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South Carolina Governor Admits to Extramarital Affair; Iranian Crackdown Intensifies

Aired June 24, 2009 - 18:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Plus, the mystery is now solved and the scandal begins. South Carolina's governor reveals the reason he disappeared for days. He has been having an affair. And now Mark Sanford's wife is speaking out.

We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You are in THE SITUATION ROOM.

One witness says there was blood everywhere. The breaking news this hour: Amateur videos, online messages and firsthand eyewitness accounts all paint a terrifying picture of what's going on in Iran today. Listen to this. Security forces, including the Basij militia reportedly used clubs to break people's arms and legs. One source contends riot police were -- quote -- "killing people like hell."

Listen to one woman's call to CNN about this situation at a Tehran square.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All of a sudden, some 500 people with clubs and woods, they came out of the (INAUDIBLE) mosque, and they poured into the streets, and they started beating everyone.


BLITZER: We are told that the demonstrators were vastly outnumbered by the militia and the police and were waiting to attack them, a scene likened to a mousetrap. One source says troops and police have been beating women madly, a direct quote.

Women are playing a big role in protesting Iran's disputed presidential election. Iranian authorities now say the woman who has become an icon of this upheaval, Neda, may have been confused with the sister of a terrorist and killed by mistake. That's what they're saying.

Let's go to our Internet reporter, Abbi Tatton. She's over at the Iran desk monitoring what is going on.

The pictures are still coming in, pretty significant developments, Abbi.

ABBI TATTON, CNN INTERNET REPORTER: Wolf, it was late afternoon Tehran time when the Iran desk here started getting reports from witnesses, from social media, from sources about violence in Baharestan Square. This is in central Tehran. This is the site of the parliament building there.

And we got in amateur video, as well. Let's show you what we're talking about from adjacent streets, protesters heading to the square, some of them shouting, death to the dictator, heading -- a few of them heading towards this location, we believe, from this video.

Eyewitnesses told CNN that hundreds of people were then chased by security forces, security forces that clubbed people, that fired weapons, these witnesses telling CNN, this is quite a wild and violent scene here late afternoon in the square in Tehran -- Wolf.

BLITZER: And show us, Abbi, how this is being reported by the official state-run Iranian media.

TATTON: Well, it is being reported differently.

And we can show you what we're talking about, this from Press TV, a government-funded English-language station, where they did acknowledge this protest today, saying that a number of protesters were dispersed by security forces. Let's take a listen.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Some 200 protesters gathered in small groups at a nearby subway station in Baharestan Square. Another group of about 50 people converged on another square to the north of that neighborhood. The gathering was planned in advance. A heavy presence of police prevented violence in the area.


TATTON: Wolf, you heard that: A heavy police presence prevented violence in that area.

That is different from what we have been told here at CNN. One thing everyone agrees on, though, is that there is, indeed, heavy police presence in the streets right now -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, we will get back to you, Abbi. Thank you.

CNN has repeatedly invited the Iranian government to go on our air to answer questions about the events there. So far, the offers have gone unanswered. We continue to extend an open invitation to the Iranian government to share its perspective.

Let's get some more now on how the Iranian state-run media is portraying the unrest.

Here is our senior editor for Middle East affairs, Octavia Nasr -- Octavia.

OCTAVIA NASR, CNN SENIOR EDITOR FOR ARAB AFFAIRS: Wolf, while many of us have been seeing pictures of anti-government demonstrations on social networking sites, Iranian state TV channels have been showing a different view of the events in Tehran, and now a new development, where one channel has aired what has been described as confessions.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): My son and I were carrying grenades in our bags. My son was very keen to show his power, to tell the world that he was against his country and his countrymen.

NASR (voice-over): According to Iran's government-funded Press TV, this is a confession of an Iranian woman who was allegedly arrested during street protests. She says her actions were -- quote -- "influenced by foreign media."

This is another so-called confession.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I was influenced by Voice of America, Persian TV, and BBC. They used to blame the government forces for the violence. So, I was very interested to see what was going on. And, when I attended the rallies, I realized that it was the protesters who attacked public property, soldiers, and even other people.

NASR: That is just a sampling of the alleged confessions being aired on state TV, which has, all along, insisted that the situation has been under control and that the protests are illegal and will be dealt with as such.

Iranian TV also reports on what it calls a conspiracy, linking foreign countries to the ongoing anti-government demonstrations across Iran. According to this anchorwoman, it was all planned in this building.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The documents found at the building reportedly prove that certain countries and media fanned the flames of the recent riots.

NASR: Within newscasts, a constant reminder that the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has ordered that -- quote -- "All must obey the law."

State TV also reporting that Iran's judiciary has formed a tribunal to look at the files of those arrested.

As for the punishment:

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Iran's first deputy judiciary chief says the proceedings aim to teach the rioters a lesson.


NASR: What that lesson will be is anybody's guess. And, of course, there are many questions surrounding these so-called confessions and what prompted them -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Octavia Nasr, thank you.

Let's get some analysis from Sir Richard Dalton, the former British ambassador to Iran. He spent four years in Tehran.

When you see these confessions on Iranian TV, Mr. Ambassador, what do you think?

RICHARD DALTON, FORMER BRITISH AMBASSADOR TO IRAN: What I think it is that it's most unlikely that any foreign influence motivated these people.

The task of the BBC Persian service, for example, is to maintain balance, to be impartial, to be fair, to represent all sides insofar as it is available to them. And what Iranian protesters do is decided much more by what happens in their street, in their neighborhood, amongst their friends and in their own consciences.

BLITZER: Is this going to get bloodier in the next few days?

DALTON: It depends on the response from the Iranian people.

Sometimes, repression has brought more people out into the streets. On other occasions, it has succeeded in dampening down manifestations of dissent. But I can't believe that this will drive it -- will do anything other than drive it underground, so that it could break out again in future.

BLITZER: Don't go away. We're going to have you back this hour, Sir Richard Dalton, the former British ambassador to Iran.

Let's go to Jack Cafferty, though, right now for "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Wolf, pay attention here.

The United States is about to get a whole lot grayer. Consider this. People 65 and older now make up 13 percent of the population of this country. But, as the baby boomers keep aging, seniors will make up 20 percent of our residents by 2030 and 25 percent by 2050, one in four.

New census data shows that the world's senior population will triple by mid-century to one in six people, thanks to a decline in births and medical advances that help people to live longer lives.

Seniors are now the fastest-growing age group. And the U.S., along with many other countries, is going to find itself struggling to support them. As a result, one expert says the 2020s will be a -- quote -- "era of fiscal crisis" -- unquote -- for most developed countries.

And as for emerging countries like China, they could have it even worse, with millions of elderly Chinese potentially falling into poverty, creating social and political unrest. And, of course, that could have a serious impact on the global economy as well.

As for the United States, immigration of younger people has helped to slow the aging of a population overall somewhat. But, nevertheless, Medicare is expected to go broke by 2017, Social Security also well on its way to going broke in the not-too-distant future.

We have known about both of these facts for years. And our political leaders consistently fail to muster the courage to do anything about either of them.

So, here's the question. What will a rapidly growing elderly population mean for the United States? Go to and post a comment on my blog.

Graying of the population, Mr. Blitzer.

BLITZER: Yes, you and me, the graying of the population.

All right, Jack, thank you.

CAFFERTY: You're graying, and I'm balding.


BLITZER: Thank you.

Some say Iran's hard-line regime is crumbling. Are protesters exposing the weakness of the clerical regime?

What's it like for protesters jailed in Iran. The Iranian- American journalist Roxana Saberi, recently set free from an Iranian prison, is now describing what it was like. She even talks about possible physical torture.

And a governor mentioned as a possible presidential candidate now mired in disgrace. South Carolina's governor reveals he has been cheating on his wife and his wife talks about the pain it has caused.


BLITZER: We are monitoring all the historic developments unfolding right now in the streets of Tehran. We will update you shortly.

But there's another breaking news story we're watching right now. South Carolina is in shock. We're following what is going on. The governor admits he cheated on his wife, lied to his staff and essentially left the state in a lurch.

Choked up, fighting back tears, the Republican begged for his wife, his family and all the citizens of South Carolina to forgive him.

Let's get some more from our national political correspondent, Jessica Yellin.

What a story.


It was a brewing mystery for days: Where was Governor Sanford? And when he made it clear today, well, talk about burying the lead. He spoke about his love for the Appalachian Trail. He apologized to his wife, his kids, even the national media, before he made his ultimate confession, that he had gone AWOL because he was having an affair.


YELLIN (voice-over): After triggering a national guessing game over his disappearance, Governor Mark Sanford admitted, yes, he skipped town to be in the arms of a mistress.

GOV. MARK SANFORD (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: The bottom line is this: I have been unfaithful to my wife. I developed a relationship with a -- what started as a dear, dear friend from Argentina.

YELLIN: From the governor, who repeatedly called himself a man of faith, there were recriminations.

SANFORD: I hurt her. I hurt you all. I hurt my wife. I hurt my boys.

YELLIN: Tears and quite a few details about how his eight-year e-mail relationship with a female friend in Argentina recently ignited.

SANFORD: About a year ago, it sparked into something more than that. I have seen her three times since then during that whole sparking thing.

YELLIN: The jaunt to Argentina was doubly confusing since just yesterday Sanford's staff announced they made contact with him and he was hiking the Appalachian Trail, which does not stretch to Argentina.

The governor admits he misled his staff.

SANFORD: I would also apologize to my staff, because as much as I did talk about going to the Appalachian Trail, that was one of the original scenarios that I would thrown out to Mary Neil (ph), that isn't where I ended up. And so I let them down by creating a fiction with regard to where I was going.

YELLIN: His only justification, human frailty and exhaustion after fighting over the stimulus package.

SANFORD: What I have found in this job is that one desperately needs a break from the bubble.

YELLIN: Sanford's wife, Jenny, admits the two just separated.

In a statement, she writes: "To maintain my dignity, self- respect, and my basic sense of right and wrong, I asked my husband to leave two weeks ago." But, she says, "I believe Mark has earned a chance to resurrect our marriage."


YELLIN: And, on the political front, the governor says he is not resigning his seat as governor, though he did give up his post as chair of the Republican Governors Association.

Now, South Carolina's Republicans today seem to be divided on whether he should leave the governor's office. And, so far, Wolf, the state Republican Party is staying neutral on that question.

BLITZER: Haley Barbour, the Mississippi governor, becomes chairman of the Republican Governors Association.

Thanks very much for that, Jessica.

Let's bring in our senior political analyst, Bill Schneider.

Bill, is this the most serious problem we have seen for a potential Republican presidential candidate?


WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Wolf, this may not be the most serious problem we have seen for a potential Republican candidate, but it is certainly the most recent.

(voice-over): The road to the next Republican nomination is wide open, but a lot of potential contenders seem to be going off course.

South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford wondered way off course.

SANFORD: I have been unfaithful to my wife. I developed a relationship with a -- what started as a dear, dear friend from Argentina.

SCHNEIDER: Add Sanford's name to the growing list of Republicans who have stumbled, like Nevada Senator John Ensign.

SEN. JOHN ENSIGN (R), NEVADA: I violated the vows of my marriage. It is absolutely the worst thing that I have ever done in my life.

SCHNEIDER: Newt Gingrich called Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor a racist. And then he had to take it back, sort of.

NEWT GINGRICH, FORMER SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: While it was appropriate to describe the quote as clearly having a racial implication, it was inappropriate to broaden that into a judgment about her entire person.

SCHNEIDER: Governor Sarah Palin got into a squabble with David Letterman over a joke he made about her family.

GOV. SARAH PALIN (R), ALASKA: And so for the American public to not be given the full context of what that joke was all about, I think that's quite unfortunate.

SCHNEIDER: Palin needs fewer stories about her family and more stories about her policies.

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal delivered a widely panned response to President Obama's first address to Congress.

GOV. BOBBY JINDAL (R), LOUISIANA: Our party is determined to regain your trust.

SCHNEIDER: Utah Governor Jon Huntsman didn't do anything embarrassing, but he did join the Obama team.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Finally, I knew that, because Jon is not only a Republican, but a Republican who co- chaired my opponent's campaign for the presidency, this wouldn't be the easiest decision to explain to some members of his party.

SCHNEIDER (on camera): Can a politician recover from a bad mistake? Sure. Bill Clinton did it all the time, like, in 1988, when he gave an endless and widely criticized speech at the Democratic National Convention. He recovered.

It's just odd that, this year, so many Republicans seem to have gotten a knack for messing up -- Wolf.


BLITZER: Bill Schneider, thanks very much for that.

Women, they have been pushed to the sidelines under Islamic rule in Iran. They are now finding strength and a voice in anti-government protests. We're going to talk about their growing influence.

And President Obama's sharper response to the unrest is getting a mixed response in Iran. You won't be surprised to see who likes it and who doesn't.



BLITZER: The man so many Iranians are protesting against hasn't been seen much lately. We will try to answer an important question: Where is the president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad?

The accounts are gruesome of protesters being beaten, bloodied, and even killed. What's driving the Islamic regime to crack down in such a brutal way?

And an icon of this possible revolution in the making -- how the killing of a young woman named Neda could spur historic change in Iran.



Happening now: new images of security forces beating back protesters with tear gas and clubs. Witnesses say the violence was brutal and bloody. Iranian TV gives a much different account, saying about 200 protesters were simply dispersed by security forces.

And the mystery surrounding the whereabouts of South Carolina's governor ends with a shocking admission. Mark Sanford says he was in Argentina having an affair with a woman. Will this end his career? And did Sanford take the trip to Argentina on the taxpayers' dime? All this coming up, plus the best political team on television.

I'm Wolf Blitzer. You are in THE SITUATION ROOM.

We are getting several accounts of what amounts to a bloody, perhaps deadly ambush of Iranian protesters today. Security forces reportedly were waiting when anti-government demonstrators went to a Tehran square shouting death to the dictatorship.

The unrest continues over the reelection of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a vote protesters say was completely rigged.

I spoke earlier with one of the few Western correspondents still in Iran, Nazila Fathi of "The New York Times."


BLITZER: What about the president, Ahmadinejad? Has he been seen today?

NAZILA FATHI, FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT, "NEW YORK TIMES": Today, he has been meeting with members of parliament.

But, basically, since the election about 10 days go, he has not been so public, even on news agencies, the local news agencies. And they don't put his picture so often along with the news about him.

But, yes, he is the president. He is acting as the president. And he is out there.

BLITZER: What about the reaction a day after President Obama's tougher words as far as Iran is concerned? What's been the reaction to what the president of the United States said?

FATHI: Well, there are two kinds of reaction to that, the government reaction and the protesters' reaction.

Protesters and people on the street, they like any kind of support from the outside world, because they are under increasing pressure. But the government doesn't like it. And even the newspapers close to the government and the state media close to the government, they have started reacting, and they called it interference in Iran's affairs.

BLITZER: Nazila Fathi, good luck over there in Tehran. We will stay in close tough with you.

FATHI: Thank you. My pleasure.


BLITZER: An American journalist who was imprisoned for months in Iran has a very good idea what arrested protesters may be enduring right now.

And Roxana Saberi tells CNN's Anderson Cooper she fears demonstrators will be tortured.


ROXANA SABERI, JOURNALIST: For the first several days that a person is in prison, usually, they go through several hours of interrogation.

And you are blindfolded and you are facing a wall. And, usually, there can be from one to four men who are asking you questions, and, of course, a lot of severe psychological and mental pressure. And, also, when you are first imprisoned, it's very difficult to have contact with the outside world.

I am very worried about those people who have been detained. And I think they must be in very difficult conditions, much more difficult than I was. I know they don't have much contact with the outside world, if any. And probably some are undergoing torture, physical torture, which I did not undergo.


BLITZER: We are going to have more from Roxana Saberi about her dramatic ordeal and the breaking news unfolding in Iran right now. That will be on "ANDERSON COOPER 360" tomorrow night, tomorrow night, 10:00 p.m. Eastern.

Let's assess what is going on right now with two guests. Azar Nafisi is the bestselling author of "Things I've Been Silent About," also a visiting professor at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies here in Washington, and the former British ambassador to Iran, Sir Richard Dalton.

Azar, when you see what's going on, remind our viewers what it has been like for women in Iran over the past 30 years.

AZAR NAFISI, AUTHOR, "READING LOLITA IN TEHRAN": Wolf, women were the first targets and the first victims of the Islamic Republic.

The first laws changed in that republic were repealing the family protection law, which protected women both at home and abroad.

And they were the first who came out into the streets in hundreds of thousands, saying freedom is neither Eastern nor Western, freedom is global.

Acid was thrown into their faces and -- and they were harassed and detained and jailed. And ever since then, they have been carrying on a very arduous day to day struggle for their rights.

BLITZER: Because we've heard of stoning, too. I don't know how -- how prevalent that is.

NAFISI: Well, yes. And, you know, what you see with Iranian women, they have been so mature and so amazing in the tactics they use. On one hand, you see young girls like Neda, who 14 -- for 30 years, they would go into the streets, they're beaten, they're taken into jail, they're humiliated for what I call the weapons of their mass destruction, which is their makeup or their hair showing.

They go back in the streets and they do it again.

BLITZER: You speak, though, of the laws that were changed after '79 by the rulers...


BLITZER: far as women and marriage are concerned.

NAFISI: Well, yes, because the laws before the revolution regarding women, they were quite progressive. In fact, we had two women ministers. One, my former high school principal, Dr. Parsa, who was murdered by this regime -- she was minister for higher education -- for warring by -- warring with God and spreading prostitution.

And the second one was a minister for women's affairs, Mahnaz Afkhami. She was the second woman in the world to have such a position.

So Iranian women are fighting because they had a past. A lot of people think that they want these rights because they're looking up to the Western women. And, of course, they look up to the world, as well. But they look to their own past.

BLITZER: Ambassador, you spent four years in Tehran. You saw the plight of women and the plight of a lot of other people, as well. Here's what I don't understand. Maybe you can explain.

The women are highly educated in Iran at universities and elsewhere, yet, what, polygamy is allowed, marriage now has been reduced in terms of the age when a man can marry a woman.

Explain this -- this -- this break, if you will, this gap.

RICHARD DALTON, FORMER BRITISH AMBASSADOR TO IRAN: Well, Sharia law, under which people live, men and women in Iran, prescribes certain things. When it comes to comparing what Sharia law provides with universal standards, there is a good guide, which is the United Nations Declaration on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women. And it's been a tragedy that Iran has not been able, after all these years, to subscribe to that important standard-setting document.

BLITZER: Where do you see this going in the next few weeks?

NAFISI: Wolf, I think that no matter who will be declared president, from this division -- and these protests are going to stay with us, because the -- it's not just Iranian people. They have succeeded in dividing those men who would be firing into the protests at the beginning of the revolution, like former President Rafsanjani, former Prime Minister Mir-Hossein Mousavi. Now, they're changing their positions from establishment to anti-establishment.

So this is both very welcoming and very ironic and I do not think that this will be quelled just by force.

BLITZER: It's going to go on for some time.

DALTON: It is going to go on until we see what kind of new balance is restored in the Islamic Republic between the different factions or if we see further problems. It's going -- it may take quite some time to work out.

But meanwhile, it's likely that, before September, we'll see a new government headed by President Ahmadinejad. And the makeup of his ministers -- who he actually brings alongside him -- will be a clue to how the debate has trended.

BLITZER: Sir Richard Dalton, the former British ambassador in Iran, thanks very much for helping us all day here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Azar Nafisi, we'll have you back.

Thanks very much for all your work.

NAFISI: Thank you very much, Wolf.

DALTON: Thank you.

BLITZER: Appreciate it.

NAFISI: Thank you.

BLITZER: E-mail exchanges of a secret affair have now been revealed. There was apparently very intimate language in e-mail between the South Carolina governor, Mark Sanford, and the woman he was having an affair with. You're going to be hearing some of those e-mails between them. That's coming up. And I'll speak with a reporter who obtained them.

And amid the scandal, troubling questions.

Did the governor take any secret trips using taxpayer money?


BLITZER: More now on the breaking news rocking South Carolina and the Republican Party nationwide. The governor, Mark Sanford, admitting to an affair with a woman in Argentina and lying to aides about where he was while missing from the capital this week.


GOV. MARK SANFORD (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I would also apologize to my staff, because as much as I did talk about going to the Appalachian Trail -- and that was one of the original scenarios that I had thrown out to Mary Neal (ph) -- that isn't where I ended up. And so I let them down by creating a fix with regard to where I was going.


BLITZER: Now, we're getting a look at some e-mail allegedly between Sanford and his mistress. We should note that "The State" newspaper in Columbia, South Carolina published them this afternoon and tells us they've been authenticated by the governor's office.

When contacted by CNN, a spokesman for the governor would neither confirm nor deny the authenticity of these e-mails.

Let's go to Brian Todd, though.

He's been trying to check them out.

What are you learning -- Brian.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, the e-mails do reveal a certain level of intimacy and friendship between the governor and this woman, who is identified only as Maria, a woman in Buenos Aires. And, as you mentioned, CNN is trying to get a hold of the governor's office about these e-mails. We're waiting to hear back.

You know, the governor did say in his news conference that the affair began as a simple friendship sometime in the last year and then developed into something essentially more intimate. And these e-mails certainly bear that out.

We're going to -- and they also put a bit of a time line on his relationship with her, at least as to when it got fairly serious. There's the first e-mail where she writes to him, on Wednesday, July 9th of last year.

Here's a quote from it: "You are my love. Something hard to believe, even for myself, as it's also kind of impossible love, not only because of distance, but situation. Sometimes you don't choose things, they just happen. I can't redirect my feelings and I am very happy with mine toward you."

Then "The State" newspaper has also obtained another e-mail where Governor Sanford writes back to this woman the next day, Thursday, July 10th of last year. He picks through kind of a one, two, three sequence of his feelings toward her. Part of it is fairly mundane. He talks about his schedule.

But here's the first part of that quote: "The following weekend have been asked to spend it out in Aspen, Colorado with McCain, which has kicked up the whole V.P. talk all over again in the press back home."

Of course, that's a reference to him being considered a possible candidate for vice president.

Then he says: "Two, mutual feelings. You have a particular grace and calm that I adore. You have a level of sophistication that's so fitting with your beauty. I could digress and say that you have the ability to give magnificent, gentle kisses."

Now, there is a part right after that excerpt where the governor goes into more graphic and intimate detail. He has references to parts of her anatomy, not crude references, I should add. But they are fairly detailed and intimate. And because of the nature of those, we decided not to air those -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Brian.

Thanks very much.

Let's talk to the reporter who obtained these e-mails.

John O'Connor is joining us on the phone.

He works for the South Carolina newspaper, "The State."

John, correct me if I'm wrong -- you've been sitting on these e- mails for a while is that right?

JOHN O'CONNOR, REPORTER, "THE STATE," COLUMBIA, SOUTH CAROLINA: Yes. We obtained them in December and had some difficulty proving whether they were true or not. There's -- there's some details in there that are telling that, you know -- and the writing is such that they could be Sanford.

But, you know, there was -- there was little way to tell that these were authentic e-mails and, you know, we don't want to confront someone with e-mails unless we're fairly certain.

BLITZER: So did you contact -- did you confront the governor's office and -- and ask about these e-mails?

O'CONNOR: We did. We did today.

BLITZER: And not before today?

O'CONNOR: No. No, no, no. We -- we've been -- the e-mails have given us a clue on the story that -- they've given us an outline on the story. It's what led us to Argentina, on the trail. And it's also helped us to discredit a lot of the rumors there have been floating around Columbia this week.

And so, you know, once -- once we knew that the e-mails were authentic, based on what else was going on -- I mean, some of the stuff that happened this week helped to authenticate the e-mails. That's when we went to the governor to try and authenticate them.

BLITZER: Now, without violating any confidential sources -- which I don't want you to do -- can you tell us, roughly, how you got these e-mails?

O'CONNOR: They came to me. And that's part of the issue, too, is that I'm not 100 percent sure where they came from. BLITZER: You mean they just sort of -- they just showed up in your inbox one day?

O'CONNOR: Yes. And...

BLITZER: But your suspicion was maybe these are just forgeries or fakes?

Is that what you're saying?

O'CONNOR: Potentially, yes. I mean it's -- there's enough information that, you know, I could have written them myself. You know, I know enough about the governor that I could have picked out the items on his schedule that are mentioned in the e-mails.

And so that's why we had to go through a long process to confirm these.

BLITZER: Yes. Because, obviously, if months ago -- you say you've had these, what, last December, is that right?


BLITZER: If you would have confronted the governor's office with this information, you know, you could have changed history right then. He may have decided you know what, they've got these e-mails, I'm going to come clean.

O'CONNOR: That's a possibility. He could have told us that they were -- they were not true. And if we didn't have the proof to say otherwise, what would we do then?

And at that point, you know, he has a copy of the e-mails. He knows what we have.


That's a -- it's an amazing, amazing story.

Is there more there that you're not publishing yet?

O'CONNOR: In the e-mails?


O'CONNOR: Yes. There are -- there are other e-mails that -- that we're going publish in the -- in the printed edition tomorrow.

BLITZER: Just basically more of the same kind of stuff, sort of a graphic love affair described?

O'CONNOR: I wouldn't call it a graphic love affair. But it explains their relationship, you know, and gives us some insight into the -- what the governor was thinking.

BLITZER: And you don't reveal the name of this woman and you're not planning on doing that, at least not yet?

O'CONNOR: We're not planning on doing that.

BLITZER: But you do know her name?


BLITZER: OK. All right. John O'Connor is a writer for "The State," the newspaper in Columbia, South Carolina.

John, thanks very much for helping us.

O'CONNOR: Thank you.

BLITZER: Let's assess what we've just heard with our senior political analyst, Gloria Borger; and our senior political correspondent, Candy Crowley -- what a story, Gloria, you know.

And I guess a lot of people are wondering, with these e-mails now coming out, is this guy going to be able to survive as governor?

He has not resigned.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I think that's always been the question, whether he would be able to keep his job, because, clearly, he was lying to people, including his own staff. And it's a question of his own judgment. We don't know where he wrote these e-mails from. They do confirm, obviously, that he's -- that he's had this affair with this woman.

But I think the larger question, also, Wolf -- and you'll see stories coming out about this -- is did he use state money to travel to Brazil at any point to meet with this woman?

BLITZER: That would be an issue, obviously.


BLITZER: What about the fact that his wife has now issued this lengthy statement, basically saying, you know what, I'm willing to forgive, I'm willing to try again, let's see if we can resolve this despite all the pain that you've caused me and our four sons?

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, and saying I actually asked him to leave. She threw him out two weeks ago. So they clearly had a separation, albeit, you know, a mini one.

I think it may be an attempt to sort of put this in some perspective. But, you know, probably by and large, I think she wants the reporters off her front lawn.

BLITZER: Yes, she said that...

CROWLEY: So, you put out a statement...


CROWLEY: ...and, you know, say, look, here's how I feel, please stop calling. Please take the camera crews away. And, hopefully, you know -- she hopes, although we -- we question whether that will be the end of it.

BORGER: You know...

BLITZER: Because when we showed up at that news conference, everybody was wondering whether the wife would be standing along his side.

BORGER: Guess not. Not at this time.

BLITZER: Not at this -- not at that specific news conference.

BORGER: Not this one.

And what was also interesting to me about -- about the e-mails, in addition to what Brian Todd was talking about, was this -- he's talking about his life at one point. And he says, I leave for New York tomorrow at 5:00 a.m. for meetings. And he said: "I've been asked to spend a weekend out in Aspen with McCain, which has kicked up the whole V.P. talk all over again in the press back home."

So it's...

BLITZER: We remember when he was in Aspen, at the Aspen Institute last summer, when McCain was speaking there. And then there was a lot of talk that Mark Sanford could be the vice presidential...

BORGER: Here he is having this affair...

BLITZER: ...running mate.

BORGER: ...and talking about gee...


BORGER: ...I'm being considered for vice president.

BLITZER: His name was obviously widely considered as a potential 2012 presidential candidate.

CROWLEY: Well, yes, certainly, a dark horse, along with John Ensign, who, 10 days ago, said that he had an affair -- another conservative...

BLITZER: The senator from Nevada.

CROWLEY: ...the senator from Nevada, another conservative Republican.

This is not -- this isn't a banner day for Republicans. And I think what we've seen is with the speed -- the lightning speed with which the Republican Governors Association said oh, yes, we accept his resignation. Now it's going to be Haley Barbour, he's going to head it. Move -- move on.

They did the same thing with John Ensign when he resigned his leadership post on Capitol Hill. It shows you how badly they want these things to stop happening so Republicans can get up off the matt.

BORGER: And what do Republican legislators in the State South Carolina do?

There's no love lost between a lot of them and this governor. They overrode 10 of his vetoes in this last legislative session.

BLITZER: He's got a lot of political enemies, including, I think, the lieutenant governor himself.

BORGER: So the question is, if he doesn't resign, do they decide, at some point, that they need to do something about the governor...

BLITZER: You mean to launch a formal impeachment process?

BORGER: Well, you know, particularly if they find out that he was spending state money on trips.

BLITZER: Let me read to you about that, because there was a report in "The Augusta Chronicle" back in December of 2008: "Governor Mark Sanford ranks in the top 50 based on the total amount he spent on trips paid by his office and those paid by the state's Commerce Department. Mr. Sanford has traveled to China, Argentina and Brazil through the Commerce Department, which has travel reports showing taxpayers covering $21,488 for those trips.

Hold your thought for a moment because our producer, Peter Hamby, is down in Columbia, South Carolina -- Peter, I understand you have some more on this.

PETER HAMBY, CNN PRODUCER: I do. I just got my hands on a copy of an itinerary from the South Carolina Department of Commerce. This is a trip that Mark Sanford took from June 21st to June 28th, 2008 -- a trade and investment trip.

And early in the morning on June 24th, Sanford arrived in Argentina with various officials to meet, you know, with different representatives of the Argentinean Commerce community.

So that goes to sort of Gloria's point, that question of whether taxpayer money was used for him to visit this woman.

However, I did speak to Sanford's spokesperson, who insisted that -- and he said: "All of the economic development trips taken by the governor are organized and run by the Department of Commerce."

So he was sort of brushing aside the notion that the governor himself could have organized the trip to go visit this woman.

However, he arrived in Argentina exactly one year ago today, June 24th. BLITZER: And, as you know, Candy, the trip to Argentina is now going to raise a lot of questions.

CROWLEY: Well, absolutely. And we've already seen what the two sides are going to be.

And I think the question, in the end, isn't like who decided to go there and was this solely to see this woman. It's going to be how many of these headlines he can sustain, both personally and as the governor.

If he is going to be the butt of jokes, if he is going to be ineffective until the end of his term, you know, what is the point?

BLITZER: We've got to leave it there, guys.

Thanks very much.

We'll see.

This is a rapidly developing story.

Let's check in with Lou to see what's coming up at the top of the hour -- Lou.

LOU DOBBS, HOST, "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT": Wolf, thank you very much.

More on the governor's startling admission today.

Also, the Obama administration facing escalating crises overseas on two fronts.

Security forces in Iran today intensified their violent crackdown on pro-democracy protests and demonstrators.

At the same time, North Korea today threatened to wipe out the United States, as it put it, once and for all.

We'll have complete coverage of both stories.

Three top political analysts assessing the administration's response to both.

And outrage after Citigroup today promised to give some of its workers salary increases of 50 percent, while Citigroup owes the American taxpayer $45 billion for its survival.

And in our face-off debate tonight, we debate whether social networking sites and citizen journalists have made traditional media obsolete.

Join us for all of that and more at the top of the hour -- Wolf, back to you.

BLITZER: All right. Thanks, Lou.

See you then.

Let's remind our viewers, Jack Cafferty is coming up right after this.


BLITZER: Let's get right to Jack for The Cafferty File -- Jack.

CAFFERTY: The question this hour, Wolf -- what will a rapidly growing elderly population mean for the United States?

We're getting older, a lot of us, quickly.

Ron in Oklahoma writes: "It will mean increased competition in the job market, pitting young against old as the boomers continue to put off retiring. Age discrimination will increase despite laws against it. With manufacturing jobs disappearing by the hour, we'll maintain a steady course toward Third World status. All we can hope for is a miracle to slow down that decline."

Jimmy writes: "It's a good time to consider a career in health care or nursing homes, both recession-proof jobs, for sure."

Bernadette writes: "Jack, this is simple. Since seniors are very proactive and turn out in droves to vote, we need not worry about Medicare and other social programs, because they'll protect, at all costs, what they feel they are entitled to and more. They will support President Obama in everything that he's trying to do."

Faatima writes: "Free love. I think it means it's time to have some more babies."

Felicia writes: "It will mean an increasing appreciation for minority populations in America that now have the highest birth rates. These groups will generate the workers to support our aging population."

Jasmine in New Jersey writes: "An aging population means an evolved way of life. People will work longer and more flexible hours. Jobs will be split in two or three, which will provide supplemental income for the elderly. And Medicare and Social Security will crease to exist. Quite simply, we will adapt."

Jeanne in Arkansas says: "It means we'd better learn to speak Spanish now, before we get dementia."

And Jason says: "More rude, white-haired people with an overblown sense of entitlement cutting in public lines."

If you didn't see your e-mail here, you can go to my blog at and look for yours there among hundreds of others.

We're reading some of those e-mails between the governor and his paramour, the stuff Brian said he couldn't put on the air. He's -- he's in worlds of trouble -- Wolf. BLITZER: I think you're right, Jack.

Thanks very much.

Up next, Jeanne Moos' take on the governor and his big announcement today.


BLITZER: The mystery surrounding the whereabouts of South Carolina's governor is now solved. Today, Mark Sanford revealed he's been in Argentina having an affair. The married governor admitted the romantic rendezvous in a Moost Unusual press conference.

Here's CNN's Jeanne Moos.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was a press conference that began with an OK...




MOOS: ...that didn't sound OK. The more the governor sighed...




SANFORD: Hang on. Hang on.


MOOS: ...the more he seemed about to cry.




MOOS: The more the flash bulbs sparked. That was the word Governor Sanford used...


SANFORD: It sparked into something more than that.


MOOS: describe how a friendship became an affair with a woman in Buenos Aires, Argentina.


SANFORD: I had seen her three times since then during that whole sparking thing.


MOOS: The whole sparking thing confession left news anchors at a temporary loss for words.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, Candy Crowley, I don't even know where to begin.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's a whopper, Jeff (ph).


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: An absolute whopper.


MOOS: It had been a whopper of a joke when the governor was missing.


STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST: Governor alert -- the search for Mark Sanford.



JON STEWART, HOST: Getting weirder. Yes. OK. That's all right.


MOOS: The fact that the governor's staff said he'd gone hiking...

JOHN ROBERTS, CO-ANCHOR, "AMERICAN MORNING": It's Monday night. Do you know where your governor is?

MOOS: Made the mystery seem funnier.

And the icing on the cake...

CAFFERTY: Nude hiking day. CASTELLANOS: Nude hiking day.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is national nude hiking day today.


STEWART: That's why he did it.


MOOS: One cartoonist portrayed the governor stumbling on a sign post for Argentina while hiking the Appalachian Trail.

The what trail?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On the Appalachian Trail.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Appalachian Trail.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On the Appalachian Trail.




The Appalachian Trail.



COLBERT: On the Appalachian Trail.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was not, in fact, hiking along the Appalachian Trail.


MOOS: Well, at least we've learned the pronunciation of that trail... UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Appalachian.

MOOS: disputed.


MOOS: It's a North-South kind of thing.

(voice-over): But take it from an expert who prefers the long A, even though he's from the South.


SANFORD: My lovely Appalachian Trail.


MOOS: He's not out of the woods yet.

Jeanne Moos...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Appalachian. Appalachian.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Appalachian. Appalachian.

MOOS: New York.



Up next, "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT" -- Lou.