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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Donald Trump Leading First National CNN/ORC Poll; Crews Searching Round the Clock For Two Missing 14-Year-Old Boys In Florida; Bobbi Kristina Brown's Death Investigation Still Underway; Fraud Probe Targets Program for Disabled Workers; Deadly Road Rage Incident, One Dead; Mom Saves Son Before Dying in Escalator Accident. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired July 27, 2015 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[20:00:10] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening. We begin tonight with the race for the White House. A race that President Obama says is wash with Republican rhetoric that what he said is inflammatory not conducive to good policy or good politics. We have more on his comments in a moment.
But as you know some of the most controversial statements have come from Donald Trump. His comments on immigration and questioning John McCain's status as a war hero, well, they don't sit well with some of his fellow GOP candidates. They don't seem to be hurting him among Republican voters.
We know this, the first national CNN/ORC poll since McCain comments, Donald Trump is leading with 18 percent. Jeb Bush, with a close second with15 percent, within the poll's margin of error. He is followed by Scott Walker, and then Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio and the rest of the GOP candidates in single digits.
The election is certainly a long way out. But it is not a stretch to say we are already entering the crunch time. The first Republican debate is under two weeks away, I should point out. And that some observers say is what is driving out some of the amped up rhetoric. Some candidates needing to try to get notice. If there is one thing Donald Trump is very good at and has been very good at so far is getting attention.
CNN political reporter Sarah Murray reports.
SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER (voice-over): What's behind the so-called Trump bump? The man himself gave his explanation to CNN's Jake Tapper.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is more than me. This is a movement going on. People are tired of these incompetent politicians in Washington that can't get anything done.
MURRAY: It is a movement fueled by dissatisfied voters, 53 percent of Republicans say the government in Washington doesn't represent their views. Even though their party controls the House and the Senate. And 52 percent of Republicans say they want Trump to stay in the race. While just 33 percent want him to drop out entirely.
Now Trump's rise in the polls is drawing President Obama into the fray. Weighing in from his trip to Africa, the president accused other Republicans of ramping up their rhetoric to keep up with the brash billionaire.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When you get rhetoric like this, it may, maybe it gets attention and maybe this is just an effort to push Mr. Trump out of the headlines. But it is not the kind of leadership that is needed for America right now.
MURRAY: That criticism aimed squarely at a GOP hopeful, Mike Huckabee who referenced the holocaust in this controversial comment about the president's nuclear deal with Iran.
MIKE HUCKABEE (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He is so naive he would trust the Iranians and he would take the Israelis and basically march them to the door of the oven.
MURRAY: Huckabee's remark, sparked a rebuke from democratic front- runner, Hillary Clinton.
HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Comments like these are offensive and they have no place in our political dialogue.
MURRAY: As well as president Obama.
OBAMA: You know the particular comments of Mr. Huckabee are -- I think part of just a general pattern that we have seen that would be considered ridiculous if it weren't so sad.
MURRAY: Fellow Republican Jeb Bush also urged the former Arkansas governor to tone it down.
JEB BUSH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The use of that kind of language, is just wrong. This is not the way we are going to win elections and that's not how we are going to solve problems.
MURRAY: Late today, Huckabee remained defiant.
HUCKABEE: I will not apologize and I will not recant because the word holocaust was invoked by the Iranian government. They used that very hard word.
COOPER: And Sara Murray joins me now. So there is some strong backlash against Huckabee's comments, is anyone standing up for him?
MURRAY: You know, interestingly one of his GOP rivals Rick Santorum said Mike Huckabee was absolutely right. He said it was clear Iran wants to wipe Israel out. And then he went on to continue defending him today. This gives you an idea of how people like Jeb Bush and people like Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum are really competing for different edges of the Republican Party as we get closer to the original caucus and primary states -- Anderson. COOPER: All right, Sara Murray, appreciate the reporting.
Joining me now Michael Cohen who works for Donald Trump, special counsel and executive vice president of the Trump organization. Also joining us, CNN political commentator Ana Navarro. She is Republican strategist, she is a supporter of Jeb Bush, and adviser to other GOP candidates as well.
Mr. Cohen, thanks for being with us. First of all, these poll numbers you have to feel very happy about where Donald Trump is snow.
MICHAEL COHEN, EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT, TRUMP ORGANIZATION: Yes, I am sure Mr. Trump is feeling very happy, you know, leading the field again for almost a full straight month and top of the field for over five weeks. That doesn't mean he is going to stop. He is going to continue to hit the campaign trail. He is continuing to bring his message of making America great again to the people.
COOPER: So, as he prepares though for this debate, this is going to be something and Donald Trump says obviously been in front of cameras a lot. He has appeared on stage. He has speaking towards he has been on. But debating, as he himself had said is not something he has necessarily done on this kind of stage.
COHEN: Actually, Mr. Trump has never debated before. And what is interesting is Jeb Bush's camp has already out that Jeb hasn't debated for 13 years. And he is feeling a little rusty. Donald Trump has never been on the debate stage before.
[20:05:02] COOPER: Everybody is trying to lower expectations about how they are going to do. And certainly, Mr. Trump --
COHEN: Simply because this is probably going to be the single most watched debate in the history of--.
COOPER: No doubt about it, especially for a primary first GOP debate.
COHEN: Especially for the primary.
COOPER: And that, I got to say, is largely due to Donald Trump.
COHEN: It is only because of Donald Trump.
COOPER: But how does he actually prepare for this? I mean, is he going to - I mean, he hasn't been big on specifics. He hasn't gone into the nitty-gritty of policy. He has very big picture of making America great again. Problems with illegal immigration. But in terms of the nuts and bolts, do you think he is going to be focusing on that, the next couple weeks? Is he going to be, in the next week, is he going to be cramming or is he going to try to stay--?
COHEN: Well, Donald Trump is not going to cramp. He read the papers every day. He watches all of the political discussions going on television. He is very well informed. But more than that, what he is, he is a deal-maker. He understands what's necessary in order to make this country great again. COOPER: So, he is not going to be burning midnight oil, reading
COHEN: Absolutely not.
COOPER: OK, fair enough.
Ana, you have been tough on Donald Trump's candidacy. Don't numbers speak for themselves at this point? I mean, more people at this point in the race clearly like his approach. They like what he is saying. They like how he is saying it more than any of the other GOP candidates?
ANA NAVARRO, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I think at this point you can't, you can't argue with that. He is most definitely tapping into voter anger, voter frustration, with the dysfunction in Washington. I think you ask anybody they will tell you they hate Washington, they hate the dysfunction, they hate that they can't solve problem, that they can't get along, that they doesn't address issues, that are national issues, complex issues, that all they do is talk.
There is wide frustration across the country. I would say not even just Republicans with what is going on and is not going on in Washington. And also, Anderson, part of it is that frankly we have given Donald Trump more earned media than any other candidate and that any candidate could actually pay for. He declared what June 16th. It's now the end of July. It's like Groundhog Day. Every day we're talking about Donald Trump.
COOPER: I would argue he has earned -- earned it?
COHEN: I would argue that he has earned that as well.
NAVARRO: I would argue that he is outrageous and he is great for ratings. People, you know, love the turning of the process into a reality show. The way they tuned in --
COOPER: I got to say though, Ana, -- let us put us back on that because I think this isn't just, I don't think this is just about television shows chasing ratings. This is poll driven. I mean, this is -- when he started to be a serious candidate at the top of the polls, poll after poll after poll, that's when the coverage really exploded.
COHEN: No, Ana, this is not reality driven, Ana.
COHEN: What this is, is Donald Trump's complete distain for what's going on right now in our government. I mean, look at what's going on in the Iran deal. This is just terrible. And, Donald Trump has been saying, you need to have real deal makers. And you need to have them in order to make America great. We have to be strong. We have to be --
COOPER: Let me ask you, though, Mr. Cohen, does Donald Trump, does he agree with Mike Huckabee's comments, is he offended by Mike Huckabee?
COHEN: He is not offended by Mike Huckabee's statement. And what he is saying to the American people is without a strong America, we do not have a strong world. If you have a weak America, we are going to have a have weak world. We need to lead. We need to be humble. We need to be sincere. But what we need how to be is we need to be strong.
COOPER: Or do you believe, at this debate we are going to hear more specifics. And I'm going to give you an example. He repeatedly said that the government of Mexico is sending illegal immigrants across the border. I talked to him about that. He said at the border himself, when asked about this, that he had seen evidence of it. When asked if he had seen evidence. Yes, I have. We will be showing you the evidence. He still hasn't done that.
COHEN: Anderson, when they were setting up the cameras, actually caught people jumping over the fence.
COHEN: We know this is going on. We have 11 million illegal immigrants that are proven.
COOPER: That the Mexican government themselves are not just not doing a good job stopping people, but are actually sending people --
COHEN: They're not stopping them. They're telling them to go. That's the problem.
COOPER: But is there any proof that Donald from is going to offer.
COHEN: If Donald Trump has the proof, Donald Trump will provide it. But what we know is that there a real serious problem in this country with illegal immigration. And Donald Trump brought it to the forefront.
COOPER: Anna, finally with you. The more candidates push back against Donald Trump, the better he seems to be doing.
NAVARRO: I agree with you. I think part of it is this, this -- this perception by voters that he represents anti-establishment. Which I think is ironic because he has been part of the establishment. He hasn't been, you know, he hasn't been getting donations from lobbyist. He has been giving donations to every side, to both side - right, which he truly admits. But he has been able to capture the imagination of voters and seeing him as anti-establishment.
Although, you know, this is the first time with Mike Huckabee's comment that we are speaking about something that isn't Donald Trump for the last one month and a half.
[20:10:30] COHEN: Mr. Trump actually spoke about Iran. And he said that once we destabilize that area, Iran was going to take over. COOPER: But Ana, your candidate, Jeb Bush, has been invited on CNN I
believe every single day and has yet to actually appear. Donald Trump, whether you agree with what he is saying or not, he, he is appearing front of the media. I talked to him twice. Jake Tapper has talked to him twice. And in, you know, wide ranging interviews that have gone for more than 30 minutes. There is not a lot of candidates who do that. And Jeb Bush is not. He is not showing up on CNN.
NAVARRO: He hasn't shown up on CNN, certainly. And I'm sure at some point he is going to show up on CNN. If, you know, nothing else, at the CNN debate in September. He gave a wide ranging interview today to Telemundo in perfect Spanish. He has given, you know, a number of interviews. And nobody has been more accessible to the press, had press goggled, answered questions than Jeb Bush has.
COHEN: I would disagree with that. Nobody has been more accessible to the media than Donald Trump. And you know, the reason why, Ana, everybody is interested in Mr. Trump, and they're not looking, regarding the debate. What is the American people looking for? You think that they're looking for a great debater? Or a job creator? That's what Donald Trump is talking to the American people about. He will bring business back to America. He will turn around and he will create immigration reform. And he will do the things that is necessary. Unlike your guy -- unlike your guy who is great at talking.
COOPER: Ana, I want your response and then we got to go.
NAVARRO: All right, Michael. I'm glad, well I am just glad to see that -- that -- I'm glad to see that Mr. Trump's minions, are just like him, all they do is come to TV and insult other people and throw offensive and still no substance --.
COHEN: It's not insulting. The American people deserve better.
NAVARRO: Listen, you are a great reflection of the guy you represent.
COHEN: As you are as well.
COOPER: Michael Cohen, I do appreciate you being on. Ana Navarro, we always love having you.
A quick reminder, make sure you set your DVR. You can watch 360 whenever you want.
Coming up, the boat, the two 14-year-old Florida boys were in has been found. But still no sign of the missing teens since last Friday. We got the latest on the search and speak with the boys' moms next.
Also later, I don't know if you have seen this video, a horrifying escalator accident leaving a woman dead. She manages to save her little boy just before being sucked under the escalator itself in a matter of seconds. We will be right back.
[20:16:11] COOPER: Crews are searching day and night for two 14-year- old boys last seen Friday near Jupiter Florida, buying gas for their boat. The boat was found capsized yesterday. A life jacket found in the water. There is no sign yet of the boys themselves. Their families are certainly not giving up hope. And I'm going to speak to the boys' moms in a moment.
But first our Martin Savidge joins me with the latest on the search. What have we found out, Martin?
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well the good news is, and it is good news, the coast guard is still classifying this as a search-and- rescue operation. So officially they believe there is hope not just the family saying that there is hope. And they actually say, Anderson, that given the water conditions they're seeing out there, that it is possible a person could survive in the water four to five days. The search area now is Saint Augustine and north. It moves. But it is becoming focused with the finding of the boat.
COOPER: And does it seem like whatever happened may have occurred due to bad weather, were there storms in that area?
SAVIDGE: Officially, they don't know what happened to the boat. And they can't say exactly what happened. Other than we know that yesterday the coast guard found it upside down. And when a rescue swimmer went in the water, he did note that the cover to the outboard and motor was off. Maybe that indicates there could have been some sort of motor trouble of some sort.
But again, we don't know when that boat capsized. It was stormy. And I should say, Florida stormy. That means, storms in the afternoon. Squalls. No tropical storms. But even those can be severe in a small boat.
COOPER: Well, Martin, appreciate the update. Thank you.
The families have found that the Perry and Austin rescue fund to help cover costs. You can donate at gofundme.com/perryandaustin. We also are going to have the link on our website, ac360.com, if you missed it tonight.
Joining me now at the missing boys' moms, Pamela Cohen and Carly Black.
Pamela and Carly, thank you so much for being with us. I cannot imagine what these last few days have been like for you. What's your understanding, Carly, of where the search stands right now? What have authorities told you?
CARLY BLACK, MOTHER OF MISSING 14-YEAR-OLD AUSTIN STEPHANOS: I think, from what I have been told, is that it is still in full force. And I mean they're -- they have brought out every resource they have. And they're using everything they have to find our boys. And they truly believe that they're going to find them. That they're out there. And that they're going to find them. COOPER: And Pamela, your son, Perry, I mean, both of these boys, they
know their way around boats. They know how to operate on the water, right?
PAMELA COHEN, MOTHER OF MISSING 14-YEAR-OLD PERRY COHEN: Yes, both boys are very, very comfortable on the water. We have both always said that they're just as comfortable on a boat and on the waters as they are on land. And they are avid fishermen. They are avid swimmers. They're extremely athletic and very skilled and knowledgeable about being on the water. Which is one of the reasons why the search-and-rescue has maintained the force that it has, because there is such strong belief that they will be rescued and found very soon.
COOPER: And Carly, it's been reported that they were traveling to the Bahamas, is that your understanding?
BLACK: No, I don't believe that to be true. I believe that they want out fishing like they said they were. There was a storm that came through that afternoon around 2:00. They were out there. I think, you know, the boat capsized. I'm not sure when or where. But you know, I think they, they just -- they had a mishap somewhere along the line. These boys have been out there doing this forever. It's not new to them. They, they -- they prepare for these situations. You know? You're taught what to do. You're told what to do. You know, it's not like they're -- they're beginners at this.
COOPER: They sound like the kind of young men you would want to be with in a situation like this. That they know.
COOPER: That they know how to deal with this kind of situation.
[20:20:00] BLACK: I have said since this started I would want to be with Austin or Perry. I mean, either one of them. They're strong, strong young men.
COOPER: Yes. And that is something to important to keep in mind.
Pamela, Perry understand there were restrictions on where he could go, what he could do on the boat, correct?
COHEN: Yes. There were. You know, we have all been 14 at some point. And it's equivalent to a child that gets his driver's license. And if you put a restriction, you are only allowed to go within a ten- mile radius of your house. And I can guarantee you almost every single child that has their driver's license have gone beyond that. That's what kids do. They push the boundaries and they push the limits. When restrictions are put on them because they want to really feel independent.
I'm not, I'm not mad at him for that. I was a kid too. I understand that. But it's -- it's something that happens. And I think a lot of people think about, but the boys were only 14 years old, what were they doing out on a boat? We live in a boating community. And this is part of the lifestyle here. We are surrounded by water. The boys are raised on the water. They're raised on boats. So it really is second nature to them. And they're very, very comfortable. They have the knowledge. They have the skill. Just like I said earlier. And they're going to be OK.
COOPER: Yes. Well, I hope they are found quickly. And brought back to you very, very soon. Pamela, thank you so much. And Carly, we'll be thinking and praying for you. Thank you.
COHEN: Thank you so much.
BLACK: Thank you.
COOPER: Well, just ahead tonight the initial autopsy findings for Bobbi Kristina Brown have been released, Whitney Houston's daughter. As the Fulton County district attorney decide whether to actually bring criminal charges. Details ahead.
[20:25:51] COOPER: Six month vigil has ended for loved ones of Bobbi Kristina Brown. The 22-year-old daughter of Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown died yesterday in a hospice near Atlanta. The medical examiner said that autopsy results did not show an obvious underlying cause of death nor any significant injuries. More lab tests are now pending. Brown's death comes six months after she was found face down unresponsive in her bathtub.
Tonight, Miguel Marquez retraces how the tragedy that still a mystery unfolded.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Turn it up. Turn it up. Come on, George turn it up.
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Two beautiful and talented women gone before their time. Mother and daughter together on GMA's summer concert series in 2009.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I just want to say clap your hands.
MARQUEZ: Ten years earlier a near mirror image happier times for a family now devastated by loss. The death of 22-year-old Bobbi Kristina in a long and painful chapter.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Possible cardiac arrest, 21-year-old female in the bathtub, facedown.
MARQUEZ: January 31st, 2015, Brown was found face down in the bathtub of her suburban Atlanta home. She was placed in a medically induced coma. In June, she was transferred to a hospice facility. Her father said a statement, Krissy was and is an angel. I am completely numb at this time. My family must find a way to live with her in spirit and honor her memory. Our loss is unimaginable. The loss hard to comprehend three years after her superstar mother,
Whitney Houston, died in a similar manner in the bathtub of a Los Angeles hotel. The coroner ruled it was an accidental drowning with cocaine used and heart disease contributing factors.
Bobbi Kristina Brown's death now under the microscope. Just days after she was transferred to hospice care, the trust set up by her multimillionaire mother, filed a $40 million civil lawsuit against this man, Nick Gordon, who Whitney Houston took in to live with them when he was 12 years old. He was raised as Bobbi Kristina's brother and after Whitney's death they became romantically involved.
The suit claims Gordon was physically abusive, that he knocked out two of Bobbi Kristina's teeth and alleges they had a loud argument the day Bobbi Kristina was found unconscious in the bathtub. The lawsuit also says Gordon lied to get control over Bobbi Kristina's money claiming they were married, even withdrawing $11,000 from her account while she lay in her coma.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would never hurt anybody.
MARQUEZ: In March Gordon was on the Dr. Phil show. His mother and Dr. Phil trying to get him to accept rehab. Gordon admitted to using alcohol and Xanax before the interview.
NICK GORDON, BOBBI KRISTINA'S PARTNER: I want to let all you guys know I did everything possible in the world to, to protect them.
MARQUEZ: Substance abuse possibly an issue in Bobbi Kristina's life as well. She was photographed smoking what appeared to be a bong and she appeared seemingly impaired on her owned reality series, "the Houstons" on their own. At the time she was only 19 years old.
In the weeks before she was found in bathtub, there were potential warning signs. Bobbi Kristina lost control of her car after a tire blew crossing into oncoming traffic and colliding with another car. The friend she was with and the person in the other car both hospitalized. And then, this.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Some kind of domestic dispute.
MARQUEZ: A 911 call reporting fighting at Bobbi Kristina's residence. But when police arrived no one was home. A representative for Nick Gordon says they have no comment on the civil lawsuit at this time. The investigation to Bobbi Kristina Brown set has been turned over to Georgia's Fulton county district attorney who is not indicated if criminal charges will be brought.
COOPER: Autopsy completed today has not solved the mystery of how Bobbi Kristina Brown died.
[20:30:10] There's a lot to talk about. I want to dig deeper with CNN legal analyst and federal prosecutor, Sunny Hostin. Also, Dr. Drew Pinsky, addiction medicine specialist and host of HLN's "Dr. Drew."
Does the Houston family believe that Nick Gordon played a role in her death?
SUNNY HOSTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: They really do. From the very beginning in January, I was told that they were very suspicious of his involvement in this tragedy. I was told, Anderson, that she was missing teeth. That they found some injuries on her body. This was when she was first brought to the hospital. And they certainly were very suspicious about his involvement. They did not think he was being transparent. They did not think --
COOPER: But there is no evidence of the physical abuse so far that has been released?
HOSTIN: My understanding is that when she arrived at the hospital, at least this is what I was told.
COOPER: This is what you are told by sources within the family.
HOSTIN: Within the family.
COOPER: All right. So they would have, just for objectivity here, they would have a vested interest in getting that message out.
HOSTIN: Absolutely. Absolutely. I want to be clear about that as well. But they certainly told me that they saw injuries on her body that they felt, those injuries were consistent with some sort of struggle. She was missing teeth. And they were very, very suspicious about his involvement, which is why they did not allow him to come to the hospital to see her. They did not allow him to go to the hospice. And even in her last days, he was not allowed to be near her.
COOPER: Dr. Drew whatever happened to her, it is not only incredibly sad, but just so bizarre, the similarities, about how her mom passed away and how she was found. I mean, it's kind of unavoidable to make that comparison.
DR. DREW PINSKY, HLN HOST, DR. DREW: It is bizarre. But when a young person, otherwise, young, healthy person, the one that we know from this autopsy, she has no underlying medical conditions other than what was the consequence of her drowning.
When a young person dies or drowns or is in any sort of nefarious circumstance where they die, you always have to think drugs and alcohol. And in this case, there was no doubt in my mind that drugs and alcohol will loom large here. And there's one thing for sure, Nick Gordon did not help in this situation. That is for sure.
COOPER: And, Sunny, whatever happened, it seems like a lot of it is going to boil down to how much evidence was gathered immediately after she was actually found because a lot of that evidence is now gone.
HOSTIN: I think that's right. I mean, we certainly know this investigation has been open at least since January. My understanding, Anderson, is that there were toxicology reports when she, that resulted from when she first arrived there. They did have pictures of those alleged injuries. And so I don't know how difficult it will be to prove a case like this.
I understand that law enforcement has sort of kept it close to the vest is what I've been told by people within the family. But that they have been very cooperative. They want answers. They've been seeking those answers for a long time. And they are very much grieving, very much mourning at this time. Because while they expected this to happen, I don't think that you can really prepare yourself for something like this.
COOPER: And Dr. Drew, clearly, as Sunny indicated they would have taken toxicology or blood test, testing her for drugs and alcohol immediately, I assume, when she got to the hospital.
PINSKY: For sure. And I want to say something really quickly about the missing teeth. I mean, that's sort of a dramatic feature of this story. But people need to be aware when there are resuscitations in the field.
I mean, she was dead in the field. That's why she had such severe hypoxic brain injury. And they put tubes down to breath for the patient. And in doing so in the field they can sometimes knock teeth out. It happens because they're doing everything fast and they're trying to save somebody's life. So just because teeth are missing doesn't necessarily mean he did it.
And as you say, she has been gone -- people talk about medically induced coma. No, she was in a coma. The medically-induced component was to prevent the seizure that was uncontrolled whenever they lightened up the coma.
COOPER: So sad. Obviously, more to learn. Dr. Drew Pinsky, thank you, Sunny Hostin as well.
Up next, a CNN exclusive. It's being called one of the worst cases of fraud ever in a federal agency. And the alleged victims, among the most vulnerable Americans, severely disabled workers. Wait until you hear who is allegedly pocketing, get this, more than $2 billion that should be helping to save the workers get jobs. We're "Keeping Them Honest" ahead.
[20:38:16] COOPER: Tonight, "Keeping Them Honest" exclusive report. CNN has learned that the nation's premiere federal program tasked with putting severely disabled Americans in jobs is being investigated by the Department of Justice. Inside sources tell CNN it is one of the worst cases of fraud and mismanagement they have ever seen in a federal agency.
According to our sources, more than $2 billion of supposed to be use to provide jobs for disabled people is instead being funnelled elsewhere. As a result tax dollars earmarked for disabled workers are actually putting the disabled out of work while government contractors are raking in millions.
Here's our senior investigative correspondent Drew Griffin.
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Randall Love is exactly why the program exists. At the top of his career he was diagnosed with a spinal cord tumor. It crippled his body but not his mind. No longer able to work at an office, he sought work from home and found it in a federal program. He will tell you the job cured him.
RANDALL LOVE, DISABLED WORKER: It gives me, if you would, a sense of being worthwhile. I get up just like everybody else in the morning. And I go to work, too. I'm not disabled. That's why I say it's secure for me.
GRIFFIN: His job in the I.T. industry comes through a federal program with strict rules. To get a federal contract, the government requires 75 percent of a company's work be performed by people who are severely disabled.
According to the government, that means employees who are not capable of engaging in competitive employment. People like Randall Love who would not otherwise be able to work. But this spring, it was all taken away. And Randall Love says what happened to him and other disabled workers isn't right.
LOVE: Quite honestly, it's a little bit shady to me. Very shady to me.
[20:40:00] GRIFFIN: The company Love work for lost its contract when the government awarded the work to a different bidder. The new company is being accused of not hiring enough severely disabled workers according to a lawsuit. And though denying it and saying they are well within compliance. Multiple sources tell CNN they believe it's just one of many companies violating the law and raking in hundreds of millions of dollars.
(On-camera) These are contracts that are supposed to go to employers who employ people with a disability.
LOVE: Doing the right thing, at least in my mind, doesn't mean that you put 16 disabled people out of work. Doing the right thing also means, in my mind, that you don't replace them with people who don't have disabilities.
GRIFFIN (voice-over): The problem is centered in a little known federal program called, AbilityOne. Along with its outsourced management group, SourceAmerica, they manage and award about $2.3 billion in federal contracts every year.
(On-camera) Multiple sources say these two organizations are being investigated for an accused of such wide scale corruption; it's among the worst case of financial fraud they have ever seen in a federal program. Our sources say as many as half of the federal contracts under this disability program may be operating in violation of the law.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE MANAGER: The majority of the individual that were being hired were not severely disabled.
GRIFFIN: Even though you are supposed to have 75 percent or more of your work staff be disabled, severely disabled.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE MANAGER: In my experience, AbilityOne contracts I worked on, maybe 10 to 20 percent were truly severely disabled. They truly did not have the ability to find gainful employment elsewhere. Everybody else, they're capable of finding employment elsewhere.
GRIFFIN (voice-over): This manager who wants to remain anonymous to protect current employment says instead of hiring severely disabled, the federal contractor making tens of millions of dollars would hire just about anyone who walked through the door. And no one bothered to check.
(On-camera) So you could say 100 percent of my employees are severely disabled.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE MANAGER: Correct.
GRIFFIN: And none of them are.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE MANAGER: Right.
GRIFFIN: And you would still have this contract?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE MANAGER: Right because there's nobody checking.
GRIFFIN (voice-over): CNN heard the same allegations from numerous sources all across the country. SourceAmerica says they conduct onsite visits but according to their statement, SourceAmerica staff does not determine compliance, only the U.S. AbilityOne commission is authorized to do so.
How does it happen? AbilityOne's commission is made up of presidential appointees, but it outsources the management of the program to the non-profit agency SourceAmerica. SourceAmerica recommends and according to our sources virtually decides who gets the contracts worth $2.3 billion every year.
Former congressional investigator Rich Beutel says it is a recipe for corruption.
RICHARD BEUTEL, FORMER CONGRESSIONAL INVESTIGATOR: The contracts are now being funneled to a very small group of ten large companies that are getting way more than their fair share.
GRIFFIN: Beutel and numerous other sources are telling CNN, the staffers who are essentially handing out federal contracts at SourceAmerica are heavily influenced by top officials at the very same agency and those officials are often connected to the business that get the contracts. BEUTEL: You have actual advisers and board members in these private organizations who are themselves business owners. And so they can award themselves potentially contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars. A perfect setup for waste and abuse.
GRIFFIN: No one from SourceAmerica would go on camera but in a statement the group flatly denies the allegations. "No one involved in making award recommendations," the statement reads, "is employed by an organization seeking those contracts."
And SourceAmerica denies board members are even involved in the evaluation of contract bids, that's all left up to AbilityOne presidential commission, whose executive director also declined an on- camera interview with CNN and even refused to respond to any specific questions citing pending lawsuits.
CNN has learned those lawsuits may be just the beginning. At least four separate inspectors' general offices now have active investigations into the dealings of AbilityOne and SourceAmerica. And the Department of Justice has opened its own investigation.
COOPER: And Drew joins us. Now this is such an important investigation. It seems like it would be relatively easy to check. I mean, people are either disabled or not, right?
GRIFFIN: That's right. If they checked, Anderson. Which we heard, they really don't do. What they do is look at the paperwork. And as long as the paperwork is OK and on file, this presidential commission seems to believe everything is OK without having any proof whatsoever.
COOPER: And an actual inspections doesn't take place?
GRIFFIN: Very rare. We're finding even when they do happen. Even when violations are pointed out, those are overlooked. Take this, in the last few years, Anderson, 80 letters went out to companies. 80 letters went out to companies that basically said, hey, why aren't you hiring enough severely disabled people?
[20:45:20] You know, in half of those cases, the companies didn't even bother to respond. They didn't even try to explain it because according to our sources, those companies knew nothing would happen to them. This has really gotten advocates for the disabled up in arms. I think it's why you have all these investigative agencies looking into possible corruption and even the potential, we're told, for racketeering charges.
COOPER: Wow. All right, Drew, we'll keep on it. Thank you so much.
Up next, a deadly road rage incident. Two vehicles, two drivers. Each calling 911. Each with a different take on what is unfolding. The panic and the gunfire, all of it caught on tape. We're going to play it for you.
And also, frightening scene caught on video. A mother and her son riding on an escalator when the floor beneath them collapses. The mother is sucked under and dies. She is being hailed as a hero for what she did for her son. Details when we continue.
[20:50:00] COOPER: Tonight a case of road rage. Two men were behind the wheel in separate vehicles in Florida when each called 911 to complain about the other's driving. By the time the dispute was over, one man was shot to death in front of his wife, daughter and grandchild. The other would be charged with second degree murder. Now the deadly encounter was caught on two different 911 calls. You sense the anger, the panic and then you hear the fatal gunshots.
Randi Kaye reports.
CATHY GONZALEZ, VICTIM'S WIFE: Don't shoot.
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Those were the last word Cathy Gonzalez spoke before her husband was shot death.
CATHY GONZALEZ: He just shot my husband.
KAYE: Her husband, 44-year-old Candelario Gonzalez was shot right in front of the couple's young daughter and grandson. This is the man who shot him, 51-year-old Robert Doyle.
The two Florida men had crossed paths just 2-1/2 minutes earlier during a road rage incident with each car calling 911 to report the other.
CATHY GONZALEZ: We just driving a full-sized truck with a trailer. You know what I'm saying? You just don't drive like idiots.
ROBERT DOYLE, ACCUSED SHOOTER: I have a truck, some maniac (INAUDIBLE) following me, trying to run me off the road.
KAYE: Doyle warns the operators he is heading home where he has a gun.
DOYLE: My gun's already out, it's cocked and locked.
KAYE: When Gonzalez tells 911, he is heading to Doyle's house, the operator tells him, not to go there.
CANDELARIO GONZALEZ, VICTIM: We're going to follow him right to his house.
911 DISPATCHER: No, no, no.
KAYE: He goes anyway.
Gonzalez can be heard yelling at Doyle at the house before the shots were fired.
CANDELARIO GONZALEZ: I got your number buddy.
KAYE: Gonzalez's wife meanwhile was pleading for police to send help.
CATHY GONAZELZ: (EXPLETIVE DELETED). He's got a gun. Get somebody here now.
KAYE (on-camera): But it was too late. Doyle shot Gonzalez once. Paused. Then fired four more shots. The Citrus County sheriff told us Gonzalez was shot once in the chest and three times in the back. Doyle fired five times. But the sheriff says they believe Gonzalez was hit four times.
Doyle's wife quickly told the dispatcher what her husband had done.
ROBERT DOYLE'S WIFE: I don't know how many times he hit, but he fired multiple times. The guy just kept charging at him.
KAYE (voice-over): Doyle then turned the gun on Gonzalez's wife. Forcing her and the children out of the car until police arrived.
She could do nothing to try and save her dying husband.
CATHY GONZALEZ: That (EXPLETIVE DELETED) is making me get out of the truck with my daughter.
KAYE: A neighbor whose home was struck by one of the bullets told reporters he had always thought of Doyle as a good guy.
BRUCE GILLESPIE, ROBERT DOYLE'S NEIGHBOR: It a shock to all the people that really know him. He is not the violent man.
KAYE: Robert Doyle was charged with second degree murder and three counts of aggravated assault. He is out on bond wearing an ankle monitor, awaiting his next court date.
COOPER: Randi, I mean, so what happened? Was the victim really charging the guy that shot him?
KAYE: Well, it is really unbelievable that it even got to this point, Anderson. Because it was 2 minutes and 34 seconds according to the sheriff's department from the time they both called 911 until the time they ended up in his driveway.
And Doyle, the shooter in this case, got home, and then Gonzalez apparently pulled up as well. Decided to walk on to his driveway. And that's when he was shot. Apparently, once in the chest. But then depending on who is telling the story here, it sounds like Gonzalez, the victim started walking back toward his car, which had his wife, a grandson and a daughter in it. Toward his truck. But one of the witnesses said that, who was in the neighborhood said, I just saw my neighbor shoot someone in the back who was trying to run away. But Doyle's wife, the shooter's wife, who was on the phone with 911 told the 911 dispatcher that Gonzalez, the victim was charging her husband. So it really depends on who you listen to. And if he tries to use the stand your ground defense, that's certainly going to come into play. Those three shots in the back.
COOPER: It's just incredible how it all went down. Randi Kaye, thanks.
We're going to have more on this case in our next hour on 360. We're continuing into the 9:00 hour tonight.
Another story tonight from China. Now before I show you the video, I do want to warn you. It is tough to watch. You may want to look away for a moment.
A horrific scene was caught on surveillance video at a shopping mall. A mom and her young son are riding on an escalator. You can see them coming up when the floor plate collapses at the top. The mother pushes her son to safety. But she is sucked in and crushed to death in the machinery.
A lot of people are asking how did this happen? Why did this happen? Will Ripley joins us from Beijing with more.
How does something like this happen, Will?
WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So many people here are asking that question, Anderson, because they're -- according to people at the mall, there were no warning signs. The escalator as you saw was moving. However there is indication that mall employees knew that there was something wrong with that panel at the top of the escalator. They knew it was loose for a full five minutes. Yet, you didn't see any maintenance crews there. Obviously, the escalator kept moving.
And this mother and her young child were able to get on and then of course, you saw what happened. Her maternal instinct took over. She was able to push her son to safety. But we freeze the video. And just a few seconds later, you see one of the women at the top trying to grab her arm but then she lost her grip. It took them four hours to find that mother as they dismantled the escalator, Anderson. It's just truly horrifying.
[20:55:10] COOPER: I mean, she is sucked under the escalator just within a matter of seconds. And the mall employees waiting for the woman at the top of the escalator. Did they actually know? I mean, you said, it was kind of known that the plate was loose. Was that why they were up there? Or were they just kind of regular greeters? And has the mall release a statement or anything related to this?
RIPLEY: So that's the big question, what were those women doing? Were they speaking to this mother? Were they trying to warn her that there may be a loose panel at the top? Or was that their job?
Because sometimes here in Asia, you do see staff members whose job specifically is to help people get on and off of an escalator or on and off of an elevator. It's not uncommon.
But either way, I mean, clearly, there was no attempt to keep customers from getting on it. You could actually see customers down below who stopped to watch once they realized what had happened.
And city officials are blaming this on human error. They say, again, a full five minutes there was warning. And yet they didn't stop the escalator for repairs. Yet the mall has not answered our repeated phone calls. And the maintenance company responsible for that escalator also hasn't commented. We're going to stay on it.
COOPER: Yes, just awful. Will Ripley. Will, thanks very much.
There's a lot more ahead tonight in our second hour of "360."
An RNC leader, weighing in on Donald Trump and Mike Huckabee's new comments to the name calling on the campaign trail.