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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Brian Williams Will No Longer Be Anchor of NBC Nightly News; Possible Images of Escapees Richard Matt and David Sweat Released; Rachel Dolezal Accused of Harassment, Ethical Violations; Airliner Comes Close to Collision with Another Plane at Chicago's Midway Airport. Aired 9-10p ET
Aired June 17, 2015 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[20:00:00] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Hey, good evening. Thanks very much for joining us. Breaking news tonight and it is big. We learned tonight that Brian Williams, the suspended anchor of the NBC Nightly News will no longer be the anchor of the NBC Nightly News. Our Brian Stelter has the inside details of the deal that will apparently keep him at the network, but keep him out of his former anchor chair.
Brian joins us here now live. So what have you learned?
BRIAN STELTER CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: There are ongoing meetings at "30 Rock," and they might want to announce this as early as tomorrow. Some people at NBC would like to be able to come out tomorrow and say yes, Brian Williams is coming back to work, but not to the "NBC Nightly News" anchor chair.
This has been telegraphed for a while. There were reports a couple of weeks ago that he would not be coming back to "Nightly News."
COOPER: There were a number of leaks, frankly.
STELTER: That's right. And nothing official. You know, Lester Holt, who's been filling in for Brian Williams for four months, has known nothing and so has his staff. You know everyone there has been in the dark as the top executives plot Brian Williams' future. At this level, it's about negotiations between Brian Williams' attorney and those top executives. But those negotiations in recent days have reached a point where they've got an agreement. They've got an agreement to have him come back to NBC, but again, not as the "Nightly News" anchor. So what will he be doing? That's what almost nobody knows.
COOPER: I guess, I mean, what is-- the thinking on bringing him back that he can somehow rehabilitate himself or that's the hope? And regardless, they would have had to pay him out a certain amount of cents on the dollar.
STELTER: Part of the calculation in all these cases is you might not want to see the person across the street at a rival network or doing something new and different. You might not want to compete with them, so you'd rather keep internally, keep them in-house. And of course, tens of millions of dollars were on the line here. Brian Williams was until February the most watched nightly news anchor in our country.
STELTER: Not only that, he had just signed a five-year contract worth $50 million. There is a lot of money at stake here. And by keeping it in the Comcast family, NBC won't have to lose all that money.
Now, of course, it's a different role, probably a reduced role, maybe at a reduced price tag. But there's any number of things he could do inside Comcast without being the NBC nightly news anchor.
COOPER: Yes. I was trying to imagine what his role would be. And I mean, you could see him perhaps anchoring on MSNBC. Obviously, that's a network in trouble and a network which is now going to try to redefine itself in a kind of newsier direction. So I guess that's one option. Would "Dateline" maybe?
STELTER: You could imagine him doing something like "Dateline," doing a series of specials, doing a series of primetime documentaries, things like that. In order for Brian Williams to reestablish his credibility, to regain his credibility, he may want to be seen as a reporter again, out there doing reporting, out there doing big interviews, and not just doing the kind of anchor desk work that we know him for doing for years.
You know, the best anchors are the ones that report and anchor, the ones that are out in the field as well as behind the anchor desk. So maybe he'll try to be more of a roving reporter. But that is the big multi-million-dollar question now. How exactly he restores the audience's trust in him.
It's a long history in this country of second acts and of forgiveness. But exactly how you gain that, how exactly you get that, you know, that's going to be very challenging.
COOPER: And we should point out, he had been on MSNBC while he was waiting to take over for Tom Brokaw. He anchored a program on MSNBC.
STELTER: I think the headline is he's down, but not out. He's down from Nightly news chair, but he's not out from NBC.
COOPER: All right, Brian, breaking the headline. Thank you very much.
Coming up next, right now, the prison break. New images tonight of those two fugitive killers. Now, these are forensic artist's projection of what David Sweat and Richard Matt might look like after 12 days on the run, just one of a string of new developments today in the hunt in the case against their alleged accomplice. Joyce Tilly, the prison tailor Mitchell and the apparently said story of her husband Lyle.
Also breaking news, we learned that the honor (ph) block of the Clinton correctional facility in Dannemore who when the both fugitive were housed in, that has been shut down. And the search area has now changed. The latest on all of it from our Randi Kaye, who joins us Dannemore.
So let's begin with the search area. Shifting again, do they think these guys are still in the area of the prison?
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They do, Anderson, and they're certainly hoping so. They've already searched 16 square miles, or about 10,000 acres. So the area is shifting, and that really is based on the 1,400 leads that they have now. The information that they're getting from those leads is telling them to shift to a different area. But still here in Dannemore, nearby the prison, so they're shifting the roadblocks, they're shifting the canine units. The lead investigator told us today that they don't have any hard evidence that these guys have left town, that they're not in this area. They don't have any reports of a stolen car that they may have taken to get out of town. There hasn't been any - nobody has spotted them out of town so they are working off the evidence that they have, which tells them that they are still right here.
And one last thing, Richard Matt, one of the escapees, his MO, his style when he has escaped prison before is to lay low until the time is right to make a run for it.
[20:05:03] COOPER: Do investigators think that somebody else is giving them help now on the outside?
KAYE: They're certainly looking into that. I mean, we know at least if what Joyce Mitchell, the prison seamstress has told investigators, that she was helping them on the inside. So now they're wondering if there was a plan b, maybe because Joyce Mitchell didn't pick them up, maybe there was a plan b in place and they have somebody else helping them on the outside. They are certainly looking in to that. They didn't want to give away too much detail on that because they didn't want to compromise the investigation, but they certainly have not ruled that out, that they have help right now.
COOPER: We are going to be talking to the district attorney in just a few minutes. I understand you just spoke with him and he gave you some new information about Joyce Mitchell and Richard Matt.
KAYE: Yes, I had some questions, Anderson, because there have been these reports about these paintings that Richard Matt has made while he was in prison. And these were paintings of celebrities such as Oprah and President Obama. And we know that Joyce Mitchell had this sexual relationship with Richard Matt. We've been reporting that. They've been in a relationship since probably 2013 at this point. Well, I'm learning tonight from the district attorney just moments ago that Richard Matt actually made a painting for Joyce Mitchell of her children, which she then gave to her husband, Lyle Mitchell, who also worked in the prison as a maintenance worker. She gave that to him just in April as an anniversary gift. So a painting from Richard Matt for Joyce Mitchell given to her husband as a wedding anniversary gift back in April and the payment for that painting, she apparently gave Richard Matt what's called speed gloves, which are used on a speed bag in a boxing gym. So that's the new information coming to us just from tonight. COOPER: All right, Randi, thanks very much.
More on the husband Lyle Mitchell and so many more questions now surrounding him. What did he know about the plot, his wife's role in it, her reportedly two-year-long sexual relationship that Randi was just talking about with Matt. The danger he faced, his jailhouse visit yesterday with his wife, all of that. He is obviously not talking. His attorney is.
Alexandra Field joins us now with details. So I know you spoke to Lyle Mitchell's attorney today. What did he say?
ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, he is maintaining that his client, Lyle Mitchell, had no hand in the escape plan, no knowledge of it. He describes Lyle as in a state somewhere between reeling and confused given the week, the ten days he has now been through.
He also says, however, that Lyle Mitchell does not deny the allegations that Joyce Mitchell may have assisted in this escape. He is also not denying the allegations that she was having an affair, but a source close to the investigation says that Lyle Mitchell had no idea that his wife was involved in this relationship with Richard Matt. You can only wonder how he feels about having that painting now, Anderson.
COOPER: Yes. And I understand he spent three hours with state police today. Do you know anything about that?
FIELD: Yes. This is the second time that he's gone to speak with investigators. And there's a possibility he will return for further questioning. His attorney says that this is completely voluntary. He is inside discussing whatever he knew, whatever Joyce Mitchell may have shared with him after the fact. Investigators believe that Joyce was talking to her husband after the two inmates escaped.
He wouldn't stop -- Lyle Mitchell wouldn't stop as he made his way into the police barracks to answer any of our questions, but we do know that he has stayed in touch with his wife. He went to Clinton county jail just yesterday. Spoke to her for about an hour. His attorney says that he has absolutely no plans to testify on his wife's behalf. He was simply there to offer some support right now, Anderson.
COOPER: All right. Alexandra Field, I appreciate the details.
We're going to hear, as I said, from the local district attorney Andrew Wylie in just a moment.
Also, more breaking news, a near disaster at Chicago's midway airport, two loaded airliners coming right at each other and what happened next. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stop, stop.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[20:12:39] COOPER: More now on the prison break, the expanding search area. The new images of what the fugitives might look like now, the closing the block a little late to be sure in the case against Joyce Mitchell.
Joining us is the man who has to sort out all the legal angles and make the case, Clinton county district attorney Andrew Wylie.
Mr. Wylie, thanks for being with us. Randi Kaye was just reporting that Richard Matt painted a picture of Joyce Mitchell's kids that she gave to her husband for their anniversary. Have you learned more at this point about the relationship between matt and Joyce Mitchell?
ANDREW WYLIE, DISTRICT ATTORNEY, CLINTON COUNTY, NEW YORK: The relationship is really limited as far as what we know, Anderson. But yes, this is one of the issues that has come out through the statements that Joyce Mitchell has provided us, that she provided speed gloves to him, and he painted a picture of her children. She gave him a picture to do the painting, and so she had that picture of her children done by matt.
COOPER: I understand it's not believed that either man used her phone inside the prison. Do we know about outside the prison? We reported last week that Mitchell's cell phone was used to make several calls to people close to Matt. Is that, in fact, the case and do you know who might have made those calls if it is?
WYLIE: Well, sure. The one call that we know that she made, because she advised us and then we followed up with interviews, is to Matt's daughter. And one of the items that she was discussing, at least that she advised us, the purpose was to discuss some paintings that Matt wanted to do. Other than that, I have no information as far as phone calls that she made that she reported to us on his behalf.
COOPER: So as far as you know, there was only one phone call made on her phone. It wasn't a case that she gave the phone to either Matt or Sweat.
WYLIE: Right. We continue to take the position that she never provided a phone to Matt or Sweat.
COOPER: Earlier today, you said --
WYLIE: And she was making phone calls on the outside.
COOPER: She was making the phone calls on the outside. But to your knowledge, there was only that one phone call to the daughter?
WYLIE: That's the one that she's identified to us.
COOPER: OK. Earlier today, you said that Joyce Mitchell talked to Matt and Sweat about killing her husband. Is it clear who initiated that conversation, whether it was Joyce Mitchell suggesting it or either of the men? [20:15:09] WYLIE: Based on what Joyce Mitchell has told us, it was
the men. It was Matt that initiated that conversation, that he was the one who was going to arrange to have that taken care of. That Joyce would pick them up after midnight on June 6th, drive back to her house, and then they would kill her husband. It's just one of these -- another unusual piece to this puzzle that we're looking at.
COOPER: And is it clear to you why she wanted her husband killed? Is it because of this relationship she was having with Matt?
WYLIE: She hasn't really discussed with us whether it was really her idea or whether it was Matt or Sweat's idea which makes the issue really unusual. She didn't tell us she wanted Matt or she was going to have Matt and Sweat kill her husband. It's just the topic of the conversation that came out that Matt and Sweat would do that once they got out. Possibly -- I have no information as to why it would have happened or why they needed to do that. Why wouldn't they just be leaving Dannemora and go south or go west, wherever they had to get out of the area.
COOPER: Right. Because it seems to be an odd -- I mean, there were questions in previous days about whether this was some sort of a threat they had made against Joyce Mitchell, against her husband. But it seems odd to be threatening that if they wanted her, in fact, to pick them up. And if you want somebody to pick you up, you wouldn't say once you pick me up, you're going to drive over to your house and kill your husband. I mean, it would seem to be an inducement to getting her to pick them up.
WYLIE: I would think so. I mean, it's come get us, and then we're going to get out of the village as quickly as we can before law enforcement find out that we're out of our cells and that we've escaped from Clinton correctional facility.
COOPER: Yes. As far as what Joyce Mitchell's husband knew, do you think he was told about the escape plan before the men had gotten away, or not until after?
WYLIE: I don't think it was until after based on Joyce Mitchell's statements. Over the days from June 6th through her arrest, and then last Saturday. We have no indication that she discussed that with her husband prior to the escape actually happening.
COOPER: And about his awareness of her relationships with either man, do you know how much he knew?
WYLIE: We don't have any information whatsoever that he was aware that Joyce Mitchell had a previous relationship with David Sweat up through the time that he was removed from the tailor shop, or continuing thereafter with Richard matt.
COOPER: So even though he worked in the same shop, you don't believe he had any knowledge of this?
WYLIE: Right. He was working in and out of the tailor shop that they were in as well as the other, from what I understand, the other shops on that company. So no idea that they -- that he actually had any knowledge whatsoever of the relationship.
COOPER: All right. Andrew Wylie, I appreciate you being on again. Thank you so much, Mr. Wylie.
Coming up next, a forensic artist walks us through what could be the many faces of these two fugitives.
And later, breaking news on the Rachel Dolezal saga, she's been asked to quit another post. We'll explain why and talk about another controversial statement she's making that the man and woman on her birth certificate may not be her birth parents.
[20:22:36] COOPER: The breaking news just moments ago, local district attorney Andrew Wylie confirming there's no indication that Lyle Mitchell, husband of the alleged prison break accomplice, had any idea that his wife and Richard Matt were in a sexual relationship. And as we mentioned at the top of the broadcast, forensic artists have come up with new images of David Sweat and Richard Matt. New projections of how they might look after nearly two years on the run, disguises they might try to use. You can see not drastically different, just the same two guys with a little more facial hair.
Now, obviously, they might have already tried to make more drastic alterations in how they look, which is why CNN's Dan Simon was sent down today with someone who knows how to roll with those kind of changes.
DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Imagining what the fugitives might look like after more than ten days is the job of a forensic artist.
GIL ZAMORA, FORENSIC ARTIST: I'm looking at what I consider immediate ways to di disguise a face.
SIMON: Gil Zamora received training from the FBI and has been doing these kind of sketches for more than 20 years.
You're a former police officer and a forensic artist. When you look at this case in New York, do you think that these guys have totally altered their identities?
ZAMORA: Well, I would say that that's probably a very good possibility. My experience has been that when they're out and they're trying to get away, they're going to do everything they can to disguise themselves and make sure that nobody recognizes them.
SIMON: Zamora is not involved with the New York case, but we asked him to come up with some additional ways the fugitives might have changed their appearance, first Richard Matt. Here's the original and this is the altered creation.
This person could probably evade capture. ZAMORA: I would say so, at least initially, definitely. I gave him
what I considered a full beard. There's a possibility he could be dyeing his hair.
SIMON: And with some eye wear, it's clear the public would have a difficult time recognizing him.
ZAMORA: Well, I think they would think twice. I wouldn't say they would immediately pick him out.
SIMON: Now, David Sweat. This is the original mug. And this is how Zamora imagined what he would do.
ZAMORA: Changing the clothing and extending the facial hair, and then also adding some eyewear to distract people from looking at their eyes as well.
SIMON: Hair on both the face and head, he says, are the two main ways in which men could change their appearance. Just like Harrison ford did in "the Fugitive."
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I didn't kill my wife!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't care!
[20:25:12] SIMON: These real life fugitives could be doing simple things to their faces and it's quite possible no one would spot them, at least not immediately. That's why all these photos could be instructive, or maybe even instrumental in cracking the case.
ZAMORA: I think anything that keeps the public aware and keeps this case alive for people to be on the lookout is extremely valuable.
SIMON: Dan Simon, CNN, San Jose, California.
COOPER: Let's dig deeper now to how fugitives stay fugitive and how to catch them, we are joined by former FBI special agent in-charge Michael Tabman. Also John Cuff, former head of the northeast fugitive investigation division at the U.S. marshals service and a retired criminal psychologist and former FBI assistant director Chris Swecker.
John, the idea that they might attempt to change their appearance, in your experience, how common is that?
JOHN CUFF, FORMER U.S. MARSHAL: It happens on occasion. The first thing they want to do is get out of the area. In this particular case, all indications are that they're probably still up in that upstate area, OK. Whenever they get to wherever their goal, pre- determined goal was, wherever that maybe, then at that point, there's a good possibility they'll alter -- or certainly they would have done something. Right now, it's fair to say that they don't have access to razors and things of that nature.
COOPER: Which would entail going into a store. CUFF: That's where mistakes would be made by these guys.
COOPER: Chris, the fact that authorities were expanding the search area, do you believe that they somehow got a hold of transportation and are long gone, or are holed up somewhere close by?
CHRIS SCWECKER, FORMER FBI ASSISTANT DIRECTOR: No, I don't think so. I think they're expanding, because they feel like they've covered a certain part of that area around Dannemora. I think it's -- I still think they're operating on the premise that when they came out of that manhole, they were very surprised when there was no transportation there for them. They had every intention of getting out of the area very quickly, so they're on foot. And it's logical to assume that they are somewhere indoors at this point, and that's why they're going door to door.
COOPER: And I mean, Michael, what do you make of that? Because I mean, they had several hours, about an eight-hour head start before their escape was actually discovered. If they did not have a vehicle, there's only so far, you know, given the kind of underbrush and forest area that they're in that they could have gone before authorities started to look.
MICHAEL TABLAN, FORMER FBI SPECIAL AGENT IN-CHARGE: That's right. They could have made some headway, but again, they're operating on the negative. They have no proof that they left the area, so now they're operating on the fact that they must still be in there absent any proof to the contrary.
COOPER: And John, the idea now early on there had been reports that Joyce Mitchell's cell phone had been used to possibly contact associates of either of these two guys. The district attorney now is saying that as far as they know, there was only one phone call made, it was made by Joyce Mitchell when she was outside to Richard Matt's daughter and related to some artwork that he wanted to do. That's obviously a disappointment because it's one less avenue that they can track.
CUFF: It is a little disappointing, but it's not a major setback. Transparent to this manhunt that's going on up there. You still have the fugitive investigation going on in the background, OK? That's going to exploit any and all communications within the prison to include computers that they might have had access to, along with the inmate phones. They will identify cell phones and things of that nature and exploit that further.
COOPER: Can -- in a prison, I mean, can they look back at a search history that a particular inmate used? I mean, when a particular inmate logs on to a computer, is it registered as that inmate on the computer at that time?
CUFF: Well, again, Anderson, each state and federal system, they all operate differently. Some prisons have capabilities that others don't have.
COOPER: I see. OK. CUFF: So you can do certain searches in these prisons.
COOPER: And Chris, obviously, they'll be looking to any visitors that either of these two guys got, or, you know, other last known addresses or friends that they may have had, some sort of contact with.
SWECKER: Absolutely. It's a basic step to identify anyone that they may have been in contact in any way whatsoever. I would tell you, Anderson, that they aren't taking her word for that single phone call, I guarantee you they're contacting everybody that -- any outgoing call or incoming call on that cell phone. They're running those leads out and probably have run most of them out at this point. And I would also suggest they're probably not passing all that information to the DA who is passing off that information to the public. They're going to want to hold some of this very close.
COOPER: And Michael, assuming that these guys have made it outside the immediate area, how hard it would be for them to get fake IDs whether it be a driver's license, passport, any kind of identification. I mean, technology is so advanced, there are biometrics on file.
TABLAN: That would depend on how much contact they have with the outside prior to this escape. If they did have contact with people via a cell phone or some other means, they might have arranged for that. And it's fairly easy to get phony I.D. But if they were caught by surprise as the theory now and they popped up out of this manhole, they had no support, no help, I think it would be difficult for them to emerge and try to start scouting around to find I.D. now. So it would depend on whether or not they were helped on the outside.
COOPER: Michael Tabman, I appreciate you being on. Chris Welker (ph) as well. John Coff (ph), always, thank you very much.
Just ahead, more breaking news. Rachel Dolezal accused of harassment and ethical violations, being asked to step down from another position in Spokane, Washington. We'll tell you about that ahead. Also, the misunderstanding at Chicago's Midway Airport that sent one loaded airliner directly into the path of another. They came within a couple of thousand feet of a collision that could have taken hundreds of lives.
COOPER: Breaking news about a near collision at Chicago's Midway Airport. A very close call.
COOPER: Two commercial flights were waiting to take off on intersecting runways. Southwest flight 3828 and Delta flight 1328. Now, to the ear, those numbers sound an awful lot alike. Air traffic controllers had cleared the Southwest flight for takeoff. The Delta pilots thought they had been cleared and here's what happened next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stop, stop.
DELTA PILOT: 1328 aborting.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: It was a scary moment, obviously, for all involved. Rene Marsh joins us now with the latest. So, what do we know about what preceded this near-miss?
RENE MARSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we know, Anderson that that Southwest flight was actually cleared for takeoff. It started rolling down the runway when that Delta flight started rolling down an intersecting runway, so now tonight the FAA is investigating why the pilot of the Delta flight started taking off when it wasn't cleared. So, you have a plane - one that was traveling northwest, the other traveling northeast. So as you can see, the planes were definitely on a collision course. Had it not been for that air traffic controller, Anderson, we would be talking about a potentially deadly situation at Midway Airport tonight.
COOPER: And I just want to play what happened again, when the air traffic controller realized that both flights were trying to take off. Let's listen once more.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stop, stop, stop!
DELTA PILOT: Delta 1328 aborting.
ANOTHER PILOT: He's stopping.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: So, what happens in the case like that? What happens after they abort?
MARSH: Well, we do know that eventually that Southwest flight was able to take off. But thankfully, they stopped. We're talking about some 2,000 feet away from that intersection. So no one was hurt that we know of. We didn't get any information about that as far as any injuries. But they stopped very far from that intersection. It appears, as you mentioned at the top, that the source of the confusion had to do with the two planes' flight numbers. They are very similar. And when the controller cleared Southwest Airlines flight 3828, the pilot of Delta flight 1328 may have gotten a bit confused. Listen to that confusion play out just seconds after that very close call. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For Southwest, on 3128, were we the ones cleared for takeoff?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, sir, you were. You were the one - you were doing what you were supposed to be doing.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Delta was rolling also?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. He took your call sign. Somebody kept stepping on you. I couldn't figure out who it was. And then - that's why I reiterated that it was you that I was clearing for takeoff.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MARSH: All right, and Anderson, I mean you just saw the map of the runways there. It goes without saying the two planes should never be taking off at the same time on intersecting runways.
That's an absolute no-no.
COOPER: Glad it was caught quickly. Rene Marsh, I appreciate it.
Up next, we have breaking news. Former NAACP leader in Spokane, Washington, Rachel Dolezal being accused of harassment and ethical violations and being asked to step down from the civilian police oversight board, this as she makes new claims about her race and her biological parents.
COOPER: New trouble for Rachel Dolezal in a new claim about her birth parents. First she's been asked to step down immediately from a civilian police oversight commission that she serves on. No word yet that she has. It follows the release of a report today concluding that she and two other members acted improperly during encounters with law enforcement and that her position as head of the local NAACP in Spokane, Washington, was a conflict of interest. As for the parents' angle, listen to what she told NBC's Savannah Guthrie when asked whether she's ever lied about her race.
RACHEL DOLEZAL: No. Because never have I been asked are you human or not human. Race as a construct, again, is a fluid understanding. So I would say no.
SAVANNAH GUTHRIE, NBC CORRESPONDENT: You know when someone asks you, are you black, are you African-American, you know exactly what they're asking you. And for you to say yes, is that an honest answer?
RACHEL DOLEZAL, FORMER PRESIDENT, SPOKANE, NAACP CHAPTER: When somebody's asked, are you black, which I actually don't get asked very often, until recently, a few days ago, then I say yeah. I do. Yeah, I am black.
GUTHRIE: Do you understand why many people would think given your parents and your heritage, that is at best a misleading answer?
RACHEL DOLEZAL: I can understand that, but again, up to this point, I know who raised me. I haven't had a DNA test. There's been no biological proof that Larry and Ruthanne are my biological parents. (END VIDEOTAPE)
COOPER: So, Savannah Guthrie pointed out that her parents' names are on her Montana birth certificate. Mrs. Dolezal questioned the veracity of that thing, there were no medical witnesses to the birth and the birth certificate was filed about a month or so after her actual birth. Once again, a lot to talk about tonight. Joining us, Dr. Drew Pinsky, the host of HLN's "Dr. Drew", and our legal analyst Sunny Hostin. Dr. Drew, first of all, what do you make of what she has been saying, what she has been doing, more importantly?
DR. DREW PINSKY: Well, what she's been saying, to answer that question, is not much that we can hang any real significance to. She answers almost every question with obfuscation, evasion, sort of rationalization. I don't even know what she's talking about half the time. And very few people can manufacture that kind of evasiveness unless there's something significant going on, something disturbing going on. So, whenever people look at her and go I think something not right, that's often what causes them to feel that way and they would be right.
COOPER: It's interesting, Sunny, because when cornered about her birth parents, you know, their names are on the birth certificate. She grew up, she was raised by them. She is now - is saying, well, I don't know that they are my birth parents. You know, there was no witness to this, I've never seen a picture of my mother when she was pregnant. Previously, she told a story that she had been born in a teepee in Montana, so when it served her purposes, she certainly claimed a birth in a teepee with the Dolezals in the Dolezals' teepee, and - but now once that has been proven to be a lie, she's now switched to saying, well, I don't even know if these are my birth parents.
SUNNY HOSTIN, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Exactly. And I think that's what's so troubling about this to me and so many people.
HOSTIN: I mean I'm multi-racial, right? My mother is Puerto Rican and white, and my father is African-American. So, for me, race can be very fluid. People want you to identify a certain way, perhaps by the way you look, or perhaps by the language that you speak. So I think self-identification, the freedom to self-identify is extremely important. But it has to be based on honesty and authenticity, and I think what we are hearing from Rachel is rather than that sort of honesty and authenticity, we're seeing I think an opportunistic person. So she sues Howard for discriminating against her as a white woman, yet she reports hate crimes as a biracial woman in one report, and as a black person in another.
COOPER: In "The New York Times," first police report in 2005, she was described as white. By 2008 or 2009, she's being described in the police reports as black.
HOSTIN: As biracial and then also as black. And so that, I think, is troubling. So I think that, you know, is she lying? Is she using all these verbal gymnastics to hide something, some sort of pathology? You know, I think that's probably what's going on.
PINSKY: That is, that is the pathology. The pathology is the evasiveness, is the obfuscation. And I'm concerned there's something very serious going on here. She can't say anything about anything. She can't say where she was born, she can't say what she's biologically, what her sexual identity is, what her identity is, what her race is. I meant that's - something's very, very wrong with a human being that can only say I'm of the human race, that's all I know about me. Well, there's a lot more to be told. She's just not telling it.
COOPER: It's also interesting because, you know, when confronted with a statement she has given in the past, which are not true, she was not born in a teepee. Apparently her parents lived in a teepee three years prior to her ...
COOPER: Three years prior to her birth. I want to play something that she said to Savannah Guthrie to kind of explain some of these discrepancies.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RACHEL DOLEZAL: I really feel like there have been moments of some level of creative nonfiction, where I, in order to survive or protect people that I love, I have kind of had to explain or justify some of the timeline and logistics of my life in a way that made sense to others.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: So, let me just break this down. Because I mean, a, calling a lie creative nonfiction I mean is, in itself, pretty interesting. But also the stories she's talking about, I mean, she has said that she was whipped with a baboon whip by her parents who punished her based on skin color, on various, you know, variations in skin color within the family. She said this occurred when they were living in South Africa. They were living in South Africa, I think, between 2002 and 2006. She never lived in South Africa. It was her parents and her younger adopted siblings, black and biracial. So, that story seems to be a like. And a lot of her lies seem to be the kind of - give her roots in the African-American struggle in this country. She is describing whip with something, which was very akin to the whips that were used against slaves during the time of slavery.
HOSTIN: And I think what's so interesting about it, as she seems, Anderson, to connect the notion that because she is raising a black child, and two black children, that that means she has to pretend to be black in order for that story to be authentic. I mean, I'm a person who doesn't have a black mother who raised a black daughter. I mean, Heidi Klum is raising black children, is not professing to be black. Angelina Jolie has adopted multi-racial children, and she is not pretending to be any of those races. And so I think that she must be trying to establish some sort of roots so that she has that authenticity that is necessary. COOPER: Dr. Drew, essentially if you look at the timeline, she's
been, you know, in her estimation, black for six years or so.
PINSKY: Yeah, listen, I'm almost more frustrated with the interviewers than I am with this poor woman. There's something very wrong with this woman. I don't know if she has an identity disorder, like a dissociative identity disorder or personality disorder. But the interviewers are clearly not used to talking to people like this where you have to nail them down. You cannot give them wiggle room, you have to say, you said you're born in a teepee, that's a lie. Help me understand why you lied about that. You can't go, was it a lie? Well, then you get obfuscation, it smokes screens and all sorts evasiveness. There's something very wrong. And people have to get at really what's on here. I'm actually frightened for this woman. If she's in the zone that I think she may be in, self-harm may not be too far down the line here, so I'm concerned.
COOPER: Let's hope that's not the case. Dr. Drew, I appreciate it. Sunny Hostin as well. Just ahead, why many in the adoption community are offended by what Rachel Dolezal has said about race and parenting. I'll talk with an African-American woman whose adopted parents are white. We'll be right back.
COOPER: Five years ago, Rachel Dolezal became the guardian of her adopted brother Isaiah, a key moment, she says, in her racial identity.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RACHEL DOLEZAL: This is on a very real, connected level how I've actually had to go there with the experience, not just a visible representation, but with the experience and at point at which that really solidified was when I got full custody of Isaiah, and he said you're my real mom. And he's in high school. And for that to be something that is plausible, you know, I certainly can't be seen as white and be Isaiah's mom.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Those remarks are really interesting. It certainly do not sit well with many people, black and white, including many in the adoption community. Joining me now is Angela Tucker, whose adoptive parents are white. Also joining me, CNN political commentator and "New York Times" op-ed columnist Charles Blow. Angela, it's good to have you here.
COOPER: First of all, the term transracial, which has been thrown around a lot, not only by Rachel Dolezal, but a lot on Twitter and stuff recently. I've always heard it and only heard it used in terms of transracial adoptive families, where a child may be black, parents may be white. Is that your understanding of the term as well? ANGELA TUCKER, TRANSRACIAL ADOPTEE: Yeah, exactly. The term is --
that's how I identify myself, as a transracial adoptee. And it's been difficult to see the word thrown around and to be used for someone who's trying to pass, you know, as black, when in reality they're white. And for the term for us, there's so much integrity in it, and it unites a lot of us transracial adoptees who have grown up in communities that look different than our physical bodies. And so there's integrity issue there with the word that we are trying to regain.
COOPER: And Angela, when you hear Rachel Dolezal say in that clip that she "certainly can't be seen as white and be Isaiah's mom," what goes through your mind? Because I think there are a lot of parents out there who are raising children of different races and people like you who have been raised by parents of a different race who would take issue with that.
TUCKER: Yeah. I mean, it's hurtful. Because certainly, my parents are white and they raised me and they raised me well. I am an African-American woman, and I don't have any qualms about that. I know who I am. And other transracial adoptive parents who have done the same thing where they have brought the culture of their child into their home in many ways and they've diversified their friends so that the child sees mirrors of their identity in other people. While not choosing to become that race. I think that would be really confusing for me to have my parents choose to be whatever race I am. It would feel completely disingenuous, and like deceitful, really.
COOPER: And Charles, I mean, Rachel Dolezal has said she's never used the term transracial. People just called her that over the years, and she's never corrected them. It just seems like, though, so much of her narrative, whether about race, who her father is. It seems to be based on lies, lies of omission, outright lies, and lies designed to give herself roots in the African-American experience in this country.
CHARLES BLOW, NEW YORK TIMES OP-ED COLUMNIST: Right. And she's creating a biography of burden, right?
COOPER: That's interesting, biography of burden.
BLOW: It's the biography of burden meant to place her and give her a sense of authenticity within the experience of performing blackness. And that is highly offensive to a lot of people. And you almost don't even have time to explain the kind of immovable racial battle fatigue that people actually experience, who cannot put on and take off blackness like a blouse whenever it fits their fancy as she is able to do and has done. And to attempt to co-opt the experience that people have, including the suffering, including the burdens that go along with it, and also living that existence with a trap door that she knows full well that she has, which is that she can take out that weave, she can remove the tan, and she can go back at any moment to being a white woman that she was before, that is a different experience than committing to anything and owning anything in a way that we experience blackness.
COOPER: Yeah, you know, Angela, I heard one writer, a columnist, I think it was for "The Guardian" say that this is the ultimate in white privilege, the notion that you can -- that only a white person can adopt blackness when it suits them and, you know, I think one writer described it like trying on a pair of shoes. I'm wondering what you would say to Rachel Dolezal?
TUCKER: I would -- I think for someone who is passing as another race, I think in the black community, there's plenty of room for allies, for allies who are white is especially important to see, you know, white folks walk in in marches carrying Black Lives Matter posters has a lot of merit. And I think it would be very profound to have - adopt that sort of mentality if you're really feeling that much empathy towards another race.
COOPER: Particularly in a community like Spokane, Washington, which is overwhelmingly white. There's not a huge African-American population. So to have a white ally be able to go to white communities and speak about issues of race would be a powerful thing. I mean Charles, Michaela Angela Davis talked about this on the program.
BLOW: It would have been an amazing experience if she had operated in truth and honesty and said, I was born in this kind of social construct, in this racial identity, but I choose to live in this experience in order to experience it and be able to relate to it. And that is - that would have been powerful, it would have been brave, it would have been very interesting. This is not what this was.
COOPER: Charles, good to have you on.
COOPER: Angela Tucker, great to have you on the program. Thank you so much.
TUCKER: Thank you.
COOPER: That does it for us. "ANTHONY BOURDAIN, PARTS UNKNOWN" starts now.