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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Interview With Barack Obama; Inside the Slave Trade
Aired July 14, 2009 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: We are going to have a lot more on some new developments in the investigation into Michael Jackson's death. You know a number of his doctors are being investigated. Well, attention growing tonight on his dermatologist, what doctors were taken from his office today, also new details on the custody front, as well.
But we begin, though, with my exclusive visit with President Obama in Africa. We met up with the president in Ghana when he arrived at one of the most haunting destinations one can visit, Cape Coast Castle, one of several fortresses where millions of slaves were held over hundreds of years, before being shipped off, bound and shackled to the New World, to America.
The president toured the castle and its dungeons with his family, Michelle Obama, and Sasha, and Malia. They also walked through the door of no return -- that's it right there -- the portal through which so many enslaved Africans were forced never to see their homeland again.
The Obamas were making a voyage of return that thousands of African-Americans make each year.
After the president was finished the tour with his family, I walked through the castle with him and towards that door of no return.
COOPER: As you -- as you walk around this -- this castle, what -- what goes through your mind?
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, obviously, it's a -- a powerful moment for, not just for myself, but, I think, for Michelle and the girls.
You know, I'm reminded of the same feeling I got when I went to Buchenwald with Elie Wiesel. You know, you -- you almost feel as if the walls can speak, and that, you know, you try to project yourself into the -- the -- these incredibly harrowing moments that -- that people go through.
COOPER: How did you explain it to -- to Sasha and Mafia?
OBAMA: Well, you know, you try to explain that people were willing to degrade others because they appeared differently.
And, you know, you tried to actually get them to engage in the imaginative act of what it would be like if they were snatched away from mom and dad and sent to some place they had never seen before.
But, you know, part of what you also try to do with kids is to get them to imagine themselves on the other side, as being the slave merchant. And -- and, you know, that slave merchant might have loved their children, and gone to that, you know, place of worship up right above the dungeon, and get them to -- to make sure that they are constantly asking themselves questions about whether they are treating people fairly and -- and -- and whether they are examining their own behavior and how it affects others.
COOPER: That's something you referenced, actually, during the campaign in your speech on race about -- about your own life...
COOPER: ... about Mrs. Obama. You said that -- that she has -- has the blood of slaves...
COOPER: ... and also slave owners.
COOPER: How did she respond to being here?
OBAMA: You know, I haven't had the chance to process it yet. I think, you know, we were both listening and talking to the children.
But I -- I can't imagine that, for her, for her mother, who is with us, our children's godmother, who is with us, all of whom are direct descendants of slaves, that seeing that portal doesn't send a powerful message of, you know, the kinds of emotions that must be evoked.
On the one hand, it's through this door that the journey of the African-American experience begins. And -- and Michelle and her family, like me, draw incredible inspiration and strength from that African-American journey.
COOPER: This is that -- this is the door of no return...
COOPER: ... through which...
OBAMA: ... through which...
COOPER: ... hundreds of thousands of slaves were -- were sent.
OBAMA: Were sent.
And, on the other hand, obviously, there's a sense of what a -- what a profound sorrow must have been felt as people were hauled off into the great unknown.
COOPER: Do you think what happened here still has resonance in America, that the -- that the slave experience still is something that -- that should be talked about and should be remembered and should be present in everyday life?
OBAMA: Well, you know, I think that the experience of slavery is -- is like the experience of the Holocaust. I think it's one of those things you don't forget about.
I think it's important that the way we think about it and the way it's taught is not one in which there's simply a victim and a victimizer, and that's the end of the story. I think the way it has to be thought about, the reason it's relevant is because, whether it's what's happening in Darfur, or what's happening in the Congo, or what's happening in too many places around the world, you know, the capacity for cruelty still exists. The capacity for discrimination still exists.
The capacity to think about people who are different, not just on the basis of race, but on the basis of religion, or the basis of sexual orientation or gender, still exists. And, so, you know, trying to -- to -- to use these kinds of extraordinary moments to widen the lens and make sure that we are all reflecting on how we are treating each other, I think, is something the I want my kids to think about, and I want every -- every child to think about.
COOPER: They -- they say this is the door of return for African- Americans...
OBAMA: Right. Right.
COOPER: ... who are revisiting Ghana. And I talked to one African-American lady yesterday who said that coming here is such a powerful experience, that she actually decided to move here.
And I know you have met with many African-Americans...
COOPER: ... who decided to move here.
COOPER: Do you under -- they -- they say that there is a sense of coming home.
COOPER: Do you -- do you understand that feeling?
OBAMA: Well, you know, I will tell you, the first time that I traveled to Africa, I think that there is a special sense for African- Americans of -- of somehow connecting up with a part of yourself that you might not have even been aware was there. Now, obviously, for me, it was different, because I was directly meeting relatives and learning about a father I didn't know. But I -- I do think there's -- there's a sense for a lot of African-Americans that it is -- it's a -- it's a profound, life-changing experience.
The interesting thing, though, is, you know, I have met a lot of white Americans who come to Africa and say it was a life-changing experience for them, too.
COOPER: This is the home where everyone comes from.
OBAMA: Yeah, exactly.
And there's -- and there's -- there is a powerful sense of -- of tapping into something very elemental about Africa.
COOPER: ... once you have come, you sort of always come back?
OBAMA: Yes, you do.
So -- but I do think that, you know, the spirit particularly of a place like Ghana, where, you know, for all the difficulties it is still going through, the people are just incredibly open and friendly and welcoming.
I think that makes a difference for a lot of people who, you know, maybe African-Americans, who -- who feel somehow that they never fully belong.
And the only thing I would say, though, is, there -- there's a flip side to this, which is I know an awful lot of African-Americans who come to Africa, are profoundly moved, but also realize how American they are when they are here, and, you know, recognize that they could never live -- live here.
You know, and that is part of the African-American experience. You are, in some ways, you know, connected to this distant land, but, on the other hand, you are about as American as it gets. In some ways, African-Americans are more fundamentally rooted in the American experience, because they don't have a recent immigrant experience to draw on.
It is a -- that unique African-American culture that has existed in North America for hundreds of years, long before we actually founded the nation.
COOPER (voice-over): Just before our time with the president ended, I asked him to answer a quick lightning round of questions.
(on camera): What is the strangest experience you have had on this trip?
(CROSSTALK) OBAMA: Well, the fact that my trip director now has had to have stitches. He got a big gash getting on the helicopter. Of course, he is 6'8''.
Michelle's assistant twisted her ankle. So, we're having to give combat pay for these trips.
COOPER: What's -- what is the favorite moment your girls have had on the trip?
OBAMA: Other than watching "SpongeBob" in their hotel?
COOPER: Is that it, really?
OBAMA: The -- actually, you know what? My favorite experience was watching my girls interact with the pope, you know, because, when you start seeing your kids growing up, and they're being very, you know, courteous and thoughtful, but unflappable, in -- in a setting like that, it makes you realize that they're -- they're -- they're not going to be around that long.
COOPER: And, now, you are getting grayer. Are you worried about it?
OBAMA: As long as -- as long as I have got you as a role model, I'm OK, huh?
COOPER: Yes. It's -- it's not so bad.
COOPER: We got you a gift. But I wanted to give it to you at the end, so people weren't saying we're sucking up.
I don't know how many presidents get this, but this is...
COOPER: ... a traditional African shirt with your...
OBAMA: This -- this is nice.
COOPER: These are very popular right now...
OBAMA: Well, you should have seen. There was a version with Michelle...
COOPER: Oh, is that right?
(LAUGHTER) OBAMA: ... and me. And I probably...
COOPER: We -- we got one for Mrs. Obama, as well.
OBAMA: I -- I...
COOPER: I'm not sure she wants to wear your picture around, but...
OBAMA: No. Yes, I think that we will have this as a keepsake, but you probably won't see me wearing this in the Oval Office.
COOPER: Thank you for your time. Appreciate it.
OBAMA: Thank you. Appreciate it, Anderson.
COOPER: All right.
OBAMA: Thank you so much.
COOPER: Quick program night: moments like those that you have just seen and many more part of a special hour I will be hosting this weekend, "President Obama's African Journey," Saturday and Sunday night, 8:00 p.m. Eastern time. I think it's repeated again at 11:00. Check your local listings.
Let us know what you think. Join the live chat under way right now at AC360.com.
Up next, we're going to show you what the president and his family saw in the dungeons of Cape Coast Castle, where enslaved Africans were starved to the brink of death and those who fought back were suffocated alive. We will talk you inside those dungeons on a tour.
And the president mentioned it during our talk: Michelle Obama's roots, a descendent of slaves and slave owners. We will retrace those roots to a South Carolina rice plantation and the world of her great- great-grandfather.
Later, other new developments in the Michael Jackson custody case and the investigation to his death -- what the coroner took from Jackson's dermatologist today -- that and more when we continue.
We will be right back.
COOPER: It's not known how many enslaved Africans were forced from their homes and sent to the New World, to America, during the nearly 400 years of transatlantic slave trade. Estimates range from anywhere from 12 million to 40 million. Untold numbers of Africans died on the journey to the New World, shackled, crammed side by side, as many as 500 to a ship. They were held for transport. They were beaten, the women raped at Cape Coast Castle and other places like it in Western Africa.
Now, we want to take you inside the castle and dungeons and show you what human beings are forced to endure and what the president and his family witnessed this weekend.
COOPER: What must have been the most emotional part of his trip took place here, at Cape Coast Castle. This is where enslaved Africans were held before being shipped to the New World, being shipped to America.
They were kidnapped from their homes, taken from their villages, ripped from their families. And, as soon as they were brought here, the men were separated from the women. The men were forced into this area, the male dungeon.
These rooms hold -- would hold as many as 1,000 Africans at one time. They are large, cavernous rooms. There's really no windows. There are small holds punched in the ceiling for ventilation, but very small. You get a little bit of light, but that's the -- the only light that would be in here.
In -- there's re five different rooms. Each one would hold 200 slaves. There's no toilets, of course. There is a gutter that runs down the middle of the floor right here. This would be used for urine and for feces. But archaeologists have found that the entire floors were covered with feces about a foot thick that they have excavated a few years ago.
Many of the men who were held in these cells never got out. They died in these rooms of malnutrition, disease, brutality. Every day, apparently, a check would be done on who was still living, who had died. Bodies would be removed, placed into this room. Those who were about to die would be placed here as well. This is the final resting place of untold number of Africans.
Of course, many of those who were enslaved tried to fight back, tried to escape, even once they got here to Cape Coast Castle. The punishment for doing that, though, was death. And this is the place that they were killed. It's the punishment cell. And it is one of the most horrible places you will ever visit. Once an enslaved African was forced through this door, it was a death sentence.
As many as 20 or 30 enslaved Africans would be forced to live in this room until they died. As you can see, there is no light in here, except for the light from our camera. There's no windows. These walls are incredibly thick, stone covered with plaster.
And what is so eerie about this place is, you can still see, look, these are what looks like scratch marks, people literally trying to claw their way out. There's even some spots on the floor, where -- markings where people were doing anything they could to dig themselves out.
You see a lot of these circular markings. No one is really sure exactly what that is, but they think it is just people who were here just trying to -- to -- to claw out, trying to pass the time. There are even some spots where you can see teeth marks on the floor. There is no bathroom in here. Once you were in this room, it was a death sentence.
Women who were kidnapped and enslaved were brought here, separated into two different dungeons. Each held about 150 people. So, you can imagine 150 women crammed into this room. They're stuck here for anywhere from two weeks to several months, nowhere to go, not sure what is going to happen to them, no place to go to the bathroom, fed just twice a day.
It is an -- it is an eerie place to be. I can tell you that. If a woman was detected to be pregnant, she would maybe be allowed to leave. But that was pretty much the only way out. And it is just a short walk from the female dungeons to the door of no return.
Women and men who were held captive here were ultimately led down this corridor, through this door, the door of no return, they call it. On the other side of the door were slave ships waiting to take them to a life of bondage in the New World and, in some cases, in America.
Many, of course, would never even make it that far. They died on the difficult journey over, their bodies simply tossed overboard. But, once they went through this door, they would never set foot in Africa again.
COOPER: The door of no return.
Michelle Obama's ancestors may have been held in dungeons like the one you just saw, may have walked through that door.
Coming up later, Joe Johns takes us to the South Carolina plantation where her earliest known ancestor worked. We will show you the life he was forced to live.
Also, new arrests and a theory of the crime emerging in the murder of that Florida couple who adopted 13 special-needs kids.
We will be right back.
COOPER: New developments ahead in the Michael Jackson investigation.
First, Randi Kaye joins with a 360 bulletin -- Randi.
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Anderson.
ON day two of her Senate grilling, Judge Sonia Sotomayor pushing back against Republican charges she would bring bias and a liberal agenda to her seat as the first Hispanic woman on the Supreme Court.
When GOP senators tried to undercut her with her own words from past speeches, Sotomayor insisted, repeatedly, that she would be impartial if confirmed.
Two days after breaking out of a maximum-security prison Indiana prison, two violent felons, a rapist and a murderer, remain at large -- a massive manhunt called off today. Police say they will continue to follow new leads. A third inmate who escaped was captured yesterday in southwestern Michigan.
Federal prisoner number 61727-054 -- you know him as convicted swindler Bernard Madoff -- arrived at a medium-security prison in North Carolina to begin serving his 150-year sentence. The federal correctional complex is about 45 miles northwest of Raleigh. The 71- year-old one-time multimillionaire will likely spend the rest of his life right there.
And, in Saint Louis, President Obama threw out the first pitch at tonight's annual All-Star Game at Busch Stadium. He pulled it off, putting the ball across the plate, as you see right there, a respectable showing for a guy who we know is better known for his moves on the basketball court.
Looking pretty comfortable there. And, Anderson, from what I understand, the All-Stars were pretty starstruck to see the president in the locker room.
COOPER: In the original video, all I saw -- they only showed the actual pitch. They didn't show the catch. But I guess the pool, I think, caught -- caught it on the reverse.
COOPER: So, I'm glad that we actually got to see it.
KAYE: Me, too.
KAYE: All right, Randi, thanks.
Next -- next on the program, the latest on Michael Jackson -- an investigator for the coroner paying a visit to one of the singer's doctors.
And Debbie Rowe responds to reports she will get millions to drop a possible custody battle. We're live with new details on both fronts ahead.
Also, the motive for murder -- a Florida couple who adopted more than a dozen kids, why were they killed? Tonight, authorities have some answers, as they reveal the depth of the shocking crime.
And we trace Michelle Obama's roots.
We will be right back.
COOPER: We had planned to show you a piece about retracing Michelle Obama's roots as part of our coverage of President Obama and his family's trip to Africa. The tape, the -- I don't know. It is caught -- stuck in the edit room, apparently. We are having a problem getting it to air tonight. We will air that for you tomorrow night. It will also be part of the special that we are airing this weekend.
But we want to turn now to the drama in the Michael Jackson story on two different fronts today. The Los Angeles coroner's chief investigator visited the office of Jackson's dermatologist, igniting a new wave of questions.
Meantime, a new battle erupted over a report that Debbie Rowe and the Jacksons have reached a custody deal.
Randi Kaye joins us tonight's 360 "Follow."
Randi, take us back through this -- this back-and-forth over the -- over the custody issue of Jackson's kids today. What -- what is going on?
KAYE: It was quite a day, Anderson.
As you know, we first reported last night on 360 that there was a deal being brokered behind the scenes by attorneys for Katherine Jackson to figure out really, in a sense, how to get Debbie Rowe out of the -- out of the custody picture.
Our source told us that Rowe stands to be paid -- quote -- "many millions." Well, today, "The New York Post" reported, Debbie Rowe had reached a deal. The article said, specifically, Rowe had -- quote -- "sold her kids again." That is the wording that they used.
"The Post" reported, Rowe was paid $4 million in exchange for custody of her kids, so Jackson's mom, Katherine Jackson, could raise them. "The Post" stands by its story, it told us.
But Rowe's attorney told CNN the story is -- quote -- "completely false." Well, hours later, that same attorney fired off a letter to "The New York Post," demanding an immediate retraction, saying -- quote -- "There has been no agreement reached between Ms. Rowe and the Jacksons. And Ms. Rowe has not and will not give up her parental rights."
What is interesting, though, Anderson, here is that I notice the letter does not deny there is any negotiation taking place. It just simply says there is no agreement in place.
COOPER: There was also a lot of drama at the office of Jackson's doctor Arnie Klein today. What -- what happened there? What did they take?
KAYE: Well, late this afternoon, the chief investigator for the L.A. County Coroner's Office showed up at Dr. Arnold Klein's office in Beverly Hills. He's Jackson's longtime dermatologist, as you know, who we have confirmed is on this list of doctors that investigators are looking at.
Dr. Klein has actually told CNN's Larry King just last week that he has not been questioned, he's opened up his records, even a long time ago, to help. But, late today, a crush of media descended on Dr. Klein's office to try and get a glimpse of the assistant coroner, Ed Winter, who is also the chief investigator for the coroner's office, collecting whatever he was there to pick up.
And this is really interesting, because we know Jackson was at Dr. Klein's office, Anderson, just a few days before his death. And Klein told CNN he looked healthy on -- at the time that day, and he actually even danced for the other patients, he said.
COOPER: Well, what was interesting in that interview he did with Larry is, he said that he had given some documents to the medical examiner's office a while ago, but he didn't seem to indicate he was the focus of any investigation.
And that very night is the night that you reported, through your source, that he was one of the names, one of the doctors on the -- on the list. And that seems to be certainly borne out by what we are seeing today.
You also talked to -- to one of the people who is in charge of Jackson's security detail. What -- what did he say about -- about Jackson?
KAYE: This was interesting. We haven't heard from this man before. And I had a -- quite a lengthy conversation with him today.
He worked for Jackson from 2001 until 2004. And he told me -- quote -- "Jackson and I spoke of his addiction, and how hard he was working, and how he was trying to do everything in his power to avoid having a need to be on drugs."
So, this was really the first time we were hearing who says that Michael Jackson admitted that he had an addiction and was actually talking about it. He said Jackson was taking lots of prescription medicines and that he -- quote -- "didn't like the way it made him feel." He says that is what Michael Jackson told him.
He also told me that Jackson had serious trouble sleeping. He said he had a -- quote -- "constant beat in his head." He said they stayed up all night on many nights, until -- statement until 5:00 in a morning, because Jackson -- quote -- "could not shut off his brain."
Now, I know this was years ago, 2004, but, Anderson, that really goes along with what we have heard from many sources on this investigation, that Michael Jackson could not sleep, he had insomnia, and, at least, according to his former nurse, who you -- who you interviewed, in fact, that is why, she says, he begged her for the Diprivan, that powerful sedative, which is really reserved for the hospital use. She told CNN that he just wanted to sleep. COOPER: And, at this point, Randi, do we know when the toxicology report comes out? Is it next week?
KAYE: Again today, we were told by the coroner, Ed Winter -- he talked to reporters outside Dr. Arnold Klein's office. And he was asked that again.
He said, he's not going to release anything in advance. He said, they are on schedule. And, again, he reiterated that it would be probably midweek next week, latest we were getting some reports it could be as early as Friday this week, but is looking like midweek next week.
COOPER: All right, Randi Kaye in L.A. -- Randi, thanks very much.
A lot of moving pieces to this story and just as many legal issues.
Let's dig deeper. Jim Moret, chief correspondent for "Inside Edition," joins us. He is also an attorney. And joining us by phone, CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin.
So -- so, Jim, Debbie Rowe's attorney made it pretty clear that a deal has not been made, but, as Randi pointed out, he didn't deny a negotiation was taking place.
JIM MORET, CHIEF CORRESPONDENT, "INSIDE EDITION": That's correct.
And -- and that is what we have been hearing, that a negotiation is taking place. And that is really borne out by the fact that the delay, two delays now, at the request of both sides indicated that both of them were coming together to try to keep this out of court and to try to keep it from being a bitter court battle.
COOPER: Jeff, in terms of what could be the -- the points of the negotiation, I mean, it's -- there could be a couple things -- one, money, two, visitation rights or -- or the actual custody rights.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR ANALYST: That's -- that's right.
I mean, what -- what makes this so peculiar and ironic is that Debbie Rowe had virtually no leverage to get back involved in Michael Jackson's life or back on the Jackson gravy train, but Michael's death gives her tremendous leverage, because she is the surviving parent of two of the three children. And -- and, so, she would have a legal claim to custody.
Now because of the absence of a real relationship between her and those two children, she probably -- or she might not get custody. But it would be in the Jackson family's interest to give her some money to go away, which is a big profit potential for her.
COOPER: It's interesting, though, Jim, because it was being reported last week that Rowe didn't want Joe Jackson involved in raising the kids. But if -- if there is some sort of negotiation in which custody ends up just with Katherine Jackson, and she gives up visitation rights or any sort of parental right, Debbie Rowe does, that would seem to basically allow Joe Jackson to access to the kids whenever he wanted.
MORET: Well, yes, except for the fact that Michael Jackson's will specifically names only Katherine, not Katherine and Joe. And Joe, frankly, has been hurting himself by making statements to the media, you know, talking about putting these kids on stage and then talking about his record company at the BET Awards. Very inappropriate statements.
And I think that's what prompted Debbie Rowe to tell a local reporter last week, "I want -- I want a restraining order to keep this guy away from my kids." Because in fact, Jeff's right, these are her biological children.
COOPER: But Jeff, if she doesn't -- would she be able to get a restraining order to keep Joe Jackson away from the kids?
TOOBIN: You know, it's very hard to figure what her rights would be and what her leverage would be. If she were so concerned about Joe Jackson, if she were so concerned about the children in general, she would have taken a much more active role over the past 11 and 12 years.
Yes, it does seem like a judge would be concerned that Joe Jackson, who Michael accused of abusing him, would have access to the kids. But Debbie Rowe would not seem to be the person who had the legal or moral authority to raise that, because she's had so little contact with the children over the years.
COOPER: And Randi, though, as far as we know, Joe Jackson lives in Las Vegas, Katherine Jackson lives in California. So they are basically separated.
KAYE: They are. But from what I understand, Anderson, they spend quite a bit of time together. And I've seen her interviewed, Katherine Jackson, interviewed just recently, and she talks about how she goes to Las Vegas to stay with her husband. They just celebrated 60 years together.
So all the reports of their marriage failing, they don't really seem to add up, quite honestly. It seems like they are very much together and very much in the business of raising, possibly not only Michael Jackson's children, but some the children of -- some of their other grandchildren from some of their own children. So they seem to be not divorced and still very much in touch and together.
COOPER: Jim do we know about what kind of relationship Joe Jackson actually has had with these kids?
MORET: I don't believe he's had any relationship. I mean, Michael Jackson was pretty vocal and very public about his feelings about his father. And I don't believe that he's had any relationship with them whatsoever. And that may be what has brought Debbie Rowe into the picture. She may have said -- it's very difficult to know her motivation, frankly. I don't claim to. But she may have said Michael is a great father, but now that he's gone maybe she has a renewed interest in making sure that they're cared for.
COOPER: Jeff, let's talk about the investigation. Coroner's report, as we talked about with Randi, should be ready by next week. Today an investigator was at Arnie Klein's office looking at more medical records.
At this point what do you think they're looking for? I mean, they have, early on, according to Sanjay Gupta and other medical examiners we've talked to, they would have had most of the toxicology reports back. So they would know what drugs, if any, were in Michael Jackson's system, except for the brain analysis, which I guess takes more time.
TOOBIN: Well, the very simply answer is they're looking for where he got the drugs and under what circumstances he got the drugs. Did he get them legitimately? Did he get them under his own prescriptions? Did he get them through other people's prescriptions?
I don't know for sure, obviously, but I think it is very likely that it is a complex story of how many doctors were giving prescriptions, where the drugs came from, who administered them, who knew that the drugs were coming. It is likely to be a complicated story that will take weeks, if not months, for the authorities to figure out.
COOPER: Jim, the report, the coroner's office says it's going to be ready soon. I mean, do you think they have a good idea of what led to Michael Jackson's death?
MORET: I think they do. But Jeff's point is an excellent one. I think that you've got to trace specific drugs. And you know, as Randi reported, that Michael Jackson was at Dr. Klein's office a few days earlier.
I think they're not looking at long-term drug use. They're looking at what led to the death. That's what the coroner is concerned with, cause of death. And they want to hone it in on what drugs specifically he got from whom and when. So clearly, they wanted more information from Dr. Klein's office, because the investigator left with an envelope, and I'm assuming that they were records of some kind.
COOPER: And Jim, has Dr. Murray or his attorney made anymore specific statements about what he did or did not give to Michael Jackson? Because as you well know, in the early days after Michael Jackson's death, when there was so much focus on thing like Demerol and OxyContin, the lawyer came out and specifically said, "My client didn't give him Demerol or OxyContin."
At that point, people didn't really know about Diprivan or the IV drips and that an anesthesiologist had gone on tour with Michael Jackson, on the "HIStory Tour." Has he responded to anything about other drugs?
MORET: Dr. Murray's big mystery, you're right. His attorney was very specific about what he didn't give him. But he did not specifically talk about Diprivan. And I'm sure that that's what investigators want to know.
And La Toya came out with some claims that Michael Jackson actually died in Dr. Murray's room, not in his bedroom, as was earlier reported. I think that there's still some unanswered questions with regard to Dr. Murray, and we've not heard from him.
COOPER: Jeff, in the next couple -- it seems like a lot of, you know, people are getting paid for interviews. So I'm more suspect of information that comes out of that. La Toya Jackson, I guess, getting paid by a British tabloid. Joe Jackson getting paid by ABC News for some access to video. And, by the way, we're also going to do an interview with you but that -- but not paying for that. Is everybody making money on this thing?
TOOBIN: Everybody is making money. And there is a long history of Jackson legal situations being compromised by what's known in the industry as cash for trash.
In 1993 the initial child molestation investigation was compromised by the fact that "Hard Copy" and "Inside Edition," shows that are no longer -- "Hard Copy" is no longer on the air -- they paid so many of the security guards who were witnesses in that investigation that the authorities gave up. They were too compromised to use them in criminal court.
COOPER: Jim, do we know who was -- who was in Michael Jackson's inner circle in this point in the final weeks and months of his life? Because, I mean, you talked to longtime employees, and they say, look, there was this changeover, you know, new people were involved. Do we know who really was around him?
MORET: We know that some people who were with him early on came back into the picture. John Branca, the attorney that was actually named as an executor in his will, came back into his life. His former longtime manager came back into his life.
But I can't tell you that these people were -- were actually in the inner circle and caused any of what's going on. And you know, this is -- Jeff's right; this is very complicated. There are complicated relationships not only with doctors but those around him, his employees. And I suspect it's going to take time before we can really sort out what's going on and what happened.
COOPER: Jim Moret, Jeff Toobin. Randi Kaye. Appreciate all your reporting. Thank you.
We want to give you a heads up about a new twist in a story that we can't stop talking about. It's that outrageous.
A few weeks ago, we brought you the investigation of a former district attorney in Texas who admitted giving hundreds of thousands of dollars in public funds to three of his secretaries. The D.A.'s name is Joe Frank Garza. We couldn't believe it when our correspondent, Gary Tuchman, learned new details about the D.A.'s generosity, about just how much money he was giving away. Take a look.
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It literally paid to be loyal to this man. The former district attorney in Jim Wells County, Texas, who was extremely generous to three of his secretaries who he says watched his back.
JOE FRANK, D.A.: They were my eyes and ears in the community.
TUCHMAN: Joe Frank Garza admits that, for years, he wrote checks totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars that likely at least doubled their salaries. And now we've learned it actually may have nearly quadrupled their income.
CNN has obtained records from a county audit, and it revealed that Garza paid more than $1.2 million to the three women over a five- year period. That's a bonus averaging more $81,000 a year for county employees with salaries of about $35,000 annually.
Garza still tells us what he told us several weeks ago.
GARZA: I saw nothing wrong with it.
TUCHMAN (on camera): Anderson, with so much money at stake the auditor makes clear that crime fighting would have been affected. By paying the women all this money, instead of using it to fight crime.
The sheer number of checks given to these women is stunning. We'll tell you more about that, how this all works, how this is allowed to happen. Tomorrow on 360 -- Anderson.
COOPER: How is this allowed to happen? We're going to have Gary's full report tomorrow on 360.
You can join the live chat right now at AC360.com. Talk to other folks around the world who are watching this right now.
Coming up next the parents of more than a dozen kids killed in their home in Florida. Tonight new clues to the crime, new suspects captured and a look at the lives that destroyed.
And later, leaving office for writing op-eds. Governor Sarah Palin taking on President Obama, his economic plan and sending the country a message that she's stepping up her fight. That's ahead.
COOPER: Tonight more arrests and new details in the killing of the Florida couple who raised 17 kids. The murder of Byrd and Melanie Billings have shocked many around the nation.
Today, authorities said their deaths were part of a well-planned, well-executed home invasion. It happened with nine of the couple's kids inside the house. The crime was brutal. The motive, it appears, money.
Ed Lavandera has the latest.
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Authorities say Leonard Patrick Gonzalez Jr. was the ringleader of the seven suspects that allegedly murdered Byrd and Melanie Billings. But in a short court hearing, Gonzalez surprisingly used the moment to declare his innocence. It's the first time we've heard from any of the accused.
LEONARD GONZALEZ JR., SUSPECT: ... hearsay, circumstantial evidence and the confession of a mentally-challenged person with a long history of making false statements and false confessions.
LAVANDERA: We don't know who Gonzalez is talking about exactly, but investigators say they've arrested all the men who carried out what they called the methodical and chilling murders of the Billings couple.
These are the pictures of the suspects who face murder charges. One we can't show you because he's a 16-year-old juvenile. Three are from the Pensacola area, the other four from the Fort Walton Beach area.
The Escambia sheriff says Gonzalez Jr. and Donald Ray Stallworth have a military background. The Air Force confirms Stallworth is currently an active duty staff sergeant.
SHERIFF DAVID MORGAN, ESCAMBIA COUNTY, FLORIDA: It was a very well-planned and well-executed operation.
LAVANDERA: But after saying that robbery was one of several possible motives, authorities now say the suspects burst into the home, killed the couple and then stole a medium-sized safe. They squashed suggestions that something more sinister was behind the killings.
BILL EDDINS, STATE ATTORNEY: I think the safest, easiest, clearest thing to say is that the primary motive in this case is robbery. Home invasion, robbery.
LAVANDERA: Investigators say Leonard Gonzalez Sr. and Wayne Coldiron were occasionally hired to work around the Billings property, but beyond that there doesn't appear to be any connection between the seven suspects and the Billings family.
MORGAN: We have found them and they are in custody.
LAVANDERA: As the final arrests were announced, Ashley Markham, the oldest daughter of Byrd and Melanie Billings, tearfully stood by the sheriff's side, but she left without speaking out.
Ed Lavandera, CNN, Pensacola, Florida.
COOPER: It's shocking. So many questions still remain, though. Next, we're going to take a look at the victims of this crime. Two loving parents, their mission to help kids, and the heartbroken family they now leave behind.
Then, a dramatic close call, a stunt plane goes down in Germany. Take a look at this. We're going to show you what happens next. It's just unbelievable. It's our "Shot" tonight.
COOPER: Before the break we told you about the latest arrests in the murders of Byrd and Melanie Billings, the couple who has 17 kids, most of them adopted. They were gunned down in their Florida home last week. Now, police have seven suspects in custody, looking for one more person.
As the investigation moves forward, we want to take a closer look at the Billings: who they were, what they did and why they touched the lives of so many people.
Here's David Mattingly.
DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Outside the spacious Pensacola home, a small memorial for an extraordinary couple. Byrd and Melanie Billings, their love immeasurable, their deaths unthinkable.
ASHLEY MARKHAM, DAUGHTER OF MELANIE BILLINGS: Our mom and dad always had love in their lives. Since the day they met 19 years ago, they knew they were soul mates.
MATTINGLY: Soul mates with a calling to let their family grow. Byrd and Melanie each had two biological children from first marriages. Then together, they adopted 13 other children, several with developmental disabilities. Others came from abused homes and drug-addicted parents, all embraced with open arms and unconditional love.
MARKHAM: To our mom and dad, their children were perfect, angels that God provided them with to love eternally.
MATTINGLY: For the Billings, the affection overflowed: from getting the kids ready for sleep to sending them off to school.
YVONNE HAHN, SCHOOL BUS DRIVER: They would get on the bus every morning. She would call them her princesses. And then one of the little boys, I know this, he would always get on the bus, and he would blow her kisses. And I'd say, "Ms. Billings, he's blowing you a kiss." And she would blow him a kiss back.
MATTINGLY: Financially, the couple appeared secure. They were local business owners, operating a string of used-car dealerships. They also ran a financial services company. Public records show the Billings took out two mortgages on their nine-bedroom estate: one for $300,000 in 2003, another for $265,000 last year. The house is worth an estimated $700,000.
They also had an elaborate surveillance system, but authorities say it was there to keep an eye on the kids.
MORGAN: Those are special-needs children. You can't -- you cannot live in an open environment with that number of children they have. So your surveillance system, your security systems and your safety measures were placed there for what? For the safety of the children.
MATTINGLY: Tragedy has marked the Billings before: three times with the deaths of two adopted children and one biological child. Now in the wake of the killings, a pledge from a family torn apart to stay together.
MARKHAM: We know our parents are watching other us now, reunited with their three angels in heaven. They will give us strength to make it through the hard times and their love to make the world a better place, just as they always did.
MATTINGLY (on camera): The Billings did make plans for the care of their children, in case something every happened to them. A spokeswoman says the children will be kept together as a family and raised by family.
David Mattingly, CNN, Pensacola.
COOPER: Hard to imagine what they are going through right now.
Coming up next, an update on a story we've been following: dozens of daycare kids forced from a pool. They say it was because of the color of their skin. Now, the swim club is inviting them back. The day care's response ahead tonight.
And she may be stepping aside, but she's backing down. Sarah Palin taking on President Obama. We'll be right back.
COOPER: What happens when a plane falls from the sky and slams into a car? You won't believe what happens. There's our "Shot of the Day."
First, Randi Kaye is back with the "360 Bulletin" -- Randi.
KAYE: Anderson, Sarah Palin is speaking out again, this time in the pages of the "Washington Post." In an op-ed column, the departing Alaska governor slams what she calls President Obama's, quote, "cap- and-tax" energy plan to reduce carbon emissions. Governor Palin warning it will, quote, "inflict permanent damage" on the economy.
A 360 follow now to that story of the swim club turning minority children away from a local daycare center. After massive national attention, the club invited the daycare center kids back. Today, the center said, "No thanks." It says the kids were scarred by this experience. What's more, attorneys for the center say they will be suing.
Cheating Senator John Ensign says he's running again, despite the scandal over his affair with a now former campaign staffer. The affair and word his parents paid the mistress' family nearly $100,000 not swaying the Nevada Republican. He'll seek re-election come 2012.
Well, as we know, Paris is famous for its beauty, its food, but notorious for giving outsiders what you might call the cold shoulder. But the government wants that last little bit to change. So the Paris tourist board is now asking Parisians -- get this, Anderson -- to smile. They think that will solve the problem.
COOPER: They have a lot to smile about. It's a beautiful place. You know.
KAYE: It sure is.
COOPER: All right. Randi, thanks.
Coming up now, our "Beat 360" winners, our daily challenge to viewers. A chance to show up our staffers by coming up with a caption better than the one we can come up with for a photo that we put on the blog every day.
Take a look at the picture. President Obama talking with chief of staff Rahm Emanuel during a phone call in the Oval Office.
Our staff winner tonight is Suvro, one of our summer interns. His caption: "Rahm, is that Anderson wanting to do another interview? Let me talk to him."
(SOUND EFFECT: GROANS)
COOPER: The viewer winner is Evan from New Mexico. His caption: "It's Berlusconi on the phone, and he needs an alibi for last Friday."
(SOUND EFFECT: DRUM BEAT)
COOPER: I like that one.
COOPER: Evan, congratulations. A "Beat 360" T-shirt is on the way.
So still ahead tonight, a plane doing daredevil maneuvers and a car that was in the wrong place at the wrong time. All of it caught on tape. We'll show you how it played out.
Also ahead at the top of the hour, my exclusive walk and talk with President Obama in Ghana at Cape Coast Castle, a place where atrocities from the past loom large. We'll be right back.
COOPER: Randi, tonight's "Shot" could easily have ended in tragedy. Take a look.
In Western Germany, a sport biplane doing acrobatic maneuvers flew too low. Take a look at just how low.
COOPER: It hits a parked car just beyond those trees. A family of three was inside the car. The impact of the collision tore the bottom frame off the airplane, catapulted the plane and the car into a nearby field.
Amazingly, though, everyone including the pilot survived with just minor injuries. It's unbelievable.
KAYE: That is incredible. You're out for a drive with your family and boom, you get hit by an airplane.
COOPER: That's crazy.
KAYE: And you survive it.
COOPER: I know.
You can see all the most recent "Shots" on our Web site at AC360.com.
Coming up at the top of the hour, more of my exclusive tour of Ghana's - Ghana's Cape Coast Castle with President Obama. We'll be right back.