress Lana Carson. The 69-year-old does plan to appeal his conviction.
And Preakness winner Rachel Alexandra will not run the Belmont Stakes next week. That means Jockey Calvin Borel is free to return to the Kentucky Derby winner, "Mine that Bird" in his own personal quest for a triple crown. Wish him luck.
And the hit reality show, "Jon and Kate plus 8," now under investigation. The Pennsylvania Labor Department is looking into whether the show is violating child labor laws after someone filed a complaint. The producers of the TLC show said they complied with all state laws and regulations.
KING: Not having a very good stretch, that show, at the moment.
HILL: No, definitely not.
KING: All right.
Here we go. Friday night, beat "360" winners. Are you ready? Ready? A chance to show off our staffers of coming a better caption for the picture we post on our blog everyday. Tonight's picture, U.S. Middle East envoy, George Mitchell, Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and National Security Adviser James Jones standing by as President Obama meets with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the Oval Office.
Our staff winner tonight, congratulations, Cate. Her caption, foreign policy insider tip: playing stare down makes long-winded meetings almost fun. She didn't have a lot to work with. That's pretty good.
HILL: I'm agreeing, totally.
KING: OK. Good. Our viewer winner is Mark from an undisclosed location. Maybe Mark's last name is Cheney.
HILL: I was thinking the same thing.
KING: Here we go. Great minds. His caption, Hillary, I think you may have overdone it with the botox.
KING: That reinforces my last name guess, I think. Ouch. Mark, Mark, Mark. Congratulations. Your "360" t-shirt on the way.
HILL: And you are not getting invited to the State Department anytime soon, Mark. Sorry.
KING: I don't think I'm getting invited to the undisclosed location either though.
All right. Erica, next, the British couple aimed to set a record just by being in love. It's our shot of the day.
And President Obama defends his Supreme Court pick and says there are times Judge Sotomayor could have chosen her words more carefully.
KING: Here we go. Tonight's shot, gives all married couples something to shoot for. Frank and Anita Milford of Plymouth, England. Look at that, they celebrated their 81st wedding anniversary this week. That's right, 81.
KING: Wow is right. They are 80 ahead of me. They exchanged vows on May 26, 1928. Today, they live together in a nursing home. Frank is 101. Anita will turn 101 this month.
HILL: Don't they look very - I mean surprisingly spry for being 101?
KING: God bless them. It's great.
HILL: They are. They are also closing in on a record. Did you know, in February, they will become the longest married couple in Britain. And they say they still have their arguments, but they always kiss and cuddle before bed. And we've heard it before, according to them, they never go to sleep angry. It may be working.
KING: Excellent advice. It seems to be working quite well there. Fascinating couple. We wish them the best.
KING: Absolutely. Fabulous. Many more.
Coming up at the top of the hour. President Obama defending his Supreme Court pick, but not always on the defensive.