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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Veterans Affairs Management Accountability Act; Interview with Rep. Jeff Miller; Sterling Cover-Up?
Aired May 21, 2014 - 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: Good evening, breaking news tonight in the VA scandal. The House of Representatives trying to force tougher action. President Obama going slow but promising accountability. We're "Keeping Them Honest" tonight.
Also, ahead in the hour cover-up allegations against Donald Sterling, claims that he, his wife and a top team official tried to bury the tape that's now burying him.
And later should this guy have gotten a relative slap on the wrist for DUI? How about for his seventh DUI? And did the fact that he did it in a Ferrari and is wealthy local businessman have anything to do with getting off so easily?
We begin tonight with the story we've been covering for months now. A story that came to ahead today, with President Obama finally address directly, pledging to fix the problems at VA hospitals nationwide to hold the right people accountable and redeem this country's promise, the men and women who give body and soul to defend it.
We begin as well with some very tough questions about why the problems have been so long-standing and solutions, real solutions affecting hundreds of thousands of veterans have seen so late and so lacking.
After meeting this morning with VA Secretary Eric Shinseki, Mr. Obama said if the allegations of long waits and phony waiting lists at VA hospitals are true he would not tolerate it. All the same he neither announced Secretary Shinseki's imminent departure nor any immediate action until he knows more.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Here is what I discussed with Secretary Shinseki this morning. First, anybody found to have manipulated or falsified records at VA facilities has to be held accountable. The inspector general at the VA has launched investigations into the Phoenix VA and other facilities. And some individuals have already been put on administrative leave.
I know the people are angry and want swift reckoning. I sympathize with that, but we have to let the investigators do their job and get to the bottom of what happened.
(END VIDEO CLIP) COOPER: You know, plenty of lawmakers believe think he can do more. Late today, as we mentioned, the House passed legislation making it easier to fire or demote a senior VA executive. We're going to talk in a moment about it with the leading backer of that bill. Mr. Obama also made another promise today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: So today I want every veteran to know we are going to fix whatever is wrong and so long as I have the privilege of serving as commander-in-chief I'm going to keep on fighting to deliver the care and the benefits and the opportunities that your families deserve. Now and for decades to come. That is a commitment to which I feel a sacred duty to maintain.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, "Keeping Them Honest," this is a promise that he has made before and others have made before, as well.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: We're keeping our promise to fulfill another top priority at the VA -- cutting the red tape and efficiencies that cause backlogs and delays in the claims process.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: They should never, never be denied the quality medical care or mental health care coverage for illness or injury incurred as a result of their service to our nation.
HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: As we bring our sons and daughters home let's take care of our veterans. Let's give our veterans the services, the health care --
GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT: We've reduced the large backlog of disability claims by about a third. We will reduce it even further. Combat injured and severely disabled veterans deserve better.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, about a year after President Bush made those remarks the first allegations of playing games with wait times began surfacing and three years later the outgoing Bush team warned the incoming Obama team about long-standing issues at the VA. And in 2010 the VA undersecretary called for an immediate review of, quote, "all inappropriate practices." And today, President Obama talked at length about long-standing and well known to him problems at the VA.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: We all know that it often takes too long for veterans to get the care that they need. That is not a new development. Caring for our veterans is not an issue that popped up in recent weeks. That's an issue that I was working on when I was running for the United States Senate. We have to find out first of all what exactly happened. We know that -- essentially wait times have been a problem for decades.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Now President Obama has long known about the big picture problems at the VA and members of his team have long known about some of the specifics. And before that, members of the prior administration also knew about them. The question is what on earth is taking everyone so long to address them? Worse than that, why were some of these officials rewarded? The head of the VA in Phoenix got a nearly $8500 bonus for her performance last year. By the way, that was rescinded today.
Drew Griffin has been covering the story from the beginning. He joins us now from Phoenix.
So what do you think first of all about what the president said today?
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: You know I thought these poor veterans are going to have to wait now even longer to get care while the president studies the issue, Anderson. The fact is, veterans across this country have been waiting too long to get doctor's appointments. That is a fact. The other fact is the VA has known about that. Not only that the VA has known that its offices out here in the country have been cooking the books to try to hide those numbers.
Those are facts that come from numerous government reports. So those are facts already out there. In the last several months, six months, on your program, whistleblowers have come forward and told us, and have told us they have talked to the VA inspector general, reporting that due to delays in care deaths have occurred as a result. The VA has admitted 23 deaths due to delays.
Now I just want to tell you, Anderson, who this is harming, and while many believe the president's speech today was completely inadequate. Last night here in Phoenix I talked to a physician at the phoenix VA who runs the post-deployment clinic. Dr. Katherine Mitchell. And I had to ask her twice because I couldn't believe what she was telling me. She told me even recent war vets, vets coming home injured are waiting months to get care.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GRIFFIN: Doctor Mitchell, I just want to make sure I understand what you're telling me. You're telling me that our troops coming back from war now separated from active service.
DR. KATHERINE MITCHELL, PHOENIX VA HOSPITAL: Who should have priority scheduling, do not.
GRIFFIN: Who are coming to the Phoenix VA for follow-up care for war injuries.
GRIFFIN: Are being put on a waiting list and made to wait six to 10 months?
MITCHELL: Yes, or longer.
GRIFFIN: You're kidding.
MITCHELL: No, but it's the same for everyone. Everyone is made to wait.
GRIFFIN: That's now? That's happening now?
MITCHELL: Yes. Unless they changed something since the --
GRIFFIN: You're there now.
MITCHELL: I don't -- since all this happened.
GRIFFIN: But we're talking about two or three weeks.
GRIFFIN: Can you tell me two or three weeks ago what type of person we're talking about?
MITCHELL: We're talking about people that were injured by being blown up by IEDs. We're talking about people who had a mental breakdown and have severe PTSD and can't -- are having trouble functioning. We're talking about veterans that were severely injured by some means in the -- while in the military even if it wasn't in actual combat because we had people that were involved in vehicle accidents. We have people that are injured stateside.
GRIFFIN: Who have you told this to in terms of -- this United States government?
MITCHELL: The OIG knows when they spoke to me. The OIG inspectors can ask anyone that does scheduling.
GRIFFIN: They asked you?
MITCHELL: They didn't ask me, I told them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: I mean, it's really incredible. You know, we all hear about delays and stuff. But I mean, somebody who has recently returned with a war injury, with an IED injury, who lost a limb, with the severe PTSD was told the wait months -- 10 months, I mean, that's -- that's insane. Dr. Mitchell said she told the IG about this. Did she also provide them with documents?
GRIFFIN: She said she did. And she also told me, Anderson, of an incredible story about just how fearful people are inside that Phoenix VA to come forward and speak. She said on the night before the inspector general investigators showed up she and a colleague were so worried that documents were being destroyed that she actually on a Sunday night went into that hospital and hid some of the records until the inspectors could get their hands on them the next day. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITCHELL: We actually took the list and we hid it in my clinic. I found a place where we could secure it where no one else would be able to find it in the next 12 hours. There were actually -- it was actually the list and a copy of the list. There were actually two documents that we had in two different places. And they stayed there overnight.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: It's incredible. I mean, she's talking about the alleged secret waiting list.
GRIFFIN: That is right, the secret list.
COOPER: And did you ask the VA about what or what Mitchell -- Dr. Mitchell was saying?
GRIFFIN: We asked about every single allegation that she made. The OIG got back to us late this -- no, the OIG didn't. The VA got back to us and said the OIG doesn't want to talk about any of this because they don't want to interfere with their investigation.
COOPER: And I just got to ask this again, though I think I know the answer, did they get back to you about your request to interview Secretary Shinseki which you have made for months and months in six months, I think?
GRIFFIN: No, they did not.
COOPER: Drew, hang on a second. I want to bring in Congressman Jeff Miller, chairman of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs.
Congressman, your bill that just passed the House a short time ago this evening it basically gives the VA Secretary Shinseki more power to fire executives who served underneath him and were involved in mismanagement. Certainly any accountability or additional accountability is an improvement from what's been happening. Is that going to be enough in your opinion?
REP. JEFF MILLER (R-FL), CHAIRMAN, HOUSE COMMITTEE ON VETERANS AFFAIR: No, it's not going to be enough but it's a step in the right direction. You've got an agency with 330,000 employees in size. This bill will basically focus on about 430 of them. It gives the secretary the ability to fire people who don't do their job.
COOPER: And Congressman, you called President Obama's comments today on the scandal, you said it was too little too late. What more do you want to see the president do? Because clearly you don't think he should fire Secretary Shinseki? Right?
MILLER: Well, I would think the thing the president should have done today was to come out and say, I am going to sign an executive order that would allow all veterans who were backlogged in the system, who tried to get appointments, the ability to go out into the private sector, with fee for service, which the VA already has the ability to do. But the president doesn't seem to sense the urgency of what's going on. And again, he was disconnected just like he was in front of the Senate last week.
COOPER: You're now requesting that top VA officials appear at a meeting at your committee tomorrow morning to answer questions about their failure to comply with subpoenas. What answers from them do you need that you're not getting? What do you need from them?
MILLER: Well, number one, we submitted a subpoena to them about 12 days ago or more. They did not comply with that subpoena. They were supposed to give us information regarding the destruction of the second list in Phoenix. Dr. Tom Lynch said that it was all a misunderstanding. That this list was an interim list. And once everything was put on the electronic list they destroyed the other one. So we've asked what was the list, who was on it and why was it destroyed and when was it destroyed?
We have not gotten an answer to that. We sent a subpoena. They have not complied. We only got partial lists of e-mails on Monday. We were supposed to get some more yesterday. We haven't gotten anything. And so I said it's time to invite them to the hill. And if they don't come in the morning we intend to subpoena them to testify on the 30th.
COOPER: And Drew, I mean, you've investigated what was going on in Phoenix. You've had people report to you. What have they said about that list? Is that their understanding of that second list?
GRIFFIN: No, we're finding evidence of multiple different lists all over this hospital. And there are secret lists. There is no misunderstanding. We talked to a source last night who actually threw that right back in the face of what was said about that list. It is not a misunderstanding. This was a secret list. That's what sources inside the Phoenix VA are telling us.
COOPER: And Drew, in the introduction we mentioned that the bonus the VA gave to the Phoenix director and then rescinded they blamed a clerical error. Does that make any sense to you, Drew?
GRIFFIN: Well, here is what happened. I think this morning or earlier this afternoon, the congressman was given notice of this bonus and told that the bonus was some kind of a mistake. The congressman made that public and within an hour or 90 minutes all of a sudden that bonus was rescinded. It certainly does not make any sense that a director of the Phoenix VA was given a bonus of $8500 in the month of April when there was an open inspector general report going on at her very hospital. And she is now on administrative leave.
COOPER: Congressman, do you think it was just a clerical error?
GRIFFIN: It doesn't seem to make sense to me.
MILLER: No, it wasn't a clerical error, and I'll tell you one even worse than that. In Pittsburgh, where at least six veterans died from Legionnaire's disease because the water was contaminated and they knew for a year the director of the contamination error. I actually asked Dr. Petzel in a field hearing in Pittsburgh, would you give the bonus back, he said we don't have the ability to claw back the bonus. I said just ask the man, he's sitting right next to you, they wouldn't do it. And so now for $8500 it seems like they can make it happen.
COOPER: Drew, is there any more clarity tonight on what both the White House and Shinseki knew and when they knew it? Because so far the White House's explanation seemed kind of muddle.
GRIFFIN: In my opinion, I think it remains muddled. The president said two things. Both that he needs to do some fact-finding to get to the bottom of this and also that this was a cause long before he was ever in the presidency. In fact, when he was on the Veteran's Affairs committee on the Senate. So he's trying to say yes, we knew about it all along but no, we didn't know about it all along.
That's the way I read it. Maybe the congressman has a different feeling about that but it is muddled. Certainly, the great body of evidence that is already out there, Anderson, on CNN.com I would suggest that the president and Shinseki go to Congressman Miller's own bipartisan committee who has been holding hearing after hearing on this for a year and read the testimony.
The evidence is there, the information is there. They need to just simply act on it for one reason -- to get these veterans the care that they need in a timely fashion. That's all we're talking about.
COOPER: All right. Congressman Miller, appreciate you being on. Drew Griffin, as well. Thanks.
And we're going to stay on it.
A quick reminder, make sure you set your DVRs so you can always watch 360 whenever you like.
Up next, new allegations in the Sterling scandal that he and his wife conspired in a cover-up and more. What NBA investigators are discovering and what the other one, V. Stiviano, has to say about her relationship with the disgraced Clippers owner.
Also breaking news in the Boston marathon bombing investigation. New details about what went into the bombs and what kind of training the alleged bomb makers had to have had.
COOPER: Well, just in case you thought you've seen the last bombshell go off in Donald Sterling saga, stay tuned for another. In the next five minutes or so, you're going to hear about allegations that the L.A. Clippers owner and his estranged wife not only are not estranged but were practically joined at the hip trying to cover up his taped rant.
You'll hear about allegations made in the NBA's investigation that two weeks before the recording became public -- two weeks -- Sterling discussed it with team -- the team president who then instructed an employee to destroy the copy.
We're going to talk about another claim, this one from the NBA's chief investigator that Sterling asked the woman on that tape, V. Stiviano, to lie about the authenticity of it.
There is also the latest account from Miss Stiviano who spoke about their relationship today with Dr. Phil McGraw.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
V. STIVIANO, DONALD STERLING'S ALLEGED GIRLFRIEND: You define sex, any type of, hey, baby, can I get with you type of sex? Never type of sexual --
DR. PHIL MCGRAW, HOST, "DR. PHIL": No fondling, no nudity, no nothing?
STIVIANO: No. No.
MCGRAW: And --
MCGRAW: You were just his assistant and he just bought you all of these things?
STIVIANO: I was not only his assistant, I was caretaker. I was his mother. I was his secretary, I was his driver. I did everything for this man in the last three years.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: It's in this capacity that she said she would tape the ugly things he said with his knowledge she said to teach him, she says, how to be a better person. That's what she told Dr. Phil.
Donald Sterling, of course, told me the recording was made completely without his knowledge. Ultimately, though, the NBA's investigation is centering not on that but on what he and others did about it.
More on that now from Randi Kaye.
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Imagine if Donald Sterling's racist rant had never been made public. According to NBA investigators' confidential documents there was an effort behind the scenes by Sterling and others in the Clippers organization to destroy it. The investigation first reported by "The Los Angeles Times" reveals that the Clippers' team president was told of a recording by an unnamed Clippers employee who'd received a copy of it.
That was April 9th, two weeks before it was posted by TMZ. The team president discussed it with Sterling then told the employee to delete the recording and related text messages. The NBA's confidential documents also revealed that Donald Sterling and his wife, Shelly, may not be estranged at all. But in cahoots with one another to cover up Mr. Sterling's comments and perhaps keep the team in the family.
A stunning allegation considering that when Anderson questioned Donald Sterling about Shelly, he referred to her as his, quote, "ex-wife." And listen to what Shelly told Barbara Walters about their relationship.
BARBARA WALTERS, ABC NEWS: What is your relationship today with your husband?
SHELLY STERLING, DONALD STERLING'S EX-WIFE: We're estranged. We've been estranged for about a year.
KAYE: And remember this video from last month? That's Donald and Shelly Sterling, caught on tape, leaving a Los Angeles restaurant. Listen to Shelly defend him.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Are you a racist, Mr. Sterling?
S. STERLING: No, of course not. It's not true.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Not true?
S. STERLING: No, of course not.
KAYE (on camera): The "L.A. Times" report said the NBA's confidential documents showed that Shelly and Donald Sterling and the Clippers' president all gathered in a hotel room the day after the recording was made public. The NBA reportedly believes that they were there to work out the language of a soon-to-be-released statement, one that would create doubt about whether it was Donald Sterling's voice on the tape. The paper says the NBA calls the statement intentionally misleading because Sterling knew it was his voice.
(Voice-over): A source familiar with the investigation also reveals more about the other woman in Donald Sterling's life and his reported attempt to have her change her story. The NBA documents detail a May 2nd meeting at L.A.'s Four Seasons Hotel, just before Stiviano's interview with ABC's Barbara Walters. There, Sterling asked Stiviano to back down on her earlier statements about the recording and say she had altered the audio.
Randi Kaye, CNN, New York.
COOPER: Well, attorneys for the Sterlings would not comment today on the allegations stemming from the investigation nor the Clippers team president. However, senior legal analyst Jeff Toobin is available for comments. He joins us tonight. So, according to this declaration, Sterling tried to get V. Stiviano to lie for him. Is he in legal trouble for that?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I don't think there is a criminal case to be made here. You know, can you imagine a deputy district attorney in Los Angeles calling V. Stiviano as a witness for the prosecution. I mean, they don't want to get anywhere near that. But it is yet another nail in his coffin as the owner of the L.A. Clippers because it is serious ground to have him removed from the team and it is part of the case against him.
Think about how much worse this story has gotten for him since it broke. When it broke it was just this tape that TMZ obtained -- of his conversation with V. Stiviano. Now the racist things he said in your interview. You have the cover-up now. You have the failure to pay the $2.5 million fine. There are so many more grounds to take the franchise away since he has refused to sell the team.
COOPER: You know, in these charges, there is collusion or alleged collusion between Sterling and his wife, Shelly, something that she clearly has been going to great lengths to kind of distance herself from him. In that Barbara Walters interview she said that she's -- you know, that she's planning to get divorced. He said that they're planning to get divorced.
When I actually spoke to him I asked about having dinner with her because he was videotaped leaving the restaurant. He denied that that had ever happened. I just want to play that tape.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: You had dinner with Shelly the other night. You were seen coming out of a restaurant together on another one of those TMZ or something. What's that conversation like? I mean --
DONALD STERLING, L.A. CLIPPERS OWNER: I didn't have dinner with Shelly. She lives somewhere else. She lives in Malibu.
COOPER: So you know --
D. STERLING: That was Danny.
D. STERLING: And Maria.
COOPER: OK, so you weren't --
D. STERLING: And he bought a brand new car. And he wanted to show it to me.
COOPER: I see.
D. STERLING: And it was a beautiful car. And then they wanted to take me to dinner. Everybody wants to take me everywhere.
COOPER: That's very true.
Yes, I don't even think we played that in the original part because it didn't seem to make any sense. But it's interesting he denies that they were even having dinner together when clearly they were --
TOOBIN: Not withstanding a video of them being together. Look, he has --
COOPER: Is that going to hurt her case for trying to hold on to (INAUDIBLE)?
TOOBIN: Well, it certainly doesn't help her if she is misleading the NBA about her status, about her relationship. But the NBA has made clear for quite some time that they regard her as part of the team. And so she is out when he is out.
COOPER: Does any of this make it more difficult for him to bring some sort of a civil lawsuit or even divorce proceedings to try to slow down this being -- having the team taken away?
TOOBIN: Well, I have never believed that divorce proceedings would slow it down at all. But I think it makes it much harder for him to bring a civil lawsuit, asking for a stay of these proceedings because even if you believe that it was an illegal tape, an obstruction of justice is independent of his -- the bad statements he made to V. Stiviano.
So it's just -- it's another reason why I think he hasn't filed a lawsuit. You know, we've heard a lot of brave talk from the lawyers, this is unlawful, this is terrible. But unless and until either Sterling brings a case, he is out on June 3rd and neither of them have done anything yet.
COOPER: Jeffrey Toobin, thanks.
As always you can find more on this story and others at CNN.com.
Up next, breaking news more about the bombs used in the Boston marathon attack last year. New details on what the accused bombers actually used to build the devices and whether or not they had training.
Plus, GM is now recalling more than 200,000 Chevrolets. It's 29th recall so far this year. We'll look at what's behind the surge and whether it reflects a deeper problem with the company.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) * COOPER: More breaking news tonight, court documents obtained by CNN continue to tell us about the bombs that killed three people and injured hundreds at the Boston marathon last year. We now know exactly what the accused bombers used to build the devices.
Deborah Feyerick joins me now with the latest.
So you're learning more about just how the bombs were constructed. And the items used were -- I mean, basically things you can -- that were found around the house?
DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Exactly, and it wasn't just the bombs. But there's always been a question, how were these two brothers able to detonate the bombs, and then walk away, getting a safe distance before the explosions happen. Well, now we know that the brothers used Christmas lights to create a fuse and then they detonated the two devices using a remote control that you can get from a model car.
We had heard that at the first time but this is the first confirmation that we're actually getting that as to how the fuse was built so that they could get away safely and also the device that was used to make those explosion the maximum impact -- Anderson.
COOPER: There's also one part of these documents I want to ask you about that jumped out at us about what the brothers did, saying, quote, these relatively sophisticated devices would have been difficult for the Tsarnaevs to fabricate successfully effectively without training or assistance from others. So the authorities clearly believe that back then the brothers did not act alone or at least that they had some kind of training. Do they still believe that now?
FEYERICK: Well, that's exactly right. First of all, no, they don't believe that now. But at that time that was the assumption they were operating under. And this has all come out because Tsarnaev's lawyers are basically trying to get the court to throw out what amounts to a confession that Tsarnaev made in the hospital.
And at the time, though, the FBI, up through the highest level of government, were afraid that there were other devices that were out there. When they found Tsarnaev hiding in the boat he had written a note on the inside saying, we will achieve victory, we are promised victory, we will surely get it. So the sense of "we" made them believe that there were others out there.
Also, when they realized that the devices were -- the pressure cooker bombs were made using this black powder, they did searches of the homes, they couldn't find black powder. That suggested that either they were built somewhere else or that they had help doing it. Plus, the remote controls themselves, very sophisticated.
There's always been a suggestion that Tamerlan, when he was in Dagestan for six months that he went into the woods to get this training. There's no indication that Dzhokhar himself got that training, but they had threatened that they were going to go to New York and they were going to detonate more devices. And that's what the FBI had to find that out sooner rather than later and that's why they questioned him in the hospital -- Anderson.
COOPER: All right, Deb Feyerick, appreciate the update.
Today General Motor issued its 29th recall this year alone. This time involving 218,000 Chevrolets Aveos that might catch fire. Now together the 29 recalls involved more than 15 million cars and trucks worldwide, which is a record, in case you're wondering. The surge and recall comes in the wake of GM's stunning failure to respond quickly to a faulty ignition switch tied to at least 13 deaths. GM's employees knew of the problem at least a decade before recalling more than two million vehicles.
Mary Barra, the company's new CEO, was grilled by Congress last month. She told lawmakers that going forward GM intended to root out problems quickly. So the question is, is that what we're seeing now or are there other issues at play?
Poppy Harlow joins me tonight.
Poppy, the fact that GM has recalled more cars in the U.S. over the last year than it sold in the last five is pretty unbelievable. Do you have any idea when GM discovered this latest round of problems. Do they know they've been criticized for not recalling cars quickly enough?
POPPY HARLOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, absolutely, in terms of this latest recall today, 218,000 of those Aveo vehicles. We know from them -- I just talked to them, they found out, quote, "fairly recently," they didn't give me an exact date. But, you know, they are being aggressive, Anderson. They are trying to get in front of any sort of potential safety issue because of all the criticism they faced.
The congressional testimony that the CEO had to give in April and that $35 million fine last week from the government. They said, quote, "see it, if it needs to get fixed get it done." That is the way that this company is trying to be proactive and show the public that they have changed. They said in terms of this latest recall there are no injuries associated with it but they are investigating some fires.
You know, why are we seeing this mountain of recalls from General Motors right now? It is because the last thing this company wants is to have anyone point a finger or accused them of delaying a recall in any way shape or form because of course this comes after the ignition switch defect that proved to be deadly. It cost at least 13 lives and GM knew about it a decade before they told the public about it or recalled any of those cars.
COOPER: And any idea how much these recalls are going to cost GM?
HARLOW: Yes, that's a great question. So what we know so far is that all the recalls this year in the U.S., over -- just about 13.8 million. They are costing the company already $1.7 billion. That's just to fix the cars. Then they have the $35 million fine that they agreed to pay the government last Friday. And that doesn't settle any possible criminal liability. We know the Department of Justice is investigating right now whether or not there was any sort of cover-up at General Motors in terms of that ignition switch recall. General Motors is internally investigating that, as well. We're waiting that report that has to come out by the end of June. But also you have to remember they have brought on attorney Ken Feinberg and he handled victim compensation after 9/11. After the BP oil spill. He is sorting out victim compensation for those that died as a result of the ignition switch defect. So likely the cost here for GM is going to go a lot higher.
COOPER: And, I mean, how does somebody who has a GM car, how do they figure out or find out if theirs is one of the cars that's been recalled?
HARLOW: Right. So they have to go online. You can go to gm.com/recall, also GM says go to their homepage. There's an owner's section where you can put in the VIN number for your vehicle. We also have it listed on CNNMoney.com.
COOPER: Poppy, thanks very much. Poppy Harlow.
Just ahead, former NFL player Jeremy Newberry is speaking out tonight on 360 about allegations that the NFL illegally pushed powerful painkillers on the players just to keep them in the game.
Plus, a seven-time DUI offender gets what critics say is just a slap on the wrist as a sentence. He's wealthy with connections. Is this another case of the so-called affluenza?
COOPER: Tonight, the NFL is facing a new round of allegations that it sacrificed its players' health for profit. This time it involved pain killers, not concussions. A lawsuit filed on behalf of more than 600 retired players including former 49ers pro-Bowl center Jeremy Newberry. Alleges that the NFL illegally and routinely supplied players with powerful and addictive narcotics and other drugs to conceal injuries, mask pain and keep them on the field on game day, all without warning them of a potential long-term dangers to their health.
Now the plaintiffs are seeking financial compensation for medical complications they say were caused by the drugs. Jeremy Newberry now has kidney failure which he attributes to the painkillers he was given. He joins me tonight.
Jeremy, thanks very much for being with us. So these allegations against the NFL, the addictive drugs were given without prescriptions, without proper medical care, in illegal doses, you say you were given drugs primarily something called Toradol every single game you played of your entire career?
JEREMY NEWBERRY, FORMER NFL PLAYER: I don't know about every single game, you know, early on my career, maybe my first year, I didn't take it the whole year. But the majority of my career I would say at least 10 out of the 11 years, I was taking Toradol.
COOPER: And what would Toradol do for you? NEWBERRY: I mean, it's -- it's almost like a wonder drug. It's a super-strong anti-inflammatory but it works like a painkiller. So I mean there was times I would literally -- you know, I couldn't practice the whole season, we're being in a walking boot or crutches or whatever, trying to get into the stadium, you know, literally we had boot on, take a shot of Toradol and a couple of Vicodin, and I was sprinting up the tunnel ready to play.
COOPER: So was it doctors giving you this stuff in the locker room or who is doling it out?
NEWBERRY: The doctors and trainers. The trainers typically gave out the oral painkillers and then the doctors gave the shots.
COOPER: Trainers, now without a medical license, just trainers.
COOPER: So at any point did anyone say to you, listen, these are serious drugs, they can cause you serious problems down the line, you know, take them at your own risk?
NEWBERRY: No, you know, and the crazy thing is I had symptoms early on that this went by the wayside. And looking back, you know, after I ended up in the hospital, in the ICU, and all this stuff with some severe symptoms from the kidney problem. I went to a bunch of specialists and they started looking back at my medical records from years past, like in 2003, 2004, something like that, I started showing signs of kidney damage in my blood tests and my urine tests.
And then in 2004 it's a little bit worse. 2005, same thing, a little bit worse, 2006, all the way up to when I retired in 2009 they got worse and worse every year. These same doctors were looking at those same tests, every year for my physicals and giving me a clean bill of health. Now you're good to go, you're fine. Never once said to me, hey, your kidneys are deteriorating, you know, you might need to lay off some of these nonsteroidals, some of these anti-inflammatories, painkillers, all the above. They knew at that point in my career, my body was beaten up enough, you know I probably -- you know, I had two micro fractures, no (INAUDIBLE) on either knee that I wasn't going to get on the field unless they were giving me these drugs so they concealed that from me.
COOPER: There's a former player, a former player, Mike Golic, he's host of ESPN's "Mike and Mike". He talked about the lawsuit today on his show.
COOPER: He was certainly critical about it. I just want to play some of what he said and let you respond.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE GOLIC, FORMER NFL DEFENSIVE LINEMAN: You know when I'm hearing how one football player saying football made me a junky, part of that turns me off as well, Greenberg. Because, you know, these players, if they went back, they'd do the same damn thing. They'd say give me this, give me this, and I'll take what I need to do to play, and then you turn around and say, well, now look what you did to me. I mean, you made it -- you didn't have to. You didn't have to. You didn't have to take that.
MIKE GREENBERG, ESPN'S MIKE AND MIKE: Or didn't want to.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: What do you say to that? I mean, would you do it again? Would -- you know, would you --
NEWBERRY: I say --
COOPER: If they had told you it was dangerous, would you have just done it anyway?
NEWBERRY: I say one of two things, he makes his money by doing exactly what he is doing. There is a whole bunch of people in the media that make their living by being controversial and saying what -- you know, what is against the grain or whatever. And the other thing I say is that there is a difference between a doctor telling you hey, look, Jeremy, this thing will get you back on the field. Well, what's the side effects, Doctor, if I'm going to take this? Man, it'll cause you to bruise a little bit more.
If somebody would have came to me and said the odds of you having kidney failure and you may be needing dialysis and a kidney transplant by the time you're 40 years old if you take this stuff, you know, that's your true risk of taking this Toradol, there is no way in hell I would have took the medicine. I just wouldn't have done it.
COOPER: And they didn't say that to you. They didn't sit you down and --
NEWBERRY: Of course not. They said it'll cause me to bruise more. This will cause you to bruise a little bit more. You ain't got to worry about nothing. OK, well, if the team doctor and the team trainer was telling me exactly what the side effects are, some more bruising? I mean, that's a no-brainer. Yes, I'm going to battle through this and I'm going to take whatever I can to play. But if you tell me that I'm going to need kidney transplants at 38 years old because of this medication that you're giving me, there's no way I would have played those games at all. Never.
COOPER: Well, Jeremy, I'm sorry for what you're going through now and I appreciate you talking with us tonight and we'll continue to stay on it. Thank you.
NEWBERRY: My pleasure.
COOPER: Jeremy Newberry.
Up next, it wasn't the first time police say a Washington man got behind the wheel of his Ferrari drunk. In fact he'd been arrested for DUI, get this, six times before. So why did he get what critics call, well, basically a slap on the wrist? The case causing outrage across the country tonight.
COOPER: Well, there's growing outrage in Washington state after seven-time DUI offender got what critics say is basically a slap on the wrist as a sentence. Shaun Goodman, is his name, he was charged with misdemeanor DUI in his latest incident. The prosecuting attorney says in a statement that Goodman received a maximum penalty, a year in jail. However, that year of sentence also comes with work release.
This is raising questions about DUI sentencing in general, and in this case, in particular, because of Goodman's status as a wealthy business owner.
Dan Simon reports.
DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He lives on this three- acre gated property in Olympia, Washington. Shaun Goodman owns a small business and has done well for himself. And that's exactly why some think this multiple DUI offender is getting a sweetheart of deal. The ability to work from home and keep the cash flowing while serving out just a yearlong sentence after yet another drunken night behind the wheel. Protesters expressing their frustration at the county courthouse.
HENRY GRIFFIN, JUMPED OUT OF GOODMAN'S CAR: It's just sad to feel forgotten by the justice system. They're not worried about the people.
SIMON: Henry Griffin could not believe it when he learned the full extent of Goodman's history. He believes Goodman could have killed him and feels let down by a system that he says is failing to protect the public from a habitual drunk.
They met at this local tavern with the 42-year-old Goodman offering a ride in his Ferrari.
GRIFFIN: And I was like oh, yes, it is a Ferrari. You know, I had never been in a Ferrari before.
SIMON: And as soon as they drove off last December, Goodman gunned it. Police were soon on his tail, and does began a high speed chase.
GRIFFIN: I'm begging him, begging him, please, please just pull over, let me out.
SIMON: So Griffin says he was forced to jump out of the moving vehicle.
(On camera): According to the police report Goodman blew through several red lights and was traveling down this street at an estimated 90 miles per hour. When he finally stopped, he was met by a police officer who approached the Ferrari with his weapon drawn.
(Voice-over): Goodman's car trashed. He was eventually arrested and booked for DUI. As I mentioned earlier it wasn't the first time. It wasn't the second, not even the third or the fourth. Or the fifth. Not even the sixth. It was his seventh DUI over 20 years.
Adding to the outrage, Goodman was given permission by a judge to attend the Super Bowl in New Jersey while his case was pending.
(On camera): You hear seven DUIs, people think to themselves, why don't you stick this guy in prison for a long time?
JON TUNHEIM, PROSECUTOR: Well, in Washington, the law didn't let us do that, it didn't give us that option.
SIMON (voice-over): Prosecuting attorney Jon Tunheim was defending the growing criticism leveled at his office for not pushing for a harsher penalty and letting a repeat offender spend his days at his home office. He denies Goodman's wealth was a factor.
TUNHEIM: I think that if you can keep somebody working while they're in custody so that they're working when they come out of custody substantially reduces the likelihood that they would re-offend. Particularly when you're talking about somebody who is an alcoholic or a drug addict.
SIMON: Goodman refused to talk with me by phone and there was no doorbell at the gate when we showed up in person. But we did catch up with his lawyer.
(On camera): If he didn't get the message after the sixth time what makes you think he is going to get the message after the seventh time?
PAUL STROPHY, GOODMAN'S DEFENSE ATTORNEY: He has been very remorseful very . And he has definitely acknowledged and understands the gravity of the situation and how serious it is.
SIMON (voice-over): Henry Griffin isn't so convinced.
GRIFFIN: I have to go to the chiropractor three times a week. I have to go to see a psychologist once a week.
SIMON: Five months have gone by and he says he hasn't even gotten an apology.
COOPER: And Dan Simon now joins me now from Olympia.
So even with seven DUIs, this is the longest sentence he can get? That surprises me.
SIMON: You know, as egregious as that sounds, Anderson, that's the law here in Washington state based on the timeline when all of these events occurred, if you will. But what has people really fired up is this work release, the judge and the prosecutor certainly could have rejected that and that certainly would have made a whole lot of people happier. But the idea is that if you're employed and you have a job when you leave jail that you'll get a paycheck and you'll be a benefit to society when you get out of jail. That's the argument.
COOPER: All right. Dan Simon, appreciate it. Thanks very much.
A lot more happening, Susan Hendricks has a "360 Bulletin" -- Susan.
SUSAN HENDRICKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, a woman reported missing a decade ago in California when she was 15 has been found alive and her alleged kidnapper is behind bars tonight. Police say Isidro Garcia sexually abused her, forced her into marriage and fathered a child with her.
Well, 80 U.S. troops in Chad will help in the search for the 200 Nigerian school girls kidnapped by the Islamist militants Boko Haram last month.
Also, six people who were arrested in Iran for making a YouTube video of themselves dancing to the Pharrell William song "Happy" were freed from jail. The director is reportedly still behind bars. So they're out, the director is still behind bars -- Anderson.
COOPER: So crazy. All right, Susan, thanks very much.
The "Ridiculist" is coming up. Stay tuned.
COOPER: Time now for the Ridiculist, and if I've said it once I've said it a thousand times. There is nothing, nothing more delightful in these great United States than a Transportation Department. That's right, they're lively, they're playful and they're just a little bit edgy.
Just take a look at what the Massachusetts Department of Transportation has come up with now. It is a road sign that says "Use Yah Blinkah," if you're going to change lanes, you got to use your blinker. These digital signs were up across the states.
Here's what I'm wondering, though. Will out of towners be able to decipher the lingo? Now I don't know if you've seen the move "The Heat," but the Boston accent, it can be a challenge to the uninitiated.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you a nock?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm sorry?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you a nock?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm sorry I don't know what that is. A nock.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Am I speaking Japanese? Now listen to him, I'm going to sound it out for you. Are you or are you not a knock? Like Johnny Depp, in "21 Street".
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I see, I see. OK. A Narc.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A Narc. Yes. What was I saying?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: See, it wasn't just "Use Yah Blinkah," other signs popped up and came emerging, imploring people to be "wicked safe" and "wicked smaaht" on the road. MassDot you well spring jocularity, what will you think of next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: By using the spelling we certainly get people's attention. We get -- so we're hoping that this is a way that we can kind of refresh these messages. We might even end up soliciting the public for some ideas and maybe we can give a subject like distract the driving and see if we can get some suggestions from the public on that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: I'm not sure you want to solicit suggestions from the public on this one. You'll probably going to end up with a lot of this. Take a look at that. Yes. Somebody hacked into a sign in New Jersey and changed it to this bit of glory. This is odd, though, because I always thought that Assville was farther south in Jersey. I'm no digital sign expert but apparently these things aren't too difficult to hack into, because I don't think California's Department of Transportation was really warning people in San Francisco about a Godzilla attack ahead, or notifying them that the roads were closed because, well, it's just too damn hot. I'd like to see someone change a sign to say long-haired freaky people need not apply. But that's probably too long. If you have any other suggestions, send them to us. We'll put them on the show tomorrow night. No, we will not do that. I'm just kidding. We have no intention of doing that, but Massachusetts may be looking for some ideas, and that is something we can all sign off on the Ridiculist. Use your blinker. We'll see you again at 11:00 p.m. Eastern, two hours from now. Another edition of 360. I hope you join us. "Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown" starts now.