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Lanza Speaks to "New Yorker"; Russians Flags Fly Over Crimean Border; Weed Industry's Cash Problem

Aired March 10, 2014 - 12:30   ET



ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: It is something simply too awful and too painful for most of us to imagine, having a child who becomes a mass murder.

Peter Lanza, father of Sandy Hook Elementary School shooter, Adam Lanza, is now speaking out, and he's telling the "New Yorker" magazine that he wishes his son had never been born.

He says he believes that when Adam shot his mother four times, each bullet was meant for a member of their family, and he doesn't discount himself.

Susan Candiotti reports now on how the memory of his son still haunts him nightly.


SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Peter Lanza, the father of Sandy Hook shooter Adam Lanza has broken his silence saying, "With hindsight I know Adam would have killed me in a heart beat if he had the chance."

In his first interview since the horrific shooting in Newtown, Connecticut nearly 15 months ago, Lanza tells the "New Yorker" magazine he has met with two families of his son's victims, saying, "A victim's family member told me that they forgave Adam after we spent three hours talking. I didn't even know how to respond."

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR, "AC360": Twenty little children, six adults.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR, "THE SITUATION ROOM": Unimaginable horror grips the nation.

BANFIELD: Police have now identified the school shooter as Adam Lanza.

CANDIOTTI: Lanza says when he realized what happened, he called his wife at work, telling her over and over, "I think it's Adam. It's Adam."

Lanza says he knew his son had problems but he was difficult to treat. In his words, "He did not want to talk about problem and didn't even admit he had Asperger's." Lanza also describes changes he saw in his son. "It was crystal clear something was wrong. Asperger's makes people unusual, but it doesn't make people like this."

Authorities later found that Adam had holed up in his room, windows covered by black garbage bags seen in these photos.

Peter Lanza says as things got worse with his son, Adam's mother, Lanza's ex-wife Nancy, cared for him primarily In his words, "She wanted everyone to think everything was OK." He adds, "She didn't fear her son. She slept with her bedroom door unlocked, and she kept guns in the house, which she would not have done if she were frightened."

These photos released late last year by the Connecticut state police show an open gun locker, several firearms, and lots of ammunition inside the home.

Peter Lanza says he is haunted by his son, dreaming about him nightly, detailing one nightmare, being hunted like one of his son's victims.


BANFIELD: Thank you to Susan Candiotti.

Joining me live is Dr. Wendy Walsh, psychologist and author, and, Wendy, I'm glad you're with me at this moment.

There is so much tortured revelation this father reveals in this really terrific interview I have to say, hats off to the author. I wanted to ask you about something he alluded to that was so disturbing, and it was a warning to other parents across the country. He said, "Asperger's makes people unusual, but it doesn't make people like this."

And he said -- he expressed the view that the condition veiled a contaminant that was not Asperger's. I was thinking it could mask schizophrenia, Mr. Lanza went on to say.

You know, Wendy, he said that here we are so close to New York City with the top mental health in the nation available, and no one could see this. Does this make any sense to you, that something so evil could be masked by something that's not so evil? Asperger's.

WENDY WALSH, PSYCHOLOGIST, AUTHOR, "THE 30-DAY LOVE DETOX": Absolutely, and, Ashleigh, as I know you know, I have a daughter with Asperger's syndrome, so I'm really familiar with it. And for all the people out there who may have children with an autism spectrum disorder, it is in no way linked or attached to violence.

But everybody is a snowflake, and our psycho-social behavior and our unique biology means that we could have layers of diagnoses, and it's very common for some of the larger disorders to come on with the big hormonal changes that happen in late teens.

So, yes, absolutely, this child was not diagnosed the way he should have been or with continued monitoring. And then you add to it, you know, a mother who, you know -- I hate it to ever, ever blame certainly a victim and certainly a single mother because I'm one myself and I know what a rough road it is.

But she had some blinders on, and missed some opportunities to get intervention that she might have need.

BANFIELD: And you think about how many people want to vilify Peter Lanza, the father of Adam Lanza. He hadn't seen Adam for two years. There could be a myriad of reasons why.

This is not a young boy anymore. He is a grown man. And he has a severe condition. And Peter said it was very difficult to get access to this young man.

But here's something that was very telling. He talked about his last name. Lanza is not common. And he said, I get very defensive with my name. I do not like even to say it. I thought about changing it, but I feel like that would be distancing myself, and I cannot distance myself.

I don't let it define me, but I felt like changing the name is sort of pretending it didn't happen. And that's not right.

Can you at all, you know, help anyone understand what he's going through when he is tore toured by the notion that he dreams of this child every night, he lives with that name every day, and yet he doesn't feel he can let it go?

WALSH: Well, this father is grappling with his own grief. He's grappling with a kind of post-traumatic stress disorder that's akin to really what the parents of many of the victims of Sandy Hook are experiencing, and on top of it, he's got this giant layer of shame and this question of what could I have done differently.

You know, Ashleigh, this event has hit a nerve with America, because I think you know, 14 million single mothers are raising one in four American children, and we are seeing an epidemic of boys "failing to launch."

As girls are moving ahead in their education, moving ahead in success, we're seeing boys struggling.

And then the added feature of not involved dads, the deadbeats, if you will, who are not involved in these emerging young men's lives. I think is really bothering a lot of people in America.

BANFIELD: Such a distressing story. And maybe the most distressing part is that he says he'll never reveal what the burial or funeral plans were for that son, if any. Dr. Walsh, great to see you again. Thank you for your insight.

WALSH: Nice to see you, Ashleigh. Take care.

BANFIELD: Wendy Walsh, live with us on that story.

Some very tense times for our CNN crew on the border between Ukraine and Russia.


ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is now effectively part of Russia. And they don't want us filming the evidence.


BANFIELD: We're going to show you what our crew uncovered when they got past that checkpoint. It is disturbing, to say the least.

And we'll also have the headlines on what is going on in this Russia- Ukraine standoff.


BANFIELD: The attorney for Michael Dunn has filed a motion to withdraw from that case. You'll remember, this is the so-called "Loud Music" case.

Dunn was found guilty last month on three counts of attempted murder, but the jury was hung on the most serious of the charges, first-degree murder, for shooting and killing 17-year-old Jordan Davis.

Dunn's attorney is citing, quote, "slight but irreconcilable differences," end quote. He's also noting Dunn can't pay his attorney fees. This is the same attorney who filed a motion for a new trial.

In the crisis in Ukraine, the Ukrainian prime minister is headed west this week, all the way to the White House, that's Wednesday, and then the United Nations Security council, that's Thursday.

For its part, Moscow is saying that it is preparing, quote, "counter- proposals" to resolve its armed occupation of Crimea, quote, "on the basis of international law."

Ukrainians expressed their views yesterday in these dueling demonstrations, loud and very, very populated. This was in a city near the Russian border.

The Ukraine military, meanwhile, though completely overshadowed in the Crimea standoff is nonetheless holding exercises, but not fully mobilizing for now.

Question remains, is all of this too late? A visit to the border shows that armed and masked Russian fighters have pretty much taken Crimea. Just seems to be a fact, period.

And it also means they are none too keen to let the rest of the world see what they're up to, which means that CNN's Anna Coren and her crew were not particularly welcome as guests at the border, and you've got to see what their report shows.


COREN (voice-over): Parked along the highway linking Crimea to Ukraine, a convoy of Russian trucks and armored personal carriers.

We're approaching a checkpoint, flying the Russian flag, where troops are searching cars, targeting media crews, and confiscating equipment.

We hide our cameras as soldiers inspect the van. One of them is spotted. It's taken and turned off. This is now effectively part of Russia, and they don't want us filming the evidence.

The local soldier in charge who's sworn allegiance to Russia agrees to an interview. "We're defending our people," he tells me. "This is not about Russia, but about protecting our homeland."

As we drive through the checkpoint, we see the new border that's being erected along this windswept plain. Once out of view from Russian troops, we stop the car and resume filming.

COREN (on camera): While Russia says it has no military presence on the Crimean peninsula, well here is your proof. Russian troops have dug in armed personal carriers of rolled up barbed wire, dug fence posts and there are also signs that indicate that there are landmines in the area.

COREN (voice-over): A local resident says they aren't just signs. This is a mine field.

"One of my neighbor's dogs ran in there and was blown up," he tells me. "Why are the Russians laying land mines? Why are they being so aggressive?"

For those living here, the military buildup on their doorstep is alarming.

"I'm frightened about the future," this grandmother tells me. "We don't want a war, we just want to work, live peacefully and feed our families."

Several miles up the road, the Ukrainian checkpoint appears. They too are digging in, setting up camp, well aware this standoff could turn bloody.

"We are warriors following the orders of the people of Ukraine," says this soldier. "If they want us to defend Crimea, then we will do this, and we're willing to die."

A sacrifice they're prepared to make for the sovereignty of Ukraine.

Anna Coren, CNN, Chonga (ph), on the Crimean peninsula.


BANFIELD: And our thanks to Anna Coren and her crew who are doing some very brave work for us to make sure that this story has international eyes on it.

Marijuana is a huge cash crop in Colorado, where recreational use is now legal. But there is this lingering problem. The business mavens are now facing, what do you do with all that cash? Lots and lots and lots of bills that the banks will not take. You can't open an account with this kind of money, folks, so what do you do with it? The legal view on the pot boom, just ahead.


BANFIELD: Legal marijuana sellers in Colorado and Washington are doing great, but they have a bit of a problem. It's a cash problem. They're making millions, and they can't take their profits to the bank. In fact, they can't take it anywhere because the financial industry is simply refusing to work with the pot retailers. Not because they don't appreciate what they're doing. It's more that they're just a little bit afraid. It's one of the biggest problems that's facing this new industry. As part of our pot boom series, CNN's Christine Romans reports on how it may actually take an act of Congress to figure this one out.


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Seed, soil, grow lights, blowers, the raw materials to grow pot. But to grow the industry, it takes the oxygen provided by bank accounts, loans, lines of credit, a problem retail marijuana store owners are trying to work around.

LINDA ANDREWS, OWNER, LODO WELLNESS CENTER: And it would be nice if the banks would work with us. Well, we're figuring out some systems. We've got safes. We don't keep it here.

ROMANS: So far the banks just say no. From coast to coast, bank and credit union trade groups advising their member banks to steer clear of the marijuana business. The president of the Colorado Bankers' Association says there's only one remedy.

DON CHILDEARS, PRESIDENT, COLORADO BANKERS ASSOCIATION: It literally is going to take an act of Congress to address this.

ROMANS: The Obama administration recently gave the banks a green light for how to do business with legal marijuana companies. But the banks say that guidance doesn't go far enough.

CHILDEARS: This light is redder than ever. It actually moved us backwards in terms of banks being able to accommodate the marijuana businesses.

ROMANS: Here's why. First, recreational pot is legal in Colorado and Washington. Medical marijuana in 20 states and Washington, D.C. But under federal law, marijuana is no different than hard core illegal drugs like heroin and ecstasy. Second, those new rules from the Obama administration say any bank doing business with a marijuana dispensary must prove the pot never makes it into the hands of children, is never trafficked to another state, is not smoked on federal property and has absolutely no ties to the drug cartels, among other things.

CHILDEARS: While we don't really care to be doing the government's work for them, the bottom line is, we can't comply with that. There are simply - there's simply no way that a bank can assert that marijuana isn't going to be used in certain fashions.

ROMANS: A powerful tool of capitalism unavailable to the legal pot industry until the federal law changes.

ROMANS (on camera): What's the legal risk for a bank allowing a pot dispensary to open up a checking account, get a line of credit, you know, a loan?

PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, the risk is that if they're a federal bank, they could lose their charter. They could also be prosecuted under a variety of federal regulations that have to do with money laundering. They have to follow these regulations very carefully, and there's a great risk with an all-cash business, like a marijuana business.

ROMANS (voice-over): All cash and nowhere to put it. An increasing safety risk, and a quandary even the attorney general has noted.

ERIC HOLDER, ATTORNEY GENERAL: Huge amounts of cash, substantial amounts of cash, just kind of lying around with no place for it to be appropriately deposited is something that would worry me just from a law enforcement perspective.

ROMANS: Thousands of stores, millions of plants, more than 2 billion in sales, but not a bank account to put it in.

Christine Romans, CNN, New York.


BANFIELD: And Sunny Hostin and Richard Quest join me live now to talk about this.

And by the way, Sunny is the new host of CNN's brand new show "Making the Case with Sunny Hostin and Mark Geragos" premiering tonight at 10:30. Congratulations.


BANFIELD: Two reasons I'm going to come to you first. I've got to get your muscles going. Get you ready for tonight. But also because you're the former federal prosecutor.


BANFIELD: And I just heard Eric Holder say something that was completely incongruous with the federal laws that preclude those people from taking those big, dangerous piles of money and putting them somewhere safe.


BANFIELD: Do you think that the attorney general could do something about this akin to what he did with all those sentencing problems. Just fudge the numbers a little and then you don't have to put everybody away for these nonviolent drug crimes. Can he do something akin to that for this problem?

HOSTIN: Yes, I think he's trying to do something akin to that because we have these guidelines that have been issued. But guidelines aren't law, right? Guidelines don't --

BANFIELD: And they stink.

HOSTIN: And they stick.

BANFIELD: They stink.

HOSTIN: And they don't change the law. And so I think banks ultimately are very concerned. So they may have a little but more confidence because of these guidelines, but they're going to be concerned, not about being put in jail, right, but they're concerned about the stiff fines and penalties that can be there. They can lose their FDIC insurance and they can also be banned from banking for the rest of their lives.

BANFIELD: Sure. So there's seemingly paralysis. And that makes me think, in my very tiny way, well, doesn't that just give rise to a whole underground system where loan sharks start fueling this industry if the banks won't (INAUDIBLE) -


BANFIELD: Or a strange underground banking system whereby there's no regulation and none of us knows what's going on.

QUEST: First of all, this was inevitable. When you had a straightforward discrepancy between what the federal law said and what these states were now introducing. So it was inevitable that legal entities, the banking system, was going to have difficulty accepting this money and putting into the system.

Now, to your point, are you going to basically end up with loan sharks, back room --

BANFIELD: An underground system.

QUEST: No - possibly, but unlikely, because these legal marijuana establishments will not want to bank with those people.

HOSTIN: Well, and I think - I agree with that. And I think what's going to happen is, you're going to see banks getting involved at the community level, perhaps the small banks that need the business.


BANFIELD: They're going to take the risk.

HOSTIN: I think they're going to take the risk.


HOSTIN: And it's going to be this risk/benefit analysis. There's a lot of money to be made here.

QUEST: There is. There is a lot of money. And it's - it's not all - the thing is, you talk about the billions involved, but it's mom and pop small amounts. Ultimately, I think you're right, the banking system will find a way. Overaccomodating (ph) it.


BANFIELD: Figure it out.

HOSTIN: The entry is going to be the small banks.

BANFIELD: Figure it out.


BANFIELD: I find it so fascinating. It's got, you know, "The Sopranos" written all over it, if you ask me. Richard Quest, thank you. And Sunny Hostin, thank you, as well.

HOSTIN: Thanks.

BANFIELD: And by the way, a reminder, tune in tonight, the inaugural 10:30 show, "Making the Case," 10:30 Eastern here on CNN. When Sunny and Mark Geragos get together, they're on fire.

HOSTIN: It's always interesting. It's always interesting.

BANFIELD: You are on fire with him. I love watching the two of you together. It's great.

And then also be sure to tune in to CNN tomorrow as Dr. Sanjay Gupta continues his groundbreaking report on medical marijuana. It's a special called "Weed 2." It's the follow-up to "Weed 1." "Cannabis Madness." It airs at 10:00 p.m. Eastern Time.


BANFIELD: Thanks for watching, everyone.