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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT

Undocumented Immigrants Pouring Into United States; Leanna Harris Under Investigation About Baby's Death; Israel Threatens Ground Invasion of Gaza; Interview with Ron Dermer, Israel's Ambassador to the United States; Senator Suggests Cuba Behind Sex Allegation

Aired July 8, 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 HOST: Next crisis at the border. Surge, undocumented immigrants pouring into the United States. Even Democrats are worried this could become President Obama's Katrina moment.

Plus breaking news, the Middle East on the brink of war tonight. Israel warning of a ground offensive into Gaza, the U.S. embassy now has personnel heading to an underground shelter tonight. The Israeli ambassador to the United States is OUTFRONT tonight.

And one city in America officially votes to give free marijuana to the poor starting tonight.

Let's go OUTFRONT.

Good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.

OUTFRONT tonight, the crisis at the border. A surge of undocumented immigrants. Children tens of thousands of them coming into this country. It is a situation that's fast becoming one of the biggest politician challenges President Obama has ever faced.

Today, the President made an emergency $3.7 billion funding request to handle the crisis. Now, the crucial thing about that number is it's almost twice as much as what the administration had earlier signaled it needed, leaving even some members of the President's own party to ask whether this administration was caught totally off guard.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. HENRY CUELLAR (D), TEXAS: I hope it doesn't become President Obama's Katrina moment.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: One reason this crisis is so dire, an historic flood of children caught crossing the southwest border of the U.S. according to the department of homeland security, in 2009, there were about 3300 children that came over that border from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. They were caught by border control agents. So far in this year, OK, so far this year, we are just hearing early July, 40,000 children have been caught. That is a crisis. And Kyung Lah is at the border tonight with the story of one

Guatemalan family and the frightening world they left behind.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Petrona brought her son, Rudy, illegally to the U.S. not for a better life but simply a chance to live.

What do you want for your family?

To live safe, she says. Guatemala gang have threatened to kidnap her toddler unless she pay them.

Guatemala gangs fund themselves withdraw in kidnapping. Defacto rulers in some towns, they have already broken both the legs of Petrona's father, she says, and killed another child in the family. So she ran.

Two weeks ago she paid a guy $200 to take her to the U.S. border but she was arrested shortly after she crossed a river into Texas. She and her son joined thousands of other mothers and children in these packed detention centers. Tens of thousands of them expected to cross illegally this year.

To cope with the influx of Central Americans like Petrona, the government flew her and about a hundred others to El Centro. Buses drove them to the border patrol center to be fingerprinted, have their picture taken and given notice to appear in court. Petrona's court is in the state of Washington where her husband lives.

She waits in a shelter to head north to her husband, also undocumented. Petrona says he fled Guatemala a year ago because the gangs tried to kill him.

CINDY ALBA, NEIGHBORHOOD HOUSE: I have two that are leaving to Washington to see. One is going to Nebraska.

LAH: Neighborhood House, the nonprofit sheltering the women and children says all the undocumented immigrants they're helping are leaving California on buses paid for by their families.

EFRAIN SILVA, EL CENTRO'S INCOMING MAYOR: Whether we want to or not, they are here.

LAH: El Centro's incoming mayor says unlike Murrieta which has seen loud protests of the immigrants coming to their station, his city will help them.

SILVA: What happens to them is up to the federal judges to decide. It's not up to us to decide. And so we owe them a responsibility to provide a safe environment.

LAH: You can't go back.

PETRONA: No. LAH: She won't go back, says Petrona, whether she's welcome in the

U.S. or not, her son will at least be alive, living in the shadows.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LAH: So what happens to her now? Well, she does have that court date to appear in Washington. Will she show up? She said that she didn't want to answer. The nonprofit says they believe the majority of the undocumented immigrants will show up, but many opponents say that's naive. They won't show up. They'll disappear because the risk of deportation, Erin, is simply too large -- Erin.

BURNETT: Yes. It makes complete sense. Why would you?

All right, Kyung Lah, thank you so much.

Joining me now, the chairman of the house homeland committee Republican congressman from Texas, Michael McCaul.

And good to have you with us, Chairman. You know, you just heard the report. And it's moving. You know, the family came here she said not for a better life but for simply a chance to live. The President calls this an urgent humanitarian situation. Even the former governor of Florida, Jeb Bush said that, you know, so many of these families are doing is in his quote "not a felony, an act of love" is what it is. So what should the United States do with this family?

REP. MICHAEL MCCAUL (R), TEXAS: Well look, I went down to DHS intake facility in the Cullen, Texas and I saw three young girls, younger than my daughters, all in tears. I saw babies down there. This is a very tragic crisis that's going on in this country right now. One like I've never seen before on the border.

In the case of your expose, that individual, if they could demonstrate a fear of persecution back home and violence and possible trafficking, that would give them a legal basis to stay in the country.

I do think it's important, though, we see over 50,000 of these minors coming into the United States since October to provide a message of deterrence to stop them from coming in the first place.

We're not going to stop this until we start sending them back. And I know the administration's been all over the map on that. We've had Congressman Henry Cuellar from Laredo agree with that assessment, but that's just human nature. A deterrent value I think here is important because otherwise they will keep coming.

BURNETT: Well, you know, and the President has said recently, you know, look, don't come, because you could get killed trying to come and if you do come, you know, you'll get deported. I mean, I know you've been critical of the President's immigration policies. But you know, today he said look, give me $3.7 billion more. I don't need new legislation, but I need more money and I want to use some of that money for border patrol agents, for department of homeland security, for assistance there to try to stop this problem. I mean, do you at least support what he's trying to do there? Is that

money that he's asked for something that you think is fair for him to have?

MCCAUL: We just got today. We're looking at the supplemental appropriations bill. I'm a little concerned it's a short-term band- aid to what could be a long-term crisis if we don't fix this. And what I mean by that, I think we need to look at things like changing the 2008 trafficking law to provide for faster removal from the United States back to Central America.

In other words, so this is not a one-way ticket. It's a one-way trip.

BURNETT: And you have been working now for many years, so is the President, right? The Senate passed an immigration bill. The President said he'll sign it. It needs to get through the House. Obviously, that's where it comes to you. And you were invited to meet the President back in October as you say where this all started with these children coming over the border. You decided not to go meet with him at this time saying you saw it as a political trap.

But if you won't meet with him, if you won't talk about it, if you won't look at the bill on the table, how can you be frustrated at him and blame him for the problem?

MCCAUL: Well, I do think a lot of these policies and administrative actions have encouraged this. It's been spun by the direct trafficking organization, the direct cartels that profit off these children that if you come, you can stay. Now, was that completely accurate? Maybe not, but they're misleading what the President has done with these policies of immigration reform and also this other bill --

BURNETT: But would you meet with him and talk to him about --?

MCCAUL: Of course.

BURNETT: About something now? I mean, because you refused to in the fall.

MCCAUL: I think this is a time for us to come together. I speak with secretary Jeh Johnson on a regular basis. One thing I would like to see in a supplement bill is my border security bill that passed unanimously in a bipartisan way out of my committee, the homeland security committee, and it's been held up because of immigration reform. I'd like to see a bill like that being put in the middle of these supplemental appropriations.

BURNETT: All right, Chairman, thank you very much as always.

MCCAUL: Thanks, Erin.

BURNETT: And joining me now is CNN's senior political analyst David Gergen. He is former Presidential adviser to Presidents Nixon, Ford, Reagan and Clinton. And David, you know, one Democrat expressed, you know, look, this

could be the President's Katrina moment. Obviously, those are strong words. Should the President be worried about that?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Absolutely. And this is becoming -- it has become a humanitarian crisis. I think the President is doing the right thing by putting forward this package, this nearly $4 billion package. Congress should pass it and allow him to take steps at the border to stem this tide and begin reversing it.

But I don't think it went far enough. And there were two things. One is we need to get to the root causes of what's causing this, and that is there are nations that are sending us these children have the highest murder rates in the world. They're very dangerous nations. We have helped Colombia deal with its gangs so we made a lot of progress on that. We can -- these are small countries in Central America, we could help them end some of this violence and let the kids stay there safely.

The other thing is, I think the President ought to go to the border while he's in Texas. He is going to be there for fund-raising purposes for the Democratic Party. As President, he ought to deal and step up to the crisis at hand and go to the border and send a clear message, parents, do not send these young children 10,12, 14-year-old children on 2,000-mile trip and take 45 days and put them on top of trains that subject them to assaults, rapists that leave them in the wilderness. There are terrible things going on to these poor children.

BURNETT: Right. And of course, if he went to the border and said it from there, it would have that power. And to your point as of now, he is scheduled to be in Texas but not go to the border tomorrow. Which begs the question, David, as to why does it seem this crisis was such a surprise? I mean, it just seems from the way the reactions come out of the White House that, you know, if they knew about it, they certainly weren't talking about it. You get the feeling they weren't even aware of it.

GERGEN: I worry about that. I have a lot of respect for President Obama and his team. But even so, you know, why were we surprised by ISIS moving in Iraq and when intelligence a lot of other people noticed and thought this was coming.

This problem at the border has been building up for five years as you pointed out earlier. It has becoming a long time. These kids take 45 days to get there. We have a lot of time to pay attention to this and figure out what to do. Why is it suddenly become a surprise? I don't understand that.

BURNETT: All right. And that why is the biggest question facing this White House right now.

Thank you so much to David Gergen.

GERGEN: Thank you.

BURNETT: And for that perspective there.

And OUTFRONT next, the breaking news, the Middle East on the brink of war. Israel, reading a massive force, is ground assault right now about to happen?

Plus new developments in the hot car toddler death. We're getting tonight a glimpse of one online profile used by the father to communicate with women. And we are going to show that part of the story tonight.

And a major bakery chain suddenly closes. Is America's cupcake craze kaput?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BURNETT: One parent's in jail, the other parent remains under a cloud of suspicion after their toddler, Cooper Harris, was trapped in his car seat for seven hours in the sweltering Georgia heat. That child died.

Authorities are going through the hard drives and looking at the finances now of Leanna and Justin Ross Harris. He faces charges in connection with Cooper's death. His son was dying in the car. And while that was happening, Ross Harris was engaging in nude conversations with up to six different women.

Now, we now have this information. The father's profile on Scout, that's an online network sort of a meeting dating sort of a site. He used it to communicate with women.

And Martin Savidge joins me OUTFRONT tonight. He is at the Cobb County jail.

And Marty, I mean, this story just continues to shock. And despite the revelation that we have about the husband's online escapades and now that new profile that we just showed our viewers, the wife, Leanna Harris, appears to be standing by her husband. She visited the jail today. What can you tell us about that?

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right. She does, Erin. And many people do seem shocked by the fact that she's been so steadfastly in the corner of her husband. She was here early this morning. She went inside the visitor's center there. And she was inside the facility here where her husband's being kept for about 36 minutes. Now, then she was seen coming out.

We really don't know if they had the opportunity to meet face-to-face. There are specific guidelines you have to set up in advance your plan to visit. One reporter reportedly asked Leanna as she came out if she did, in fact, meet with her husband and she seemed to shake her head no.

So there's no real way because authorities here will not confirm any visitations whether or not the two met. But assuming they did, it's very likely that the two were talking about the case. Much of that would have been recorded by authority. But we don't know what was said if in fact they met face-to-face. We also don't know if she's done this before, but it's clear right now she's steadfastly sticking beside her man.

BURNETT: Marty, thank you very much.

And you know, Stacey Honowitz joins me OUTFRONT now. She prosecutes child abuse cases in Florida.

And Stacey, you know, authorities are still going through all of this evidence. You know, the financial, whether there was financial duress with this couple as, you and I discussed last night. They're also looking at computers, the hard drives, cell phones, everything they have possible can. And you know, now they found these online profiles and he was talking to these women which, you know, may be distasteful but may not be relevant to this case. How concerned should the couple be about what they're going to find?

STACEY HONOWITZ, PROSECUTOR: Well, I think they need to be very concerned. And as we talked about last night, they're widening the net. They want to find out if there's anything nefarious in any of these computers, if there's financial problems between the two of them, if maybe there was a reason why they didn't want this child in their life. As a matter of fact, if there was kind of a conspiracy between the two of them to end the life of this child.

So when they're going through the computers, whey they are looking at profiles, they're looking to see if there's anything relevant that is going to make this case stronger than it appears to be at this rate now.

BURNETT: And Stacey, you know, as you said, you do this for a living. . You deal with these kinds of horrific cases. As hard as it is to imagine one parent doing this, it's exponentially more difficult to imagine two parents together colluding in something so horrific. That they would go to be able to get on the same page. How unusual is it?

HONOWITZ: Well, like I said, it's very difficult for me to sit here and tell you that it never happens because I see it in my line of work. This is what I deal with on a daily basis. I see parents that are, you know, involved in an agreement or conspiracy to maybe get rid of the child or to injure the child. And we see it every single day on the news.

We see child abuse cases where a child's kept in the basement and the mother knew the whole time. So we do find it to be extremely odd. It is so difficult to digest for the average person, but it does go on. And we're seeing more and more of it.

Really, we have to figure out why so much of our parenting skills seem to be in the toilet at this point.

BURNETT: How easy, Stacey, will it be or difficult for them to prove anything about Mr. Harris? I mean, this year 16 children have died as a result of heat stroke in cars. You know, this happens on average nearly 40 times a year and these are accidents. So doesn't this make this close to impossible to prove? HONOWITZ: Well, no, because the fact of the matter is those other

incidents are not going to come into court. They're not going to be admissible that all these other deaths are taking place. I mean, the defense will try all, you know, to use all their power to try to get those and to try to sway the jury that this was an accident.

But you have evidence here so far -- I don't know how admissible it's going to be. But they've worked towards saying that this was planned. You have him online at the time trying to Google, to figure out how long it's going to take a child to die. He had lunch with the baby I think less than an hour before, how did he not know the child was in there? He walked up to the car to put something in the car later on, how did he not smell death? She came and said, did you say too much? When she called the day care, she asked him, did he leave the child in the car?

I mean, all these things are not just coincidences. At some point, you have to put all these pieces and the pulses together to say this was planned. We're going to have to wait and see. I'll never tell you that they'll be able to prove it. But they are linking things together to try to make this case that this was a planned death.

BURNETT: Stacey, good to talk to you again.

And still OUTFRONT the breaking news in Israel. Warning of a massive ground assault on Gaza. American embassy employees right now in Tel Aviv are heading for an underground shelter. The story, escalating dramatically. We have a live report from Jerusalem next.

And in Cuba frame one of Washington's most powerful senators. A story so crazy you couldn't make it up, but it's true.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BURNETT: Tonight's money & power, one of America's most recognized cupcakes company has suddenly closed. Crumbs bakeshops, remember they made hose huge cupcakes. It shuttered Italian cupcakes stores telling employees they have been losing their jobs immediately.

Richard Quest looks it why it Crumbs crumbled and asked, has the cupcake bubble -- remember when everybody wanted them, even at weddings, they wanted cupcakes? Has the bubble burst?

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RICHARD QUEST, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It all happened so quickly. Some customers were caught unaware. This was the first Crumbs to open on Manhattan's upper west side in 2003. It's now one of 65 across 12 states that's closed its doors.

Cake watchers are now looking closely to see if there's another cupcake calamity coming. For this competitor, Magnolia Bakery, nothing of the kind. Their cupcakes are selling like hot cakes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: As long as there's a good cupcake and the price is right, people will always buy them. It's an American staple. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have a crush.

QUEST: In 15 years since this scene in "sex & the city" put Magnolia and cupcakes on the map.

SARA GRAMLING, MAGNOLIA BAKERY: You don't consider it a trend or a craze because it's been a significant amount of time since it first launched. We are not worried though.

QUEST: Magnolia has survived by diversifying from the humble cupcake and going international.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think for me sometimes I don't want to eat a whole cake and I don't want a piece of cake. The cupcake is just enough.

QUEST: A cupcake just enough for some, not quite enough for Crumbs.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BURNETT: Richard, see, here's the thing, I love cupcakes. I mean, when you -- you know, I finished -- when I had my baby, I'm on maternity leave, I'm like I need to start focusing on maybe losing weight, I couldn't resist them. So I'm really sad to hear about this. So what happened to Crumbs? Is it just Crumbs?

QUEST: Well, we couldn't find any Crumbs because they're no longer there, of course. So we had these cupcakes, get away from them, Ms. Burnett, you're not touching them.

What happened to Crumbs? First of all, they made serious losses. They were down 18 million. Forget red velvet. Think more red ink. And then you had the stodginess of the share price. Down at 11 cents before it was finally delisted. And if all that wasn't enough, the icing on the Crumb cupcake was it broke its defaults on its bonds, 14 million in debt. The loans were called in. The reality is the cakes may have been fresh and large, but the finances were stale.

BURNETT: Well, I'm going to say there is no cupcake calamity. Just give me a simple vanilla cupcake, with a vanilla top. Magnolia makes a delicious one. Save one for me, Richard.

QUEST: Which one? There you are. It's on the desk in your position awaiting your return. In fact, why don't you just take them all.

BURNETT: Thank you, Richard. I can't wait for that cupcake.

All right, OUTFRONT next, we have the breaking news. Israel warning tonight of a massive ground assault on Gaza. American embassy employees now being ushered underground. Is war inevitable?

And free pot. One American city is expected to vote yes, but is this really a good idea?

And an historic and humiliating loss for the world cup's host city. When I got the e-mail about the score at halftime, I was in shock. I thought it was a typo. Fans are burning Brazil's flag in the streets tonight.

We will be back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking news: the Middle East on the brink of war tonight. The Israeli government is warning of a possible ground invasion into Gaza. Airstrikes between Israel and Hamas are intensifying. Across Israel today, air raid sirens were blaring, sparking panic in the streets.

And at the American embassy in Tel Aviv tonight, people rushed to an underground shelter. Israel says Hamas militants fired 130 rockets at its citizens from Gaza and Israel has unleashed an air assault of its own into crippling the terror group's rocket-launching ability.

Ben Wedeman is OUTFRONT in Gaza City for us tonight.

And, Ben, you know, you're sitting there on that side of it where they're afraid of those Israeli strikes that are happening. How close right now is this to an all-out war?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we're still a few steps away, Erin. The Israeli cabinet has authorized the call up of as many as 40,000 troops, but that's not necessarily going to mean they're going to call up that many.

For instance, if there's going to be a ground incursion into Gaza, there's a lot of preparation that needs to be made and that could take quite some time. At the moment, the problem, of course, is that there's no one try to mediate an end to this crisis.

Back in November 2012, the government of Mohamed Morsy of Egypt had good relations with Hamas and they were critical in working out some sort of ceasefire. However, now, you have a government in Egypt, a president in Egypt, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who is very hostile to Hamas. Hamas, of course, being the Palestine offshoot of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood which President Sisi has been harsh in cracking down on.

So, it does look at the moment, there's no diplomatic way out. Israel is making obvious preparations for a longer, more intense conflict. And we've seen with Hamas as well, despite all these strikes, they're still firing as many rockets today, in fact more, out of Gaza than they were yesterday.

And we saw these operations where Hamas frogmen went up the coast and tried to storm an Israeli base. This would indicate that they are also preparing or are prepared and trained for a much harsher conflict or confrontation with Israel than we've ever seen in the past -- Erin.

BURNETT: It's just -- an incredible thing to say in the context here. Thank you very much to Ben Wedeman, as we said, live in Gaza City.

Joining me now is Israel's ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer. Ambassador Dermer, it's a pleasure to have you with us tonight.

RON DERMER, ISRAEL'S AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED STATES: Thank you.

BURNETT: I mean, let me just ask you, in terms of what's next. You heard Ben saying, well, it's a couple steps from a ground war. But are you prepared, are you planning to send in ground troops?

DERMER: Well, first, let's understand what happened today. We had 150 rockets, about 150 rockets fired at our cities. We had them fired at Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. That's our Washington and New York.

So, imagine the situation, Erin, where you would hear a siren go off in New York -- I'm sitting here in Washington, you're in New York, and in Washington, and everyone would have to run into bomb shelters. That's what happened today in Israel.

The objective of this mission is very simple. We need to restore deterrents, we need to end the rocket fire and we need to restore security to Israel's population who have suffered under rocket attacks from Hamas.

BURNETT: So, so when you say that, given what's been happening and how the situation's been escalating, you know, some might say, well, in a sense what you're saying is it is going to be all-out war, because how are you going to be able to do that, given what's been happening, without greater involvement, without ground troops?

DERMER: Well, I don't think the situation has been escalating. I think Hamas has been escalating the situation. My prime minister, Prime Minister Netanyahu, made clear last week that quiet would be met with quiet. If Hamas ended rocket attacks against Israel, then we wouldn't take operations. That did not happen. We had 100 rockets fired as yesterday.

And every sovereign government has got to take its action necessary to protect its population from rocket attack. It's completely unacceptable. We appreciate very much the strong statement that was made by the White House today, backing Israel's right to defend itself.

I think all the world should stand with Israel in making sure that we can protect our civilians and act against Hamas. It's a terror organization, Hamas. There's no moral symmetry between Israel fighting against terror and a terror organization that's fired thousands of rockets at Israeli cities.

BURNETT: And, Ambassador, of course, the White House did make that statement. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki did as well.

DERMER: That's right.

BURNETT: But when you look at the other side, there's Palestinian sources say two of those killed today by an Israeli attack were children. And, obviously, even if they were part of a human shield, they put a human shield to try to protect somebody that you said was a Hamas militant. But there were children there.

Is it still worth airstrikes when you're going to have to kill children?

DERMER: Now, well, first of all, we do everything we can to keep Palestinian civilians out of harm's way. That's the difference between us and the terrorists. They deliberately target our civilians. They fired at our civilians. They also hide behind civilians, as you say, using them as human shields.

They actually place missile batteries next to schools, next to hospitals, next to mosques. That's the enemy we're dealing with in Hamas. So, we take action. We've targeted well over 100 targets, maybe 200 targets in Gaza today.

Every single unintentional casualty is a tragedy. We don't seek to harm Palestinian citizens. We go to great lengths to keep them out of harm's way. We send text messages to them.

BURNETT: But you're saying it's going to happen.

DERMER: We make clear where we're going to hit. And, hopefully, these people are not in any area next to a missile. I have seen myself how many times Israel decides not to do an operation because civilians are going to come into harm's way.

I don't believe, Erin, that there's a government in the world, a military in the world maybe in history that has gone to such great lengths to keep the civilians of the other side out of harm's way.

BURNETT: The air assault that's happening does follow the recent killings of teenagers on both side. That's important to emphasize, it has been on both sides, and, of course, the beating of Tariq Abu Khdeir by Israeli police. And Tariq, as you know, Ron, is an American teen. He was the cousin of a Palestinian victim.

And you talked about this case on "FOX News Sunday". And here's what you said, Ambassador.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DERMER: From what I understand about the facts of the case, this is not just an innocent bystander pulled off of a school yard. He was with six other people, they were masked, they threw petrol bombs and Molotov cocktails at our police. Three of them had knives.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: Does that excuse the force used by officers?

DERMER: No, and I said actually on the same interview that it doesn't excuse excessive use of force at any time. That's why we have an investigation and we have a justice ministry.

We're a real country, Erin, with laws and we will investigate exactly what happened. But I would be very cautious to rush to judgment and to say that this

is a larger problem within Israeli society. We had protests all across Israel and our police were facing life-threatening situations. Fortunately, we did not have a single -- a killing, we had not a single Palestinian lost their lives in any of those protests, Israeli, Arabs or Palestinians who are protesting.

Our police are facing a very, very difficult situation. It does not excuse excessive use of force. And I am not saying that it does.

But this particular boy, I would not rush to judgment because he was part of a group of people who had attacked our police officers. And everyone was rushed to judgment about Israel, hold your horses. When all the facts come out, it will tell a very different story.

BURNETT: Wait, but see, this is where I get confused. Because on the one hand you said excessive force isn't justified, but then you say wait until you hear what happens. It sounds like you're saying it is going to be justified.

DERMER: No, wait, it's not justified. Again, once he was arrested, we're dealing with a different reality. Once he was in custody, once he was in handcuffs, no excessive use of force can be employed.

The question is what happened before the arrest? And I have watched the news for the last couple of days, and people have painted this as if this was some innocent kid who was just pulled off a school yard and our police were looking to beat somebody up. That's not the case in this case. It doesn't excuse action after he was handcuffed.

I saw the videos. They disturb me very much. There's an investigation in Israel that's going to deal with it.

But don't turn this into an innocent child with police brutality en masse in Israel, because it's just not true.

BURNETT: Ambassador Dermer, thank you very much.

DERMER: Thank you.

BURNETT: And tonight, claims Cuba framed one of the most powerful men in Washington. New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez was dogged by allegations back of November 2012 that he had sex with underage prostitutes in the Dominican Republic. It was shocking set of allegations and it got a lot of news coverage.

Now, the story was first published by a conservative Web site and it was eventually discounted. The prostitutes recanting their story.

But in a shocking twist, Menendez, who was chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, tells our Dana Bash that the Justice Department needs to take a closer look at whether it was Cuba who planted the story.

Here's Dana Bash with her exclusive.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It has the makings of a spy thriller, a U.S. senator dogged by a federal corruption probe alleging he may really be the victim of a smear campaign by the Cuban government.

SEN. ROBERT MENENDEZ (D), NEW JERSEY: It should be pretty appalling that a foreign government would be engaged in trying to affect an election and/or the position of a United States senator.

BASH: Bob Menendez told CNN he wants the FBI to investigate.

MENENDEZ: I wouldn't be surprised that the regime would do anything it can to stop me from being in a position that ultimately would impede their hopes of being able to get a different relationship with the United States.

BASH: It's just the latest dramatic twist in an already thick and salacious plot, allegations that the New Jersey Democrat traveled to have sex with underage prostitutes in the Dominican Republic, which he vehemently denied and prostitutes later recanted.

CNN's Drew Griffin traveled to Santo Domingo where he looked for the tipster who sent the allegations to CNN and other media outlets and called himself Peter Williams. Drew couldn't find him. When he tracked down the tipster's email IP address, was stonewalled.

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: Is there any way that you would give us the background of this man?

JOSE SALCE: He cannot be identified right now, that name, and also the IP address is not from here from us.

BASH: "The Washington Post" reports that the CIA has evidence that Cuban intelligence agents were behind the frustration claims.

(on camera): You are somebody of Cuban dissent. You have not ever made it a secret, your opposition to the Cuban government. You were about to become the chair of the Foreign Relations Committee. And you think that's what it was?

MENENDEZ: Well, let's put it this way, for 22 years between the House and the Senate, I've had a firm position in opposition to the Cuban regime that violates the human rights, the democracy of the people of Cuba.

BASH (voice-over): Still, beyond the prostitution allegations is an ongoing corruption probe of Menendez's relationship with a political donor, a Florida doctor whose practice is being scrutinized for Medicare fraud. Dr. Salomon Melgen gave Menendez private jet rides to the Dominican Republic to the tune of $58,000. Menendez did not pay for them as the law requires until the flights were publicly disclosed.

(on camera): I asked the senator if his legal team may have pushed this Cuban conspiracy allegation out there in the public to muck up federal investigations surrounding him. He dismissed that. In fact, an attorney who worked on Cuban spy cases in the 1990s told CNN that back then, they had evidence that the Cubans did target politicians including Menendez and tried to discredit them politically.

Dana Bash, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BURNETT: Still to come, free marijuana. Tonight, it could become a reality for one city.

And speaking of blowing smoke, what is rollin' coal? What is it? Well, Jeanne Moos will explain.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BURNETT: Tonight, a new high for Washington. It is official, Washington now the second state where people can legally buy recreational marijuana. Demand is expected to be huge.

One reason is that, as of now, there are only 24 stores in a state of nearly 7 million people. And only one store in the city of Seattle, which is sort of a stupendously shocking fact or statistic.

But now, Washington looks to be cautiously bringing pot the masses. One California city is actually going to go further. Marijuana there is available only for medicinal use is now looking to actually give pot away specifically to the poor.

Tonight, the Berkeley City Council is expected to approve that plan. Now, are they going way too far too fast?

Dan Simon is OUTFRONT.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Berkeley long ago cemented its reputation for being one of the most liberal cities in America. Today, it's living up to that image by giving away free marijuana to the poor. In what appears to be the first of its kind ordinance nationwide, Berkeley will require that its medical marijuana dispensaries provide free cannabis to low income residents which would also include the homeless.

Is it a good idea to give free cannabis to the homeless?

DARRYL MOORE, BERKELEY CITY COUNCIL MEMBER: When you couch it that way, it sounds, you know, peculiar. But we're talking about free medicine. This is medical cannabis. Cannabis that is used to relieve pain, for glaucoma, and heart problems, and things of that nature. So, I think it is a good idea.

SIMON: Darryl Moore and the entire city council voted in favor of the measure. Part of a 20-page ordinance to amend a municipal code. It says at least 2 percent of the dispensary's marijuana should be given to the indigent, who still must have a medical marijuana ID card or referral from a doctor.

But even here in Berkeley where we placed an open mike, some worry the new ordinance will lead to abuse.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Berkeley has a terrible homeless problem. It will attract more homeless people to the area.

I volunteer here at the local rehab clinic. I think it's going to really increase the number of drug problems that myself and my colleagues see on a regular basis.

SIMON: Low income here is defined as making less than $32,000 a year for an individual and less than $46,000 for a family of four.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This will open a doorway for people to just get marijuana and sell it as opposed to using it themselves for medicinal purposes.

SIMON: But advocates say this measure is all about compassion, by providing medicine to those who can't easily afford it.

(on camera): You might think that a business would be opposed to having to give away their product for free, but here in Berkeley, with their medical marijuana dispensaries, that is not the case. In fact one of them, the Berkeley Patients Group where I am has already been doing it for years.

MICHAELA GREEN, BERKELEY PATIENTS GROUP: We recognize that it's difficult for those who are severely ill to keep their employment and maintain their income at a steady pace for them to be able to purchase their medicine.

SIMON (voice-over): The medicine can get expensive. Frequent users can easily spend hundreds of dollars or more each month. The dispensary says it's been giving free weed to about 200 of its customers.

And the city will even require the free marijuana be the same quality on average that is dispense to other members. In other words, the good stuff.

Dan Simon, CNN, Berkeley, California.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BURNETT: OUTFRONT now, Bloomberg television anchor Trish Regan. She is author of "Joint Adventures: Inside America's Almost Legal Marijuana Industry." Every day, closer to being reality.

Trish, great to see you, as always. And, you know, you just heard Dan's report. Do you think Berkeley went too far here with this issue of free pot?

TRISH REGAN, AUTHOR, "JOINT ADVENTURES": Well, you know, Erin, it really comes down to whether you believe that there is a legitimate use for marijuana for medical purposes. I happen to believe that there is, and I think the medical community is pretty united on that, as well.

So, what's interesting here is that if you're someone who can't afford this care because your health insurance won't cover it, Medicaid is obviously not going to cover it. Berkeley has actually come up with a way to address that problem.

BURNETT: And, you know, it's interesting when you put it that way and, of course, as you point out, you've done this research and seemed to make sense to you and it does to a lot in the medical community. Our Sanjay Gupta has come around to that way of thinking.

But, still, a lot of people say I wouldn't want to work with someone high on pot. People tend to think that when you think about it, beyond just medicine and as far as society, it doesn't seem to be a societal good.

REGAN: Well, and that gets into recreational use, which is something that's a little bit different, of course. And in this particular case, I think, Erin, for Berkeley, for them to come up with a solution to be able to provide that medical use, if someone is suffering from a debilitating illness, something like cancer and there is a shot this is going to help them deal with that, just because they can't afford it should they not be able to have access to it -- I mean, Berkeley is trying to figure out a solution to that issue.

BURNETT: And now, and now Washington state. So they are the second state to allow recreational marijuana. But, you know, the amazing statistic we were talking about, there is only 24 shops across the state selling it. Only one in the city of Seattle, which I said was a stupendous statistic.

REGAN: Yes.

BURNETT: All right. So, what's going to happen there?

REGAN: Well, I think you will see more shops come online, more dispensaries. But, you know, Erin, a reason why you have so few is Washington has put up all kinds of red tape in a way that's even more, much more than Colorado. I mean, Colorado has plenty of hurdles that dispensary owners need to get through to open there, but nothing like what we're seeing in Washington, and a lot of people say that's really good because as this industry moves out of the shadows and becomes more mainstream, you want to make sure that you have the proper rules in place. You want to make sure the right kinds of laws are on the books and you want to make sure that the dispensary owners are abiding by all the rules.

So, they are taking things pretty slow.

It's probably really good for that one own near Seattle, though, right? The supply and demand --

(CROSSTALK)

BURNETT: Absolutely. You can imagine that. You think of a doctor tries to prescribe it. I mean, being able to guarantee the quality from dispensary to dispensary at this point doesn't seem that there's any sort of regulatory framework to do that.

REGAN: You're absolutely right and that's one of the issues. So, as this becomes more mainstream, there will be some kind of system in place. I mean, you think about the FDA, right? We have something to help protect food and drug here in this country, but you don't have any of those protections when it comes to marijuana.

So, the more legit it becomes, hopefully, the more regulation you'll then see in place.

BURNETT: All right. Trish Regan, thank you very much. When it comes to medical marijuana, the stakes are only getting higher. Dr. Sanjay Gupta is back with an even more revealing and personal look at the families making difficult choices. That's "Weed 2: Cannabis Madness", and it is tonight, at 9:00 Eastern, right here on CNN.

Still to come, drivers blasting pedestrians with black smoke, a harmless prank or an aggressive protest.

Jeanne Moos investigates.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BURNETT: Drivers paying thousands of dollars to shoot black smoke at other people on the road. What is rollin' coal? It sounds really crazy.

So, for the answer, we turn to Jeanne Moos, of course.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Holy smoke, actually, there is nothing holy about it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you smoke?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I do.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right. Well, stand by.

MOOS: Especially if you're the one covered in it, volunteer, modifying a truck so it spews exhaust is called "rollin' coal", and there's a cloud of anti-environmentalism around it. Prius-repellant it's jokingly or not so joking recalled.

(on camera): Have you ever rolled coal on a Prius?

SETH MURRAY, DIESEL MECHANIC: Yes, not purposely because it was a Prius. Mostly, because they were right in my tail.

MOOS voice-over): Diesel tech Seth Murray of Woodbridge, Virginia, seems to be a relatively good guy coal roller. He says he does not blow smoke on motorcycles or bikes.

(on camera): It looks downright mean is what it looks.

MURRAY: I try not to do it to pedestrians that are standing.

MOOS (voice-over): That's thoughtful.

In the words of the Web site "Vocative", "rollin' coal" is pollution porn for dudes with pickup trucks.

There are videos posted on YouTube blowing smoke on a Ferrari, and even a police car.

(on camera): This can't be legal. You can't just blow smoke on people, can you?

(voice-over): The Environmental Protection Agency says. "Tampering with vehicle pollution controls is against the law."

Police agencies we talked to in Virginia were totally unaware of "rollin' coal", though Virginia law prohibits installing anything that emits smoke.

Prius owners like this woman tend to be fed up with idling trucks.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What's the matter with you? You got to make that much pollution? Is it your right?

MOOS: She would blow her stack if the Prius was smoke bombed, that some think is chick magnet.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jst passed some fine honeys, see if we can't pick them up.

Y'all want a ride? Get on in here.

MOOS: Seth says he likes to roll coal on back roads when no one is around. His advice to other coal rollers.

MURRAY: Try and do it in good manners.

MOOS: And say excuse me if you accidently belch on another motorists. Remember, these are dude who make jokes like "I love my truck so much, when I have sex in it, I consider it a threesome." This then must be an orgy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you smoke? You do? Well, enjoy.

MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BURNETT: I don't know where to begin with that one. I guess if you're alone on the country road you can roll some coal. Wow. I don't know.

All right. Thanks for watching. We'll see you back here same time same place tomorrow night.

"ANDERSON COOPER 360" starts right now.