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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
GOP May Go for Short-Term Debt Ceiling Deal; U.S. Cuts Aid to Egypt; NYPD Detective Arrested in Bikers versus SUV Clash; Passport, Foreign Currency In Carey's Car; Human Remains In Costa Concordia Wreckage; The 9-Year-Old Boy Got Passed Distracted Delta Agent; Accident Or Murder?; Interview With Elizabeth Smart
Aired October 8, 2013 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Erin, thanks.
Good evening, everyone.
We begin tonight with breaking development in two stories. The first, there may be a sliver of hope in the debt ceiling and government shutdown fight -- a sliver that might open up as a way to end the impacts.
The second, CNN has learned that within the, quote, "coming days," unquote, the U.S. will stop military aid to Egypt. That decision could have a seismic effect on America's long-term relationship with Egypt, as well as allies and, frankly, enemies in the region. We'll get to that story coming up.
But, first, more on the breaking news from Capitol Hill. After a day in a shutdown mess that sounded it first like more of the same, neither side seeming to budge.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The only thing that I will say is that we're not going to pay a ransom for America paying its bills. That's something that should be non-negotiable and everybody should agree on that. Everybody should say one of the most valuable things we have is America's creditworthiness. This is not something we should even come close to fooling around with.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: It's President Obama just this afternoon. Then this from House Speaker Boehner.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: The long and short of it is, there is going to be a negotiation here. We can't raise the debt ceiling without doing something about what's driving us to borrow more money and to live beyond our means.
(END VIDEO CLIP) COOPER: And those were the sound bites that got the big headlines. However, as the day went on we began getting signs that the Republican side was latching on to something else President Obama said as a possible way out of or at least part of the crisis.
Dana Bash and Jim Acosta working their sources. They join us now.
Dana, I want to start with you. On the debt ceiling increase, specifically which is days ago before default, tell us about this ray of hope tonight for a possible compromise.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, I know I have two senior House Republican sources telling me that House Republicans may be willing to go along with the short-term increase in the debt ceiling in order to buy time to negotiate a package of reforms that address the debt and deficit.
Now these sources were reacting to the president saying today that he would be open to that. Now to be clear, this is still a chicken or egg situation, which is going to come first? The president and congressional Democrats are insisting they will not negotiate on anything until the debt ceiling is raised and the government is reopened. Republicans are still saying that they won't pass either, unless they're guaranteed that the debt deficit are somehow addressed.
So the mechanics of how this would work have to be artfully and carefully worked out. How this would happen is a big open question, though, Anderson, because they aren't talking at all behind the scenes. I'm told nothing substantive. So this is all going through, frankly, us and other sources.
COOPER: That's fascinating. So no conversation is going on behind the scenes. Each side just negotiating through the media?
BASH: I'm told that substantive direct conversation behind the scenes are really non-existent now. That they are talking through us. And get this, I was also told by a House Republican source that White House officials are actually calling CEOs asking them to call House Republicans to convey messages, just to stay true to the promise that they're not going to talk.
You remember a couple of years ago, there was a story in the "New York Times" about how the White House, the Obama White House had banned lobbyists from coming through the gates and they got around that by meeting with them at the Caribou Coffee across the street?
BASH: This is -- the Republican sources I talked to said this is almost like the Caribou Congress. So they're trying to get information back and forth while staying true to the promise they're not going to negotiate.
COOPER: So would the negotiation, though, be about Obamacare or is that -- is that a no-go? BASH: That's a great question. My impression now is that they are so far away from the concept of Obamacare being part of a deal that probably wouldn't be and certainly obviously the Democrats would never agree to that, and we all know that John Boehner and his -- most of his fellow Republican leaders didn't want to go down that road to begin with.
The focus, I think, still, and again, this is very, very, very early. I don't even know if they've gotten this far. But very likely just be focused on things that they can agree on.
BASH: Things that do have -- directly to do with the budget, the debt and the deficit.
COOPER: OK. Jim Acosta is covering the White House.
Jim, so the president opened this door to a short-term extension of the debt ceiling. White House officials immediately came out, though, with a word of caution on it. What are you hearing?
JIM ACOSTA, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. What they basically said, Anderson, I talked to a White House official right after the president's news conference. This official saying, hey, come on back, we need to talk about this, what the president just aid. They want to make sure that House Republicans understand this, that if the president agrees to a brief temporary short-term debt ceiling increase, that is not an invitation to extract more concessions.
They are not going to get into negotiations with Republicans again with the debt ceiling clock ticking down to zero. What they say at this point is that if House Republicans in a second debt ceiling scenario start talking on day 18 of, let's say, a 21-day debt ceiling increase about wanting concessions and so forth, we could get to a very critical stage, this White House official said. At that point House Republicans will just have to pass something that will extend the debt ceiling for a year.
But something else that the president said today, Anderson, that was very interesting and you almost had to go back to the tape and look at it. The president said that he was willing to attach something, some kind of discussion, mandatory discussions that would have to take place after a clean continuing resolution is passed, after a clean debt ceiling is passed.
What that means, we have no idea but he is -- he is committing himself to some kind of discussion process that would take place once they get the threat of default and once they get the government reopened again.
COOPER: It's really interesting, Dana, because there is so much lack of trust certainly by Republicans and the Democrats, and Democrats and Republicans, but we're hearing from a lot of Republicans who feel if the deadline is off the table, if there is this -- the short-term extension, that the president really won't have any -- to negotiate. BASH: That's exactly what -- if this sees any kind of fruition, that's exactly what the concerns of many rank-and-file Republicans will be, which is why if they do go down this road, I was told by one of the Republican sources I spoke to tonight that there would have to be parameters, very clear parameters because of that and also because there is such a trust deficit.
BASH: I mean, it is really, really ugly. And what you're seeing in public is half of what we're hearing in private. They're just very angry at each other and, you know, legislating is the art of compromise and the art of relationships and you have to have a little trust and it's just not there right now.
COOPER: All right. Dana Bash, appreciate the update. Jim Acosta, as well. Thanks, Jim.
Now I want to bring in our political panel, Democratic strategist Paul Begala, Rich Galen, who handled messaging for then House Speaker Newt Gingrich in the last shutdown, Republican consultant Alice Stewart, spokeswoman for the 2012 Bachmann and Santorum presidential campaigns.
Paul, what do you make of this development?
PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think Dana is exactly right. The real problem here is a trust problem and it's enormous. At the focal point of it is Speaker Boehner. Senator Reid does not trust Speaker Boehner. I doubt the president does either.
Here's why. They've both had dealings with him. You know, Harry Reid sat down in September with John Boehner. They cut the deal, they compromised, they negotiated, and Speaker Boehner asked Harry Reid to get the Senate Democrats to vote for Republican levels of cuts, huge cuts that Democrats would never support in the normal course of business, but in order to get a deal and yes, to make a down payment on the debt and deficit, agree to do so.
The Democrats swallowed hard and voted for it and then Boehner broke his word. He reneged on this word. He won't put it on the floor now, even though CNN's vote count says it would pass. That's why Harry Reid doesn't trust him. I wouldn't trust him either. I suspect that's why the president doesn't want to negotiate with him because he -- either he won't keep his word or he can't deliver on his word.
You say what you want about Newt Gingrich. When he made a deal, he stuck to the deal.
COOPER: Rich, what about that? I mean, the Democrats, as Paul is saying, you know, say, well, look, Harry Reid compromised, did negotiate and then was double crossed, basically.
RICH GALEN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, here's -- well, I'm not so sure that we know the details of that. What happens in these sessions, as Paul knows too painfully well, as I do, that these guys throw out ideas and say OK, we can go for that. If we did. Well, probably not that, but we can do this and that and that. And then everybody takes a break for lunch and somebody walks out and there is Dave Espo from the AP standing outside the door.
And you say, what are you talking about? Well, this happened and this happened, and suddenly that becomes established gospel when really no decision was actually made. They were tossing out ideas.
I don't know whether the leaks -- the e-mails or whatever it was that Harry Reid leaked were the final word or whether they were works in progress. And so I'd be a little careful about saying that they don't trust each other because of that instance.
COOPER: Yes, I think you're being charitable when you say works in progress there, Rich.
Alice, a short-term deal without a concession on spending cuts from Democrats, will conservative members of the House be able to get behind that, do you think?
ALICE STEWAR, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I don't see that happening. But here's the problem is that we have the president out there for the past couple of days saying let's talk, I'll talk about anything, I'll talk about health care, I'll talk about the economy, I'll talk about jobs. But he can't say that with a straight face while at the same time he's saying well, I'm not going to have any kind of negotiation unless we have a clean funding -- spending bill and we also raise the debt limit.
That's not the way to have a true negotiation. And as Dana said, legislation is about negotiating and we can't continue to seriously have everyone come to the table when there is no table. There is no chairs. There's really no place to start from and he's basically forcing and urging and demanding an unconditional surrender by Republican.
That's not a historical precedent when we're talking about debt limits, when we're talking about funding the government, there is always some type of attachment. There are always strings attached because both sides have leverage and he cannot take that away from Republicans.
COOPER: Paul, what about what Alice just said, that this is the way it's been done in the past? I mean, the president was always saying, well, look, we can't negotiate with a gun to our head but is this the way it's always been done?
BEGALA: Yes, and they -- I keep saying, they didn't negotiate. This is the thing. A congressional leader in the Democratic Party told me this at the very beginning of this, said, they're too dumb to take yes for an answer, too dumb to know that they've won. The notion, though, that -- keeping the government open and paying our debts is somehow a concession to the Democrats from the Republicans, that's the problem here. Right?
And Democrats feel like they've given on huge budget cuts and they have. Republicans feel like they don't get anything unless they also somehow get credit for paying the bills and keeping the government open. That's -- the Democrats don't feel like that's something that should count against them as a concession or count for the Republicans, rather, as a concession.
They feel like that's obviously what every Congress of both parties has to do. Now let's talk about funding levels. And we gave you your funding levels, why won't you even put up for a vote?
COOPER: But, Paul, assuming there has to be some sort of give on both sides in order to get this moving forward --
COOPER: -- do you see something moving forward where Obamacare -- you know, changing it is off the table, but maybe there is movement on money, on the debt, on something?
BEGALA: Perhaps some process thing like super committee to the sequel, which, you know, of course, it was Republicans like Paul Ryan who blew up the last super committee so that's why it failed. Maybe some process like that. But you just can't go back on your word if you want to be a successful legislator.
You know, the whole place is built on those four words, a deal is a deal. You don't have to make a deal, but once you do, you have to honor the deal.
GALEN: One of the -- I don't disagree with Paul, though, again, I'm not clear on who made what deal and when, because remember Woodward said that the president went back on a deal, too. So -- if we're going back on deals, everybody has got a piece of that pie.
But getting back to something that you said, Anderson, it may well be that something unrelated to any of this is the opening gambit, that somebody smart enough to say, let's don't keep score that way, let's keep score this way. What if we come to the table with all the big things still kind of dangling over our heads, but let's see if we can't agree on something that's real, but not -- not related to these things just to get the conversation started.
GALEN: And I think that's likely to happen.
COOPER: Alice, explain to me -- because I understand. Speaker Boehner maintains he doesn't have the votes to pass a clean CR. CNN has counted 217 House member that have said on the record that they would vote for it.
Even if the count is off, just strategically, why not bring the vote to the floor? So, A, people can know where their representatives stand, but if Speaker Boehner says the votes aren't there, isn't it strategically in the Republicans' -- to their benefit to bring it to the floor, have it fail and then that takes away the Democrat's argument of them just screaming, bring this to the floor for a vote?
GALEN: No, because the other thing that you get is --
STEWART: Well --
GALEN: -- Boehner can't control the floor. Boehner has lost control of everything. We need a new speaker. That, I think, would -- and would be the equivalent of a no confidence vote in the British parliament. I think that would be, as we used to say in college debate, a new and greater evil.
COOPER: Alice, do you agree with that?
STEWART: Well, and also even having this conversation about a clean CR, that basically is an unconditional surrender by Republicans. And Boehner doesn't want to have that and those that have been pushing to have some type of leverage in this conversation whether it's the shutdown or moving forward with the debt limit.
There needs to be some strings attached when we're talking about the shutdown. The Republicans are looking at what the majority of people in this country want. They want to keep the government open, which is what Republicans have fought for. They also are concerned about Obamacare and they want to make that fair and level and if it's delayed for a big --
COOPER: But -- but you're making it sound like it was about ego at this point. They're like, oh now it's a show -- they're losing face.
GALEN: Careful here.
COOPER: I mean, isn't that -- I mean, Paul, to -- why not strategically bring it to the floor and take away that argument from the Democrats if it fails?
BEGALA: Of course, because if he brought it to the floor it would pass and then it would become a law. And then we would have the Republican levels of spending cuts and the whole notion that somehow John Boehner doesn't want to surrender -- John Boehner is the Muhammad Ali of surrender. I mean, he surrenders to that right-wing Ted Cruz caucus every day of his job.
I mean, left to his own devices, most people believe that Speaker Boehner would do the a responsible thing and cut some sort of moderate conservative deal. But he has surrendered --
GALEN: I think I'm not --
BEGALA: -- the speakership already.
GALEN: I think --
BEGALA: So he may as well surrender to the good guys because he has already surrendered to the bad guys.
COOPER: Rich, final thought then we got to run.
GALEN: That might have been correct, but I think what he quickly figured out that if he couldn't get the Tea Party caucus on board and a lot of his colleagues didn't want to go head-to-head with the Tea Party within the caucus or within the conference, that what he's doing now is rolling this out to the debt limit where he does have more room to maneuver. So I think, actually, he's been smart about it.
COOPER: We've got to leave it there because over time.
Alice Stewart, appreciate it. Rich Galen and Paul Begala, thanks.
More breaking news, a very busy night. We just learned from a senior White House official President Obama will name Janet Yellen to succeed Ben Bernanke as chair of the Federal Reserve.
The announcement expected tomorrow at 3:00 p.m. Will make history, not just news. If confirmed, Miss Yellen will be the first woman to run the Fed. Currently she serves as vice chair.
Let us know what you think. Follow me on Twitter at Andersoncooper.
As we said, more breaking news now. A couple -- after a coup and a crackdown the White House deciding now to pull the plug on military aid to Egypt. The impact of cutting off America's biggest ally in the Arab world, ahead.
Also tonight, a question. What could be worse than a New York undercover police officer allegedly witnessing this attack and doing nothing to stop it? How about a New York undercover cop allegedly taking part in the assault? The biker attack story takes another bizarre shocking turn.
COOPER: More break news tonight. This one could change the way America deals with the entire Arab world after decades supporting Egypt with tens of billions of dollars through dictatorship, revolution and most recently through a military coup. The White House is about to say enough. No more military aid.
Our chief national security correspondent Jim Sciutto has the story, he joins us with the latest.
So what are we learning, Jim?
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, a U.S. official tells me that a decision has been made to suspend some of the military aid to Egypt. It hasn't been announced yet, in fact the Egyptians haven't been told yet but this is very significant. $1.5 billion in aid per year to Egypt. About a third of that $500 million in military aid. Much of that aid has been suspended as the administration has conducted a review. What's new now is that the administration appears to have come to a decision to in fact go ahead and suspend that aid.
COOPER: So is that all military aid or some military aid?
SCIUTTO: Well, the decision is to suspend all the military aid, which is about a third of the $1.5 billion a year in total aid to Egypt. So why now? I mean, administration a few weeks ago when we had the violent crackdown on Muslim Brotherhood protesters and the coup that wasn't. Remember the administration wouldn't call it a coup.
SCIUTTO: Had said at the time they didn't want to make a rash decision about aid, that they were going to put this aid under review. It's been under review. What's new now is that they have made a decision to go ahead and suspend it.
COOPER: Is it clear at this point what this means for U.S.-Egypt relations? Because I mean that money can be made up by Gulf states.
SCIUTTO: That's exactly the point. And those Gulf states have made that point publicly in Egypt. In fact some Egyptian leaders have said that, that if the U.S. suspends aid, we'll have -- aid, we'll have no problem because the Saudis and others will step up and replace. So this is -- this is an extremely risky decision for the U.S. to make.
And remember, so many things rely on Egypt, the peace agreement with Israel, for instance. This is a very delicate and important relationship in the region. We know that Egyptian officials are not going to like that. They've been on the record saying that already as this was being considered.
So, you know, the ramifications, we're going to be finding out over the next several weeks and months.
COOPER: Yes. Jim, appreciate the update. Thanks.
Let's talk about it now. Joining us on the phone, Ben Wedeman, who's probably spent more time in Cairo than the last pharaoh did, and Robin Wright, Arab affairs analyst and senior fellow at Woodrow Wilson Center.
Robin, you heard Jim's reporting, a big step by the White House. What's your reaction?
ROBIN WRIGHT, ARAB AFFAIRS ANALYST: This has have been coming for quite a while actually, and President Obama signaled that the United States was slowing down aid to Egypt in his address at the United Nations just a couple of weeks ago.
The United States has been increasingly disillusioned with the way the military leadership has cracked down with its own people. Over 1,000 died in the early weeks after the military coup and then over the past week, you've seen dozens more killed in confrontations and the Egyptian government has proven to be unwilling, really, to discuss with the United States.
It's been rather belligerent itself in talking about the troubled relationship and the fact that Egypt will make its own decisions, not really listen to what the United States is telling it or asking of it.
COOPER: Ben, what kind of impact do you think this can have?
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (via phone): Well, immediately, probably the Egyptian government is going to find its going to gain somewhat in terms of local public opinions. I mean, Egyptians in fact already been in touch with about this decision or announcement -- from the United States going to cut aid seemed to react positively.
There seems to be a lot of frustration with the United States given its role in Egypt over the last two and a half years since the revolution. But obviously, it's going to get very complicated because, of course, one of the underpinnings of U.S. aid to Egypt was the Camp David accords and this really does throw into question whether Egypt will continue to comply with these peace agreements between -- the peace agreement between Egypt and Israel that goes back to the late 1970s. So this is -- it's quite a serious development.
COOPER: Robin, do you agree with that that this could impact those peace agreements?
WRIGHT: Well, that's the real danger. We forget that Egypt -- sometimes that Egypt is not only the political trendsetter in the Arab world but that it is the cornerstone of the Arab-Israeli peace process and the U.S. aid really was started in the aftermath of the Camp David Accords in the late 1970s.
And the U.S. investment has been not only to buy political influence on the Egyptian government but also to ensure that it complied with peace -- the peace treaty, which without Egypt involved with Israel, it's hard to believe that the other Arabs would be willing to engage with Israel and think about the peace process. The Palestinians at the moment and Lebanon or Syria someday down the road.
COOPER: So, Ben, I mean, is America less liked than they were? I mean, even in the worst of times?
WEDEMAN: Dramatically so. I don't think in the entire time I've been covering Egypt over the last 20 years, I've seen relations so bad as they are now, and there is sort of the general impression among many Egyptians that the United States was backing the Muslim Brotherhood, and President Mohamed Morsi until he was deposed on the 3rd of July.
It's also important to keep in mind that the Gulf states -- Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates -- pump billions of dollars into Egypt since the overthrow of Morsi. Well over $12 billion which dwarfs what the United States would give Egypt, and therefore for the Egyptian government, a cut off in U.S. aid is symbolically significant but in terms of the actual amount of money they are getting, it will not make a big difference.
Gulf States, as I said, are actually giving Egypt quite a lot of money at the moment.
COOPER: Yes, making up the gap.
Ben Wedeman, appreciate your reporting. Robin Wright, thanks for being with us.
For more on the story, go to CNN.com.
Up next, we said it was a busy night and we meant it. We got more breaking news. A major arrest in that violent confrontation between bikers and the driver of an SUV. A major arrest that really shocked just about everyone. We'll tell you what it is ahead.
Also, a 360 exclusive, new video evidence in the death of Georgia teenager Kendrick Johnson whose parents are convinced their child was murdered.
COOPER: Breaking news tonight, some pretty stunning developments in the investigation of a violent confrontation between a group of motorcyclist and the driver of an SUV. An off-duty, undercover New York City police detective who is riding with the bikers has himself been arrested.
Law enforcement official tells CNN he was caught on video pounding on the Range Rover when it came to a stop on a Manhattan street. That video has not been released but this is video that caught everyone's attention. One biker using his helmet to bash in the driver's side window. And now this new video has been posted to YouTube showing some bikers kicking and stomping the driver after he was pulled from his SUV.
He is laying in the street, his face is bloodied. You can see Sergio Consuegra, the Good Samaritan, who's holding a folder in his hand, come to the driver's aid.
I spoke to Sergio last Friday on 360. He said he was compelled to step in and do something.
Susan Candiotti has tonight's breaking news.
So what have we learned about this undercover officer?
SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, today, Anderson, it's never a good thing when police have to arrest one of their own but tonight he has been charged with two felonies, one charge is criminal mischief and the other is riot, which by statute really means that if there is a large group of people, maybe 10 people or more, violent conduct is involved and there's creating a grave risk to other people on hand.
Now we haven't seen it publicly yet, but a law enforcement source tell me that he is seen on camera pounding a vehicle, and so we know that he's also been with the force, Anderson, several years. He's not straight out of the academy, he's 32 years old. COOPER: So -- is it known, and it might not be known. Was he there working under cover, or was he there off duty and just a motorcycle enthusiasts riding with this group?
CANDIOTTI: My sources tell me it's the latter. He was off duty. He was just out for a ride as people often do in this annual rally and then he witnessed what happened, and according to police now, according to prosecutors, he was also a participant.
COOPER: And police are still looking for more people involved, right?
CANDIOTTI: They are. They are looking for at least -- not looking for more people. At least four. Remember that video you showed of Alexian Lien being kicked and pounded, well, they've released four stills from that video. And also I'm being told that at least one other police officer may be charged and possibly more.
COOPER: You spoke with the lawyer for the man who posted the original video. What does his client say?
CANDIOTTI: He's saying that he was shocked by the whole thing. Remember, he didn't call the police immediately with this video. He posted it online. But when police tracked him down, he said he willingly handed everything over and they confiscated everything. This is the helmet cam guy who shot everything from start to finish -- Anderson.
COOPER: Although it is strange that the video seems to shut off right when the beating is about to begin. Is that just coincidence the lawyer claiming?
CANDIOTTI: Yes, he said he was so shocked what was going on he turned off and had a problem with the battery, but maybe what is more interesting what happened at the beginning. He said that at first, what started all this, is he noticed that the driver of the SUV opened up the sunroof and threw out a water bottle and then the SUV starting to swerve and he thought -- and it hit one of the bikers, the water bottle so he thought it might be trouble and that's when he started his camera rolling.
COOPER: All right, we're still again learning new details every day. Susan Candiotti, thanks. Let's get the latest on some of the other stories we are following. Stephanie Elam has the 360 Bulletin -- Stephanie.
STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, new information about what was found in a Connecticut woman's car after she rammed barricades near the capitol and led police on a chase. Court documents show her driver's license, passport, Social Security card, and foreign currency were in the car along with keys and a lease agreement. Police killed 34-year-old Miriam Carey during the chase. Her 1-year-old daughter was in the car but was not hurt.
Divers had found what are believed to be human remains in the wreckage of Costa Concordia cruise ship that capsized off the Italian coast in 2012 killing 32 people. Italian authorities had said two weeks ago, they thought they found human remains, but those were later determined to be animal remains.
A spokesman for the Minneapolis St. Paul Airport says the 9-year-old boy that hopped a flight to Vegas without a ticket was able to get on the plane by sneaking past a distracted Delta gate agent. The boy's mother reportedly works at that airport.
COOPER: Interesting. Stephanie, thanks very much.
Up next, exclusive new details about the death of a Georgia teenager, investigators say that Kendrick Johnson's death was an accident. His parents however say he was murdered and they have photos and video they say to prove it. You're going to see that evidence for yourself next.
Also tonight, more of my conversation with Elizabeth Smart. Hear how after nine months of rape and abuse she was able to outsmart her captors and ultimately save her life.
COOPER: What really happened to Kendrick Johnson? Was his death an accident or murder? His family is demanding answers and as we've reported on this program, the circumstances surrounding Kendrick's death are more than strange. A lot doesn't seem to add up. His parents are convinced someone killed him and that the truth is being hidden.
Kendrick was a high school student in Georgia. His body was found upside down in a rolled up wrestling mat in the school's gym back in January. Investigators rule the death an accident, but right away, his parents had doubts. So they had his body exhumed for an independent autopsy, which concluded that Kendrick died of blunt force trauma.
Tonight, Victor Blackwell has exclusive information, some disturbing new evidence, photos and videos that only raise more questions and we do want to warn you, some of the video you're about to see is graphic, difficult to watch. Here is Victor's report.
VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's the only video shot inside the high school gym the day 17-year-old Kendrick Johnson was found dead and with his parent's approval, we're showing it for the first time. Georgia investigators say his death was a tragic accident. That he climbed on to these rolled gym mats to reach for this shoe at the center of one mat, slipped, got stuck upside down and died.
County officials say the blood in this video spilled after Kendrick's heart had stopped pumping hours after he had died. But Kendrick's parents say the photo and the video show something else.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is enough evidence to show that Kendrick was murdered. BLACKWELL: CNN has exclusively obtained the 15-minute video and nearly 700 photos of the scene taken by investigators and for the first time, Kendrick's parents, Kenneth and Jacquelyn Johnson are ready to look at them including these pictures of orange and black gym shows investigators found just yards from Kendrick's body.
(on camera): Did these shoes belong to Kendrick?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.
BLACKWEL: When you look at these shoes at the scene, what stands out to you?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Blood on the shoe.
BLACKWELL (voice-over): But investigators say tests show the stains are something other than blood so the shoes were not collected as potential evidence.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't understand why --
BLACKWELL: CNN took the photos to independent private investigator and former FBI special agent, Harold Copus.
(on camera): If you were on the scene, would this have been something you have left?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, bag and tag.
BLACKWELL: There is no indication investigators looked for the owner of the shoes or this hooded sweatshirt found a few feet from Kendrick's body.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you look real close, there is something on this particular cuff, and then the question is was it blood? Did you test it?
BLACKWELL (voice-over): According to the crime lab report, no.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They know something happened in that gym, and they don't want it to come out.
BLACKWELL: For the Johnsons, there is no stranger indicator than this photo. It's what appears to be blood dripping down a wall. Here is what the lieutenant told CNN about that wall in May.
LT. STRYDE JONES, LOWNDES COUNTY, GEORGIA SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT: We tested it and it was blood. We did DNA testing and it was not the blood of Kendrick Johnson.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If it wasn't Kendrick's blood, whose was it?
BLACKWELL (on camera): Did you ever find who it was or any involved --
JONES: No. As of now, we haven't, no. But it doesn't appear to be related to our crime in any way.
BLACKWELL: What do you think about the decision not to test it further?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can't explain it. If you're running the crime scene, then you're going to say that's potential evidence, obviously, we are going to check this out and find out who does it belong to?
JONES: This is an athletic gym. I mean, obviously, this is where they conduct various athletic classes and instructions at.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A kid couldn't scrape their knee or arm or something and got that much blood on the wall. There is one, two, three, four, five, six impacts.
JONES: The opinion of the crime scene personnel, the blood appeared to be there for an extended period of time. It didn't appear to be fresh.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: School gym, there is no way that they would allow whoever was supposed to clean this gym to leave that blood on that wall.
BLACKWELL: And there's question why was there no blood where they expected to see lots of blood? Remember the photo of that shoe investigators say was inches below Kendrick's head? Look at it again.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If he was inside the mat reaching for that shoe inside this shoe, reaching for the shoe and the shoe is beneath him, why isn't that shoe covered with blood?
BLACKWELL (on camera): And what do you think about that shoe not being covered with blood?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was placed there.
BLACKWELL: Sheriff Brian? Hi. Victor Blackwell, CNN.
CHRIS BRIAN, SHERIFF, LOWNDES COUNTY: Chris Brian.
BLACKWELL (voice-over): The sheriff's department has denied a cover up, but we took the Johnson's concerns to Lowndes County Sheriff Chris Brian.
(on camera): Got some questions about the Kendrick Johnson case.
BRIAN: I'm not going to discuss that with you.
BLACKWELL: Why not, sir?
BRIAN: Because the case is closed.
BLACKWELL: The family has some concerns why some things were not taken into evidence. There was blood on the wall.
BRIAN: I'm not going to discuss the case with you. BLACKWELL: Why is that?
BRIAN: Because I don't want to.
BLACKWELL (voice-over): Then less than a minute after he invited us in.
BRIAN: What did you not understand that I said? I'm through talking to you.
BLACKWELL: He ushered us out.
(on camera): Thank you, Sheriff Brian.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't believe this was an accident. I think this young man met with foul play.
BLACKWELL (voice-over): The Justice Department is reviewing the pictures and the videos to decide whether it will launch a federal investigation into Kendrick's death. But for Kendrick's father, the evidence is clear.
KENNETH JOHNSON, FATHER: Someone murdered him, they should be in jail. They are covering up. They should be in jail.
COOPER: Victor Blackwell joins us now. So the former FBI agent says that the crime scene was contaminated, how so?
BLACKWELL: He says it's crime scene 101 when you're on a scene investigating, you wear shoe protectors, those are the blue booties you see on crime shows on television. Well, look at these pictures. You can see here that these investigators are not wearing the shoe protectors and not so much to protect the scene, rather to protect your shoes, but to protect the scene from anything you can track in. And Copus says because they are not wearing them, this scene was obviously contaminated.
COOPER: And clearly, you tried to talk to the sheriff there and they didn't want to talk. Is there anyone tied to the investigation that did want to talk?
BLACKWELL: Well, we went to speak with the superintendent of Lowndes County School's West Taylor and we asked about the blood on the wall and how long it had been there. Also, if the theory is true that he slipped into these mats after climbing on the bleacher to get the shoe, are the mats still there? His answer to most of our questions, we're cooperating with the Georgia Bureau of Investigations. He wouldn't go further than that.
COOPER: You would think someone that works at the school would say yes, I remember when a student bled all over the wall in six different places or not. It would be interesting to hear if they have been talked to. What about the Department of Justice? Where are they in the status of their investigation? BLACKWELL: The U.S. attorney who covers this district, his name is Michael Moore and we've spoken several times and each time, he says that he is reviewing the information from the Lowndes County Sheriff's Office and he is going to work to decide if he will open a criminal investigation.
Now just a few weeks ago, we heard from the civil rights division that said they will not open an investigation through their department, but it still could be opened as a criminal investigation. Michael Moore says he could come up with that decision in a week or in a month. He doesn't feel rushed. He wants to make sure that he gets it right.
COOPER: All right, well, we'll be following it. Victor Blackwell, appreciate the update. Thanks.
Up next, more of my conversation with Elizabeth Smart, 11 years after she was kidnapped and held captive for nine months, she tells me how she kept hope while enduring horrific abuse and how it felt to getting so close to being rescued when a police officer approached her but ultimately walked away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ELIZABETH SMART, ABDUCTED FROM HER HOME AT AGE 14: It felt like I was being kidnapped all over again. I mean, it felt like I was being stolen from my family again and being ripped away from my life and my happiness.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Welcome back. In tonight's big part of the 360 interview, part two of my candid conversation with Elizabeth Smart. Smart was just 14 years old, of course, when she was kidnapped from her bedroom at knife point and held captive for nine months. She's now 25 and for the first time speaking out about, at great length, about the horror she endured for nine months including torture, starvation and daily rape.
She writes about her ordeal in her new book "My Story." It's an incredible story, unimaginable suffering, but also tremendous resilience of how she survived and how she's now a beacon of hope for other survivors.
COOPER: I've talked to people being kidnapped in all different places around the world and each person comes up with some sort of thing that gets them through whether minute by minute or second by second or day by day.
SMART: For me, it was my family. It was knowing that -- because I had felt so broken after the first time he raped me, I felt so -- like I had lost all my value and how could anyone accept me back? But after that, moments after that, I realized that there is one thing that will never change and that is my family's love for me. They will always be my family. They will always love me. They will always accept me.
COOPER: They were talking about going to New York, to Boston and you thought we got to get back --
SMART: We have to get back to salt lake. There is no way anyone will find me if we don't. There is every reason in the world for that to be the last place for them to go.
COOPER: To return to the scene of the crime.
SMART: Yes, yes, so I thought about it and I thought about how -- how my two captors had manipulated everyone around them to get exactly what they wanted, to justify everything they did, and I mean, I knew it was wrong, but I remember just praying if this works this one time, I will never do this again.
So I remember turning around and facing my captors and just telling them, I just -- I have this feeling and I know that God would never speak to me but I know he'll speak to you because you're his servant, you're practically his best friend.
Can you please ask him if we're supposed to go back to Salt Lake because this feeling just won't leave me and this is just crazy coming from me but if you ask him, I know he'll tell you, and so he did end up asking and that was how it was decided we would go back to Salt Lake.
COOPER: There was a time when I think you were in a library and a police officer approached you and this man that had taken you. What was going through your mind then?
SMART: As soon as we saw him approaching, I was sitting next to him, as soon as the policeman flashed his badge because he was dressed as a civilian, she immediately clamped her hand down on to my leg and in my 14-year-old mind I just knew if I did anything or said anything that I would be killed, and then they would go after my family.
So I sat and prayed and hope and desperate that he would recognize me that somehow he would save me and when he turned around and walked away being 100 percent convinced that it wasn't me. I mean, it felt like I was being kidnapped all over again. I mean, it felt like I was being stolen from my family again, and being ripped away from my life and my happiness.
COOPER: Tell me about the day that freedom finally came when some police officers approached. What happened?
SMART: I remember all these cars pulled up and then the policemen jumped out of their cars and came over and surrounded us and started asking questions and my two captors gave answers and the officers asked me questions and there had been a whole back story prepared by my captors that told me I should say if I was ever questioned so I started giving these answers because they were standing right next to me. I was scared. I was petrified. And then one of the officers, he said to this other officer, she's just too scared. We need to separate her from them. She can't answer with them right there. So they separated me and started asking me questions and at first I was still really scared.
I kept giving the answers that I had been told to give and then finally, one of the officers said, well, if you're Elizabeth Smart, your family misses you so much and they love you so much and they have never given up hope on you the entire nine months you were gone.
Don't you want to go back home to your family? And it was at that point that I felt like well, no matter what the consequences are, I don't care, want to go home.
COOPER: So what did you say?
SMART: I told them that I was Elizabeth Smart.
COOPER: What was that feeling like to say your name? I -- you probably had not said your name for a long time.
SMART: It was scary.
SMART: Yes. It was scary because I didn't know if they thought I had done something wrong or I mean, if they thought I had run away or I didn't know what they were thinking.
COOPER: Did you know that your family was looking for you? Did you know -- because I know you had been told by your captors that nobody was looking for you anymore?
SMART: By that point, I didn't think -- I thought maybe my family would still look for me but nobody else because it had just been so long and as far as I knew, nothing had been found. It was like I just disappeared.
COOPER: I've talked to your dad a lot over the years and I remember one of the things that he kept stressing because every time a child is returned, we often go to your dad and talk to him and he says that it's important to let the person who has survived and come back in their own time to talk about what has happened. Do you think that's true?
SMART: Being with my family just it couldn't have been any better. I mean, I couldn't have asked for a better dream come true or wish come true, wish granted but then have so many people speculate on what happened and what I must be going through and what -- and just so many well, lies being told. It was -- it was hard. I didn't like it.
I don't think anybody likes having people guess at what they are going true. Privacy is so sake rate and any time a victim is returned, a survivor is rescued, privacy is one of the greatest gifts we can give them because if they decide to share, that's up to them and they will come forward.
COOPER: I talked a couple months ago to Sean Hornback who was also abducted and returned finally, and one of the things he said that stayed with me, he said this is something that happened to me, it's not who I am. Does that resonate with you?
SMART: Absolutely. I am not just that girl that was kidnapped. That happened to me, but I'm so much more than just that girl that was kidnapped.
COOPER: And your life now?
SMART: I couldn't be happier. I have been married for a year and a half. I mean, I've got -- yes, couldn't get better than that, right? I've got great dogs. I've got a great family. I mean, I couldn't be happier.
COOPER: Thank you so much for talking to me. Appreciate it.
SMART: Thank you for having me.
COOPER: Elizabeth Smart. We'll be right back.
COOPER: That's it for us. We'll see you again one hour from now at 10:00 p.m. Eastern for our new panel discussion show, "AC 360 LATER" and check out ac360.com at 9:15 we'll have a live chat right there. Thanks for watching. "PIERS MORGAN LIVE" starts now.