Return to Transcripts main page
ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
New Brian Williams War Story Under Fire; Second Day of the 'American Sniper' Murder Trial; Obama's Ad on Healthcare; Ongoing Investigation in Bobby Kristina Brown's Case; Remembering Bob Simon
Aired February 12, 2015 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening. John Berman here, sitting in for Anderson tonight.
A new Brian Williams war story emerges and quickly comes under fire. We have exclusive reporting to get right about the truth of the matter or the lack thereof.
And we have breaking news. CNN Brian Stelter and Tom Kludt have learned NBC's internal investigation is quote "nowhere near done," out on the words of a senior network source. It has widened. We are now learning beyond his initial inaccurate account of that 2003 Iraq war mission in which he falsely claimed his chopper was hit by enemy fire. There are new questions about his account of being in Berlin when the wall came down and his claims that he met Pope John Paul II when he was in college.
Additionally by the way of "Huffington Post," another questionable story has come to light in just like the one that got him suspended for six months it involves a helicopter, a dangerous mission and troops that he bonded with. And just like that story, this one is utterly compelling. It is packed with a vivid detail and masterfully told. It is a gripping account of flying in Iraq during the war with SEAL Team Six and later being sent to souvenir from that raid that killed Osama Bin Laden. It sounds too good to be true which of course is the concern.
In a moment, our exclusive reporting on what troops and a top official say that could settle the question. First, the story itself.
BERMAN (voice-over): May 2011. An MH 60 black hawk helicopter is in engulfed in flames after Navy SEAL Team Six successfully killed Osama Bin Laden at his compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. The special ops team set fire to the stealth aircraft after it crashed in this courtyard, an attempt to destroy the helicopter's critical technology.
In an interview with David Letterman in January of 2013, Brian Williams had this to say about a piece of the burned out wreckage.
BRIAN WILLIAMS, NBC NIGHTLY NEWS ANCHOR: About six weeks after the Bin Laden raid, I got a white envelope and in it was a thank you note unsigned and attached to it was a piece of the fuselage. The fuselage from the blown up black hawk in that courtyard. And I don't know how many pieces survived.
DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST, LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN: Wow! Sent to you by one of them?
WILLIAMS: Yes, one of my friends.
BERMAN: Those friends, according to Williams, members of the highly secreted SEAL Team Six. But that relationship is being questioned by members of the special operations community. And could be one of the things in internal NBC investigation is focused on.
In 2011, Williams described a long relationship with SEAL Team Six when talking about the Bin Laden raid in another Letterman appearance.
WILLIAMS: We have some idea which of our special operations teams carried this out and it happens to be a team I flew in to Baghdad with on the condition that I would never speak of what I saw on the aircraft, the aircraft we were on, what they were carrying and who they were after. But all of it was shared with me. It's common when covering a war because to reveal that would be to endanger Americans.
BERMAN: Then in 2012 during yet another Letterman appearance that perhaps raises the most questions, Williams goes further.
WILLIAMS: I have a throat cutter on my desk at 30 rocks which is helpful in staff meetings. It just sits there. It was sent to me by a member of SEAL Team.
LETTERMAN: You say a throat cutter?
WILLIAMS: Yes. SEAL Team Six. I flew in to Baghdad invasion plus three days on a black out mission at night with elements on SEAL Team Six and was told not to make any eye contact with them or initiate conversation. It was like horses in the gate right before a mission. This guy had a wristband with his human target that he was after when we landed. Was a one of the members of the deck of cards, one of the leadership targets? They are amped. This is the best we have. And until he reached into my box of wheat thins, my last remaining American food, it could have been a wheat thin commercial. Because this hand, the size of a canned ham goes and I lost half of my net supply of wheat thins but then I chatted him up and admired a knife as part of the utility belt.
WILLIAMS: Darned to the fed knife didn't show up at my office a few weeks later.
LETTERMAN: Oh men!
BERMAN: Whether Brian Williams will be allowed back at that office is now being decided by NBC.
BERMAN: So we asked NBC for comment. They declined. We also do not know how Brian Williams seek himself explains all of this. We only have on-air words to go by only his on-air words to fact check. CNN National Security Analyst Peter Bergen has deep ties to this special forces commander community has been working in sources on the subject that Williams alleged travels with SEAL Team Six into Baghdad. He joins us with what he's been finding.
Peter, one of your special operations sources, a command official said, quote, "We do not embed journalists with that unit or any other unit that conducts counterterrorism missions. Bottom line, no." So this does that leave any wiggle room for Brian Williams' account of things?
PETER BERGEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: John, I really don't think so. I mean, his account of being embedded with SEAL Team Six didn't pass the smell test, just on the face of it. I've spent some time reporting on that group and people that I've talked to within the SEAL Team community, you know, can't recall journalists embedding with SEAL Team Six and of course, the special operations command is also said that this never happens. So his account is very puzzling, John.
BERMAN: I've talked to friends of mine in the journalism community and we can't think of anybody who's embedded with SEAL's before. Is it possible, Peter, though that he'd share a transport with them maybe, that it wasn't an embed but it was just on the same helicopter with them? Is that even possible?
BERGEN: In talking to somebody who's in the SEAL community, that seems pretty unlikely because, you know, maybe that could happen in the case where you're, you know, in the middle of a long war and going between places but the way he's presented this is that this happened right at the beginning of the war. But right at the beginning of the war, that was, you know, these were serious operations that were going on. They weren't taking people for a joyride.
BERMAN: No the timing here certainly does matter. There's also a question of whether Brian Williams was sent a piece of one of the military helicopters, the one that went down during the Osama Bin Laden raid. Now, he was also said apparently a knife, supposedly from a member of SEAL Team Six. This is what you were told by a SEAL officer about this. Let me read this.
"Does it pass any sniff test, even the knife story? Not our MO. If you were going to give it to someone, you'd just hand it to them. We don't have some covert mail carrier system waiting to shuttle war trophies around the world." So that's problematic on the face according to your source also problematic, the timing here of that helicopter. The helicopter, you know, we also SEAL Zero Dark Thirty but the helicopter was blown up, right? After the Bin Laden raid on the ground there. So how would they get the pieces?
BERGEN: Well, that's right, John. I mean, you know, the SEALs were in the Bin Laden's compound for half an hour and they wanted to get out very fast. Of the last thing they did was blow up the helicopter that had gone down. The idea that somebody would have rushed back, you know, to a helicopter that was, you know, basically on fire, grabbed the hunk of it and you know, wasted a lot of valuable time and his teammates were worried, they all worried that the Pakistani military might, you know, react, it doesn't make -- none of it makes any sense. (INAUDIBLE) The idea of getting a trophy from this blown up helicopter would have been, you know, piping hawk because it would just been blown up. And no one would have taken the time to go and do that when they were under a great deal of stress to get out of there.
BERMAN: And why would someone send it to Brian Williams, Peter, in the first place? That you know, your sources saying it doesn't pass the smell test here. What reason would they have to be thanking Brian Williams which is what he's sort of suggesting?
BERGEN: Well, that's -- that's right. I mean, you know, we've done a lot of reporting on this episode and I know that the CIA director at the time, Leon Panetta, was given a momentum from the building. And I've seen it myself. The commander of joint special operations command who proceeded Admiral McRaven who led the raid, General Stanley McChrystal was given a flag that was taken on the mission. But these are people who are instrumental in making this thing happen, not people who were just completely periphery or not even involved than any way. So that -- none of this adds up.
BERMAN: All right. Peter Bergen, really appreciate you being with us. Thanks so much.
BERGEN: Thank you, John.
BERMAN: All right, let's dig deeper now. We're joined now by a retired member of SEAL Team Six, Howard Wasdin, he spent a dozen years in the Navy. Nine of them as a SEAL, he is the Author of "The Last Rescue. How faith and love saved a Navy SEAL sniper." Also joined by University -- Syracuse University is Robert Thompson, director of the School Center for Television and Popular Culture.
Howard, I want to start right with you. You heard what Peter Bergen just said. Let me ask you then -- this again, again you know, giving Brian Williams the benefit of the doubt, maybe not embedded with SEAL Team Six, is there any way he was on a helicopter, you think, with SEAL Team Six on invasion plus three as he said headed into the airport in Baghdad?
HOWARD WASDIN, FORMER NAVY SEAL TEAM SIX MEMBER: I would say absolutely not. There's certain things in a helicopter ride you have to consider. One of which is egress procedures. If come under fire the helicopter crashes, you got to know exactly what to do, how to react and the way he's describing having the arm bent on the deck of cards, so to speak, means that these guys were ready to hit the ground hot. And the last thing you're going to do when you want to hit the ground hot is being babysitting. And that's no reflection on any embedded reporters but I can tell you this, I've got 300 military, ex- military patients, thousands of combat vet, motorcycle association of people who I've spoken to and nobody has ever said, you know what, we really loved our embedded reporters so much that we gave him tokens of our esteem because he was so great.
To have somebody along with you hinders you, you're going to have take care of them if something goes terribly wrong and I will tell you this. I gave one knife away in 12 years in the military and it was to a fellow Norwegians special ops guy who I spent a month in a snow cave with. Not just because somebody said hey that's a cool looking knife and then a mysteriously shows up on the desk a couple weeks later. That story is so preposterous that I can't even elaborate further.
BERMAN: In the interest of full disclosure, look, I've embedded with marines and haven't been given things by those marines. I was given a picture and I've been given coins by them. So you can't get things from them. I'm not sure that's the most preposterous notion but what about the idea that Williams would have been instructed in getting in to this chopper not to look anyone in the eye, not to initiate any kind of conversation?
WASDIN: See, and I've been in choppers where people weren't team guys, were part of the op and it was definitely not in a war zone. And I've never one time heard them instructed not to look at us or talk to us. I was in Haiti when Christiane Amanpour was down on the docks and we had to dispatch a whole detail just to keep her and her camera crew people away so we can help the Haitians coming back into the country.
This is not something that you want to do on a direct action op, an immediate action op. As far as like babysitting, these guys but you're right. Giving some small token to somebody, but it's for appreciation. So I'm not trying to crucify Mr. Williams here but he would have to be more forthcoming on exactly what he did for SEAL Team Six to warrant such a great piece of equipment and by the way, knives, guns are hard to come by in a war zone. I carried one knife into the war zone. If I lost the knife or gave it away, it's a lot of logistics to get a new one.
BERMAN: All right. Robert Thompson, I want to bring you into this conversation. Because when Brian Williams was first given that six- month suspension, there was a discussion, it that really too harsh, is it too light? Let's leave that aside because that's a few days ago. Let's talk about the now. Now that more information seems to be coming out, do you think there's any chance that he sits in the anchor chair again at the "NBC" Nightly news"?
ROBERT THOMPSON, SYRACUSE UNIVERSITY PROFESSOR: No, I don't think there's any chance of that whatsoever and I also think that these six months was probably surprisingly not so harsh. I still don't understand how one can do something so bad that you get six months without pay but not bad enough to not come back into an important journalistic position like managing editor of the number one news broadcast in the country.
You know, all of this stuff continues to come out and I don't know what's true and what's not. I'll leave that for the investigators. And it looks like there was this whole sort of Brian Williams was creating a parallel fictional story of his life on the David Letterman show, but forget all of that for now. I think what Brian Williams confessed to on Wednesday night was enough right there to say, you know, you can't continue in the role that you're in and everything we learn in the rest of these investigations is to some extent gravy because what he confessed to on Wednesday night was a pretty serious offense.
BERMAN: What now then for Brian Williams? What can he do, professor, what should he do over the next several days and weeks?
THOMPSON: Well, I mean, I don't know what the six months is all about. I suspect it's an opportunity for NBC and Brian Williams to figure out how they're going to extricate each other from their relationship and the -- it buys a little time, leaves some options open. I don't know what Brian Williams will do. I don't think he will ever do anything for NBC again. But he's a guy with a deep set of skills and who knows where he may end up, but he's -- the problem is he's really become the symbol of something that a distinguished journalist never wants to become the symbol of.
BERMAN: Robert Thompson, Howard Wasdin, thank you so much for being with us. It's a tough subject, I mean for a lot of us to talk about in this business so I do appreciate your time.
A quick reminder everyone, make sure to set your DVR, so you can watch "360" whenever you'd like.
Just a head, day two of the American Sniper murder trial. We're going to get a live update on today's dramatic testimony including what the accused did right after the killings and the high speed chase that followed.
And later, President Obama, I guarantee you, as you have never seen him before.
BERMAN: A dramatic day in court at the American Sniper trial after killing the former Navy SEAL who is the subject of the blockbuster film, the shooter left the scene in Chris Kyle's pickup truck and went to Taco Bell. That was the testimony of an investigator in Texas today.
Jurors saw a video of a high-speed chase by police as the accused try to flee in Kyle's truck. He's charged with killing Kyle and his friend Chad Littlefield in a firing range in 2013. The defense says he killed the man in the throes of severe psychosis thinking that he himself was in danger.
Our Martin Savidge now joins us now with more. Martin, I understand that offers today testify about what happened after the shooting. So what did the accused do?
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John, it was really two kinds of officers we heard from today. Crime scene investigators and then those officers and detectives who were the first to interact with Eddie Ralph after he committed the killings.
And I got to say, it was the video today that was the real star witness. Because there were two of them and the most dramatic is that high-speed chase that you just mentioned. This came hours after the shooting when police were closing in on Eddie Ralph. He is inside of Chris Kyle's pickup truck. And it a big one, a big ford F-350, it's built like a tank. And believe it (ph) tried to talk to him but eventually he just takes off and leads him in a high speed chase, the chase that gets to speed of closed to 100 miles per hour.
And at one point, one of the officer makes a very daring move. Takes his squad car and slams it into the front of the pickup truck. It's a glancing blow but apparently it would later prove to be fatal because even though the chase continued, the couple miles down the road as the prosecutors said, the vehicle just gave up the ghost and that's how they managed to get Eddie Ralph into custody.
BERMAN: Jesus. The video just amazing.
The jury also heard comments that this guy, the shooter, made to police just after this, correct?
SAVIDGE: Yes, well, this gets to that second video I'm talking about. This was a body cam video. I can't play you the audio from that, it breaks the rules of court but I can read you some of the quotes. Police were talking to him before he took off and these are some of the things Ralph is quoted as saying. He says, "I don't know if I'm going insane. Is this about, like, hell? Is work is walking on earth right now?" And then he goes on to say, "Is it voodoo that's upon us." And finally says, "Is the apocalypse on top of us right now?"
The officer who is trying to negotiate to surrender said, yes, he definitely sounded odd. But you know, what to most people, that sounds crazy talk which fits exactly in what the defense is trying to maintain, that he is innocent because he was insane. However, back to the first video, the prosecution would say, oh, he isn't a crazy guy. He acted like a guilty guy because he took off. Thereby, he's not insane. So two videos with two very different stories, John.
BERMAN: Yes. Martin Savidge, thanks so much and of course, this all gets to the crux of the case to the defense here. The insanity defense they're mounting.
Joined now by CNN legal analyst Danny Cevallos and Martin Geragos, both as team criminal defense attorney. Is it Danny, I want to start with you hear because I read a lot about of what you have write about this. About the idea of be in the insanity defense. I think a lot who watch TV and see this things thinks it's a common thing that people get off all the time on this type of defense, not so.
DANNY CEVALLOS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: It's a myth. And it's an enduring myth. The reality is the insanity defense is used in just a tiny fraction of cases and once invoked; it's successful and even less than that. So it's really actually factually a very rare instance that someone is found not guilty by reason of insanity.
BERMAN: And Mark, let me tell you what I hear though as someone who did not go to law school has not been instructed by a judge. Over the days of this trial, I've heard that the victim here sent a contemporaneous text that he said the shooter looked nuts to him. We now have that testimony from officers of the accused talking in gibberish about the apocalypse. And we also know that he'd been in and out of the hospital from mental health issues three months before. If I'm a, you know, naive person on the jury, or not naive but, you know, just doesn't know the law, that seems to me like this guy got some issues in his head.
MARK GERAGOS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Look, Danny is right that it's rarely used but the reason it's rarely used is because usually when somebody is this far gone mentally, they usually aren't competent to stand trial. You can't even medicate them to get them to a stable position where you can then convict them and sentence them.
So this is one of those rare cases where because of the publicity, they've decided to proceed against this guy. You, John, have exactly put your finger on what the problem is for the prosecution here. The text was, Kyle saying this guy is straight up nuts and saying, watch my six, which is apparently the nomenclature for watch my back. And then you talk to, you know, that's the victim. You then move forward, fast forward to a couple of hours and you've got the cops where in real time observing him, talking in, for lack of a better term, talking in tongues and this has all the making of a not guilty by reason of insanity.
One of the reasons people don't like this is there is this kind of legacy of John Hinckley with President Reagan. Well, somebody is going to get off, somebody's going to get off. Well remember, Hinckley is still in custody, he's barely able to get out on weekend passes and things of that nature. So it's not that somebody gets off but we have got a position in society that we don't -- we don't punish people to the extent, the same extent as if they are guilty and they've got our faculties about them.
BERMAN: So Danny, explain why Mark and I are both wrong on this. Why will the insanity defense not work here?
CEVALLOS: We can apply Texas's standard. Which is one of the more limited standards in the United States. Of course, some states don't even have an insanity defense but comparatively speaking, Texas uses a very stripped down limited version of the insanity defense and it asks whether or not the defendant was aware that society considered his conduct wrong and for our purposes, the Texas courts have said that you can substitute wrong for illegal. So if there's any evidence the defendant knew what he was doing was illegal and exhibit A, upon the prosecutor is going to be, hey, take a look at this video where he's fleeing from the police, you know the police. The people that chase you when you do something illegal.
So that combined with the fact that Texas is, again, a very strict interpretation of insanity, odds wise makes it very difficult in a case like this to establish that this defendant was unaware of the wrongfulness of his conduct.
BERMAN: So Mark, put yourself in the prosecution's shoe.
GERAGOS: You want to know something, Danny? Well, I was -- I was going to say one of the things I was astonished by is the prosecutor in his opening statement already committed prosecutorial misconduct. And I don't know if it was objected to or not. But he stated the wrong standard for the what the Texas standard is for not guilty by reason of insanity, the right from wrong you just articulated and the defense is going to say, yes, this guy fled from the police but he thought it was apocalypse. He doesn't know if it's the police, he doesn't know if there Armageddon is coming down. I mean, this guy was to quote Chris Kyle and this is what they're going to say in the closing, he would straight up nuts.
BERMAN: Danny Cevallos, Mark Geragos, we're going to leave it there. Thank you gentlemen so much for being with us. We'll talk about this again soon, I'm sure.
Up next, the buzz about what's being called "Yolo-bama." You and I both need to come back to find out what that means, next.
BERMAN: So, tonight a top-elected official draws criticism and praise for using the popular media in a way that takes people by surprise. I'm referring, of course, to Harry Truman, vice president at the time who caused a sensation and a scandal with this photo. That's Lauren Bacall on the piano, by the way. This was a stun, it turns out, to sell movie tickets. These days, President Obama is trying to sell the idea of signing up for insurance coverage at healthcare.gov and like Mr. Truman, he uses the media, in this case a BuzzFeed video, in his youth of it has people talking. See what you will, but unless your name is Sasha, Malia or Michelle, you haven't seen the president like this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Deadline for signing up for -- the deadline for signing up for health insurance is February, Febru ...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not like any other Wednesday.
OBAMA: That's not right.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wednesday.
OBAMA: Febru - Man ...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wednesday.
OBAMA: February 15. February 15. In many cases, you can get health insurance for less than a hundred dollars a month. Just go to healthcare.gov to figure out how to sign up. February 15th.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thanks, Obama.
OBAMA: Thanks, Obama.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's pretty good.
OBAMA: That's pretty good.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Seconds left in the game. Down by one. He gets it.
OBAMA: Can I live?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You do you.
OBAMA: Yolo, man.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: Joining us now, chief national correspondent, an anchor of inside politics John King and national political reporter Peter Hamby, an all-star panel. John, let me start with you here.
You've spoken to people in the White House about this controversial video. What do they say? Any reservations about this?
JOHN KING, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No, they say they knew doing it, not reservations, but they had the conversation. You know what's going to happen. People are going to say it's not presidential, it doesn't dignify the presidency and those who already don't like the president are going to say, here's another example of him demeaning the office. What they say is, go back to between two firms with Zach Galifianakis, that it - people criticized it then, they said, it was not presidential and it drove a boat load of traffic to healthcare.gov. People signed up, the numbers went up. They said, that's all they're trying to do here, is create a buzz, to get more people, especially young people who probably are not watching us, they don't watch traditional news programs like this, to sign up for healthcare.gov and if you look at the hits online, there were over 13 million when I walked in the room. Who knows where they are now. To them, that equals one word. Success.
BERMAN: So, Peter Hamby, you are that younger generation, at least a little bit younger than John King and I am here.
PETER HAMBY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Just a little.
BERMAN: Just a little, you know, and John is right, the criticism was exactly what you would predict. This is undignified, the president shouldn't be doing this. There is all these things going on in the world. Why is he taking fake basketball shots here? You know, did the naysayers have a point here or is this just the way to reach the audience where the audience is?
HAMBY: Yeah, look. I mean the sort of like sanctimonious and - from journalism. You know, professionals - it's a little pointless. These is the world we live in. The White House understands that people aren't tuning in to the evening news, and they are not getting the news from "The New York Times" in the way that they used to. They still believe that the Associated Press is extremely valuable to reach voters and that local news is extremely valuable, but this video, this BuzzFeed video, John, now has 13 million video starts. I mean, that crushes the ratings of "NBC Nightly News" with or without Brian Williams and there are people who are just not tuning in as John said to sort of traditional media. These are, you know, "quote unquote" millennials who live on their phone all day long and the White House realizes that they have to reach those people where they are.
Now the journalistic problem with that is you frankly come in to sort of comply interviews at time, the YouTube interviews, for example. One of them, you know, Hank Green, got an autograph from President Obama after interviewing him. So you have to give a little bit more credit to BuzzFeed, though, they did do another interview with Ben Smith, the chief of BuzzFeed, and he did ask him about Kayla Mueller, about ISIS, about Putin. So, there was a sort of hard news corollary to the fun social Facebook video.
BERMAN: Now, it doesn't mean that real interviews are also not important. You know, perhaps the right measurement here, John, is, is the video entertaining? I mean look, you know, George W. Bush used the Barney videos, stupid Barney videos, and I say stupid in a nice way. They were entertaining. This is just entertaining.
KING: John Boehner recently put out a video from his office with the monkey, they had a silly monkey. He's the speaker of the House, he is the top Republican in the land right now. So, some Republicans try this, too. This president has more success than them. So, some of them is just jealousy.
Look, I was there when Bill Clinton, then Governor Bill Clinton went in Arsenio Hall and played the saxophone and everybody gasped and said, you know, how can he do that? He wants to be president of the United States. And we live through boxers and briefs.
Look, the times have changed. Our business is changing at a stretch and Republicans do the same thing. They go to conservative outlets to do their thing. The day after you ask for war authority, the day you sign legislation to deal with veteran suicides, some people say it's unpresidential, there are sort of linear news processors. Younger generation, they go to their Facebook feed and they see all of that, and they see the cat dancing.
BERMAN: Well, Look, and Peter here, Jeb Bush, of course, his entire campaign and roll out was started on Instagram and other things. I mean, this just goes to show that the game has changed.
HAMBY: The game has changed, John, but it's not just that. I mean speaking of Jeb Bush's Instagram, any professional that works in digital politics will tell you that it's not just using the platforms, it's using them smartly. Just because Jeb Bush announced on Instagram to his pack doesn't mean he gets digital. I mean the White House understood that BuzzFeed has kind of a symbiotic relationship with Facebook. Guess what? 71 percent of adults in the United States are on Facebook. So by getting that video out there, it's not just on BuzzFeed. This thing is going all over the place. And the White House understands smartly and they have done that since going back to 2007 when he announced.
BERMAN: It's on CNN, in fact, among other places. And of course, when you go on the video, there's a link to sign up for healthcare.gov. So they get everybody what they want. John King, Peter Hamby, great to have you here. Really appreciate it.
Just ahead for us, Bobbi Kristina Brown's boyfriend responds to a report that he's considering legal action to be allowed to see her in the hospital. We just got the statement. That and other lingering questions about this case. That's next.
BERMAN: Breaking news in the Bobbi Kristina Brown case. Tonight, her boyfriend is denying reports that he is considering legal action. According to local reports in Atlanta, Nick Gordon has not been allowed to visit her at Emory hospital. But his lawyers put out a statement saying he is not taking legal action and his only concern is Bobbi Kristina's recovery. There's been nearly two weeks since Brown was found in a bathtub in her home and many questions remain. Randi Kaye reports.
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Bobbi Kristina Brown was found unresponsive in a bathtub at her home, January 31st. Was it an accident or was she injured? We know she was found face down, so why were there bruises on the front of her body? A woman who knows both Bobbi Kristina and the man she called her husband, Nick Gordon, shared what Gordon told her.
DAPHNE BARAK, WOMEN WHO KNOWS BOBBI KRISTINA BROWN: Immediately from the beginning, they asked him about injuries in the chest and he told them that it's when he was doing the CPR.
KAYE: Police aren't commenting. They will only say this is a criminal investigation. So what about drugs? Were any found in Bobbi Kristina's system? Again, no firm answers. A toxicology report is standard procedure when someone is unresponsive. But the results have not been released. When the incident occurred, Nick Gordon and this man, Max Lomas were at the house. Lomas has a history of drug and weapon related arrests. His former attorney says, Lomas actually found Bobbi Kristina in the tub.
PHILLIP HOLLOWAY, MAS LOMAS' FORMER ATTORNEY: He was the one that found her in the bathtub. He was the one who called 9-1-1. And he is the one who cares about her well-being.
KAYE: Lomas' attorney also said his client's criminal record has nothing to do with what happened. So, the question remains, even though Max Lomas is a friend, what exactly was he doing at Bobbi Kristina's home? Another question, what happened at her home on January 23rd? Eight days before she was found unresponsive. A security guard called 9-1-1 about a disturbance.
SECURITY GUARD: Just had a neighbor call and report that there was people hitting each other and swinging and outside - in front of their, the townhomes in Ellard Village.
911 OPERATOR: Any other people involved?
SECURITY GUARD: No, sir, I do not.
KAYE: Could that have had anything to do with what happened about a week later? That's still unclear and so is this.
What about the details surrounding Bobbi Kristina crashing her car in Atlanta just four days before this latest incident? Police say she lost control of a jeep and then crossed into the eastbound lanes colliding with another car. She and her passenger were taken to the hospital for injuries. The other driver is in critical condition. Also, while Bobbi Kristina is fighting for her life, many are asking if she doesn't wake up, what will happen to her inheritance. Whitney Houston left everything to her only daughter who was supposed to get her full inheritance when she turns 30. If she doesn't survive, it appears her inheritance will be divided. Between Whitney's mother, brothers, and perhaps her ex-husband, Bobby Brown, but the family isn't ready to face that yet. Randi Kaye, CNN, New York.
BERMAN: Thanks to you, Randi. CNN legal analyst Sunny Hostin joins me now. Sunny, you have sources close to the family. What are they now saying about Bobbi Kristina's condition?
SUNNY HOSTIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, they are telling me that they are seeing some improvement actually. They're saying that prayers are working and that they are watching her. This talk of pulling the plug that is not happening. They want her to live. They say that she is fighting and that she continues to progress. And so, you know, I think many people are thinking that is not possible. I can tell you, John, the family has said that from the very beginning and at this point, that's all we know.
BERMAN: All right, they're not commenting on this alleged car accident that she was in in the days before she ended up in the bathtub, but one of your sources did speak to her that night.
HOSTIN: That's right.
BERMAN: What did say they about her conversation, what she was like?
HOSTIN: My understanding is that she was perfectly normal, that she was happy. That she sounded very much like herself, excited, and no indication that she had been in some sort of, you know, car accident and that there was something wrong going on with her mind. She appeared to be very normal and actually happy the night before.
BERMAN: Randi in Randi's piece, there was talk of what happens to the inheritance. You know, Bobbi Kristina inherited everything from Whitney Houston. There was talk of may be splitting it up. But your sources are saying, what, the grandmother would likely get everything?
HOSTIN: Well, a couple of things. They are not thinking about that at this time. Because again, they believe that she's doing better. They want her to live. They say that she's a fighter. They're also saying though, if anything happens, they're sure that they'll work that out. There may be challenges, but that the court documents will rule. And so I think the family really is not so concerned about the money, they're not so concerned about these things. Their only worry at this point is getting Bobbi Kristina better. And I want to mention, you know, people are talking about Nick Brown and the fact that he's not seeing her at the hospital. That is true. The family doesn't want him at the hospital with Bobbi Kristina and he has been kept from the hospital.
BERMAN: Sunny Hostin, I appreciate you being with us. Thank you so much.
HOSTIN: You bet.
BERMAN: Up next for us, breaking news. The FBI opens up an investigation into the murder of three Muslim students in North Carolina.
BERMAN: More breaking news. The FBI has launched an inquiry into the murder of three Muslim university students in North Carolina. They were laid to rest today. A young dental student, his wife and her sister. The killing allegedly by a neighbor allegedly after a dispute over a parking space is drawing national attention because a lot of people believe that it was a hate crime. Jason Carroll now joins us with more. Jason, what's the latest on this investigation?
JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know that the FBI has opened that preliminary inquiry into the case trying to make sure that no federal laws were violated. That would be a parallel investigation. In addition to the investigation opened by local law enforcement here, but as you mentioned, a number of people here have already drawn their conclusions. Many people came out here tonight at NC State University for the vigil, many of the victims' family members and friends who attended the memorial service earlier today believe very strongly that this was indeed a hate crime and not what investigators have determined so far which is that this was in most likelihood a case involving a dispute over a parking spot.
So this investigation now also going to be looked at by the FBI. That will certainly be encouraging news to the family, which has wanted this all along. John.
BERMAN: So, Jason, you went to the apartment building today. What were you able to learn about the idea that this was a fight over a parking space or parking spaces?
CARROLL: Well, it's interesting. You know, I spoke to one neighbor who said that there definitely was some confusion at the apartment complex over assigned parking spaces. Another neighbor who was out there, she made it very clear that the suspect in this case had on several occasions become upset not just over parking, but over things such as noise and things like that in the neighborhood as well. And so there are a lot of issues going on there, but once again, was this a crime that had to deal with a parking space or was it something more? That's what this investigation will eventually determine.
BERMAN: Jason Carroll, appreciate you being with us. Thank you so much, Jason.
Up next, Anderson's tribute to legendary CBS correspondent Bob Simon.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BOB SIMON, CBS CORRESPONDENT: These officers in the hill say they needed this cease fire.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: In all the noise about Brian Williams and storytelling gone wrong, we want to tell you about story telling done right. We are talking, of course, about veteran CBS News man Bob Simon who was killed last night in a car crash here in Manhattan. Like so many reporters, I revered him. Sadly, I never got to meet him. Anderson did. He worked with him. As you know, Anderson's off today but before he left town, he wanted to honor Bob Simon and left us these memories of his colleague.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: It was nothing simple about Bob Simon except that he was simply the best.
BOB SIMON, CBS CORRESPONDENT: In the Arctic circle chillingly close to the North Pole. We've traveled to remote places before, but never on an icebreaker.
COOPER: The best writer.
SIMON: The cameras are triggered by motion and there isn't much motion up here that's not a polar bear.
COOPER: The best correspondent. As Fitzgerald wrote of Gatsby, the best of the whole damn bunch.
SIMON: They left when the North Vietnamese came into the area.
COOPER: He'd started in Northern Ireland and never seemed to stop.
SIMON: This is Israel's most advanced position on the southern front.
COOPER: Hurling himself into the breach, into the pulse and the pain time and time again.
SIMON: There is just about the right amount of breeze this morning to bring the flags alive, the flags of Egypt and Israel.
COOPER: How many plane rides, how many careening cars, how many kisses to loved ones good-bye?
SIMON: Young rock throwing Arabs were chased up a steep and rugged hill by Israeli soldiers.
COOPER: How many bullets, how many bombs, how many tragedies and tears?
SIMON: This seemed cold, deliberate, methodical, it went on for 40 minutes.
COOPER: Yet Bob saw everything with keen fresh eyes.
SIMON: And as little as they look. In fact, I feel like I'm in an elephant sandwich.
COOPER: He died at 73 still curious, still doing the work, boarding the planes, asking the questions, writing the stories, making them sing.
SIMON: So people stole images with cell phones and deemed them to the rest of the world. It was to become the YouTube revolution.
COOPER: He was a warrior poet, a traveling word smith, whose voice was shaped by all he'd seen.
SIMON: I knew the names of almost all these men, their names and their deeds. I never thought I'd be standing a few inches from them having a chat.
COOPER: Vietnam, Somalia, South Africa, Bosnia, Haiti, Israel, Iraq, barbers and brutality, compassion, kindness, Bob knew it's often intertwined.
SIMON: Soldiers and teenagers were playing catch with tear gas grenades.
COOPER: He bore witness, captured moments. Saw details others routinely missed.
SIMON: The boys weren't surprised by it, not the way Americans were. For them, Islam and terrorism went together, always had.
COOPER: He wrote sentences we had not heard, showed us stories we had not seen and we were lucky he came our way.
SIMON: We scurried the tree tops and touched down. We landed right in the middle of a party. The guests of honor, us.
COOPER: For many of us, he was the correspondent we dreamed of being, the writer we wished we were.
SIMON: Are you hearing that? You can hear the calls ominous, not crackle and pop caused by the enormous weight of the mountain above us pressing down on the coal..
COOPER: Not too long ago, he wrote a piece for "60 Minutes" about a choir in Kinshasa.
SIMON: We had no idea what to expect. (INAUDIBLE) seemed confident, and began the evening with a bang.
COOPER: In a place known for poverty, Bob found an ode to joy. On this sad senseless day, perhaps it's best to remember that.
BERMAN: A warrior poet. That does it for us. Morgan Spurlock "Inside Man" starts now.