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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Mitt Romney's Stance on Immigration Reform?; John Edwards Trial Continues; Mad Cow Disease Concerns; Viola Drath Murder
Aired April 25, 2012 - 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: Good evening, everyone. It's 10:00 here on the East Coast.
And we begin tonight "Keeping Them Honest," asking Mitt Romney where he stands on illegal immigration and whether he's been sending out two messages, one to immigration hard-liners and the other more recently to win over Latino voters. We're asking because no matter what you may think of the issue, no matter which side of the debate you're on, it's important to know what the presumptive nominee, the man who wants to be president, would actually do if he becomes president.
"Keeping Them Honest" though it is hard to tell. Today the Supreme Court heard oral arguments on the federal government's challenge to Arizona's strict illegal immigration law known as SB-1070. The law requires local police officers to check a person's immigration status while enforcing other laws, if they reasonably suspect that person is in the country illegally.
We asked the Romney campaign where specifically does the governor stand on SB-1070, does he support it, support it with reservations or oppose it? Here's the answer we got -- quote -- "Governor Romney supports the right of states to craft laws that assist the federal government in enforcing immigration laws, particularly when the federal government has failed in its duty to enforce those laws."
That is one issue the Supreme Court is trying to decide if states have a right to craft law, but it doesn't answer specifically the question whether or not he supports SB-1070. What about the candidate's recent record, does that shed any light on where he really stands? Let's take a look.
January 11 as he was campaigning in the very conservative state of South Carolina, Governor Romney was touting the endorsement of Kansas Secretary of state Kris Kobach, who wrote Arizona's 1070 law. From the Romney Web site -- quote -- "We need more conservative leaders like Kris willing to stand up for the rule of law." The statement went on to say, "With Kris on the team, I look forward to working with him to take forceful steps to curtail illegal immigration and to support states like South Carolina and Arizona that are stepping forward to address this problem."
He's highlighting the endorsement of 1070's author, talking about forceful steps supporting states like Arizona and South Carolina, in other words, talking tough and suggesting he's a hard-liner as well. But just after losing South Carolina, just before the primary in Florida, which has a much larger Latino population, there was a different tone.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, the answer is self- deportation, which is people decide they can do better by going home because they can't find work here because they don't have legal documentation to allow them to work here. So we're not going to round people up.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: That's shortly before the primary in a state with a big Latino population. A primary that Mitt Romney revived his campaign by winning.
Then days before competing in Arizona, with its large Hispanic population, a primary that allows independents to vote, Romney called Arizona a model but not for the law that Kobach wrote.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROMNEY: You know, I think you see a model in Arizona. They passed a law here that says -- that says that people who come here and try and find work, that the employer is required to look them up on E-Verify.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: That's actually a different law than SB-1070. More recently the campaign sought to distance itself from Kris Kobach, telling Politico last week he's just a supporter, not an adviser, which was news to Kobach, who told ThinkProgress that his relationship with the campaign "has not changed."
The campaign, by the way, has since changed their tune a little confirming that Kobach is a informal adviser. It's just as hard to nail down other clues to where exactly Romney stands on this. In this video, he's campaigning with Florida Cuban-American Senator Marco Rubio, who is a potential running mate and supports a modified version of the so-called DREAM Act. The DREAM Act you will recall provides a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants who enter the country as children.
The question is what's Romney's take on that? Back in December, Governor Romney seemed to be taking a tough line at least on the original.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROMNEY: The question is, if I were elected and Congress were to pass the DREAM Act, would I veto it? And the answer is yes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Lately, though, he appears to be making somewhat of a pivot. Speaking on Monday with Senator Rubio, he said the revised DREAM Act is something he's studying. He wouldn't however make any commitment to it. He restated his commitment to securing the border with Mexico, promising an immigration plan of his own but refused to give any specifics.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROMNEY: I anticipate before the November election we will be laying out a whole series of policies that relate to immigration. I have spoken about the need to have a visa system that's right sized for the needs of our employment community. And so how we adjust our visa program, to make it fit the needs of our country is something I will be speaking about down the road. But I don't have anything for you on that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: No specifics there, but seemingly, at least his critics would say, a move away from the hard line as the need to win conservatives began to fade and the need grows to win more moderates in a general election and that is one way of looking at it.
And also to close the Latino gap with President Obama, down as much as 40 points in a recent Pew poll. Governor Romney seems to be changing his tone on the immigration issue but he's not yet offering many policy specifics. At the end of the day, the question remains, where does he really stand, which Mitt Romney would people be getting if he becomes president, a Marco Rubio moderate or the Kris Kobach hard- liner?
This week, Kobach told the Kansas newspaper, why not both? "I think he can embrace both of us and go merrily along to win the election in November."
A lot to talk about tonight with Democratic strategist Paul Begala, who's advising the leading pro-Obama super PAC. Also Republican strategist and senior Romney adviser Bay Buchanan, author of "Bay and Her Boys."
Paul Begala, where does Romney stand, do you think?
PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: He has now for several years been on a very strong anti-immigrant position, which has helped him in the primaries, but it's hurt him desperately with Latino voters.
I think this whole strategy is old school. Nixon used to say this, run to the right in the primaries and then run to the middle in the general election. But that was over 40 years. And that dog don't hunt anymore. We have the miracle of videotape. I think this is causing him grievous damage. I don't think he will be able to undo it.
COOPER: You think he's clearly trying to pivot? BEGALA: I think he is what my Spanish-speaking would call (SPEAKING SPANISH) a liar. He's lying now just to try to get the Hispanic votes. I think voters see through that.
COOPER: Bay, what Paul said, and also where does he stand on the SB- 1070?
BAY BUCHANAN, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: He supports it. He's made it very clear he supports Arizona's right to pass laws and try to enforce them when the federal government is refusing to do so.
COOPER: But he talks about the E-Verify law, not SB-1070.
BUCHANAN: No, no, he supports this law. It's what the states are going to do.
He believes the states have a right to do this. And he supports their designing whatever they think is necessary to protect their own citizens. He said that the law for E-Verify is a model. He likes that. He thinks all states should take a look at that and see.
BUCHANAN: E-Verify is a model. He didn't say he doesn't support these others. Let me make a point.
COOPER: We specifically asked his campaign about SB-1070 and they gave this answer that you just gave about he supports the rights of states to make the laws. But that's not saying he supports SB-1070. He then talks about E-Verify.
BUCHANAN: In other words, he supports this. If it's what the state feels is right for them, and Arizona obviously does, they passed it overwhelmingly, then he supports that. He has no problems with that.
But the other thing, he didn't say it should be a model for all states. He said the E-Verify should be a model. But let me tell you, Paul said he's anti-immigrant. Governor Romney is not anti-immigrant. He's opposed to illegal immigration.
He believes the federal government has an obligation to enforce the laws of this land and secure our borders, something Barack Obama has failed to do year after year after year. And that's why the states have to take the action they do.
COOPER: Bay, did you say he does believe SB-1070 should be a national model or doesn't?
BUCHANAN: No, he never said SB-1070 should be a national model. He said E-Verify should be. But that does not suggest he doesn't support this. He thinks that North Carolina's bill is a little bit different. He supports the right for North Carolina to design what's best for North Carolina. Utah, other states, Georgia, Alabama, there are other states doing the same thing, making it a little different. He doesn't believe this particular bill should be a model for all other states. He thinks those states should decide for themselves.
But he does think that the E-Verify law in Arizona is exceptional, and would be an excellent model for other states.
BEGALA: We can go check the record, Bay, but I distinctly remember Governor Romney saying the Arizona immigration law, SB-1070, is a model for the nation. He didn't say E-Verify was a model.
BEGALA: We will look that up. We know this.
BUCHANAN: You just saw it. We just saw the clip.
BEGALA: I know. That's he is saying today now that he's lying. But when he was campaigning earlier, he said -- he attacked Rick Perry on immigration.
BUCHANAN: Be careful when you call someone a liar. That's a little serious.
BEGALA: It is very serious and I mean it.
BUCHANAN: You're wrong. And he's owed an apology from you, Paul Begala, if you're wrong.
BEGALA: Bay, first, he attacked John McCain on immigration in '08 from the right. He attacked Rick Perry, a very conservative guy, on immigration for signing a DREAM Act for the state of Texas. He even attacked Newt Gingrich for wanting some sort of legal status less than citizenship. He attacked Rick Santorum for confirming Sonia Sotomayor.
COOPER: We haven't been able to find him saying this should be a national model.
BEGALA: I will check.
BUCHANAN: He's made no change to his position. He continues to be opposed to any amnesty. He continues to believe that enforcing the law is essential when you're part of the federal government, that that is only fair.
And he believes E-Verify is an excellent program that should be used by all businesses in this country. He has not changed his position one bit.
COOPER: Do you believe, Paul, that he has tailored what he has emphasized based on what states he's campaigning or...
BUCHANAN: There's no doubt. He was campaigning in New Hampshire, for example, and he said Kelly Ayotte would be a great running mate, and now maybe she's on the list. I haven't seen her on the lists that have been published.
Those lists are often wrong, so I could be wrong about that. If Mitt Romney, if he was speaking to cannibals, he would promise them missionaries. He's just the most elastic, flexible guy.
COOPER: But isn't that something all politicians do? They emphasize a local candidate or a local issue?
BEGALA: Yes. But he's like the Muhammad Ali of this. Like all boxers throw punches, but this guy is unbelievable.
Seriously, Bay. And it's not even like the message I think Democrats ought to be on. I'm just telling you, you can't run from the extreme right pro-Arizona immigration law, and then a few weeks later, just because the dates have changed, the election has changed and the electorate has changed, pretend we're not watching, it's insulting to our intelligence to fib like that.
BUCHANAN: Paul, you're manufacturing it. You're saying he's all these changes. He has not changed at all.
I am part of this campaign. I'm talking to the people in Boston. But I tell you what we do know. And as Anderson has pointed out, candidates say different things out there. And your candidate certainly has. But something that we know about Barack Obama is that he has used his power to trample the Constitution of the United States.
This is the second time his policies have been before the Supreme Court. And even Sotomayor has told the administration's attorney, we're not buying this argument. It is unconstitutional, these lawsuits against the states.
BEGALA: First off, what's before the court is the Arizona law, not the Obama law. Second...
BUCHANAN: But what are they doing suing the states?
BEGALA: Well, because...
BUCHANAN: An abuse of power.
BEGALA: I heard but say, well, Arizona should have one law and North Carolina should have another law, and then -- right, then we have chaos.
BEGALA: There is an international border there. And it's federal government's responsibility to control it.
By the way, President Obama has put more boots on the ground on the Mexican border than any president since Woodrow Wilson was chasing Pancho Villa. Illegal immigrant has dropped to almost a trickle. He has deported more people in three years than Bush did in eight. I'm not altogether thrilled with that, I have to say. A lot of liberals are not.
BUCHANAN: But the truth is, if Mitt Romney were actually concerned about stemming illegal immigration, he would be supporting Barack Obama.
COOPER: But, Paul, supporters of SB-1070 will say the tough laws in places like in Arizona has actually discouraged illegal immigration.
BUCHANAN: Exactly right.
BEGALA: Oh, please. The recession has.
BUCHANAN: Oh, it's a combination.
BEGALA: There are no more jobs. That means that Mitt Romney was wrong when he said people come here for welfare benefits, for a handout. That's what he said. No, they don't. They come to work. Now there's no more work, so they're not coming anymore.
I do think President Obama's boots on the ground has certainly helped. I don't know. I don't live in Arizona, so I can't say. But I would be very skeptical. It seems to be a very overbroad law and it seems to be particularly, I think, risky in terms of civil rights.
COOPER: I want to give you the final comment, Bay. And then we got to go.
BUCHANAN: None of these states shouldn't have to take any of these actions if the federal government would just have the guts to do what they are obligated to do.
And that is enforce the immigration laws of this land. But because they refuse, brave men and women across the states have come up with their own bill so they can protect their citizens. I say God bless them.
COOPER: Bay Buchanan, Paul Begala, appreciate it.
Let us know what you think. We're on Facebook, Google+. Follow us on Twitter @AndersonCooper. I will be tweeting tonight.
More shocking testimony in the John Edwards trial. This thing just gets stranger and stranger day by day. Lurid details about how he allegedly kept up his affair with Rielle Hunter, even after he told his wife about it. Also how he and a top aide and an enabler nearly came to blows at one point. That's next.
COOPER: "Crime and Punishment": another day of really explosive testimony in the John Edwards' criminal trial.
Once again, the former presidential candidate and fallen Democratic star arrived with his eldest daughter, Cate, at his side. On the stand for a third straight day, his former top aide and one-time good friend, a guy named Andrew Young, that man there who is now the prosecution's star witness.
Young has given blistering testimony about his role in covering up his boss' affair with Rielle Hunter and the daughter that they had together. Edwards is accused of breaking federal law by using hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations to pay for the cover-up. Today, Young testified about an invoice he drew up for one of the wealthy benefactors who was paying for Hunter's expenses.
The invoice totaled more than $200,000, including more than $28,000 for a car for Hunter and $40,000 in cash for her allowance. Prosecutors also played voice-mails Edwards left on Young's cell phone in December of 2007. In one message, Edwards said: "I talked to Elizabeth and I think it's under control."
Five days later he left a message saying, "Please tell her I said hello. And I will call later tonight." The her was Rielle Hunter. The messages suggest the affair was continuing even after Edwards' wife Elizabeth found out about it. Of course, no one outside of Edwards' inner circle knew any of this at the time.
This is the John Edwards that we all saw at the time just days after he left those messages campaigning in Iowa with his wife of more than 30 years. The jurors also heard about Young's crumbling relationship with Edwards as the cover-up dragged on.
Young testified the two men came close to throwing punches at each other during a meeting in 2008. At the time Young was pretending to be the father of Hunter's child. After pictures surfaced of Edwards with Hunter and their daughter, Young said Edwards promised to admit the affair publicly, but in his interview with ABC News' Bob Woodruff, he flat-out lied about the baby that he fathered.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BOB WOODWARD, ABC NEWS: I need to ask about probably the most controversial allegation, which is that a report has been published that the baby of Ms. Hunter is your baby. True?
JOHN EDWARDS (D), FORMER U.S. SENATOR: Not true. Not true. Published in a supermarket tabloid. But, no, that is absolutely not true.
WOODWARD: Have you taken a paternity test?
EDWARDS: I have not. I would welcome participating in paternity test. Be happy to participate in one. I know that it is not possible that this child could be mine because of the timing of events. So I know it's not possible.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: It was not only possible, it was a fact. When it came time for the defense team to cross-examine Young today, they ripped into this guy Young, pointing out multiple inconsistencies in what he told the FBI, grand jury and the media and what he wrote in a tell-all book called "The Politician."
Edwards' lead lawyer pounded Young's credibility, painting him as a vindictive liar. He read an e-mail exchange between Young and the man who helped him with his book, Robert Draper. Referring to Edwards, Young wrote -- quote -- "No, I want to personally 'blank' on his head." Draper wrote back, "No, in his mouth."
John Edwards was clearly pleased with his performance. He was caught on camera speaking to his daughter, Cate, as they left the courthouse.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
EDWARDS: The sun's out now in more ways than one.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: CNN's Joe Johns was in the courtroom today. So was Bob Woodruff of ABC News who did that interview with John Edwards. They both join me now.
Bob, it's great to see you. What's it like for you to see John Edwards in court? I mean, he sat directly across from you, face to face with you, on that interview on "Nightline" back in 2008 and was just not telling you the truth.
WOODWARD: That is absolutely true, Anderson, he was not telling the truth. We found all the details out as we went on.
And to be in the trial, in the court there with him, we didn't make many eye contacts, just like he didn't really when Andrew actually -- Andrew Young actually was speaking and testifying up there. He didn't really make any contacts with him either. But it was a little bit difficult to be sitting there as now he's now under trial in a time when everything's changed.
COOPER: It's so fascinating, Bob, to rewatch that "Nightline" interview which he did, because he's looking at you as if he doesn't even understand what you're possibly asking him, about the child being his, when at the time he knew the child was his.
I want to play another clip from that interview. This really deals with the core of the charges against him. Let's listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WOODWARD: There are reports that there was money paid to try to cover up this affair. Was there?
EDWARDS: Can I just say everything you're saying, there are reports, there are allegations, these are all things in supermarket tabloids, which make the most outrageous allegations every week.
So that's -- let's start with where the source of this information comes. This is what I can tell you. I have never paid a dime of money to any of the people that are involved. I have never asked anybody to pay a dime of money, never been told that any money's been paid. Nothing has been done at my request.
So if the allegation is that somehow I participated in the payment of money, that is a lie, an absolute lie, which is typical in these kind of publications.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Since then, Bob, the Edwards defense team has tried to pin the payments on Andrew Young and his wife. Obviously that's the crux of the case.
For your part, did you find Edwards' answers on that question to be credible at that time?
WOODWARD: No, they're not.
There's three things he said there. He said I didn't pay. I didn't tell anybody to do it. And I didn't hear that it happened. Certainly the latter two were obvious. You know that he and Fred Baron were close friends. We know that there's voice-mails that actually indicated that he actually -- Fred and certainly actually Young actually spoke together about all these details. They all communicated with each other.
There are voice-mails from John Edwards right there to Young as well. And so you know they had these discussions. They knew there was money that was ending up to try to help Rielle Hunter. He certainly knew Young did not have that kind of money. And he almost certainly knew this was coming from Fred Baron. As for him spending it, probably not. He did not write the checks. He did not put it on his credit cards. But he certainly knew all these details. And I think we will hear a lot more about that during this trial.
COOPER: That's what's so significant to me about that interview you did, Bob, because this was the interview where he was basically confessing, where he was confessing the affair.
And just from a public relations standpoint, to give a confessional interview to a reporter of your stature, and then to continue to lie in that interview, I mean, that takes real chutzpah.
WOODWARD: Chutzpah is probably a good word for it. I think he thought that maybe he was going to be able to pull this off. I think there was this real disillusion he had at the time.
I think his situation was -- you know, he's had some quite interesting psyche issues going through his mind, I can only assume. Certainly he hoped that if he just admits that, that he's having this affair and that it was a very short period of time where he had this affair, that maybe people will believe that and he's not going to have to talk about the really important one, which is that this is probably his baby. And the big question is, did Elizabeth, his wife, know that this was his baby?
WOODWARD: That's the question. She really did not want to think that that was his baby. And actually when Andrew came out, Andrew Young came out and said that he is the father, I think Elizabeth had a great bit of relief. I don't think that landed long.
Joe, today was the first time Edwards' defense team really had a crack at cross-examining Andrew Young. They really lit into him, trying to raise about his credibility, inconsistencies in his book, his alleged roller-coaster feelings toward Edwards, really undermining Andrew Young. That's the key to their defense, isn't it, Joe?
JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely.
He's the star witness, Anderson, for the prosecution. Without him, it's very difficult to make a case here, I think. When we watched the cross-examination today, you really had a sense of just how important he is to the case. Abbe Lowell, the lead defense lawyer, literally reading lines page for page from the book written by Andrew Young and questioning him about it.
You lied when you wrote this. You made that story up, didn't you? But the end of the day, Anderson, it's also important to say the question is whether the nucleus of the case holds, and that's about intent, the intent of John Edwards to violate campaign finance laws. If the prosecutors can hold on to that, they may still have a case.
Joe Johns, thanks for that. ABC's Bob Woodruff, Bob, great to have you on the program. Thanks so much.
Coming up next, new details about America's first case of mad cow disease in six years. We reported on this last night. The question is, did the system work or is the system not really up to the job of keeping our food safe? We will tell you how many cows are tested every year out of the millions that are killed. Details ahead.
COOPER: Important question tonight about the food you eat in the wake of the first American case of mad cow disease in six years. The bottom line is, is it safe? That's the question.
"Keeping Them Honest." It's neither easy nor simple to say. Tonight, we know more about the infected cow that turned up at a rendering plant in Hanford, California. It's been traced back to a dairy farm elsewhere in California.
The congressman who gave us that information said the discovery demonstrates the strength of America's mad cow surveillance system. Those are reassuring words, no doubt about it. Also reassuring words last night from the secretary of agriculture, Tom Vilsack, on "JOHN KING, USA."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TOM VILSACK, U.S. AGRICULTURE SECRETARY: This is the way the system is supposed to work. We're supposed to identify these circumstances and make sure that they don't get in the food supply.
So, our trading partners should be reassured, the domestic markets were reassured once they found out that it wasn't going to get in the food supply, the markets rebounded. And I think we're going to be in good shape tomorrow.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: All right, so far, so good, or so it would seem. The carcass had been randomly selected for testing.
Samples first went to a lab at U.C. Davis, where the results were inconclusive, and to the USDA's lab in Ames, Iowa, where it came back positive. The lab concluded that the strain of mad cow disease, or BSE, likely did not come from feed, that it was likely the result of a genetic mutation in the animal itself.
No diseased meat got into either the human or animal food chain.
But, "Keeping Them Honest," critics say the system is far from perfect when it comes to spotting animals that, unlike this one here in the video, aren't already showing signs of disease. The system, you see, relies on randomly testing cattle for BSE. That's how they found this latest infected cow, it's just randomly testing. Get this, only about 40,000 head of cattle are tested each year. That's out of a herd of nearly 100 million cows, bulls and calves. The question has always been, is that enough, 40,000. Experts disagree on it. In addition, if the disease had come as it often does from infected feed, one expert said authorities would be hard pressed to locate other cases.
Sarah Klein of the Center for Science and the Public Interest says the country lacks effective ways of tracking livestock. The U.S., she says, has first world resources, but a third world animal identification system to follow the food we eat or feed other animals with as it travels through the supply chain.
In other words, maybe the system worked or maybe we just got lucky. I talked about it earlier with 360 MD Sanjay Gupta and Elisa Odabashian earlier.
COOPER: Sanjay, can you explain, first of all, what mad cow is?
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is a neurological disease where you have some sort of pathogen. Scientists believe it's something known as a prion that attacks the brain, attacks the central nervous system of a cow, and cause them to have these neurological symptoms.
The specific pathogen, a prion, you know, there's very little known about this in comparison to, for example, bacteria or viruses. And it's also worth noting best we can tell is that a cow probably has the prion in their system for a long time before they develop any symptoms.
COOPER: So how easily is it spread, Sanjay?
GUPTA: It's pretty hard to spread. Even among cows. What they've learned over the years in the last 15, 20 years is that likely it's spread by cows eating body parts of other cows. And it's tough to think about it that way, but that's -- specifically the body parts are the central nervous system body parts.
So, you know, the feed is made oftentimes from animal parts. In this case, cows. And if you get components of the brain, the spinal cord, into that feed, they believe that's how this prion, this pathogen is spread one cow to the next.
COOPER: So, Elisa, you're concerned this might not be an isolated event and that we really don't know for sure because the government tests such a tiny fraction of the slaughtered cows?
ELISA ODABASHIAN, DIRECTOR, WEST COAST OFFICE, CONSUMERS UNION: That's right. The USDA tests only about 40,000 of the 35 million cows that are killed every year. That's just a tiny fraction. And so they're not looking very hard for mad cow disease, and so they're not finding it very often.
COOPER: Sanjay, USDA said the fact this case was detected is the evidence that the system does work, despite only a small percentage of the cattle are actually tested.
GUPTA: Yes, you know, it's interesting. You know, I sort of -- I think the best analogy is probably like a biopsy, which I think is what Elisa is sort of describing as well. Certainly not testing every single cow, but you're going in there, trying to figure out what is the best sample size to find these cases of mad cow disease.
And again the cow that we're talking about here, Anderson, as you know, did not have any symptoms. So it was found on the basis of screening. Whether that sample size, to Elisa's point, is large enough or not is tough to say.
COOPER: Sanjay, are there -- are there other steps being taken to ensure the food supply isn't contaminated?
GUPTA: Well, you know, I think that the whole notion that, you know, the -- we know where the prion, this pathogen, that likely causes this lives and avoiding, you know, getting that into feed, as we're talking about, is the number one thing.
But I think on a consumer level, on the individual level, you think about the fact that if you are worried about this still, and it's a very, very remote chance that anyone would contract it this way, I mean it's 1 in a billion literally chance to get what is known as Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease which is the variant in humans of mad cow disease, you know, you could avoid eating meat that's directly attached to a bone, for example.
You can avoid eating bone marrow. Certainly avoid eating parts of animals and cows that in anywhere close or related to the brain or the spinal cord and try and avoid eating animals that have been fed any of those things as well. But that's on a consumer level.
COOPER: Elisa, your group is pushing the USDA for more testing. Is it financially sustainable, though? I mean can you -- do you want every animal tested?
ODABASHIAN: Well, there's another way to increase surveillance that we think the USDA is remiss about. There are private companies that want to spend their own money to test their own beef so that there -- they can sell their beef to other countries that have decided they didn't want to buy U.S. beef.
Those companies in the United States that want to test their own meat have been prohibited from doing so by the USDA. We think that's wrong. We think they should be able to test their own meat. They should be able to label it BSE tested. And they should -- you know, they could use the same test that USDA uses. But USDA has forbidden it.
COOPER: What about pets, Sanjay? Are they at risk?
GUPTA: Well, you know, potentially for some of the same reasons that we're talking about, this idea that you could get these specific parts -- again, it's tough to describe it this way, but these parts of animals that have the brain and spinal cord in it, into feed of other animals, possibly. I mean in theory, it could happen. There has been a sort of variant in cats described. It's known as feline spongiform encephalopathy.
You don't even remember the name but that's sort of the cat version of mad cow disease. It's -- it can happen in dogs. I don't think there's ever been a reported case, at least in the United States, of this sort of thing happening, so I think it's unlikely. Not all animals are going to be as susceptible to it as others. But you know in theory, again, you know, if you really trace the feed chain here, that's what people are really trying to focus their attention for other pets as well.
COOPER: Sanjay Gupta, I appreciate it. Elisa Odabashian, thank you very much.
Still ahead tonight, the strange story of an elderly Washington, D.C. socialite who was found murdered in her home. Her husband has been charged with first-degree murder. But whether the case ever goes before a jury is an open question. We'll tell you why.
First, Isha is here with the "360 Bulletin" -- Isha.
ISHA SESAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, opposition activists in Syria say the al-Assad regime is ramping up its campaign of violence. At least 100 people are reported killed today across the country. And activists say security forces are targeting people who spoke to U.N. monitors.
Despite the fallout from the Secret Service prostitution scandal, President Obama has full confidence in the agency director, Mark Sullivan. That was today from the Homeland Security secretary. Nine members of the service have resigned or are being forced out. Three others have been cleared of serious misconduct.
Today British police released a new image of Madeleine McCann showing what she might look like at age 9. She vanished five years ago while on vacation in Portugal with her family. British investigators believe the little girl may still be alive.
And take a look at this spectacular light show in Italy courtesy of Mother Nature. It's Mount Etna, erupting for the seventh time this year. We're told people who live near the volcano are not in any danger -- Anderson.
COOPER: Isha, thanks very much.
A strange murder case is in limbo tonight. Prosecutors say a well- known Washington, D.C. socialite was killed by her much younger husband. But his bizarre behavior in court has delayed the trial. That story next.
COOPER: In "Crime & Punishment," the murder trial of a German man accused of killing his much older wife last summer is on hold tonight, delayed because of his bizarre behavior. The death of his wife more than four decades older than he is has opened a window on to their relationship and his eccentric habits.
Here's Tom Foreman.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When police were called last August to this home in upscale Georgetown, the bathroom seemed the scene of a terrible accident.
Viola Drath, a well-known D.C. socialite, was dead. As a journalist, she had written for many influential publications. She had kept company with the rich and powerful. Her husband, Albrecht Muth, told police he found the body, and according to Keith Alexander with the "Washington Post," he gave a plausible story.
KEITH ALEXANDER, REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: In the beginning he said that she fell and then -- and she hit her head. And that's what happened.
FOREMAN (on camera): It's was a tragic accident.
ALEXANDER: It's a tragic accident. She was 91 years old.
FOREMAN (voice-over): Although Muth at age 47 was 44 years younger than Drath, coming along after her first husband died, they had been married more than 20 years, united in part by a shared German background. Neighbors like Page Robinson thought him peculiar.
PAGE ROBINSON, NEIGHBOR: I mean it's true that he would walk around in these outfits that were army outfits and he would have a cigar. And he was a bit eccentric for sure.
FOREMAN (on camera): Did you think he was in the military?
FOREMAN (voice-over): Friends like Warren and Sunny Adler say Muth was full of grand claims about his heritage and experiences.
WARREN ADLER, FRIEND AND AUTHOR, "THE WAR OF THE ROSES": He was like a German baron. He clicked his heels, he bowed. I think he had some connection with the United Nations, or at least that's what he told me. But I still had the impression that for her, he was a fish out of water. And I could not understand that relationship at all.
FOREMAN: Police say their investigation turned up reports of multiple incidents of domestic violence against Drath over the years. And that Muth had twice been charged with assault. He was convicted in one case and the other was dismissed. And yet --
ALEXANDER: They had some things in common that he was able to make her feel young again.
FOREMAN (on camera): Do you think that she really loved him?
ALEXANDER: She really did love him. FOREMAN (voice-over): But within hours of the body being found, police were turning up evidence that suggested Muth felt differently. According to an arrest affidavit, Muth told them this was a marriage of convenience. He had no job and Drath gave him a monthly allowance of $2,000, recently reduced to $1800.
In the search of the home, police found a letter Muth presented to his wife's family after her death. It was dated the day before her body was found. Signed in her name and instructed the family to hand over at least $150,000 if anything happened to her, according to the affidavit.
And then the medical examiner dropped a bombshell. Viola Drath, he said, had not fallen, she had been beaten so badly that bones were broken and she had been strangled. Police picked up Albrecht Muth, and things got strange. In court, even as his appointed attorney tried to argue that the evidence was not enough to tie Muth to the crime, he interrupted to say he wanted to represent himself.
He went on a hunger strike. He suggested an outside killer was to blame for the murder, even though police say there was no sign of a forced entry. And he suggested he should be treated as a captured military officer in keeping with stories he had told for years.
ALEXANDER: He claimed to be a general in the Iraqi army.
FOREMAN (on camera): He claimed a lot of things.
ALEXANDER: He also claimed that he was a spy for -- foreign countries. He claimed that he was of European aristocrat descent.
FOREMAN: Is any of these true?
ALEXANDER: None of it is true.
FOREMAN: Amid all that the court finally sent the accused for psychiatric evaluation to see if he could even be held accountable for the horrible crime that happened here.
(Voice-over): In this psychiatric hospital, for the moment, is where he remains. Undergoing tests to determine if he truly understands how his long strange trip into D.C. society circles led him to face a charge of murder in the first degree.
Tom Foreman, CNN, Georgetown.
COOPER: It is a bizarre case. I spoke earlier to our senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin about it.
COOPER: Jeff, the details of this case are really unbelievable. You can't make this stuff up. JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: It is really a great case, you know, obviously it's grounded in the tragedy as most crimes are. But you know, at the core, it's that same problem, that the criminal justice always has, is this defendant crazy or is he crazy like a fox?
COOPER: You say it's a good case study of insanity and competency.
TOOBIN: That's right. And those are separate questions. I think sometimes people think they're the same question. Before you even get to the issue of sanity, you have to decide or a judge has to decide whether someone is competent to stand trial and make those decisions. And that's where this case is stuck, just like in the Tucson shooting case, the Jerrod Loughner case, that case is stuck, too, and maybe stuck for a long time, while the judge determines whether the defendant is fit to stand trial.
COOPER: If he is found competent, though, to stand trial, he can still use an insanity defense, correct?
TOOBIN: That's right. That's a separate thing. That's actually -- it's a very high standard. You know, people often talk about the insanity defense as if, you know, people can just do it and walk off. Most people who claim an insanity defense are convicted anyway. Jurors are very skeptical of insanity defenses.
And frankly, I think they're likely to be skeptical of one here when you have this history of domestic violence and a history of shifty behavior that's eccentric, but suggests that at least Muth has some sort of connection to reality.
COOPER: The process, though, of delaying the trial could go on for years, couldn't it?
TOOBIN: It could go -- it could go on for years. I mean, that's what's so frustrating about the whole issue of competency to stand trial. Is that it can be an indefinite process. It may be that you're not fit to stand trial in 2012, but then you become fit, you know, through the use of medication and whatnot, to stand trial in 2014. That means the trial starts in 2014 which is very frustrating and difficult for the legal system.
COOPER: Yes. Jeff Toobin, thanks.
COOPER: Well, disturbing claims of bullying at a New Jersey school, even more disturbing because the teachers are accused of doing the bullying. One father put a recording device in his autistic son's pocket to hear what was going on in the classroom. What he found out, next.
COOPER: So is it possible to crash a gubernatorial election? We ponder that coming up on the "RidicuList," but first Isha is back with the "360 News and Business Bulletin" -- Isha. SESAY: Anderson, two current and two former TSA employees have been arrested accused of taking bribes to let drugs go through security at L.A. International Airport. A grand jury indictment refers to five incidents from February to July of last year.
It says TSA screeners accepted money to look the other way while suitcases full of cocaine, meth and marijuana passed through the x-ray machine.
At least one teacher at a Cherry Hill, New Jersey, school has been removed after a father recorded what was going on in his autistic son's classroom. He put a recording device in his 10-year-old son's pocket and said he captured six hours of recordings of teachers talking about alcohol and sex in front of students, and displaying what he called a culture of bullying.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Go ahead and scream, but guess what? You're going to get nothing. Until your mouth is shut.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SESAY: Well, Anderson, we'll be talking to the boy's father tomorrow tonight on 360.
In an online statement, the school district says anyone heard on the recordings raising their voices all inappropriately addressing children no longer works there.
Momentum on Wall Street today led by big gains from Apple and Boeing. The Dow rose 89 points, the S&P gained 19, and Nasdaq was up 68 points.
And Anderson, pay attention now. Apparently there's growing interest in the International Beard Tournament. This year the tournament in Germany featured 163 men from all over the world competing in 18 categories.
COOPER: Is that Blitzer? Was that Blitzer?
SESAY: As you can see --
SESAY: No, it was not Blitzer. As you can see, the competition was stiff. They must use exorbitant amounts of hairspray, I'm guessing. I'm thinking you should try a little facial hair.
COOPER: I've tried. It doesn't work. Doesn't work for me. I get little patches of gray. Not pretty.
SESAY: So tragic.
COOPER: That's amazing. My gosh. Wow.
SESAY: I was hoping if you could do it, you'd be like a young Santa Claus, a young Father Christmas.
COOPER: I don't know how to take that.
COOPER: I would have one like that guy right there with the big -- yes.
SESAY: Yes. We need to work on your style.
COOPER: All right. Isha, thank you.
And the man best known as White House party crasher lands up on the "RidicuList" ahead.
COOPER: Time now for the "RidicuList." And tonight we're adding the Salahi scoffers. Now I know what you're thinking, Sala, who? Salahi, as in Tareq Salahi, you know, the guy who crashed the White House state dinner with his wife Michaele whose claims to fame are starring in the "Real Housewives of D.C." and being kicked off of "Celebrity Rehab" because she wasn't actually addicted to anything.
That guy. Well, it looks like Tareq Salahi is determined to get into political events one way or another. Because now he says he's thinking about running for governor of Virginia.
Oh, how the scoffers are scoffing. What makes this guy qualified to be governor of anything, they ask. Aren't his 15 minutes up, they demand.
Well, I beg to differ. Let's just break it down for you. We already know that this guy, Salahi, comes up with creative solutions to problems, problems like not being on the guest list for a White House state dinner, for example. And when you think about it, isn't the "Real Housewives" really just "Meet the Press" with fancier outfits and slightly more eye rolling?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TAREQ SALAHI, VIRGINIA VINTNER/TV PERSONALITY: All right. This is when we ask for your complete stylist.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Washington is not a place that responds well to showy people.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think he's obnoxious. He's turning off everyone.
SALAHI: Well, he made this up. Nobody was ever escorted out of there.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're the only force (EXPLETIVE DELETED) around here, darling.
SALAHI: We're married six years on November 1st. Am I a good husband (INAUDIBLE)? I am good.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Get rid of your husband.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: I think what has best prepared Tareq Salahi for a public office is his ability to spin a story. Like when he said his wife may have been kidnapped, and then the next day everyone found out she'd actually just run off with the guitarist from Journey.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SALAHI: She wanted, in my view, more money, more fame, she wanted to go more to that A celebrity, if you will. But it's an '80s band. She's become -- she's acting like a 16-year-old, you know, jumping on a tour bus from the '80s.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Whoa, whoa, take it easy on the '80s music there, Mr. Salahi. This is Journey we're talking about. Neal Schon can rock a mean guitar solo.
Guessing Tareq Salahi will not be using that as his campaign song.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SALAHI: Michaele going on a tour bus with a rock band. That's like a groupie slut does.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: He just lost the groupie vote. Which is unfortunate because they're quite a strong constituency. Very enthusiastic, extremely loyal, willing to travel. In any event, the next few years are shaping up to be pretty interesting politically. Tareq Salahi running for governor of Virginia, we have that to look forward to. And then of course there's this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KIM KARDASHIAN, MODEL/REALITY TV STAR: I decided I'm going to run for the mayor of Glendale. Noel and I are, like, looking into other requirements. And I'm literally going to have a huge -- she's going to help me with my campaign.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Not to mention this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And vote Hank for U.S. Senate. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Like any savvy campaigner, he's gotten ads, stickers, signs, even a Facebook page.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's running as an independent, so he had to have a red and a blue tie.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: That's right. This is America. If the cat wants to be a senator, if a Kardashian wants to be mayor, yes, even if a White House party crasher, whose wife ran off to be with Journey, wants to be governor, we don't tell them no, you can't. This is America and we don't stop believing in the "RidicuList."
And that's it for us. Thanks for watching. "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts now.