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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Limbaugh's NFL Bid Sidelined; Jaycee Dugard Revealed
Aired October 14, 2009 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, breaking news: Rush Limbaugh sidelined, his bid to buy into the National Football League sacked. What happened, and is it fair?
Also tonight, our new series, "Politicians Behaving Badly." we're "Keeping Them Honest."
Senator John Ensign, he cheated on his wife. His parents paid his mistress' family. He helped her husband get a job with a lobbying firm, but denies letting the husband lobby him. The news tonight, he now could be facing a federal investigation.
And later, "Up Close" -- we have seen this picture of Jaycee Dugard as an 11-year-old. Tonight, for the first time, you will see what she looks like after 18 years in captivity and hear how her and her kids' reunion with her family is going.
First up, the breaking news: Rush Limbaugh's out as a potential investor in the Saint Louis Rams. This news broke this evening.
Earlier in the day, Limbaugh was defiant, saying that he would not cave in to pressure.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE RUSH LIMBAUGH SHOW")
RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: I'm not even thinking of caving. I'm not a caver. None of us are. We have been betrayed by too many who have caved. Pioneers take the arrows. We are pioneers. It's a sad thing that our country, over 200 years old now, needs pioneers all over again, but we do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Now, from the amount of attention this story has received, you might think Limbaugh was going to be the sole owner of the team. He wasn't. He was hoping to be a limited non-voting partner in a group headed by this man, Dave Checketts, owner of hockey's Saint Louis Blues.
But critics of Limbaugh said his past remarks about NFL players and the league considered racially charged by some should disqualify him. Some of the remarks attributed to Limbaugh were false. Others, however, were not.
The negative attention apparently put his fellow investors' bid in jeopardy. Any bid to buy a team in the NFL needs three-quarters of existing NFL owners to agree. Yesterday, an NFL -- an NFL owner said he would vote against a bid involving Limbaugh.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell also expressed doubts. So, today, Checketts' group jettisoned Rush, releasing a statement reading, in part -- quote -- "It has become clear that his involvement in our group has become a complication and a distraction to our intentions, endangering our bid to keep the team in Saint Louis."
With us now, sports analyst and former ESPN anchor Stephen A. Smith, the Reverend Al Sharpton, who lobbied the NFL against the Limbaugh bid, and McGraw Milhaven, morning host of Saint Louis radio station KTRS.
Stephen, was this fair? I mean, Rush Limbaugh had the money. He certainly loves the game of folks? Why shouldn't he have been allowed to bid?
STEPHEN A. SMITH, "PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER": Well, I would have liked to have seen him go through the process. I think, as an American citizen, somebody who pays money, pays his taxes, he has got a right to pursue whatever he wants. But I also believe that the Players Association, the players themselves had a right to protest.
And, at the end of the day, the NFL is a multibillion-dollar business. And he's clearly a polarizing figure. And there's nothing broke about the NFL. They have replaced baseball as America's pastime. And you don't want to upset the apple cart. And he was definitely going to do that. So, based on business purposes alone, in that regard, it was the appropriate decision.
COOPER: Was the criticism fair, though? Some of the quotes attributed to him -- you used one of them about the slavery -- that was not something he ever said.
SMITH: We found out -- I should have said reportedly.
The other quote was accurate. But point is, is that there were a plethora of quotes that are online, for example, that he has adamantly and emphatically denied, and nobody has found that there's any truth to that.
But he is the same guy who did say that the NFL was like watching the Bloods and the Crips without any weapons. He is the guy that caused the big stir with the whole Donovan McNabb controversy back in 2003. So, it's not like he has no history of being racially inflammatory to some degree.
COOPER: Reverend Sharpton, I want to play for you a couple things, but, actually, I want to play for you what he said about -- today about his Bloods and Crips comment, because that's the comment that you cited in your letter to the NFL.
I know we're going to play that later, but if you guys have that comment ready to go -- OK. Let's play that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE RUSH LIMBAUGH SHOW")
LIMBAUGH: Al Sharpton belongs in this smear. It is a smear characterized by mischaracterization and lies.
These are the paragons of virtue that today's media rely on for source information, for characterization of other people's fitness.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: All right, that's not the -- the bite I wanted.
But, Reverend Sharpton, what about that? That's what -- he's basically saying you were spreading lies about him.
AL SHARPTON, CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVIST: Well, what I said, you just said I said. I was very clear in the letter to the NFL the two quotes, both of which/Donovan McNabb he has admitted saying, both of which established his remarks against NFL players, and against Donovan McNabb.
These other quotes, I did not quote, didn't use. So, I'm not going to defend what I didn't say. But I think what we must be fair about here, Anderson, the one that made Rush Limbaugh a major factor here was Rush Limbaugh.
He got on "The Today Show" Monday and said, this is the mainstreaming of Rush Limbaugh. If he was a minor player, he shouldn't have made network appearances talking about how now this was his transformation to the mainstream.
He holds everyone else accountable. If he wanted to make that transformation, he must be held accountable, like all of those, including the president of the United States, that he holds accountable.
COOPER: Well, let me try to bring up that bite about the Bloods and the Crips. Do we have that? Let's play that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE RUSH LIMBAUGH SHOW")
LIMBAUGH: But that comment was more of an, oh, no, geez. Don't let it -- don't let this happen to the game. You don't want to see brawls on the field. You don't want to -- just don't -- I don't want to see it.
So, I was criticizing a mind-set that is destructive. And it was not helpful. It was not racial. Bloods and Crips makes it look racial, but the way I chose to describe it -- I could have perhaps chosen a different term.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: McGraw, what do you make of this? Is this fair, what happened to Rush Limbaugh?
MCGRAW MILHAVEN, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: No, Anderson. If I can steel a phrase, this, by definition, is a high-tech lynching.
There are people out there, especially some Saint Louis sports writers, who don't like Rush Limbaugh's politics. And they make up quotes and do anything they can to besmirch the man, to defile him, so that they make it as -- as -- as awful as possible, so that the NFL says, this is too toxic; I don't want to touch it.
This is a high-tech lynching.
To Al Sharpton, Rush Limbaugh is mainstream. He is the most listened-to man in America. And I certainly don't need to carry the water for Rush Limbaugh. But, by definition, Anderson, this is a high-tech lynching.
COOPER: Reverend Sharpton, I wanted to respond to that.
SHARPTON: Mr. Limbaugh...
COOPER: But I want to play for you what Rush Limbaugh said about going mainstream right on his radio show. Let's play that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE RUSH LIMBAUGH SHOW")
LIMBAUGH: This is not about the NFL. It's not about the Saint Louis Rams. It's not about me. This is about the ongoing effort by the left in this country, wherever you find them, in the media, the Democrat Party or wherever, to destroy conservatism, to prevent the mainstreaming of anyone who is prominent as a conservative.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: What's wrong with him being mainstreamed, Reverend Sharpton?
SHARPTON: Well, first of all, your guest just said he's already mainstream. Rush now agrees with me; he's not mainstream.
I do not think you destroy conservatism by denying Rush Limbaugh a partnership in an NFL team. I think he has an inflated view of himself. I think what you do is hold him accountable. The players are the ones that objected to his involvement, the head of the players union.
Then advocacy groups like mine came in. So, to act like liberals and Democrats had this great conspiracy, we came in supporting the people that play the game. Sports writers didn't start this. Liberals didn't start this. The players themselves have the right to say...
COOPER: I want to...
SHARPTON: ... they have an opinion about who they're going to play for.
COOPER: I want to give each of you a chance to respond, but we have got to take a quick break.
We will come back to our panel in just a moment.
Let us know what you think. Join in the live chat at AC360.com.
Also ahead: Is the Texas governor trying to cover up the execution of an innocent man? The governor is accused of gutting the investigation into whether a man put to death for a fire that killed his three kids was innocent. Why would he do that? His critics say to avoid political embarrassment. Tonight, the Texas governor, Rick Perry, fired back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. RICK PERRY (R), TEXAS: The facts of this case clearly show that this was a heinous individual who murdered his kids.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: And he says a key scientist who says otherwise, that the fire was likely an accident, is simply against the death penalty.
Tonight, only here, the other side -- what that expert has to say about the governor's allegation. He's hitting back hard.
And, later, the New Age guru and an ancient ritual -- sweat lodges now at the center of a tragedy that left two people dead -- "Crime & Punishment" tonight.
COOPER: Continuing with the breaking news: Rush Limbaugh out as a partner in a bid to buy the Saint Louis Rams.
Continuing our conversation with Stephen A. Smith, the Reverend Al Sharpton, and McGraw Milhaven, morning host of Saint Louis radio station KTRS.
McGraw, you were wanting to respond to the reverend.
MILHAVEN: Yes, let's -- let's look at it this way.
Let's say that the story came out that Al Sharpton wanted to buy a piece of the Saint Louis Rams. There are some people out there who think Al Sharpton is a racist. And, so, you know what? Let's say somebody made up quotes about Al Sharpton and then criticized him.
He would scream from the highest mountaintop. That's exactly what has happened to Rush Limbaugh. You don't like his politics.
SHARPTON: And they would have the right -- they would have the right to raise them, as they do when I do take stands. If I go and do a civil rights march and break the law, I go to jail and pay for that and I don't complain about it.
MILHAVEN: He didn't break any laws. You just don't like his politics. SHARPTON: No, I said if -- no, I don't like what he said about the NFL players. And I supported the NFL players that came out first and said that.
MILHAVEN: There are NFL players who have come out who don't care.
SHARPTON: And there are NFL players that do care.
MILHAVEN: OK, great. Let the NFL players...
COOPER: Wait. Let him finish his point.
COOPER: Reverend Sharpton -- let Reverend Sharpton finish.
COOPER: Reverend Sharpton, go ahead.
SHARPTON: The NFL had the right to -- to respond to what players had said and what advocates.
So, just like advocates came out about animal rights with Michael Vick, advocates advocate. So, you can't say he has the right to apply, but people don't have the right to oppose his application. This is America. Everybody has the right. And we exercise it.
MILHAVEN: Absolutely. But you know what? But -- you're absolutely right, but they didn't make up stories about Michael Vick. Michael Vick really murdered dogs. He really tortured dogs. They didn't make that up.
SHARPTON: And Rush Limbaugh -- Rush Limbaugh really made the statements that I wrote to the NFL and that the players said.
MILHAVEN: Yes, OK. Anderson, let me just finish...
COOPER: I want to bring -- wait. I have got to -- well, let me bring Stephen back in here.
MILHAVEN: Well, let me just finish.
COOPER: Stephen, you wanted these players would actually follow through.
SMITH: That's the whole -- that's the whole point in all of this for me. That's why I really didn't have a problem with Rush Limbaugh pursuing ownership of an NFL team.
When I heard players come out, no disrespect to the Mathias -- Mathias Kiwanuka, Jared (ph), Donovan McNabb of Philadelphia Eagles, but when I heard players talking about how they would not want to play for Rush Limbaugh -- the Reverend Al Sharpton and I have talked about this in the past. Dr. Harry Edwards and I have talked about this in the past -- you know. John Carlos and Tommie Smith, we all have talked about this kind of stuff, where we haven't seen athletes step up in the last quarter-of-a-century to really take a stand toward anything.
So, when they were talking and hinting towards, oh, we would stand up and we would really protest this, I wanted to see it, because I certainly didn't believe that the majority of them would even think about doing such a thing, because it would cost them money. And God knows we know they would not do that.
COOPER: Reverend Sharpton, aren't there plenty of owners in the NFL that we don't know what their politics, we don't know what their beliefs are about anything, and it doesn't matter, because they're not out there?
Just the fact that we know Rush Limbaugh's opinions, should he be penalized for that?
SHARPTON: You're absolutely right, which is why no one is penalizing him for his opinion.
No one is saying his opinion of the president or his opinion of the Democrats or us. We're talking about what he said about the NFL. You're absolutely right. If we were talking about his opinion, the political opinions of others would matter. We're not talking politics here.
He's trying to change the premise of the argument. He attacked NFL players. Some of them responded. Some of us supported them. I don't know any other NFL owner that called NFL players and likened them to Crips and Bloods.
COOPER: All right. I...
SHARPTON: I don't know any one of them.
COOPER: McGraw, I'm going to give you the final thought.
MILHAVEN: Thank you very much, Anderson.
You know what? Unfortunately, there are some thugs who play in the NFL. You got Michael Vick. You have Richie Incognito here in Saint Louis. You have Leonard Little, who murdered somebody. You have -- you have Pacman Jones. Roger Goodell has tried to crack down on the thug image of the NFL.
So, Rush Limbaugh, while he might have -- could have said it a little bit better, the point is that there are thugs in the NFL. This is a high-tech lynching. You made up quotes just because you don't like his politics.
COOPER: Reverend Sharpton's point is, he didn't make up any specific quotes. The quotes that are being cited, other people were using.
SHARPTON: My letter is in writing. You know what I said.
And my letter is in writing. The quotes I said, he said he said. And the fact that you can name four or five thugs does not give you the right to call a whole industry Crips and Bloods.
SMITH: Thank you. Thank you.
COOPER: We have got to leave it there.
I also should point out, on this program, we did not use the wrong quotes as well.
Stephen A. Smith, Reverend Al Sharpton, and McGraw Milhaven, appreciate you being on. Thank you.
Coming up: Did Governor -- the Texas governor, Rick Perry, is he trying to cover up the execution of an innocent man? We will have that story, what the governor said tonight, and the response to it from those he talked about tonight.
A lot ahead. Stay tuned.
COOPER: Some more breaking news tonight: A key player in the investigation of Cameron Todd Willingham's murder conviction is speaking out for the first time five years after Willingham was executed for the deaths of his three children and, crucially, just days after Texas Governor Rick Perry removed commissioners from the scientific panel investigating whether Willingham was in fact innocent.
Since Willingham's execution, at least six arson experts have examined the evidence and found no credible indications the fire was intentionally set. Just today, Texas Governor Rick Perry, who is up for reelection, spoke out. He has been silent now for a long time. He spoke out about removing four commissioners from the panel and about his confidence in the way the case was handled.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PERRY: We have a system in the state that has followed the procedures. And they found this man guilty every step of the way.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, that touched off a brand-new firestorm.
And when Randi Kaye spoke with this key scientist who was supposed to testify before the panel, he made news, breaking news tonight.
Randi Kaye is "Keeping Them Honest." She joins us now with what he had to say.
What did you learn?
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's getting pretty intense, Anderson, really on both sides.
I just got off the phone with Dr. Craig Beyler, a renowned arson investigator, who was supposed to testify, as Anderson, just said, as an expert in this case. He just finished his report in August and said the fire Cameron Todd Willingham was executed for was actually not arson.
Moments ago, he told me he's calling on the governor's appointees to the commission to resign and call for the reinstatement of the removed commissioners. He said it is not a matter of qualifications, but a matter of -- quote -- "personal integrity."
He said, Anderson, that it's really pretty sad that it has come to this.
COOPER: We have offered the governor multiple opportunities to come on this program to talk about this. We have been covering this case for a long time. He's declined those opportunities.
But he did speak out today.
KAYE: He did, in Texas. The governor did come out swinging, actually, railing against Cameron Todd Willingham, who was executed in 2004 under Governor Perry's watch. Listen to what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PERRY: Willingham was a monster. This was a guy who murdered his three children, who tried to beat his wife into an abortion, so that he wouldn't have those kids.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KAYE: Willingham was convicted of arson homicide for setting a fire that killed his three little girls.
Mr. Perry refused to grant Willingham a stay, even though the governor had been presented with some new evidence just before the execution that called into question Willingham's guilt. An expert had determined the fire was not arson.
Now, just before tonight's show, I spoke with Willingham's stepmother about the governor's comments. Eugenia Willingham told me -- quote -- "The governor didn't know Todd. If he did, he wouldn't have such harsh judgment. Todd was a good father who cared for his kids."
And one of Willingham's final wishes, in fact, was to have his ashes spread on his children's graves -- Anderson.
COOPER: One of the things the -- the governor also talked about was that he says due process was followed in this case.
KAYE: He did say that. And he's still saying that. In fact, listen to what he said about that just today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PERRY: How many courts looked at this? There were nine federal courts that looked at this case, nine federal courts. It was before the Supreme Court of the United States four times.
Now, surely, Peggy (ph), you're not saying that the Supreme Court of the United States fouled up four times?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: So is that true?
KAYE: Well, I want to be really clear here, because more than half-a-dozen fire investigators have said that this fire was not arson, and the courts ruled on the evidence that's now in question.
The state commission was supposed to be the final word on whether or not an innocent man was put to death. It hired its own expert, Dr. Craig Beyler, who we mentioned was set to testify at this critical hearing on the case, when Governor Perry fired four members of the commission suddenly, just 48 hours before the hearing.
The hearing was abruptly canceled. And, tonight, Governor Perry blasted Dr. Beyler's findings, saying even Willingham's own defense attorney slammed the report.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PERRY: He has come to clearly believe in his guilt. And he said, that study that Mr. Beyler came forward with is nothing more than propaganda by the anti-death-penalty people across this country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KAYE: Dr. Beyler told me tonight -- quote -- "I have no connection with any anti-death-penalty groups. My report is a scientific investigation with no political agenda."
Now, we should point out Dr. Beyler hasn't commented publicly on this matter until now, right here on 360. And he didn't hold back tonight. He told me -- quote -- "The governor's actions in making appointments to the commission represent a severe conflict of interest and is unethical. He should have recused himself from any appointments to that commission, because now it gives the appearance he's using his political clout to protect himself against any incrimination by the commissioner."
COOPER: All right, Randi, appreciate that. A lot to talk about, now that Governor Perry is weighing in.
With us now, Colleen McCain -- Colleen McCain Nelson, editorial writer for "The Dallas Morning News," and on the phone, Cameron Willingham's stepmother, Eugenia.
Eugenia, Governor Perry today said that your stepson was a monster -- those were the worst he used -- who murdered his kids. And he said that he was a guy who tried to beat his wife into an abortion.
What is your response?
EUGENIA WILLINGHAM, STEPMOTHER OF CAMERON TODD WILLINGHAM: My son was not a monster. I take offense in that.
He was a loving father. He and his wife did have a stormy relationship, but he didn't try to beat her into an abortion.
COOPER: Did he -- did e physically abuse his wife?
WILLINGHAM: Yes, he did. But she physically abused him. It was fair play, I guess you would call it.
COOPER: Colleen, at the end of the day, did the governor give a clear answer on why he removed four commission members when he did?
COLLEEN MCCAIN NELSON, EDITORIAL WRITER, "THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS": Well, he said that this is just standard operating procedure, nothing political to see here, just move along, that he can appoint and reappoint people as he sees fit.
But the timing is terrible. And, regardless of his motives, his actions have had a chilling effect on this important investigation. And he's managed to delay or possibly even derail this investigation. So, he hasn't really given a good explanation of why it was imperative to swap out all of these commission members 48 hours before the hearing.
COOPER: And, Eugenia, the -- the governor also said that Cameron in the death chamber -- quote -- "with his last breath," spewed what the governor called an obscenity-laced tirade against his wife. Is that true?
NELSON: He did. He also professed his innocence to the very end.
But just because Cameron Todd Willingham wasn't necessarily a Boy Scout, just because he had committed crimes in the past, it doesn't absolutely guarantee that he killed his family.
And what Governor Perry hasn't explained is what he knows that fire science experts don't. And he is basically saying, "I'm certain about this," without offering any explanation of what convinces him to be certain.
COOPER: Eugenia, this next question is to you. The governor also said that his -- that his own defense attorney believed he's guilty.
Do you know that to be true? And, also, did his wife think he was guilty?
WILLINGHAM: She didn't think he was guilty during the trial.
She turned on him two weeks before he was executed and asked permission to visit him for the first time. And she -- and he was excited. He wanted to see her, to see her thoughts. And when she got there, she blasted him.
That's the reason of the reaction he had at the execution. She was the only one that actually viewed his execution.
COOPER: And, to the defense attorney, do you know if his defense attorney believed he was guilty?
WILLINGHAM: Yes, he did.
He did not have any defense. That's the reason he had -- he told me his trial was a joke. That was his exact words. It was a big joke.
WILLINGHAM: He didn't have any defense.
COOPER: Colleen, the governor has said, well, look, multiple courts looked at this, and -- and looked at the evidence.
The point a lot of these forensic investigators are now saying, multiple ones are saying, is that what was thought to be good forensic science in arson investigations back then in the '80s and '90s is now no longer seen as good. In fact, it's shown that it's just -- that a lot of the stuff they thought was true in arson investigations is not true.
And, in fact, just as a lot of advances in technology have resulted in exonerations related to DNA evidence, new advances in arson science could -- could result in the same thing. We could see some arson cases being overturned, because we know more about fires, we know more about arson.
And, so, what experts thought to be true in the past doesn't necessarily hold up anymore.
COOPER: I appreciate your time tonight, Colleen McCain Nelson.
And, also, Cameron's mom, Eugenia, I appreciate you calling in tonight. Thank you. WILLINGHAM: Thank you.
COOPER: We will continue to follow this case.
COOPER: A lot happening in it.
Just ahead tonight: the possible federal investigation of U.S. Senator John Ensign, already in hot water for cheating on his wife and having his parents pay thousands of dollars to his mistress' family.
And, later, after 18 years in captivity, Jaycee Dugard is back with her family and about to appear on the pages of "People" magazine. We will see what she looks like now, for the first time, and what she's saying about how she and her kids are doing.
COOPER: Just ahead: new questions about the deaths of two people at a New Age retreat. They died in a sweat lodge after paying thousands of dollars to a self-proclaimed guru. Now an ancient ritual is in the spotlight, and Native Americans are speaking out as well. That's coming up.
First, let's check on some other important stories. Erica Hill has a 360 news and business bulletin -- Erica.
ERICA HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, President Obama today meeting for three hours with his national security team to discuss the next steps for the eight-year-old war in Afghanistan. Now, this was the fifth of six planned meetings. Mr. Obama is weighing whether to send as many -- as many as 40,000 additional troops. Britain today said it will send 500 more troops to Afghanistan. That brings the total for Britain to 9,500.
"The Wall Street Journal" reporting U.S. banks and securities firms are on pace to pay their employees about $140 billion this year. And if that sounds high, it is. In fact, it's a record high. And a 20 percent increase in compensation and benefits over last year.
The paper analyzed 23 of the top publicly-traded investment banks, hedge funds, and other companies. The firm's revenues also up, expected to hit $437 billion.
Talk about a big day on Wall Street. A key psychological milestone marked with champagne. The Dow closing above 10,000 for the first time in more than a year. The rally fueled by positive profit reports from Intel and JPMorgan Chase. The NASDAQ added 32 points on the session. The S&P 500 rose 19.
And the brides really did look lovely. All of them. And there were lots. More than 40,000 people reportedly taking part in the Unification Church's biggest mass wedding in a decade. Thousands of couples from around the world came to South Korea. Others took part online. Eighty-nine-year-old Reverend Sun Myung Moon officiated. The self-proclaimed messiah is marking his own 50th wedding anniversary.
COOPER: I wonder how those weddings have held up over the years. They've done this before, so it'd be kind of interesting to follow up on that.
HILL: Good question.
COOPER: All right. Still ahead, another politician behaving badly. Our series continues. New developments tonight in the case against Senator John Ensign. Is the investigation about to turn criminal? We're "Keeping Them Honest."
And later, Jaycee Dugard's new life. First look at the now 29- year-old mom of two, and her first words about starting over after 18 years in captivity.
COOPER: Time now for the next installment of our weeklong series, "Politicians Behaving Badly."
Nevada Senator John Ensign, a guy who's repeatedly held himself up as a defender of so-called family values, has admitted to having an affair with a staffer and then helping her husband, who also worked for him, find a lobbying job after the affair ended. The trouble is, there's a one-year ban on lobbying by former staffers, and the guy he helped failed to register as a lobbyist, which was also required by law.
So last week, Dana Bash asked Senator Ensign if a criminal investigation was in the works. Here's what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN ENSIGN (R), NEVADA: We are going to cooperate with any official inquiry. But as you all know, you can't comment on any of those things.
DANA BASH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you can tell us if you've gotten any calls from the Justice Department or your lawyer has.
ENSIGN: Let me state this very carefully. We will cooperate with any official inquiries (ph).
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, tonight, Politico is reporting the Justice Department will decide within weeks whether to launch a criminal investigation. "Keeping Them Honest" tonight, Joe Johns joins me with Candy Crowley and Stan Brand, former general counsel to the U.S. House or Representatives.
Joe, you've been digging into the case. What have you learned?
JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, three former federal prosecutors we talked to today said it's highly likely the Justice Department will look into Senator Ensign's dealings with his former staffer, Doug Hampton.
One former prosecutor told CNN, quote, "There's a case there, absolutely." Another said he would be very surprised if DOJ wasn't already looking at it. A third called the story that's been made public so far almost irresistible to federal prosecutors. But for the record, the Justice Department is not saying anything either way, Anderson.
COOPER: What is it, exactly, that would make prosecutors sit up and take notice?
JOHNS: Well, one of the lawyers we talked to said the first thing is whether there was a violation of the federal law against lobbying the Congress for one year after leaving a top congressional job, just like you talked about.
Doug Hampton, the husband of Ensign's girlfriend, admits he left Ensign's office and went to work as a lobbyist and consultant and claims that Senator Ensign helped set him up in that new job. He claims Ensign even helped him get clients, and "The New York Times" uncovered a paper trial in some of this, including e-mails that Hampton wrote to Ensign, suggesting the senator made some promises and got prodded to keep them.
One Hampton e-mail said, "You ensured me that you would have no issues getting at least three clients and that more than likely I would make more money consulting than I did working with the Senate. Today that is not the case, and in May my income suffered."
Now, Ensign claims all he did was make some calls recommending Hampton for jobs. I talked to Ensign's lawyer today. He says Ensign denies all wrongdoing, and he says he didn't do anything illegal at all.
COOPER: Stan, you've dealt with plenty of cases of politicians under fire. For you, what's the biggest red flag for Senator Ensign, and what do you expect is happening in the Justice Department right now?
STAN BRAND, FORMER GENERAL COUNSEL, U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: Well, the red flag is the participation in an arrangement to get this person clients going to luncheon meetings with him, well aware of the one-year ban.
And while the one-year ban only runs to Hampton, the Department of Justice has charged conspiracies, and it's charged others with aiding and abetting the violation of that lobbying ban. Most recently in the Abramoff case. So they've already used this statute in other public corruption cases.
COOPER: Candy, you said this -- this is, in a way, good news for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in terms of politics. How so?
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Harry Reid is up for re- election next year. He's in trouble. His approval rating has dipped below 50 percent. This is also expected to be, next year, a bad year for Democrats, as midterm elections generally are for the party in power.
But along comes not just what Senator Ensign is going through, but they also have a Republican governor who has a good number of problems of his own, who also has a very low approval rating.
So I talked to some people on Capitol Hill tonight, who all said, listen, the smart money here is that the longer Ensign stays in the Senate, the longer this is the story, the better off it is for Harry Reid, who is a Democrat, because it just makes Republicans look bad.
The Republicans on Capitol Hill would have not been supportive, shall we say, which means they don't support him. I think the other day Mitch McConnell, who's the top Republican in the Senate, said, when asked if he supports him, if he supports Ensign, McConnell said, well, he continues to serve. That is not support.
Whether he can take a hint, we don't know. Certainly, if it moves into a criminal element, it's a real problem, and it also just misdirects the conversation. Every time Republicans at home or here on Capitol Hill, have a news conference what do they get asked about?
COOPER: But Candy, Ensign did step down from his leadership post. The same cannot be said of Democrat Charles Rangel, who is still in a very high position of power, being investigated. The investigation has gone on for a year. And no Democrats are really calling for him to step down. Don't the Republicans at least get credit for kind of backing away from Ensign?
CROWLEY: Probably not. But it's the difference between being a majority party and a minority party. The majority party at this point, pending an ethics committee report on Charlie Rangel, has said, "Listen, we're going to wait for this report."
When you're the Republicans, and you're trying to change the conversation, when you don't need any more negativity than there already is around you want to redirect the message of your party, you don't want to be talking about Ensign.
COOPER: Stan, if these allegations against English turn out to be true, I guess he could face jail time, right? And is there any advantage for him to step down or resign before an investigation gets fully under way?
No, because the Justice Department generally won't consider that whether they begin an investigation, especially after the facts have come out. So they pursue people. Whether or not they're current office holders or not.
Joe, if he was convicted, any member of Congress who gets convicted of anything, they still get their pension, right?
JOHNS: Generally speaking, although they have tried to change that law. Generally speaking, they still get their pension. So all of this is not a foregone conclusion. We have a long way to go in the Ensign investigation, if you can call it that at this point. COOPER: All right. We'll be following it. Joe Johns, appreciate it. Candy Crowley as well. And Stan Brand, I appreciate you being with us. Thank you very much.
Coming up, a lot ahead. Stay tuned. We'll be right back.
COOPER: For the first time, Jaycee Dugard is telling the world about her life now. Abducted as a child, held captive for 18 years, the now 29-year-old mother of two has given "People magazine exclusive family photographs that were taken just a few days ago. We'll get to the pictures in a moment. We'll get our first look at her in a moment.
First, Jaycee's own words on her newfound freedom. Erica Hill has the new information in tonight's up-close report. He joins us with the details, right?
HILL: Anderson, it's tough to ignore, as you mentioned. She's on the cover, and it's tough to ignore that cover shot, because it's the first image of Jaycee Dugard that we've seen in 18 years.
She was taken, as Anderson mentioned, the pictures were taken, rather, in just the last few days.
Inside the magazine is a peek into what life is like today, as Jaycee and her two daughters try to find their new normal alongside Jaycee's mother, Terry Probyn. Now, her spokesperson, Erica Schulte, told "People" magazine she made the photographs public, Jaycee made them public to, quote, "lift the veil and acknowledge she's doing well." She also wanted to thank everyone for their support.
"People" didn't speak directly with Jaycee or her mother, although Jaycee did issue a written statement, saying, quote, "I'm so happy to be back with my family. Nothing is more important than the unconditional love and support I have from them."
COOPER: It hasn't been that long since she and her daughters were rescued. Do we know much about the transition?
HILL: Little bits here and there. I actually poke with Ernie Allen tonight from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. They sent out the psychologist right, when all of this started when Jaycee was found, to help the family with the transition. That psychologist is still there, and by all indications, he tells me things are going well.
But he stressed this is still very early in what is a lifelong recovery process. And the family spokesperson, again Erica Schulte, says Jaycee and the family are very realistic about the hurdles to come. She knows Jaycee is not dwelling on the past, Anderson, which can't be an easy thing to do.
COOPER: What about the two daughters?
HILL: They're apparently doing pretty well. Now, some...
COOPER: Allegedly fathered by Phillip Garrido.
HILL: Allegedly fathered by Phillip Garrido. And that's one of the things that the spokesperson has said they'll have to address in time but not something that they're talking about right now.
They are talking, though, however, about the need for these girls to get an education, because they've never had any formal schooling. Angel and Starlet are 15 and 11 now. We're hearing, though, from Jaycee's mother's stepmother that the girls are very bright. In fact, she said Angel, who's the oldest, recently tested at about the level of a high school senior, which says a lot for whatever their mother did for them, who was in fifth grade when she was taken, when they were, of course, in captivity.
Now, part of the counseling there also includes horse therapy. Ernie Allen tells me this is really a way to inject some activity and normalcy into the process, basically, Anderson. So they don't have to sit around talking about their feelings all day long. They can do something to take their mind off of it, still going to benefit.
COOPER: How did these photographs get to "People magazine?
HILL: I was told when I spoke to "People" magazine this afternoon that the photographer who took them, who's a professional photographer, contacted the magazine.
And I asked Ernie Allen if this was a smart thing for them to do right now, for Jaycee to do with her recovery. He said actually, he thinks it is. There's so much public interest, so much public concern that the glimpse may actually afford them a little bit more privacy, because it sort of whets that appetite that the public has to know what she looks like, to know she's doing well. And then they can kind of continue with their recovery in seclusion.
COOPER: All right. Erica, thanks.
As Erica mentioned, Jaycee Dugard gave "People" magazine the exclusive personal photographs because she wants everyone to know she and her daughters are doing well.
With us, child psychiatrist and trauma specialist Dr. Judith Cohen. Also with us, Ed Smart, whose daughter Elizabeth was kidnapped from her home and held prisoner for nine months.
Dr. Cohen, I want to start by looking at some of these photos. Jaycee in the photos. Here you can see her on horseback. "People" magazine quotes the family spokesperson as saying that she's in horse therapy right now. What does that mean?
DR. JUDITH COHEN, CHILD PSYCHIATRIST: There are a lot of people who use horses to facilitate treatment. I don't do that myself, but I think it's an interesting way of encouraging children and adults to start talking about their experiences. COOPER: I want to take a look at another photo, Jaycee holding her mom and half sister. Now, according to "People" magazine, they, along with Jaycee's two daughters, are I guess, going on riding sessions, which have been organized by the therapist.
Reuniting the family at this point, is that the focus of this therapy?
COHEN: Yes. In this picture, you see Jaycee with her arms around her mother and her half sister. And I think this picture really emphasizes that this is a young woman who is craving connection and social support and social connectiveness. And she's smiling from ear to ear, much as she is in that picture of the horse. And this really emphasizes that it's the connectiveness and the relatedness that is really important.
COOPER: Ed, talk about that process when your open daughter was brought back to you. I mean, what is -- what is that rebuilding process like?
ED SMART, FATHER OF ABDUCTED TEEN: You know, it's amazing to me how resilient children can be. I mean, with Elizabeth, she was back home. We had a lot of people that said, "Well, you know, she needs to be deprogrammed. She needs a lot of therapy and help."
And -- and from that first night, she said, "I want to sleep in my own room, and I'm going to be here in the morning." And so I mean, to us we were just going, really? I mean, because we were still pinching ourselves in disbelief that this actually had happened.
And so it's just amazing to me how they can move forward. And, you know, as I've understood it, Jaycee is just really enjoying and loving life and being able to reconnect with her family.
COOPER: Ed, "People" magazine reports that Jaycee is fully prepared to testify against her captor. Your daughter, Elizabeth, recently testified. I know you learned things that you hadn't known before in her testimony. For the preparation for that testimony, that's got to be a difficult thing for your daughter and for you, frankly.
SMART: Well, you know, really the hardest thing I think Elizabeth went through was when she first got home, the U.S. attorney and the district attorney encouraged her to sit down with these two forensic professional forensic psychologists -- psychiatrists and to basically be debriefed. And I think that that was the hardest thing that Elizabeth went through.
I mean, as a parent, I was, you know, worried sick about Elizabeth getting up there and testifying. But she got up there and was so amazing, you know, to be able to just say what she had to and get it out and -- and move on.
COOPER: I want to -- Dr. Cohen, I want to take another look at a photo from "People magazine. Jaycee and her mom, Terry, appearing obviously very affectionate. They're clearly close. How do you see her treatment playing out?
COHEN: In this picture, I see a very loving mother and daughter. Their heads are together; their foreheads are touching, and their joy is really just radiating there. Their pleasure in being together.
And Mr. Smart, I'm sure you've seen in scenes like this, too, of just the happiness of being reunited, and their smiles are just bursting from their faces.
COOPER: Ed, what's your advice to Jaycee, to her mom?
SMART: Just do what they're doing. I mean, it sounds like they're getting great advice and great help and, you know, just building those relationships back together. The bond, you know, it was referred to us once as a rebirth, almost like giving birth to a child again. That bond that develops between the child and the parent, and you know, it's just -- it's wonderful to hear. And you just -- I mean, from the pictures you can tell it's happening.
COOPER: Ed Smart, Dr. Judith Cohen, appreciate you being on tonight. Thank you.
COHEN: Thank you.
SMART: Thank you.
COOPER: Coming up next, a nightmare retreat. Self-help turned deadly for two people at a sweat lodge. What were they doing, and why did is man in charge not talking to authorities? That's tonight's "Crime & Punishment." We'll be right back.
COOPER: A self-proclaimed visionary who led a sweat lodge ceremony that ended with two people dead and more than a dozen others sick is offering condolences to the families but refusing to comment on how a spiritual retreat turned to tragedy. He's not talking. Others are, however, about the new age guru at the center of the story and the risks involved in this ritual.
Gary Tuchman gets some answers in this exclusive "Crime & Punishment" report.
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He has become rich and famous trying to help others. But as of now, a frustrated county sheriff investigating two deaths says James Arthur Ray is not helping him.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We attempted to interview Mr. Ray at the scene. He refused to talk to us.
TUCHMAN: What happened at the scene in Sedona, Arizona, is still a mystery. Fifty to 60 men and women packed in a ceremonial sweat lodge, with James Arthur Ray. Scorching temperatures. People paid thousands to Ray for five days of self-help exercises, including use of a sweat lodge.
But here's what 911 operators heard.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Two people aren't breathing, with no pulse.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not breathing?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
TUCHMAN: Two people dead, 19 hurt. An investigation to see if criminal charges will be filed. While authorities say neither Ray nor his attorney are talking to them, we know Ray, as usual, is trying to drum up more business.
At a hotel in L.A. today night, where no cameras and tape recorders were allowed, and where Ray would not talk with us, he did tell potential customers that, despite what authorities are telling us, he's working with them and conducting his own investigation.
"I have no idea what happened," he said. "We'll figure it out."
At a different sweat lodge in Sedona, they have their theories about what happened. This one is conducted by the people who came up with the concept many generations ago, Native Americans, who invited us to experience the sacred ceremony in the intense heat first-hand.
More than an hour is spent inside, most of it in complete darkness. Fiery lava rocks make the temperature hotter than a typical sauna. The cost for guests to participate: free.
Many Native Americans have been alarmed for years at what they describe as self-help gurus packing too many people into sweat lodges and using potentially dangerous materials to cover the structure.
In this sweat lodge, they ask God to help the victims and their families.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're still praying for them. We're still praying for those affected by this.
TUCHMAN: But there is condemnation for those like James Arthur Ray, who put on these ceremonies for profit.
VERNON FOSTER, KLAMATH MODOE TRIBE ELDER: It's a blatant act of desecration, for one, to our ceremonies. And it's an act of exploitation.
TUCHMAN: James Ray is still advertising next year's event at the same location in Sedona. It's called the Spiritual Warrior. For five days, it prices out at nearly $10,000.
He's been a guest on "LARRY KING LIVE" and was asked about all the money he makes.
JAMES ARTHUR RAY, NEW AGE GURU: It's noble to charge for your services if you're providing a fortune in value. And so I believe, in the world that we live in, you are compensated in direct correlation to how much value you're providing.
TUCHMAN: James Arthur Ray is a salesman and proud of it. In fact, tonight he's scheduled to appear in San Diego, trying to sell his pricey tips for a better life. While the sheriff in Arizona is still hoping he'll tell him what he knows about the tragedy in the sweat lodge.
COOPER: Wow. Gary, do authorities have any idea exactly what caused these deaths? I mean, why did these people die in a sweat lodge? Do we know?
TUCHMAN: If the authorities know, they're not saying publicly, but obviously, the key here is why those 19 people were hospitalized. And we're being told that right now they're running toxicological testing. That testing should tell us what happened to these people, and then we may know what the problem was in that sweat lodge.
COOPER: Yes. Must have been a nightmare there. Gary, appreciate it. Thanks.
Coming up at the top of the hour, Rush Limbaugh loses the chance to own a piece of an NFL team. Is it fair? Judge for yourself. A spirited conversation when we continue.
COOPER: Tonight, breaking news. Rush Limbaugh sidelined: his bid to buy into the NF -- the National Football League sacked. What happened, and is it fair?