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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
Democrats: Administration Should Have Informed Congress; "We Don't Consider This Negotiating With Terrorists"; Fellow Soldier Claims Bergdahl Deserted Army; Will Scandal Equal a Win for the "Next Ted Cruz"?
Aired June 2, 2014 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: Next the release of America's only known prisoner of war. New details tonight about how the operation went down, but was it worth the price. Plus a fellow soldier who served with Bowe Bergdahl says he's not a hero, he's a deserter, and he's OUTFRONT tonight.
And a huge about face in the search for Flight 370. The one thing investigators thought was certain is false, totally not true. Our exclusive interview with the man leading the investigation tonight. Let's go OUTFRONT.
Good evening, everyone. I'm Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight, Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl is free, but at what cost. The American soldier held captive by the Taliban for nearly five years is free tonight. At this hour, Bergdahl at a military hospital in Landstuhl, Germany, in stable condition, working with psychologist who say they are concerned about how to restore his trust.
That trust broken by his captors who eventually swapped him for five Taliban leaders who were being held at Guantanamo Bay. Tonight, all the angles of this developing story and those crucial questions, was the prisoner swap worth the risk to America? And should the president have informed Congress about the operation to free Bergdahl.
The top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee moments ago, Dianne Feinstein, telling CNN, yes. And this question, was Bergdahl a traitor who deserted his post as his fellow platoon members say.
We'll begin our coverage with Nic Robertson who is outside the hospital where Bergdahl is staying tonight. Nic, what can you tell us about his condition, I mean, physically and mentally?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, we're getting few specific details. What we're being told is that he is in stable condition, that his condition, however, requires hospitalization, it's getting special focus on his diet and his nutrition, they say this is because of the way that he's essentially been fed over those five years in captivity. So concern got his physical health, his mental welfare is being treated.
This is what they call a reintegration program. So the idea is to allow him to begin to feel that he can control things in his life, for example, he can decide what he wants to do this afternoon. He can decide, if you will, what he'll have to eat because he's back in control of his life, unlike in captivity.
You and I are used to having control over our lives, for five years, he hasn't had that over his, and of course, another part of what's going on with him, is military wants to find out does he have any information, actionable intelligence that could be useful in the fight against the Taliban. Another service member killed in Afghanistan today.
A reminder the fight with the Taliban is still deadly. Also lessons learned, anything he learned in captivity that could be useful for soldiers in the future. All of those things are going on inside that medical facility. When can he leave? Doctors say the pace of recovery is up to him and they'll wait for him to feel that he's making that level of progress that he can go back to the United States.
BURNETT: All right, Nic, thank you very much. Pretty incredible just to imagine when you say that, not to be able to think about having control over your own life like what to eat or what to do this afternoon.
Tonight, the gulf nation that helped broker this deal between the U.S. and the Taliban is boasting about its crucial role in solving the crisis. Qatari official telling CNN the exchange is proof Qatar can deliver for the U.S. We are learning new details though of that deal, of course, where Qatar negotiated with the Taliban, a terrorist organization, and the harrowing hours that led up to Bergdahl's freedom. Barbara Starr reports from the Pentagon tonight.
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): After five years, a Taliban captive --
SGT. BOWE BERGDAHL, U.S. ARMY: Release me, please, I'm begging you. Bring me home.
STARR: Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl is finally heading home. CNN has learned details of the secret choreography for the U.S. commando operation to get Bergdahl that had been quickly worked out between the U.S. and the Taliban. In the final hours, an extraordinary move. A U.S. official tells CNN the Taliban communicated directly with the American special operations forces team the coordinates where they could pick Bergdahl up.
They would release him after being assured that five Taliban at Guantanamo Bay were being turned over to Qatari custody there. The U.S. team worried until the last minute that something would go wrong. In the end, with helicopter gunships flying nearby, one U.S. Helicopter landed, the armed Americans faced 18 armed Taliban and Bergdahl. He walked to them, they searched him for weapons and explosives and quickly got him on the chopper.
Once on the noisy helicopter, Bergdahl wrote down the letters SF and a question mark on a paper place, asking the men if they were Special Forces, over the noise of the rotors, they yelled back yes, we've been looking for you for a long time. At that point, Bergdahl broke down crying.
Hours later, the five Taliban prisoners released from Gitmo arrived in Qatar, seen in this video welcomed as heroes. They include a senior Taliban commander who was allegedly directly associated with Osama Bin Laden. A man, U.S. intelligence says was second in command in the Taliban's intelligence service, also with ties to al Qaeda.
And another Taliban official wanted by the United Nations in connection with the massacre of thousands of Afghan Shiites. The same men that director of National Intelligence, James Clapper has warned Congress about.
JAMES CLAPPER, DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: I don't think anyone harbors any illusions about these five Taliban members and what they might do if they were transferred.
STARR: Military officials now say they need to hear from Bergdahl directly about everything that happened and then they will decide if he should face military discipline -- Erin.
BURNETT: All, Barbara, thank you very much.
OUTFRONT now, Rear Admiral John Kirby, he is the Pentagon press secretary and thank you so much for being with us, sir. I mean, you know, the United States, of course, everyone's been talking about this, there's a policy, the U.S. does not negotiate with terrorists, but Bergdahl, of course, was believed to be held by operatives from the Haqqani network, which is affiliated with the Taliban and al Qaeda.
All three of those groups are terrorist organizations, according to the United States. I guess the question is, even if another country, Qatar brokered the deal, the United States agreed to the terms of the exchange. So isn't that negotiating with terrorists?
REAR ADMIRAL JOHN KIRBY, PENTAGON PRESS SECRETARY: I don't think it is, Erin, I mean, this wasn't negotiations directly with the Taliban. This was negotiated by the government of Qatar, we're grateful for that, and more importantly, we're grateful to have Sergeant Bergdahl back. But no, I don't -- we don't consider this negotiating with terrorists. That wasn't the case here.
BURNETT: The detainees are in Qatar, a country which has been known to harbor people with mal intent towards the United States. They're going to be banned though from traveling outside of Qatar for one year. What happens after that year, though?
KIRBY: I can just tell you that again, a lot of careful thought was put into this. I mean nobody entered into this agreement lightly or without seriously considering the national security interests of the United States. And again, Secretary Hagel would never have signed off on this if he didn't believe that this transfer was in the best interests of national security. And also to help again secure the freedom of Sergeant Bergdahl.
BURNETT: So I want to ask you about Sergeant Bergdahl because obviously as you know, there had been a lot of questions raised about whether he was a deserter or the circumstance under which he left his base that faithful night. Jen Psaki, of course, the State Department spokeswoman weighed in on this and here's how she characterized it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEN PSAKI, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESWOMAN: We would characterize him as a member of the military who was detained while in combat.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Very carefully chosen words. Obviously Rear Admiral, you would know more about this than anyone. Did Bergdahl dessert his post?
KIRBY: The truth is, Erin, we're not completely sure about the circumstances under which he disappeared and was held captive. As you know, the army investigated this right away, that investigation technically still open because the prime witness is somebody we haven't been able to talk to for five years. So we really don't know why he left that base, and under what circumstances.
And of course I think over time, those kinds of facts and those kinds of details will come out. The army didn't classify him as a deserter, he was listed as missing and presumed captured and of course, then we eventually found out that he was in fact captured. He remains a sergeant in the Army of the United States on active duty, in fact he is scheduled for yet another promotion coming up very soon.
And our focus right now is really on his health and well-being, getting him reintegrated back into the army, into his military family and of course eventually reuniting him with his family. That's what our focus is on. It's really on taking care of him right now after five years of captivity.
BURNETT: It's impossible to imagine what he would have endured. If it does, though, if your investigation determines that it was desertion, would you have any regrets about the prisoner exchange, about the situation, if it turns out he was deserting?
KIRBY: Let me tell you something. There's a pact when you join the military, it's often unspoken. I don't know that it's written or codified. But if you're taken captive. We're going to do all we can to get you back. It doesn't matter the circumstances in which you were taken captive. It doesn't matter whether it was due to your own negligence or due enemy action, if you're held captive by forces that we're at war with, we're going to do all we can to get you back.
That's an obligation that we have, all the people that put this uniform are expect from the military and all those that are in the military expect that we'll do for one another. That's the bottom line, and that's of course what we have done, we never lost sight, we never lost focus, we never forgot Sergeant Bergdahl.
Getting a prisoner of war as he was back inside of the ranks of the military through diplomatic means as a vast historical precedents in our military history and something it's just yet another means and another example of how serious we take that obligation.
BURNETT: All right, Rear Admiral John Kirby, thank you very much. We appreciate your time tonight. And OUTFRONT next, Bowe Bergdahl heading home, but at what cost to America's safety.
Plus a soldier who served with Bergdahl is OUTFRONT tonight, he says he's a deserter, not a hero. He'll tell us what happened that night from how he saw it.
And one of the nastiest races in America are attack ads and break in the way to win.
BURNETT: U.S. officials agreed to give up five Taliban prisoners in exchange for Army sergeant Bowe Bergdahl. The five have all been held at Guantanamo Bay. They are all described by U.S. officials as mid to high level Taliban officials.
They were released to Qatar, subject to Qatari government supervision and a one year travel ban out of Doha. But did U.S. officials do the right thing or did they do what the U.S. government has vowed time and time again vowed not to do, which is negotiate with terrorists.
Joining me now, Seth Jones. He is an adviser to the commanding general for U.S. Special Forces in Afghanistan and a former Air Force official Colonel Cedric Leighton was the former deputy director for training in the NSA.
Great to have both of you with us.
Seth, let me start with you. You actually aided in the search for Bowe Bergdahl, you were one of the people out there looking for him. What happened?
SETH JONES, ADVISER TO U.S. SPECIAL OPERATIONS FORCES IN AFGHANISTAN: Well, I think the initial effort, Erin, was to find him before he was taken across the border into Pakistan. Because the issue we saw with David Rowe, the year before, the "New York Times" correspondent was that the Taliban as quickly as they could, took him across the border into Pakistan. So that meant trying to pull as much information we could get from U.S. and allied intelligence communities, from the conventional military, from Afghanistan officials, from signals and human collection efforts to see if we could get special operations on the ground to get him before he was taken across the border.
BURNETT: So I guess the bottom line is, do you think they did the right thing, Seth, right now in terms of saying, all right, five Taliban operators, mid to high level in exchange for one U.S. soldier? JONES: Well, look, I think there's a high price for this. On the one hand, what we see across the board in north Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, is that kidnapping military officials and civilians works because people pay in response, either through money or through prisoner swaps, the U.S. has demonstrated in this case that they will negotiate.
BURNETT: Colonel Leighton, is that the message the U.S. has sent, the U.S. will negotiate with terrorists and do what it takes, prisoner swap?
COL. CEDRIC LEIGHTON, FORMER DEPUTY DIRECTOR FOR TRAINING, NSA: We will clearly do, Erin, what it takes to get prisoners released, especially military prisoners. But I think in this particular case, what you're looking at is a very nuanced negotiation, what they were saying, the administration's point of view is pretty clear that the Taliban, for this moment is not being considered as a terrorist group.
Now in -- you know, whether one agrees with that or not, the fact of the matter is they held Bergdahl, sergeant Bergdahl prisoner and they kept him, you know, in this condition for a very, very long time. And that was the response that the administration had was to go and release him.
BURNETT: Colonel, I'm not saying you're speaking for them. But a lot of people might ask, if you're designated a terrorist organization, it either means something or it doesn't. How can you be a terrorist organization one day and for purposes of this, not.
LEIGHTON: Well, that's one of the big problems when you don't declare war officially. We never declared war officially against the Taliban. We had a very broad purpose of going after all groups associated with Al Qaeda and we wrapped the Taliban into that. And that is where our doctrine, our procedures, our laws do not really keep pace with what's going on in the world. So you get into this area of double speak. And unfortunately, that's exactly what it is. It is somewhat double speak, but it does get you the results that we have today and it got us sergeant Bergdahl.
BURNETT: Seth, you know, Tom Donnell was talking today, and he said this action will incentivize terror groups to take more Americans, to do more kidnappings because of the prisoners swap. They actually said it wouldn't said that they already have all the incentive they want because American troops have been there for decade. Is that crazy?
JONES: Well, no. I mean, you know, there are incentives for a lot of these groups to kidnap whether it's American civilians or soldiers overseas. But again, I would say this re-enforces the argument from this group stand point that it profits to do this. So, yes, they may want to do it regardless, but this then re-enforces why they want to do it. Because in response, they'll get the release of individuals.
I also say, the other challenge for this is that these five individuals now will go to the Taliban office and I think without a doubt will get involved in Taliban strategic level efforts from Qatar at least for the next year, and potentially back in country after that.
BURNETT: All right, the Taliban do have an office in DOHA.
Thanks very much to both of you.
OUTFRONT next, Bowe Bergdahl's hometown, anxiously awaiting his return in Idaho. Year after year, they never gave up hope.
Plus, a major setback in the search for flight 370. Tonight, an OUTFRONT exclusive with the man leading the entire search.
And the woman drives her family to her wedding, literally. Jeanne Moos has the story.
BURNETT: From welcome home signs, yellow ribbons, residents of Bowe Bergdahl's hometown of Hailey, Idaho are anxiously awaiting the return of the army sergeant, 28-years-old.
Ed Lavandera is in Hailey tonight OUTFRONT with the reaction there. And the moving story of a father who refused to give up on seeing his son.
ED LAVANDERA, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Bowe Bergdahl's parents used to bring their son this park in Hailey, Idaho when he was a child. There are four trees lining the playscape, symbolizing each year Bowe Bergdahl spent as a prisoner of war, a fifth tree won't be need.
Stephanie O'Neill's family started the tribute.
He has no idea this was done?
STEPHANIE O'NEILL, BERGDAHL'S FAMILY FRIEND: He has no idea this was done. And they are here for him and as his mom says, may one day bring his children too to the his history.
LAVANDERA: Five years ago t banner that reads standing with Bowe was put up at the coffee shop where Bowe once worked, the harsh Idaho seasons have weathered the banners and yellow ribbons in Bowe's honor around his home town.
Residents who knew Bob Bergdahl as the town's UPS delivery driver, watches his beard grow longer, a sign of solidarity with his son. But last night, Bob Bergdahl immersed himself in the mission to save his son.
Bowe Bergdahl was known around town as a talented march man, a ballet dancer, and a young man curious about the world. His father learned the language of his son's captors in hopes of speaking to them directly, keeping his clocks on the time of day in Afghanistan, but through it all, the Bergdahl's knew it would be up to their son alone to endure.
BOB BERGDAHL, BOWE BERGDAHL'S FATHER: I'm so proud of your character, I'm so proud of your patience and your perseverance. I'm so proud of your cultural abilities to adapt. Your language skills. Your desire and your action to serve this country. In a very difficult, long war.
LAVANDERA: Bowe Bergdahl's hometown has heard the anger over the terms of his release, the exchange for five Taliban prisoners. The accusations from fellow soldiers who described the army sergeant as a deserter, who left his comrades behind. But here in Idaho, none of that matters.
MINNA CASSER, HAILEY, IDAHO RESIDENT: I just think that everybody needs to take a little time to listen and understand the situation before they make snap judgments.
LAVANDERA: Bowe Bergdahl's family is now waiting for one more call, the call that Bowe Bergdahl will be put on a plane for the United States, in the moment his mother and father have dreamed about for almost five years.
JANI BERGDAHL, BOW BERGDAHL'S MOTHER: Five years is a seemingly endless long time. But you've made it. I imagine you're more patient and compassionate than ever. I will see you soon, my beloved son. I love you, Bowe.
BURNETT: Ed joins us live from Hailey.
And Ed, you know no matter what you think about this story, that's incredibly, you know, emotional. It's hard not to be moved by his parents. Is there any sense of when they will see their son?
LAVANDERA: Well, you know, after they did the White House ceremony in the Rose Garden with President Obama on Sunday, they flew back here to Idaho and they're actually back here in their hometown awaiting for that word as they -- Bob Bergdahl said yesterday, they have deliberately not spoken with their son as they wait for him to transition back into normal life if you will. So they're waiting for all those signs and until Bowe Bergdahl gets on that plane and flies to San Antonio, and the medical facility there where he will continue with the reunification process, that's where his parents will be reunited with him and that's still several day away.
BURNETT: All right, thank you very much. Ed Lavandera.
Just imagine his parents waiting and not knowing, you know, what their son will be like, will he be the same person they remember, what will have changed, of course, their only son.
Still OUTFRONT, is Bowe Bergdahl a hero or a traitor? It is at the center of this entire conversation. And a member of his platoon is OUTFRONT tonight.
And one of the nastiest elections in America hasn't do its final day. The good, the bad, and the extremely ugly are next.
BURNETT: Many Americans are anxiously awaiting the homecoming of U.S. Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl released after five years being held prisoner by the Taliban.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: While Bowe was gone, he was never forgotten.
SUSAN RICE, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: He served the United States with honor and distinction.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Bergdahl is now in a U.S. military hospital in Germany. But critics say the deal made to free Bergdahl, five Taliban prisoners at Gitmo, and exchange for one U.S. soldier, to cost American lives in the future.
Mr. Clapper saying that it is likely these men could return to terrorism. Not everyone thinks Bergdahl was worth that price, including some men who served with him in Afghanistan, in the platoon who were there that night.
Joining me now, one of those men, Matt Verkant. He's former sergeant in Bowe Bergdahl's platoon.
I really appreciate your taking the time, Matt.
You were in the same platoon, so you knew Bowe. You trained with him. What was he like?
MATTHEW VERKANT, SERVED WITH SGT. BERGDAHL IN AFGHANISTAN: I didn't know him on a personal level too much, mostly just a work level. But he was an introvert, kind of a loner, mostly just kept to himself.
BURNETT: He was an introvert and kept to himself. So, what do you remember and where were you that night? I mean, on the night that he disappeared, on which all of those questions now rest, what happened that night as far as you remember it, Matt?
VERKANT: I was on a machine-gun nest up on the hill pulling guard with 45 other guys and I was pretty much stuck up there all night, and found out in the morning that he was gone, his stuff was there and he had walked off.
BURNETT: And what makes you think that he -- that he walked off or that he deserted?
VERKANT: Well, I don't think anything and it's not a story, I'm just trying to relay the facts for everybody to know, he left his stuff his stuff, his weapon and his equipment, took minimal supplies and walk off, and that's what I know.
BURNETT: You know, U.S. officials, of course, Matt, as you know, have not classified Bergdahl as a deserter. Admiral Kirby from the Pentagon was on this show a few minutes ago, and he told me, look, they're investigating, but they still don't really. Bergdahl is, of course, still scheduled to be promoted to staff sergeant later this month.
If they're going ahead with all of that, with the promotion, with this prisoner swap, do you think they would do it if they had any belief at all that he was a deserter?
VERKANT: I don't think at this point, it's real about beliefs or stories or anything like that, it's about the facts and they do have the facts. They have plenty of sworn statements that we wrote that day and the following days, and it's not only us and our platoon, our company saying it. It's another different companies, other platoons, Navy SEALs and everybody else.
So, it's not coming from a few people. It's bigger than us.
BURNETT: Right, right. Of course, the others in your platoon agree with you that he did walk off.
But let me ask you about something, because as you know, WikiLeaks had some of these intercepts they got from the Taliban from that night. And one of the transcripts indicate that Bergdahl was captured while sitting basically in a makeshift port-a-potty or something like that. The transcript from the Taliban, at least according to WikiLeaks, reads, quote, "We were attacking the post, and he was taking expletive," so obviously going to the bathroom. "He had no gun with him."
When you heard that, he had no full intent to walk off, he was in the bathroom or something and they came and took him?
VERKANT: Well, if he didn't have intend to walk off, then how did he get there to begin with? He obviously walked to that point. I don't know what his intentions were, I'm not going to speculate about that.
But he obviously got to that point and they weren't attacking his position necessarily, especially if he was unarmed and by himself, maybe they call it that. But being alone and walking far away and then getting captured, that's pretty much on him.
BURNETT: So, you're saying, and make sure I understand, you're saying, as far as you're concerned, the facts are he did walk off the base, but you're not sure as to the motive, as to whether he was intending to join any other group or anything like that, right? That's the distinction?
VERKANT: Well, the distinction is that only he knows why he did it and maybe one day we'll find out, maybe we won't. But the facts are, me and a lot of other people think that it was pretty planned, it wasn't just a spur of the moment thing. He was planning it out and then made it happen.
BURNETT: All right. Well, Matt, thank you very much. Appreciate your taking the time.
And you heard Matt's point of view that he believes this was preplanned, that Bowe Bergdahl chose and planned and then walked off that base.
Joining me now is Bergdahl family friend, Stefanie O'Neil.
Stefanie, you know, you just heard Matt and you know his point of view, he thinks that Bowe did walk off that base. He served with him. What do you make of that?
STEFANIE O'NEIL, BERGDAHL FAMILY FRIEND: You know, it's really hard to say, until Bowe is able to tell his side of the story, we're just going to have to, and here in Hailey, Idaho, we're going to the leave the politics to the rest of the world and let them decide. We're just happy to have Bowe back at this point.
BURNETT: And, you know, "Rolling Stone" magazine, you know, Stefanie, has done a lot of reporting this, and they report that Bergdahl at one point told a friend that this deployment is lame, I'm just going to walk off into the mountains of Pakistan. And then, of course, there's that final email Bowe sent to his parents, where he wrote, "The future is too good to waste on lies. The U.S. Army is the biggest joke the world has to laugh at. It's the army of liars, back stabbers, fools and bullies."
Obviously, you can say those things and not be somebody that was going to do anything wrong or walk off of a base, but when you hear those things, how does that make you feel?
O'NEIL: You know, again, I'm going back to the fact that here in Hailey, we're leaving the politics to everybody else and we're just -- we're glad to welcome Bowe back to us and we're going to let things play out when Bowe is able to tell his story.
BURNETT: And, Stefanie, how is the Bergdahl family doing? I know that they had to come back to Hailey. And I'm sure they wanted to go where he is right now, but obviously they need to wait for him to reintegrate and start that process. They must be dying to go see him.
O'NEIL: I'm sure they are. They are on cloud nine that their son is safe. It is a dream come true after four years and 11 months of not knowing how their son was doing. They've never given up hope. And so, I think for them right now, their focus is on just making sure that they get to see their son soon and that he follows through the reintegration process.
BURNETT: And do they have any idea when they might be reunited with him?
O'NEIL: I don't think anyone knows that at this point. The timeline is pretty unclear. We got to leave that up to the doctors and those caring for Bowe at this time.
BURNETT: And, Stefanie, I guess, you know, something -- you know, this is someone that you knew and a family that you care a lot about. If it does turn out that he did walk off the base. I mean, the question is, politics aside, does it really matter? I mean, you know, I don't know if you heard the Pentagon spokesperson was on the show, and he said, you know, it doesn't matter. We don't know why he walked off that base, but it's our obligation to get him back and bring him back to his country to his home.
Will you guys care if it turns out he did walk off the base?
O'NEIL: Absolutely not. I absolutely agree with what the spokesperson said. Bowe is an American. He is a soldier and we don't leave anyone behind. The government has done their job in getting Bowe back to his family. And personally and here in Hailey, we love Bowe and we're just glad that he's safe.
BURNETT: All right. Well, Stefanie, thank you so much for taking the time and coming on and telling us about Bowe and his family. I know that those parents are, just on personal level, just really waiting for their son tonight.
Well, now, with the politics and, of course, the race is tomorrow, the primaries, the nastiest race in America. We're going to go where people will go to the polls in tomorrow's GOP Senate primary in Mississippi, to choose between a long-time incumbent, Thad Cochran, and Tea Party-backed challenger, Chris McDaniel.
Dana Bash is OUTFRONT on this nastiest of nasty political fights.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Defeating a 36-year Senate veteran in your own party is not easy task. So, Chris McDaniel is bringing the conservative cavalry to Mississippi.
SARAH PALIN (R), FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR: It's wonderful to be in the magnolia state, to just do whatever I can to hopefully help and not hurt the cause.
BASH: Sarah Palin from Alaska and even Rick Santorum, former senator from Pennsylvania.
RICK SANTORUM (R-PA), FORMER SENATOR: Join me in supporting Chris McDaniel.
BASH: Sources close to McDaniel's GOP opponent, Senator Thad Cochran, insist outsiders won't convince Mississippians to vote against their own longtime senator. But inside Mississippi, this GOP primary race has become just about the nastiest in the country. A conservative blogger was arrested for breaking into this nursing home to photograph Cochran's ailing wife, suffering from dementia.
AD NARRATOR: It's the worst. BASH: Cochran's campaign point fingers at McDaniel.
AD NARRATOR: Posting video of Senator Thad Cochran's wife in a nursing home. Had enough?
CHRIS MCDANIEL (R-MS), SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: I had absolutely no connection with that whatsoever.
BASH (on camera): You personally, when did you find out about the break in?
MCDANIEL: We're going to focus on his record right now.
BASH (voice-over): We're going to focus on his record right now. Cochran's supporters had been hoping all this would be McDaniel's downfall. And it's politics 101, when your opponent is in trouble, don't distract from that.
Last week, Cochran's aides went to great length to avoid us, the car they told us the senator would leave in left without him. And he took off through another door to a different car.
But a Cochran source insists it was a misunderstanding and notes the senator has been talking to the media, especially in the last week, going on bus tours and sending a steady stream of pictures on his Twitter feed.
Seventy-six-year-old Cochran argues his seniority in the Senate is a plus for Mississippi. But 42-year-old McDaniel says Cochran's time has passed from Mississippi and the GOP.
MCDANIEL: He believes in big spending. He believes in increasing taxes. He believes in increasing his own pay, I am not that guy.
BASH: The Tea Party movement has a lot riding on a McDaniel win here, after a string of primary losses in election year. Tea Party groups nationwide have spent millions.
(on camera): They have really poured their heart and soul into making you the guy who they can hang their hat on and say that we're not losing this election here. That's a lot of pressure.
MCDANIEL: It's all in God's hands. There's no pressure. God has a plan.
BASH (voice-over): Dana Bash, CNN reporting.
BURNETT: And still to come, a major setback in the search for Flight 370. The Australian officials finally admit they've been searching in the wrong spot the entire time. The man leading the search in his first U.S. television interview is next.
And something old, something new, something borrowed and -- that's pretty risky, you know, their heads are soft at that age, aren't they? Jeanne Moos is coming up.
BURNETT: Juan Carlos I, the king of Spain, announced today he's quitting and that his son will assume the throne. Juan Carlos took the throne in 1975 and is celebrated by Spaniards for his defense of democracy after the death of dictator Franco.
In recent years, though, his approval rating has taken a big hit, because there's been a lot of scandals in the royal family, which brings me to tonight's number, 20,000. That's the estimated number of people who turned out for an anti-monarchy rally in Madrid today. That might sound like a lot, right? But consider this for just one second -- it's 0.04 percent of Spain's total population.
That is a country in the midst of one of the most terrific recessions in the world, but currently has an unemployment rate of 20.67 percent. Yes, with a rate like that, you would expect a lot more than angry protesters and a hell of a lot more of them.
Well, now, let's check with Anderson with a look at what's coming up on "AC360."
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Twenty-six-point-seven percent unemployment. That's crazy.
BURNETT: It's terrible. Yes.
COOPER: Wow, incredible.
All right. Erin, much more ahead on the program tonight, in the program tonight. (INAUDIBLE) of America's only prisoner of war in Afghanistan, Private First Class Bowe Bergdahl, all the angles tonight. You'll hear from a family about how the news rocked his hometown in the mountains of Idaho and from a former soldier who served with Bergdahl and says he was told he couldn't talk about the mysterious circumstances of Bergdahl's disappearance, but he point blank says he is a deserter. The panel weighs in on that and the five Taliban detainees swapped for Bergdahl. We'll talk to them about was it worth it or not. You might be surprise that not everyone thinks this was the right move.
COOPER: Also tonight, the NBA says they have a buyer or the Los Angeles Clippers. Well, tonight on the program, you're going to hear from Donald Sterling's lawyer, Maxwell Blecher, who says that Sterling is going ahead with a $1 billion lawsuit against the NBA.
I'll also talk to the pastor of an African-American church where Donald Sterling showed up, followed by cameras, at services this weekend.
Those stories and tonight's "Ridiculist" at the top of hour. And we're on again at 9:00 p.m., special edition of "360".
BURNETT: Oh, great. All right. We'll see you in a few minutes, Anderson.
It's been nearly three months since Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 disappeared. Tonight, the most promising lead has been discounted. A U.S. Navy official tells us that the underwater pings thought to be from MH370 are not from the plane. And Australian authorities heading the search say they may have been looking in the wrong place for weeks.
So, what happens now?
OUTFRONT tonight, an exclusive interview with a man who knows, the man behind the entire search, the chief commissioner for the Australian Transport Safety Bureau, Martin Dolan. This is Dolan's first American television interview since the search begun.
And we really appreciate your taking the time, sir. I know this has to have been some of the most stressful and incredible times of your career in so many ways. Let me just start with the issue of the pings that's gotten so much. An American official says those pings did not come from the plane.
Is that true?
MARTIN DOLAN, CHIEF COMMISSIONER, AUSTRALIAN TRANSPORT SAFETY BUREAU: We are still not sure what those pings were, what we do know is we have searched the whole sea floor associated with them and not found the wreckage of MH370. So we have discounted those pings as a clue for the search.
BURNETT: So, when you say the plane was not there, is it possible the search equipment could have missed it in any way? Do you feel the search was exhaustive or the bottom line, the plane isn't there and now you're going to have to broaden where you're looking by a huge, huge margin?
DOLAN: The search was exhaustive, we're absolutely sure that the plane is not in that area and so, yes, we are going to have to broaden the search and that is what we have been working on now for some time.
BURNETT: So, in terms of broadening it, I mean, how do you -- I mean, right now, there were a couple of reasons that everyone was looking where you're looking or generally along that so-called arc. One was the pings, and the other was the Inmarsat data. So, if the pings are no longer relevant. You're now relying on the Inmarsat data. They have released to the public a lot of data points, but not the calculations that they used to come up with the conclusions that the plane is in the southern Indian Ocean.
Have you seen all of the calculations, all of that and are you sure and confident that that plane is still down near Australia?
DOLAN: We've seen all the data. We've seen all the calculations. We currently are reviewing the calculations and also developing our own model to cross check and verify that information and analysis. We remain very confident as do all the experts that the arc associated with the seventh ping is going to be close to where the aircraft will be found, but it's a very long arc. We're also very confident that the aircraft turned south and so, the aircraft will be found in that arc in the Indian Ocean.
BURNETT: So, the bottom line is when you said it turned south, when you talk about you believe it's still on that arc, but you describe that arc as long, how big is the area now that you're looking at as a possible final resting place for MH370?
DOLAN: We're still completing the review and analysis of the satellite data and other information, including areas we have excluded from the search. At the moment, we haven't excluded any element of the arc that's within the performance of the aircraft.
What we are confident is we can reduce it to an area of approximately 60,000 square kilometers, which is about 24,000 with square miles. It's a very large area but one which is searchable using towed sonar and other capabilities. It just will take a considerable period of time.
We had by close analysis of the data that we'll be able to prioritize that search and to go to hire priority areas first.
BURNETT: And higher priority areas determined -- do you think it's been 88 days. I mean, do you -- is there a part of you now that things, you know what, I hate to admit this, but we may never find it?
DOLAN: This is a very challenging task, one that relies on very effectively limited information but information if analyzed and viewed carefully can give a lot of evidence about the likely location of the aircraft. We remain cautiously optimistic that we will find the resting place of MH370.
BURNETT: All right. Well, thank you very much. Martin Dolan is head of the Australian Transport Safety Board, in charge of the entire MH370 investigation. Thanks so much, sir.
DOLAN: It's my pleasure.
BURNETT: All right. Still to come the strangest wedding dress accessory ever. I mean, and you might end up losing your child in a custody battle over this one. Jeanne Moos is next.
BURNETT: Here comes the bride and the baby. I mean, for the love of God, what is that on her dress? Well, for the answer, we turn to our own Jeanne Moos.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Here comes the bride.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OMG.
MOOS: Here comes the bride and baby attached to the baby's wedding dress.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: horrible. Is it a real baby?
MOOS (on camera): It's a real baby.
(voice-over): Even some of the guests couldn't believe their eyes and Shona walked down the aisle to become Shona Carter Brooks with her 1-month-old baby girl fasten to her wedding train.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You can't do that to a baby.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Was it padded? Was she just going bump, bump?
MOOS: We don't know the details of how the baby was attached but we do know it caused Internet insults to be showered like rice upon the Tennessee couple. Why not just tie to it the butcher with some cans and old shoes? Poor kid.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's so ridiculous and embarrassing too.
MOOS: OK. Not everyone thought it was outrageous.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it's cute.
MOOS: Another defender posted, "When I was a kid I loved it when my friends and I dragged each other around-the-house on the blanket. I'm sure the baby had fun riding on her mom's wedding dress.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is that a baby?
MOOS (on camera): Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, Jesus.
MOOS: That's funny you should say that because that's kind of her reasoning.
(voice-over): The bride wrote on her Facebook page, "We do what we want, when we want, as long as Jesus is on our side. Everything worked out fine. One-month-old was awake and well secured on my train."
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She shouldn't be a mother.
MOOS (on camera): How did the baby behave on her trip down the aisle? Only thing we have to go on is a comment from an apparent wedding guest on the bride's Facebook page.
(voice-over): "I thought it was unique, all I wanted to know is how she stayed so calm, LOL."
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's a stupid idea. MOOS: The bride didn't respond to CNN's request for comment but the Buzzfeed says everyone entitled to their own opinion, so all I have to say is God bless you.
Could the brouhaha launch baby trains as a wedding train? Jokesters photoshopped, while others quipped, "No child left behind."
We asked Jerome about the special lady in his life.
(on camera): If she said to you, honey, I want to get married and I want to put my baby on the wedding --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, that's not going to happen, not on my watch.
MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.
Thanks so much for joining us. We'll see you again tomorrow.
"ANDERSON COOPER 360" starts right now.