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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

Reaction to Giuliani Words about President Obama; Interview with Witness of Fire in Dubai; Interrogation Recordings of 12-Year Olds Nearly Murderers Released; One Of Tallest Buildings On Earth On Fire; New Details On Tammy Meyer's Suspected Killer

Aired February 20, 2015 - 20:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Hey, good evening. Thanks for joining us.

Right now, one of the tallest residential buildings in the earth is a fire scene. It is happening in Dubai. You are looking at video taken just a short time ago. Flames pouring out of the 79th storey apartment building called the Torch Tower. Seventy nine stories, more than 1100 feet tall, And the fire broke out at about 2:00 a.m. local time in Dubai. Local media reports that thousands were forced to evacuate. We do not yet have any reports one way or another about injuries or potential fatalities.

(INAUDIBLE) now to Leah Polonenko who took some of the video that you had been seeing here.

Lea, thanks for joining us. Tell us what you saw.

LEAH POLONENKO, REPORTER (via phone): Yes, I saw it from the beginning, really. So it started a small apartment fire on the 51st floor approximately. And then what happened was on that one side of the building, it started massively growing. It's been an extremely windy day in Dubai today. Today, we had a sandstorm. So basically, debris started flying and because of the wind, brought to the other side of the building, so the complete other side started rupturing as well. It just turned into a massive fire in a massive building.

COOPER: So the flames actually went around to the complete other side.

POLONENKO: Yes, debris was flying everywhere. In fact, buildings around, including my own, were also evacuated just because there's fear that the wind is bringing the fiery debris out of the buildings as well.

COOPER: Abs in some of the video that we are looking at right now, you can see debris falling off the tower. I understand in many cases that's molten glass.

POLONENKO: It is, yes. It is quite -- when everyone was evacuated, it was quite scary because you didn't know if it was sand or glass. There was a lot of running and panic. It's pretty chaotic there right now. COOPER: So you see people coming out of the building.. I mean, did

anyone appeared to be injured, anyone needing medical attention.

POLONENKO: No, which is great. Apparently there are some people had some smoke injuries, but yes. Besides that, nothing that I've seen or heard about.

COOPER: And you said this started around 2:00 a.m. or so, or at least those are the reports and you said -- I believe you said that there are people actually coming home from being out late and suddenly discovering that their building was on fire.

POLONENKO: It was really sad. I was actually walking away and people were coming towards home. And then people around would have to tell them why thousands of people were out on the streets, because they didn't have a home to go to. It was pretty chaotic down in that whole area.

COOPER: Obviously roped off the whole area. And as you said, your building itself has evacuated as were member of other buildings. What sort of a response did you see from there? Was there massive, you know, fire crews and stuff?

POLONENKO: Yes. The fire crews seem to take a little bit longer to get there, but the Dubai police is really good, really safe and really around the city. So the police were there right away making sure that people didn't escape the building, get away sectioning off the area so no cars would come. Honestly, the debris made the whole area dangerous. It wasn't just within the building, but it was the whole entire community.

COOPER: Could you see firefighters actually battling the blaze or were they not actually kind of entering the building itself?

POLONENKO: To be honest, I didn't see anything. But that's no indication. I'm sure they were doing their job, I'm sure they were. I just didn't see.

COOPER: And I understand there had been a number of false alarms in this building. I know you don't live in this building but from all the reports, there have been a number of false alarms in this building for several weeks.

POLONENKO: Yes.

COOPER: And that a lot of buildings, and this surprised me, a lot of buildings in Dubai, the fire codes there really aren't up to the standards of many other places in many buildings in Dubai, right, about 70 percent of the buildings in high-rise buildings in Dubai are clad with a very flammable called a thermo plastic core.

POLONENKO: I can't speak for that. But that's unfortunate if it's true.

COOPER: Listen. I really appreciate you taking the time to talk to us. Actually, Leah, how far away are you or is your building from this building?

POLONENKO: Literally just across the street. So, like a few feet. Like a regular one-lane street.

COOPER: And do you have any idea how many other buildings in the area were evacuated?

POLONENKO: At least four that I know of. It's a very heavily populated area.

COOPER: And at its height, how many stories would you estimate the fire was encompassing? Because I mean, from some of the video you shot, it looks like multiple, multiple stories.

POLONENKO: Absolutely. I counted 20 at least on the one side and on the other side, probably about 12 or 13. The one nice, I shouldn't say nice, but the good thing, it wasn't a sudden thrush of fire. Just before 2:00 actually and it was around 3:00 that the mass chaos kind of unfolded.

COOPER: And did the fire actually spread to lower floors as well with all of that flaming molten glass pouring off the building?

POLONENKO: Yes. It started on a very high floor and then it went down quite a few floors. And then the debris that brought it to the other side was on a lower area.

COOPER: Just incredible. Leah, thank you again so much for talking to us.

POLONENKO: You bet.

COOPER: You can stick around for us. We are getting reports that the fire is now contained, that it's out. I want to bring in someone who knows the challenge of battling flames in a very tall structures. Fire fighting expert Robert Rowe. He joins us by phone.

Robert, a fire of this sky this far above the ground and as Leah was saying, there have been high winds there, there was a sandstorm today. So winds blowing, glass, molten glass falling. Is it actually possible that, I mean, how do you go about battling something like this?

ROBERT ROWE, FIRE FIGHTING EXPERT (via phone): Well, first of all, I mean, you have to be careful about entering the building with the glass. You have to take time to figure out your plan, but not too much time and then accessing the floors. A lot of times, you're not really able to use the elevators because of the most elevators come down to the first floor. So it's the staircase and as you can see, these buildings are pretty tall. So it's going to take a little while to take for firefighters to get to the level of the area where they stage their equipment and begin fighting the fire. My understanding of the building is most probably sprinkled but it's hard to tell. I'm not really sure exactly what the configuration on this building is, but that would obviously be a factor. COOPER: Right. Most of the reports I read that most of the high-

rises in Dubai have internal sprinklers as well as hoses. But that the core, as many as 70 percent of the high-rises use a thermo plastic core. How is that possible in this danger as advanced as Dubai, their fire codes wouldn't be up to the same standards as other countries?

ROWE: Well, you know, different countries, as you said, Anderson, the different countries have different codes. There's different processes that building and the fire industry go through to develop these codes. I know here in the United States, if we were to have a building of that size, it would be held to a very strict standard, and the fire would be out in the incipient stages.

COOPER: So when firefighters actually entered the building to fight it, and do they use the hoses that are already on the various floors, assuming there are hoses there, or do they have to cart hoses up as they go?

ROWE: Well, here in the U.S., they take hoses with them when they go into the building, which, you know, you have to be in top physical shape to get the equipment up to those floors, but you know, there are hoses within the buildings, but a lot of times, you can't really depend on that equipment because of maintenance issues or the lack of. So you have to depend on the equipment that you're familiar with and you train with.

COOPER: I mean, that molten glass coming off, it just sounds like that's such an easy way for the fire to spread to other parts of the building or even neighboring buildings.

ROWE: That's correct and I believe there may be some code deficiencies with regards to the exterior surfaces of the building and fire protection measures that should have been in place or maybe are in the process of being in place, or being put in place, to prevent fires spread from floor to floor on the exterior of the building.

COOPER: Yes, that's right. They're trying to revamp their codes, I've been reading. It's unclear to me though how extensive those changes are and obviously, any building that's already been damaged has to revamp their codes. My understanding is that, you know, as you said, the buildings have sprinklers inside, have hoses inside. But once a fire is on the outside, it's very hard in Dubai to actually contain it. It's very hard to actually fight it.

ROWE: That's my understanding after reading up on this a little bit. My understanding is that there are some plans in place to retro fit the building with some exterior fire protective coverings to prevent fire from spreading floor to floor on the exterior. And that very well could be the reason that we're not seeing this fire, you know, stopping on the exterior the way we're seeing it, you know.

I'm understanding that the fire is actually contained at this point or at least on its way to being contained. But I'm certain they're going to be looking at the retrofit provisions to have the fire protective in place to prevent this from happening again. COOPER: One of the problems apparently in this building is that

according to residents and reports that I read, there have been a number of false alarms, fire alarms kind of regularly going to the point where people in the building kind of just ignore them. One person I read was quoted as saying, he thought it was just a regular, another false alarm and there had been several in the last several weeks until he actually smelled smoke and that's when he decided to evacuate.

ROWE: Right. And you know, false alarms do occur. I mean, it doesn't really matter where you live. There's false alarms for various reasons. But most important thing in buildings of this size, especially, is the inspection testing and maintenance of, number one, the fire sprinkler system, which is your first line of defense in a fire, but as well as your early warning and your detection system which is the fire alarm system needs to be tested, inspected and checked and maintained annually. And my understanding is they do inspect it in Dubai but I'm not privy to any information that may have come out of those inspections.

COOPER: Robert, let me just ask you. On a practical basis for people in the United States or watching anywhere around the world right now, if you're in a high-rise and there's a fire on a lower floor that you're in, what is the best course of action? I mean, do you try to shelter in place, do you try to make it down? Do you try to go up to the roof? What do you do?

ROWE: Well, you know, it's going to be based on where the fire is located in the building and where you're located in the building. So in a lot of cases, the fortunate thing in the United States in this day and age, fire protection systems are in place as they were not back in the day. And that's why there were so many fatalities back in the day on high-rise buildings.

But, you know, when you have a fire sprinkler system in the building, sheltering in place is, you know, one measure of protection you can use to survive. But in a lot of cases, in the buildings that are fully sprinklers, you're able to evacuate safely and to the stairwells provided that the stairwells are maintained and operating properly.

And one of the things that I understood in this particular building that, you know, they inherently have problems with leaving fire doors open on each floor, which can cause, if you know, a lot of people like to wedge doors open so they can go from floor to floor without being impeded, that's more of a convenience issue. But those are there are for a reason. They rated, they whole back fire and a lot of these large buildings like this, especially a 79 story building, wouldn't be surprised to see a few doors in the open position, blocked open or wedged open. That's a real problem.

COOPER: Well, Robert, I appreciate your expertise. Robert Rowe, thank you so much for joining on this.

I do want to go to Abu Dhabi where a producer of ours is monitoring a development of us, CNN's anchor John Defterios.

John, what's the latest now?

JOHN DEFTERIOS, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Well, we have reports on the ground, Anderson, in the last 15 minutes. First and foremost, the good news is that the fire is out. This has been confirmed by the Dubai civil defense in the last 15 minutes.

Just to recap for our viewers watching this from any part of the world right now. This is a building that is 79 stories high. That are actually houses 6676 units. Our producer on the ground said there's seven long fire trucks on the scene and five fire vans and one ambulance. But civil defense has confirmed, again, the last quarter hour, there are no injuries.

Now, there are hundreds of people apparently that have evacuated the building and looking to see if they can get back in the building. The word that we have from on the ground is that those at the 50th floor or above, this fire happened around the 50th floor trying to confirm exactly which floor it is, will not be able to go back into the building. This is 5:00 in the morning anytime soon. Those below, they chose to go in because the fire is out tend do so. So we are trying to see what in fact happens to those residents going forward.

Again, this is a very well known building on the Dubai skyline. Anderson, you've been in to Dubai and Abu Dhabi. If you are driving from Abu Dhabi going in on the main highway into Dubai, about 15 minutes before you get into downtown Dubai, there's a very packed residential area and our viewers can see the pictures right now. This is known simply as the Marina and the torch is one of the best known buildings on that skyline.

This is a city that has grown rapidly over the last ten years and, of course, anytime a fire like this happens, people start to question the building codes. Are there safety precautions in place? Has the fire department responded in time? Again, the world from civil defense, no injuries on the ground. That the fire has been contained and we don't the cause of the fire. Although, there have been questions raised about this building in the recent past.

COOPER: Yes. We are talking to the terrorists. Still a lot to learn in the hours ahead. I appreciate you monitoring this for you.

We continue to monitor it and bring you up to date all through the hour on the hour that we are on the air.

Quick reminder, make sure you set your DVR. You can watch "360" whenever you want.

Up next, more breaking news. What we learn from the accused road rage killer's arrest report. New details on this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: There is breaking news out of Las Vegas tonight. Details from the accused of road killer's arrest report including an alleged account he gave friends of his of the initial confrontation with Tammy Meyers and her daughter in the final fatal shooting. That and more tonight from our Sara Sidner.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SARA SIDNER, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Husband and father, Robert Meyers, embraces family members near the driveway where his wife was murdered. The traveling businessman still in shock over his wife's death still blaming himself for being away when it all happened.

The Meyers family is also struggling with the backlash from some in the public and media who have called his son, Brandon Meyers, a vigilante for being armed and going out with his mother to find the road rage suspects.

ROBERT MEYERS, VICTIM'S HUSBAND: Every day you guys go on air, I've got people threatening to kill my son because of things you guys have said.

SIDNER: But there are now two different versions of events emerging. The family says after the first confrontation on the road, Tammy Meyers picked up her son who has a concealed weapons permit and routinely carries a gun with him. The found the road rage suspect in the neighborhood. And the Meyers family tells us one of the suspects fired at them.

But a newly released police report tells a slightly different story. One of the suspect's friends telling police say it was one of the Meyers who brandished the gun first at the suspects before anyone fired. Ultimately, the police say suspect Eric Nowsch did go to Tammy Meyers home and killed her. According to the police report, Nowsch fired 22 times outside the home.

And in another twist, police were unaware that the family knew the suspect until the day of the arrest.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We did not know that.

SIDNER: Robert Meyers did suspect that Eric Nowsch had to do something with it, telling us his wife used to counsel the young man in the park just down the street where neighbors told us drug deals frequently go down.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He hung around with the wrong people. He was at the park along.

SIDNER: Nowsch's Instagram account showing pictures of what looks like pot. To give you an idea of just how close these two families live to one another, this is Meyers home where Tammy Meyers was shot and killed. And this is where the suspect lives. Less than a two to three minute walk from the home.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Sara Sidner joins us now. So I understand Robert Meyers told you he went over to the suspect's house before his arrest. Did he say why?

SIDNER: You know, he was visibly upset. He thought that the suspect that the police eventually did arrest had something to do with the murder of his wife and he went over. He knocked on the door. He told me, you know, I probably shouldn't have done that but my children told me to come back, pulled me back and let the police handle it. And he eventually did.

Nobody answered the door. The suspect's mother is inside that house with a small child and Robert Meyers said, you know, I just decided to let police handle it. We were all emotional, but he was very upset that his son has been getting, of course, death threats after all of this happened because people called him a vigilante. He said his children were the ones that calmed him down so that he could then go forward and try to help make funeral arrangements.

COOPER: Sara, just trying to understand this because it's very confusing and the information obviously has been contradictory for days now. Is it correct that this family suspected this young man was involved but didn't tell police?

SIDNER: You know, that was one of the details that we do not yet know. What we do know is that they didn't tell police that there was a kind of relationship between the mother and the suspect until the day that police arrested the suspect. So we don't know if they said, look, we think it's this person. We do know that they didn't say that the mother and the suspect knew each other quite well until the day that he was arrested.

That is still kind of a fuzzy detail if you will, Anderson. Whether or not they told police, hey, we think we know who the guy is without telling them the suspect actually knew the family.

COOPER: All right. Sara Sidner, appreciate it.

Joining us, legal analyst Mark Geragos and Jeffrey Toobin.

All right, Jeff, so according to police report, the suspect's friend are saying it was -- one of the Meyers who actually brandished the gun first.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: That's a new claim, as of today. I mean, this whole story is a good example of why we and people out in the world shouldn't make up our minds about what we think happened in a crime story upon hearing the first reports. I mean, the issue of who was the investigator of this confrontation, how it unfolded, I mean, I think the only thing clear, absolutely. And I think, you know, this is why you do an investigation first before you go to trial.

COOPER: And Mark, I mean, if the family knew who did this, I guess I don't understand why they wouldn't share that information with the police or share information that there was a prior relationship with the police and looking for an unnamed suspect and looked nothing like this guy. MARK GERAGOS, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, I think we discussed

last night and Jeff and I said, one of the reasons I wanted to see what was unfolding here is because I don't think that the police were so convinced that they wanted to tell the family what was going on. And today, we now find out why. Because there's at least a claim that the victim's son was the one who was brandishing the weapon and there's been reports that he was firing the weapon and there's not -- there's apparently more to this relationship than has been revealed.

I'm with Jeff shoulder to shoulder on this one. What I always try to counsel that you don't want to jump to conclusions. But at the same time, what we've seen here is a story that appeared to be one thing has radically changed. And I wouldn't be surprised if there is more twists and turns that are coming on this story.

TOOBIN: And just to emphasize what Mark is saying, there is this other suspect out there who may actually look like the person in the sketch. What this person's role in all of this is one of the many unknowns at this point.

COOPER: The other thing that doesn't make that much sense, Jeff, which Mark kind of alluded to last night, is that if Mrs. Meyers was in fact fearful for her life and she went out with her son searching for this guy, why would they leave their daughter at the home?

TOOBIN: And why didn't they call 9-1-1 and let the police handle this? Which it's their job to do. You know, you obviously want to feel a great deal of sympathy for the Meyers family. This woman died at age 44, which is a tragedy under any circumstances. But, I mean, there does appear to be a theme unfolding here of sort of self-help rather than relying on the police. You know, seeking out the suspect on his own, and not --

GERAGOS: Why does the 22-year-old have a concealed weapons permit?

COOPER: Well, that's another question we don't have an answer yet.

TOOBIN: And you know, one of the subtexts of this whole story and sort of the sacrilege to say in these day and age is why do all these people have guns? You know, I mean, wouldn't everybody had been better off if they were throwing punches instead of shooting at each other, 22 shots no less?

GERAGOS: Or knifing each other. And what I really don't understand about it is the thing that they have not, or we don't know yet, it's speculation, but this whole idea of not only just leaving the daughter there but why is this car supposedly trailing, why is there a relationship nobody is talking about or they didn't want to talk about initially. Why is the father believed that it's the suspect that was arrested going to the house himself instead of telling the police. I mean, they're not telling 9-1-1. They've got a concealed weapons permit. He's going and finding -- going to knocking on the door of who he thinks ultimately the suspect does. He's not telling the police. There has got to be more to the story.

COOPER: Yes. TOOBIN: I'm with you on that.

COOPER: Jeff Toobin, thank you. Mark Geragos as well.

Up next, Rudy Giuliani's claim that President Obama does not love America and what some potential Republican presidential hopefuls have to say about it or do not have to say about it actually when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: All fall out today from Rudy Giuliani's claim that the president of the United States do not love the United States. The former New York mayor presidential candidate has since doubled and kind of tripled down on him. And today in what's becoming fair or not in early tests for potential 2016 Republican presidential candidates, a leading GOP named double down on his unwillingness to disavow Mr. Giuliani's remarks.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. SCOTT WALKER (R) WISCONSIN: I love America. That's the only person I can comment on. Do I - what I think and I think America is a great and exceptional country and I think the president is perfectly capable of answering that for himself?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: That's Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker today repeating the answer he gave shortly after the closed door dinner in his honor Wednesday night at Manhattan's 21 club. That's where former Mayor Giuliani said this about President Obama. "I do not believe and I know this is a horrible thing to say, but I do not believe that the president loves America." Mr. Giuliani went on to say "he doesn't love you and he doesn't love me. He wasn't brought up the way you were brought up and I was brought up through love of this country." The next morning yesterday, on "Fox and Friends," he said this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUDY GIULIANI: First of all, I'm not questioning his patriotism. He's a patriot, I'm sure. What I'm saying is, that in his rhetoric, I very rarely hear him say the things that I used to hear Ronald Reagan say, the things that I used to hear Bill Clinton say, about how much he loves America. I do hear him criticize America much more often than other American presidents and when it's not in the context of overwhelming number of statements about the exceptionalism of America, it sounds like he's more of a critic than he is a supporter.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Well, not long after that, he spoke to "The New York Times" about the controversy and took it to another level. "Some people thought it was racist," Mr. Giuliani told the paper, saying, quote, "I thought that was a joke since he was brought up by a white mother, a white grandfather, went to white schools and most of this he learned from white people." And with that on the table, White House Spokesman Josh Earnest this afternoon said this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOSH EARNEST, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I think really the only thing that I feel is, I feel sorry for Rudy Giuliani today.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Other Democrats as you might imagine have gone further than that. Again, now, this is primarily train to a challenge for top Republicans, a kind of litmus test for 2016. Scott Walker, as you saw, tried not to say anything at all, except that he loves America. Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal and other potential 2016 contenders says, and I'm quoting, the level of the president's love for our country is immaterial at this juncture. They also acknowledged that Mr. Giuliani should have chosen in his words differently phraseology. Differently phraseology.

Florida Senator Marco Rubio, on the other hand, flat out said he has no doubt that President Obama loves this country, he did, however, take issue with his policies. All and all, strange thing to be debating at all at this level and at this time, at this juncture. The question of whether the man who has twice been elected to the highest office in the land, loves his country or not. Strange, but as we've seen since the 2008 campaign, not entirely unusual. Prospects from now from chief national correspondent John King and senior political analyst David Gergen.

So, John, it's interesting to see - have a likely Republican presidential candidate to responding or not responding to Giuliani's comments.

JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR, "INSIDE POLITICS": Anderson, and punting just won't do it. Look, Scott Walker did a television interview right after - on CNBC, says I don't want to judge Mayor Giuliani. Bobby Jindal, the governor of Louisiana said, if you are looking for people to criticize the mayor, don't come to me. It is interesting. You use the word interesting. Look, a key test for presidential leadership is who will you hire, who will you fire, who do you want to stand with. They were found in the 2008 campaign of saying to then Senator Barack Obama, when are you going to dump Jeremiah Wright?

His preacher, remember it, at one point, that now President Obama did that. If you want to be president of the United States, you have to make choices and I think that Governor Walker might rethink his - I don't want to judge Mayor Giuliani. What the mayor said, you can debate the president about, should he call them radical Islamic extremists. You can debate them about the policy, saying he doesn't love America? I think it's too far.

COOPER: And David, I mean what do you make of what Giuliani said and also how the Republicans have been reacting to it?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I agree with John, but I basically - I remain a fan of Rudy Giuliani as Mayor of New York. I think he did the first class job. What he said in this instance was wrong and gave deep offense to many. And I would think starting right in the White House. To go to John's point about what he said, look, it's part of this sort of sense that Republicans have sometimes and opponents of the president have stirred up, he's not one of us.

COOPER: Right, he's other.

GERGEN: He's not really an American. He's other. As if to say, you know, he's not truly an American and there is something illegitimate about him. You know, look where he was born, in this - and so forth and so on. And I just think it - from an American point of view, we have deep disagreements in this country about what it means to be an American. We have different - and to accuse someone of being un- American is an insult. And it's very personal. And it does recall the days when we had an un-American, you know, the House Center American Activities Committee way back in the McCarthy period when people didn't quite meet the standards. And this is - it was just wrong to go there.

COOPER: It's interesting ...

GERGEN: I asked a Republican candidate, they need to call it what it is. Look, I disagree with Rudy Giuliani. I agree with him on a lot of things, but on this one issue I think he was wrong.

COOPER: I mean when Giuliani says that the President Obama wasn't, and I'm quoting, wasn't brought up the way you were brought up and I was brought up through love of this country, for Giuliani to link love of America to where someone was raised or how someone was raised, I mean you can't ...

KING: It's dangerous. If you embrace the American story of immigrants, if you embrace the continuing American story of diversity, yes, it's a tough place to say that where you grew up affects whether or not you love America. A lot of people who have been American citizens for weeks love America. Never mind those who've been citizens for years or for generations. So, it's a question here of these people who want to be president of the United States and leaders know and Mayor Giuliani, I agree with David about his leadership after 9/11 and I've had a good relationship with him over the years, but he knows, leaders know what the dark voices in political movement say and Rudy Giuliani knows, any Republican knows, any American who follows politics knows, there is this fringe that has said these things about President Obama from day one. Where is his birth certificate? Where is he from? Is he a Muslim? Should he be president? Is he a legitimate president? It's a fringe that in some case, is a lunatic fringe. But they use that same kind of language.

So the challenge for a leader is to know that it's out there, and to lead away from that water, not toward it. And what Mayor Giuliani said takes you toward it. That's a mistake.

COOPER: Interesting. David Gergen, thank you. John King as well.

GERGEN: Thank you. COOPER: Well, there's also now breaking news on this story. Mr. Giuliani who's been reluctant to talk to CNN all day, just called our Jim Acosta who joins us now.

So, Jim, what did the former mayor say?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, Rudy Giuliani is not backing down one bit. He said to me during this brief phone conversation, quote, "I don't regret making this statement. I believe it. I don't know if he loves America." And then he went on to say during this conversation, "I don't feel the same enthusiasm from him for America. One other thing I should point out, Anderson, is that during this phone call, mayor - the former mayor said that his office has received some death threats, he said a secretary has gotten some death threats over the phone. But the former mayor did not say whether he alerted police to these threatening phone calls and CNN has no way of confirming that.

Giuliani did go on to say during the conversation that the majority of the phone calls he's received at his office have been supportive and he's even heard from Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal who has said, to call to - back him up on his comments.

All right. Jim Acosta. Jim, thank you very much, I appreciate that. Talking to Mayor Giuliani just a short time ago.

Just ahead tonight, the fight against ISIS, growing skepticism, whether a plan to try to take back the city of Mosul will actually work, whether Iraq's army is really ready for the fight and why the plan was divulged in the first place. Also, we had thousands forced to evacuate in Dubai. The latest on the fire in a 79-story apartment building, one of the tallest in the world.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: More skepticism tonight about the now widely publicized spring offensive to drive ISIS out of the Iraqi city of Mosul. A senior Arab official telling CNN's Jim Sciutto that his government is concerned that the offense that will be largely led by Shia and Kurdish forces which he believes will further alienate Iraqi Sunnis and further destabilize the situation they are for strengthening ISIS. And that's just one of many growing concerns. Joining us with more on how this is going to play out, where it goes from here, chief national security correspondent, Jim Sciutto. So, let's talk about this counteroffensive to try to take back Mosul. How confident are U.S. officials that Iraqi security forces are actually up to the task?

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, they've got to be - they've announced that they are going forward. To be fair, they've been training them, we've had these military advisors on the ground for months now, but I was in Iraq in December. I asked U.S. commanders there and at the time, they said that Iraqi forces were many months away. Clearly, the Iraqis have been chomping at the bit a bit here to move forward and also, these concerns from the senior Arab official about sectarianism still permeating the military. That's a problem not just for the operation itself, but for the aftermath. Do you get a stable situation afterwards and America's coalition partners are saying, no you don't.

COOPER: But I mean this is going to be a tough battle, as a city, I think of what - some 2 million people, there are a number of ISIS fighters already there. Obviously, they are battle hardened. Where do you suddenly get the tens of thousands of Iraqi troops you need in a military force, which not only had fled Mosul, you know, fled their post back in June, but for years, has been trained and well equipped, and, you know, turned out to be incapable of actually fighting.

SCIUTTO: You know, it's a great question. Still, a lingering question. One thing that U.S. military advisors have been doing there on the ground since they've arrived, is assessing the units. And early on, they made an assessment of Iraqi military units and determined that only about half of the brigades were up to snuff. And that still give you - gives you tens of thousands of forces. And that's really going to be the vanguard here with Kurdish forces cutting off supply lines. But really, you know, how they perform in an urban battle, that's a big question, it's estimated 1,000 to 2,000 ISIS fighters inside Mosul. And trust me, you've got to expect that they are digging in, that they are setting bobby traps. They're readings these plans in the newspapers and they are, you know, digging themselves in so that they can respond. It's not going to be an easy fight no matter how well trained those Iraqi forces are.

COOPER: Right. I mean that's part of the reason that officials are telegraphing about this attack in the hopes that ISIS fighters might simply choose to, you know, to leave or you get civilians to get out of the way, but all of that is very much an open question. Do we know exactly the details about the role that the U.S. military advisors are going to play in this?

SCIUTTO: We don't know yet, but we do know that U.S. commanders are seriously considering recommending to the president the U.S. military advisors either go on a forward role as advisors, but still close to the frontlines with these troops, helping them along, helping command what possibly is ground controllers to calling airstrikes, they haven't recommended that to the president yet, but they have specifically mentioned the Mosul operation as a circumstance where they might do that. So, that's an open question now. But they may very well go to the president with that question.

COOPER: All right. Jim Sciutto, Jim, thanks.

SCIUTTO: Thank you.

COOPER: We are following the breaking news tonight out of Dubai where one of the tallest apartment buildings in the world caught fire. Earlier tonight, according to authorities there, the fire is out, no one was hurt, and there have been no fatalities. We'll continue to monitor developments for you there. In the meantime, let's get the latest on some of the other stories. Well, Randi Kaye has a "360" bulletin. Randi?

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, dangerous cold is gripping much of the eastern United States with more than 125 million Americans under a wind chill warning or advisory. There have been at least 23 deaths due to the weather this week. Most of them in Tennessee. Tonight, the FDA is being accused of knowing that a commonly used medical device linked to that deadly super bug outbreak in Los Angeles may be flawed, can't be properly cleaned, yet never ordered a fix. The hospital has contacted 179 people who had endoscopic procedures between October and January. Police in the U.K. are trying to find three teenage girls from London who are thought to be making their way to Syria. They haven't been seen since Tuesday when they took a flight to Istanbul.

And NASCAR had indefinitely suspended driver Kurt Busch after a court in Delaware found that he committed in the act of domestic violence against his former girlfriend. Busch's attorney called the ruling a travesty of justice and says his client plans to appeal NASCAR's decision, Anderson.

COOPER: All right, Randi, thanks very much. Just ahead, more from you, recordings have been released of the interrogation of two girls, 12 years old at the time after they allegedly tried to kill their classmate to please a fictional horror character called "Slenderman." It's a bizarre case, what the girl said after the stabbing, Randi's report next.

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COOPER: A judge in Wisconsin is expected to rule next month on whether the trial of two girls who stabbed a classmate should continue in adult court. Now, all three were just 12 years old at the time and the two girls who tried to kill their classmates, say they did it to please "Slenderman," a fictional character in games and online, but one the girls apparently believed is very real. Now their interrogation tapes have been released and they are chilling to say the least. Here again is Randi Kaye.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KAYE: At just 12, these two girls nearly took another classmate's life. Last May, they lured her to a wooded area where police say they stabbed her 19 times. Video of their interrogation being made public for the first time.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who stabbed who first?

UNIDENTIFIED GIRL: I think Anissa stabbed her first and then I continued. And then Anissa said, "Morgan, make sure she doesn't escape!"

She told me that she got her in the lung, right here six times and then like in the leg a few times.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KAYE: The criminal complaint says the victim, who was also 12, was badly wounded. One knife strike coming so close to her heart, the criminal complaint says she was one millimeter away from certain death. Still, she survived. Not exactly how her attackers, Anissa Weier and Morgan Geyser were hoping this would end. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So, we told her we were going to get help. But we really weren't. We were going to run and let her pass away. So we ran.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KAYE: The girls also told detectives how they each took part in the stabbing. This is their supply list. Notice the kitchen knife?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So how did you get the knife from Anissa?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She sort of just shoved it into my hand. There it was. I don't know, I didn't know what I did. It was it sort of just happened. It didn't feel like anything. It was like air.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Incredibly, the victim managed to crawl out of the woods. A bike rider found her and got her to the hospital. The young suspects were arrested soon after. Both charged as adults with attempted first degree intentional homicide. When investigators asked why they did it, they both had the same answer. Slenderman. And this is where a violent and nearly murderous act becomes simply bizarre. Slenderman is a fictional Internet monster, a ghoul who lurks in chatrooms in some of the Internet's darkest corners. He's faceless, often portrayed in a dark suit with octopus like tentacles. Slenderman is believed to hunt children and those who look to expose him.

Police say the two attackers said they first encountered Slenderman on the Website Creepy Pasta Wiki. They thought he was real, police say, and that if they didn't kill their classmate, then Slenderman would hurt them or their families.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When you guys were walking, you thought you saw Slender? That's your ...

MORGAN: Uh-huh, after Morgan stabbed her. And he has tentacles that were very sharp.

DETECTIVE: Did you see him in your dreams? Or where you see him at?

MORGAN: Oh, I see him in my dreams.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KAYE: Evidence presented in court shows what was found in Morgan Geyser's bedroom, dozens of disturbing drawings and numerous disfigured Barbie dolls, many with the Slenderman symbol on them. All proof the defense team says the girls truly believed Slenderman is real.

MORGAN: Truth be told, I wanted to be locked up so I couldn't hurt her. But that time has passed and now I'm in here because we were careless. I knew this would happen and we would get in trouble.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Randi Kaye joins me now. This is so disturbing on so many different levels. So are they OK to stand trial?

KAYE: Apparently so. In December, Anderson, they found they were both competent to stand trial. But now the question is, will they stand trial in an adult court where they are right now or will it be moved to a juvenile court? Their defense lawyer is asking that to be moved to a juvenile court because it's a big difference for them.

COOPER: Sure.

KAYE: If they get convicted in a juvenile court, they get 25 years. If they get convicted in adult court, it's 60 years. So it's a difference of 35 years for their lives.

COOPER: I mean it's just - it doesn't ...

KAYE: So disturbing.

COOPER: Yeah.

KAYE: And age 12 to be talking like that.

COOPER: Randi, thank you very much for the report.

KAYE: Coming up, the latest on the fire to 79 storied apartment building in Dubai.

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COOPER: We began tonight with the apartment fire in Dubai. That 79 storied tower. More than 1100 feet tall in Dubai's marina district on fire. Flames shooting out of the high floors, said to have gone around the 50th floor. Molten glass and burning debris falling to the street below. A short time ago, we got word from authorities in Dubai that the fire is out. They said there've been no fatalities and no injuries and the people living below the 50th floor will shortly be able to actually return home. On the phone joining us now is Rhea Saran who lives in the building. First of all, are you OK? Is everyone you know OK, Rhea?

RHEA SARAN, WITNESS: Yes, everyone that I know and I'm OK. I heard the fire alarms going off pretty early at 2:00 a.m. And was among the first few people who have left the building. And, yeah, we're fine. It's just been kind of a scary night.

COOPER: Did everyone evacuate immediately? Because I understand there have been the problems of fire alarms going off in this building before.

SARAN: Yeah, well, to be honest, I sort of hesitated for a while as well when I was in bed and I was sort of like, oh, no. It's another fire drill. And I waited it out for a few minutes and then I sort of thought to myself, well, it hasn't stopped and so I looked out the window. And I saw that there were already police cars with the lights on and a few, just a small handful of people siding on the sidewalk looking up at the building. So I figured OK, there's got to be something here.

COOPER: So, what floor do you live on?

SARAN: I'm on the 8TH floor. Which is pretty lucky because it's a high tower.

COOPER: So, you didn't actually see the fire or smell any flames or anything?

SARAN: I absolutely nothing. I mean when I stepped out into the hallway, it could have been any night. It was only when I went to the stairwell and people was sort of coming down, that I realized that OK, you know, we really have to be evacuated.

COOPER: And then did you, I mean were you out on the street watching this building burn?

SARAN: We were for quite a while. I mean the authorities obviously kept us at a safe distance, and because the debris started to fall and there was really massive pieces at the time and - fire that was falling. And so we were kept pretty far back. But yeah, we were watching it and I have friends that live in a building right across from it. So I was up in their apartment for a little while, which was on the 45th floor, which is, you know, almost level with the actual fire. And then we got evacuated from that building as well.

COOPER: Have you had any concerns about, there have been reports I've been reading now a lot about sort of fire codes in Dubai over the last several hours and it seems like a lot of the buildings in Dubai, I've read as high as 70 percent, are basically the outer kind of core of them, is there's highly flammable material that used in the construction. Have you been concerned about a fire in a high-rise building at all before?

SARAN: I'm - I hadn't. And I hadn't read all that much about it either. I mean tonight, I learned a whole lot more and a lot of people sort of talked about it. But I mean there was I believe a fire in a building a few years ago. And - but honestly, I hadn't thought about it that much.

COOPER: And how often had the fire alarm gone off in the past? Because I've read that was part of the problem that when it went off tonight, a lot of people thought, or, just another false alarm.

SARAN: I would say since I was there, which is about a year and a half, maybe about ten times?

COOPER: Oh, really? That often?

SARAN: Yeah.

COOPER: And ... SARAN: I mean I think it was mostly just a special period where there was something for ...

COOPER: And have you been able to, or are you able to go back in the building yet? Because I know you as you said, you're only on the eighth floor.

SARAN: Yeah, I know - not yet as far as I know and I'm now staying with friends for tonight. So, I haven't try it either.

COOPER: And when you were - I know you said you didn't see the fire. So you didn't see any of the molten glass pouring by your window or anything like that. That hadn't happened yet.

SARAN: No, absolutely not. It was also on the opposite side of the building from the way my apartment faces.

COOPER: Right.

SARAN: And so, no, I mean I hadn't seen anything until I left the building and was out on the street to see it from there.

COOPER: Well, Rhea Saran, I'm so glad to talk to you, and I'm so glad you're OK and it seems like everybody else in the building so far as we know is OK as well. Thank you very much for talking with us. We appreciate it. That does it for us. Thanks for watching. The CNN QUIZ SHOW starts now.