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CNN NEWSROOM

President Obama Targets Health Care Reform; Chris Brown Charged With Assault

Aired March 5, 2009 - 15:00   ET

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


RICK SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: As the conversation switches to the car companies, let's bring you up to date on what they have been talking about that's most important on the administration's agenda today.

It has to do with health care, the possibility that we may end up with a system akin to what they have in Canada, or in France, or in England. Is this what the United States of America needs? We're going to be talking about that.

But there's something else that we're going to be talking about, this affidavit that I'm going to be sharing with you in just a little bit. Here's what else is in the news.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is a really shockingly outrageous story.

SANCHEZ (voice-over): Shocking, outrageous and shameful, judges who took bribes to lock up kids. What if it was your kid? We talk to a dad exclusively.

What happened to the three missing boaters in the Gulf? We may now know. And it's eerie.

PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I don't like Rush Limbaugh.

SANCHEZ: How about Michael Steele?

JAMES CARVILLE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I think that Michael Steele is done. He's over.

SANCHEZ: Dems playing the Rush card, and Republicans calling him out.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is not about Rush Limbaugh.

SANCHEZ: And this, a new poll on what Americans say about Limbaugh.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The biggest threat to our nation's balance sheet is the skyrocketing cost of health care.

SANCHEZ: The president's newest frontier, health care. And we look to Canada. What do you want to know? (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JON STEWART, HOST, "THE DAILY SHOW": And the media can't get enough.

SANCHEZ: Boom. Let's go first...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SANCHEZ: Talk to us on the show even Jon Stewart watches.

Your national conversation begins right here, right now.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SANCHEZ: All right. Here we go. Hello again, everybody. I'm Rick Sanchez.

This is not what we had planned to start this newscast with, but we have just received, as I told Kyra moments ago, you may have been listening to me, some of the actual filing documents, what they're using in the case against Chris Brown and Rihanna. And we're finding out this is much more serious than any of us had anticipated.

Let me set this up for you, all right? This is the night before the Grammys. They're driving home from a party. They're getting ready for the next day. It should be a big day for them. Instead, they get involved in some kind of argument, which anybody can have, but this one, according to police, turned much more serious, much more violent.

I will read to you now from this, Sunday, February 8. This is the search warrant and affidavit that we have just gotten our hands on right here. "Brown was driving a vehicle with Robyn." Robyn is Rihanna, by the way. That's her real name.

"As the front passenger in an unknown street in Los Angeles, Robyn" -- listen to this -- "picked up Brown's cellular telephone and observed a three-page text from a woman who Brown apparently had a previous relationship with. This sets off the problem. It's a verbal argument ensued. And Brown pulled the vehicle over on an unknown street, reached over to Rihanna with his right hand, opened the car door, and attempted to force her out in the middle of the road.

"Brown was unable to force her out of the car, because she was wearing a seat belt. When he could not push her out of the car, he took his right hand and shoved her head against the passenger window of the vehicle, causing an approximate one-inch raised circular contusion."

So, that was the first bruise that we have been reading about on her face. Then Robyn turns to face Brown, and he punches her in the left eye with his right hand. He then drives away in the vehicle and continues to punch her in the face repeatedly with his right hand while steering the vehicle with his left hand. "This assault causes her mouth to fill with blood, and blood to splatter all over her clothing, and all over the interior of the vehicle." I read on. "Brown looked at Robyn" -- that's Rihanna -- "and stated" -- in fact, we have got -- let's put this up. I think we were able to put this one together.

This is one of the thing that caught our eye. He says to her -- Rog, if you have got the graphic -- "I'm going to beat the 'bang' out of you when we get home.'" He says to her, "'You wait and see,' he goes on to say. "Rihanna then picks up her cellular telephone and calls her personal assistant. She doesn't answer the phone."

Then he goes on to say to her, this. All right, you're reading that one, right? That's where he says, "I'm going to beat the 'boom.'"

Let's go to the next one now. He's quoted as saying this, so say police: "I'm on my way home. Make sure the cops are there when I get there."

All right. That's Rihanna now. Pardon me. I misspoke. That's Rihanna, even though it's Robyn F., saying to her personal assistant: "I'm on my way home. Make sure the cops are there when I get there."

"This statement was made while the greeting was playing and was not captured on the message," says the police affidavit.

Now, after Rihanna faked a call, Brown looked at her and stated -- let's put this one up, too -- this goes right to the heart of the matter -- "You just did the stupidest thing ever," he says to her. "Now I'm going to kill you. Now I'm going to kill you."

"Brown resumes punching her. She interlocks her fingers behind her head and brought her elbows forward to try and protect her face. She then bent over at the waist, placing her elbows and her face near her lap in an attempt to protect her face and head from the barrage of punches that being -- that are being levied upon her."

This is the picture that we have not been showing you until now. The reason we had chosen not to show it is, we were waiting for the police to actually file charges against him, making this now evidentiary material. It's actually a piece of evidence that's being used in this case.

I'm going to continue. "Brown continued driving. And he observed his cellular telephone sitting on his lap. She picked up the cellular phone with her left hand and before she could make a call, had placed her on a headlock -- he placed her in a headlock with his right hand and continued to drive the vehicle with his left hand."

I mean, this thing continues. "She reached up with her left hand and began attempting to gouge his eyes in an attempt to free herself. Brown bit her left ring and middle fingers, and then released her. Brown continued to punch her. She turned around and placed her back against the passenger door. She brought her knees to this chest" -- this is concluding now -- "placed her feet against Brown's body and began to try and push him away. Brown continued to punch her in her legs and her feet, causing several contusions."

And, finally, "Rihanna began screaming for help, ran from the vehicle. A resident in the neighborhood heard her plea for help and called 911."

There they are, the details of the case. Let's bring in our guests, Brooke Anderson, from "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT" on HLN, Ashleigh Banfield from "In Session."

Ashleigh, are you there? Let me begin with you.

A lot of people had thought that this case was an argument between two people in perhaps a very difficult relationship. From a legal standpoint, what strikes you about what I have just read?

ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, TRUTV ANCHOR: Well, really stands out, Rick, that wouldn't normally stand out in this kind of a search warrant affidavit is the detail.

This is what you might even consider this a talking indictment. That's kind of lingo for prosecutors to say, load that thing up with everything possible, because now it's public record.

It's remarkable the amount that Rihanna was able to actually remember and articulate in her conversations with police officers. And what's really important here, Rick, is the details are actually corroborated by forensics, the blood in the car and on the clothes, the text messages that went back and forth, which, by the way, that's the reason for this search warrant.

This was a warrant to get the cellular records from all of the phones involved. And now those text messages, those phone calls out and in, and also the messages that were left, and the calls that went from the police officer's cell phone on the scene will all play into this case, because they corroborate the detail that Rihanna actually provided herself.

SANCHEZ: It's amazing. Look at the reaction that we have gotten on this already. Give me a shot of the Twitter board, if you can, Robert. Look at this. I'm just going to scroll through -- look at all this. These are all comments that have been coming in just since we started doing this newscast.

And a lot of them are questions for you, Ashleigh. Look at this one. "Hey, Rick, ask Ms. Banfield what the maximum sentence that Chris Brown could get and hopefully will get," this viewer says. "He belongs in jail, coward."

Let me tell you, there's a lot of them like that, by the way, Ash.

BANFIELD: I have the answers for you.

On assault charges -- by the way, it's not just a simple assault. This is a felony assault. The actual wording of the assault is "likely to cause great bodily injury," which means the intent of the assault was to cause great bodily injury.

And the maximum there is four years. And the maximum on the threat is three years. You add that up, and you have got yourself seven years.

SANCHEZ: This is not a conviction. Let me repeat, this is not a conviction.

BANFIELD: Correct.

SANCHEZ: This is simply a charge. He is innocent until he's proven guilty. But, because he's a public figure, because he's an entertainer, this now plays out in the court of public opinion.

Can, Brooke Anderson, someone like this Chris Brown fellow survive something like I just read, where I said -- let me find that part again. "He then drove again. The assault caused her mouth to fill with blood and blood to splatter all over the clothing while he struck her repeatedly."

BROOKE ANDERSON, CNN CULTURE AND ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: Yes.

SANCHEZ: What do you say?

ANDERSON: Well, it is much more serious, I think, than anybody anticipated, Rick.

And, you know, the DA tells us that, if he's convicted, the sentence could range from probation to time in state prison.

Now, state prison, where most of the violent offenders go. We're not talking about just county jail here. So, it depends on what happens in terms of this case, what kind of plea he enters, if he is convicted, whether people will forgive him, whether he can bounce back.

And let me tell you this. If he convicted, Rick, that makes him eligible for a first strike in California's three-strike law. This is very serious. If he goes on to get two more strikes in his life, that's 25 years to life.

SANCHEZ: Let me ask Ashleigh this question, then, since you just raised it. Is this a case -- you follow cases like this all the time. Given that he's a public figure, he's going to have to cop to something, isn't he? This is not something he's going to walk away from.

BANFIELD: Oh, I'm not going to say that he's going to be able to cop to this. This is extraordinarily serious.

SANCHEZ: I mean, at the very least -- in other words, it's not a case you just go in, you say, oh, they got it all wrong.

In the past, comparing this to other cases that you have seen, this is very convictable, at the very least, isn't it? BANFIELD: OK.

(CROSSTALK)

BANFIELD: You bet, because, again, the corroboration in this case. And not only that -- the bruises and the injuries that she suffered also corroborate exact moments in her story...

(CROSSTALK)

SANCHEZ: But she may not testify against him. Does that matter?

BANFIELD: Doesn't matter. Doesn't matter. This is all -- all of this stuff is on the record. She told all of this to the police. It exists.

And not only that -- witnesses who have responded to this, who called 911, also corroborate all this. It doesn't matter if Rihanna comes forward. She could be in love with him right now. They could prosecute and put him away for this.

SANCHEZ: Let -- yes, one more thing. As a matter of fact, this is -- let's go to MySpace. Everybody's getting in on this conversation.

"I lost my sister to domestic violence," writes this viewer. I'm getting chills reading this. "And it's sad that women realize the danger they're in and do nothing about it until it's too late." That's obviously a stunning comment. He lost his sister to domestic violence.

Brooke, back to you.

There's talk -- and you don't want to get into the gossip of this -- we're CNN. But, still, there's talk that she's going to go back to him and all that jazz. And one -- just as a guy, as a human being, you can't help but wonder, why?

(CROSSTALK)

ANDERSON: Why?

SANCHEZ: And there's now -- there's talk also that there's some people who know her who are going to try and knock some sense into her. What are you hearing about this?

ANDERSON: Of course.

Well, it's not uncommon for a victim or an alleged victim of domestic abuse to go back, to reconcile with her abuser. But, yes, "People" magazine reports that they have reunited, that they spent time in Miami Beach last weekend, stayed at Sean "P. Diddy" Combs' mansion.

We reached out to Diddy, no comment there. We reached out to Brown, no comment there about that. SANCHEZ: Wow.

ANDERSON: And Rihanna just tell us, hey, referred to her statement that she's strong and appreciates the support. But the question is, why, like you say. But it does happen.

SANCHEZ: OK. Here's what we're going to do. There's a lot of interest in this, obviously. So, go to CNN.com/ricksanchez. That's our Web site, my blog. And we're going to put this whole document there, so you can read it for yourself, if you're interested in getting some of the nuances of it.

BANFIELD: Rick?

SANCHEZ: Yes, go ahead, Ash.

BANFIELD: Let me just tell you one more thing really quickly.

SANCHEZ: Sure.

BANFIELD: I spoke with a former prosecutor who practiced for 20 years. And he said this.

With something this serious and this kind of detail, there's no prosecutor out there who wants to see a deal go down where this person wouldn't at least see some time behind bars.

And can I also add there are reports out there at this point that that widely circulated photo we have all seen of Rihanna's face showing contusions and some blood actually is after, much after the fact, and that the police are in custody of some more serious photos that show far more serious damage.

SANCHEZ: Wow. Look at those bruises. Our thanks to TMZ, by the way, for some of those pictures that we are just now sharing with you. We had them two weeks ago and chose not to use them until this became a formal case.

You guys are the best. Brooke, Ash, my thanks to you.

BANFIELD: Sure.

SANCHEZ: The American -- this is a tease, by the way -- the American health care system, it's broken, and the president said, enough talk; it's time to fix it. The wheels are turning.

And I will talk to a Republican congressman who has some of his own ideas.

Also, earlier this week, we showed you these two men, both judges, pled guilty to sending kids to jail for cash payments. Today, we have got one of the kids sent away after one of these alleged bribes. He and his father will be here to talk to me.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART")

STEWART: This week, Twitter.

SANCHEZ: Boom. Let's go first to Twitter board, if we possibly can.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you Twitter?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My Twitter page...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Twitter.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Keep Twittering us.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I will be tweeting.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Tweet.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Here a tweet, there a tweet.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Twittering and tweeting.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have a tweet on Twitter.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Tweet. Twitter.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tweet.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Chirping.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Twitter time.

(LAUGHTER)

STEWART: Yes, let's tweet these twatters tween their twinks.

This new technology sounds adorable.

For the uninitiated, here's how Twitter works. I have no (EXPLETIVE DELETED) idea.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SANCHEZ: Welcome back. I'm Rick Sanchez.

Another new frontier for President Obama, this time, it's health care. That's right. The president of the United States is not only saying this is something he's going to do on his first or his second term. No. He's saying health care is so important, he's going to get to it right away. Health care is something he's going to do this year, as a matter of fact.

Part of the statements he made today, if it works in England, if it works in Canada, if it works in France, if obviously being the operative word there, then maybe it's something the United States of America should do. Here's the president.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Health care reform is no longer just a moral imperative, it's a fiscal imperative. If we want to create jobs and rebuild our economy and get our federal budget under control, then we have to address the crushing costs of health care this year in this administration.

Making investments in reform now, investments that will dramatically lower costs, won't add to our budget deficits in the long term. Rather, it is one of the best ways, in fact maybe the only way, to reduce those long-term costs.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SANCHEZ: So, what the president is saying is, this is not just something we need to do, this is something we have to do, if we want to create jobs, and save the economy. Think about that for a moment. This is not an add-on. This is a must. This is an important initiative that comes through the very front door, not the back door of this thing.

Joining us now is Phil Gingrey. He's a Republican from Georgia. He tends to oppose this. He's on a very important task force, by the way, that had their very first meeting on this just today.

Do you agree with the president?

REP. PHIL GINGREY (R), GEORGIA: Well, Rick, I think that the president is right in regard to the need to reform our health care system. I don't agree with him on the timeline, this idea of, in five months, by the August recess, to have this all worked out. I mean, they're having this big, big summit over at the White House.

Obviously, this physician member, who would loved to have been there, was not invited.

(CROSSTALK)

SANCHEZ: Yes, but let's -- forget that. Let's talk about why he wants to set the timeline this way. Let's go back to what I just said.

I think this is important. And I think we want viewers to understand this.

GINGREY: Yes.

SANCHEZ: What the president is saying is, we have got a problem with the economy, right? And some people say, well, then forget health care. Let's fix the economy first.

He's saying, creating a health care system will help save the economy.

You buy that?

GINGREY: Well, I think it will.

But I do not believe, once again, that we need to have this -- I don't think we can have the right plan in place by August 1 of 2009. I would say more likely August 1, 2010.

He might say, well, we don't want to do that, because that's right before the 2010 elections, and I say the heck with that. Let the politics take care of themselves. Let's get this thing right. Now...

SANCHEZ: These guys who are helping Mr. Obama -- pardon me for interrupting you, by the way. I was just thinking of this thought, though.

These advisers who are helping the president with this tend to be leaning towards some kind of universal health care system, something more akin to what Secretary -- now Secretary of State Hillary Clinton once proposed during the Clinton administration, where the government comes in and creates this system for the people, not employers.

GINGREY: No question.

SANCHEZ: Are you opposed to that? Are you for that?

GINGREY: Totally opposed to that. There's no question about it.

They -- he talks about universal coverage, a buzzword, a euphemism for universal health care. That is a single-payer national health care system -- and you said it -- like the U.K. or Canada or any of these other countries that -- where people are not very happy with the rationing of care.

And, then, clearly, that will be what will happen. I think that's a whole idea of creating this comparative effectiveness council, where they decide based on cost a lot of times what doctors can prescribe and how they can treat patients.

(CROSSTALK)

SANCHEZ: But you just said that people in those countries aren't happy.

We have got somebody standing by. This is Lynda Morris. She's an American, by the way, who is now living -- we have got her in through Skype, this new little tool where every day we talk to different viewers all over the country about stuff that we're talking about here. She's an American. She's living in Canada. And she just heard you say that people in Canada aren't happy with the system.

Lynda Morris, to the congressman, is it true? Is your system not working?

LYNDA MORRIS, BUSINESS OWNER: I don't think that that's true at all. I would argue with him. Survey after survey in Canada shows that the majority of Canadian people are quite happy with their health care system and would never want it to go away.

SANCHEZ: You worked in the United States. You worked in the Northeast, New York, I understand, right?

MORRIS: Yes.

SANCHEZ: And you -- as a hospital worker, you watched and saw the way the system works here. And now you're a part of the system in Canada. So, you're in one of those unique positions where you have been able to compare both systems.

MORRIS: Exactly.

SANCHEZ: What would you say about the comparison to viewers and, respectfully, to the congressman?

MORRIS: Well, the system -- I grew up in New York City, and the system in New York City was that, if you had money, you got the best of care. And, if you didn't have money, you waited in lines, and you got a much poorer system of care.

Here in Canada, the system's not perfect, but, here in Canada, everyone is equal. And it's based on a need basis. Some people might wait.

(CROSSTALK)

SANCHEZ: Thank you so much. We appreciate your input on that.

What do you say to somebody like that, Congressman?

GINGREY: Well, first of all, I will say to you, Rick, if I had known that you were going to have testimonials from Canadians, I would have brought along some of my Canadian friends as well.

(CROSSTALK)

SANCHEZ: Tell me what they told you. Tell me what those Canadians have told you.

GINGREY: They told me, absolutely, there's a long line. You're going to queue. So-called health care that's not an emergency, you wait six, eight, 10, 12 months to get the care. And, so, some of them come south of the border to get that very care in the United States.

So, we could argue that point.

SANCHEZ: Well, what about the 47 million people who in the United States have no health insurance, whereas, in Canada, every single person who can breathe gets health care for free?

GINGREY: Listen, absolutely, we can be on agreement on that. And I would agree with the president. I have always felt like we need to do something about that as soon as is reasonably possible.

And I think this idea of course of maybe having an exchange, where, if an employer with more than 50 employees does not want to provide or cannot provide health insurance for their employees, that they would have to pay into an exchange or a connector.

But I don't think the federal government should be competing against the private plans that are willing to participate in that. Let the federal government do premium support for those with income...

(CROSSTALK)

SANCHEZ: We get it.

GINGREY: ... percent of the federal poverty level.

But I can tell you right now, Rick, the American people -- I practiced 31 years -- the American people do not want the government to tell them who to go see for a pediatrician, for an obstetrician.

(CROSSTALK)

SANCHEZ: Well, but you frame it -- but you're -- it's interesting. You're framing the argument in a way that is really different from what the opposition would frame it.

But you know what? In the end, I think what you're looking for and hopefully what Americans are looking for is some kind of compromise that will work better than what we have now. So, we will leave it at that. We will leave it at that.

(CROSSTALK)

GINGREY: Yes, we are. And I think that maybe we could get complete electronic medical records by August 1 of 2009. It would save $160 billion. I'm all for that. So, there are areas where we do agree.

(CROSSTALK)

SANCHEZ: Thank you. Congressman Phil Gingrey, it's a pleasure to have you on, sir. We certainly appreciate it. Thank you so much. God bless.

GINGREY: My pleasure, Rick. Thank you. Pleasure.

SANCHEZ: Also, my thanks to Lynda Morris for being with us as well. We appreciate your input.

MORRIS: Thank you.

SANCHEZ: All right, check out this video that had us all morning talking about it. Can you believe this? That's a man under there. Can you imagine getting run over not only by a truck, but by a train? And he lives. You have got to see this again.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BRUCE COOPER, FATHER OF MARQUIS COOPER: I find myself at times quite despaired, to the point where I'm saying, well, I lost a son.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SANCHEZ: That's Bruce Cooper, talking about his son, an NFL football player, Marquis Cooper, missing since Saturday off the Tampa coastline. Could Cooper and two others have somehow been poisoned? That's right. Poison maybe the reason they died. We are going to put this all together for you in just a little bit. Stay with us. We will explain it.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SANCHEZ: Welcome back.

I'm Rick Sanchez here in the world headquarters of CNN. Unbelievable video to share with you right now. Imagine being run over by an 18-wheeler hit by a train. Think about that. This is as crazy as anything we have ever seen.

Keep your guy on this construction guy. See him right there in the middle? This guy has got that white shirt on. He's wearing a white helmet and standing near some train tracks when suddenly, bang, the train rams into the truck. The truck rams into him. And the train just continues pushing on. His helmet flies up. There it is -- boom -- on impact.

And he's thrown under the truck. And the train then rolls over beside him. As he lies there motionless, finally, help arrives. Guys around him are like panicked, trying to figure out what they can do for him. And, amazingly, he survives this. And he walks away with only minor injuries and doesn't remember a thing, he says.

Well, not only is he alive. It turns out this may be -- listen to me here -- this may be the best thing that ever happened to him, he says.

Huh?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CEM TOKAC, CRASH SURVIVOR (through translator): I cannot remember anything about the accident. I thought I was sleeping. But when I woke up, I was not in my bed. I was on the ground. I was on the cement.

Those screams of my friends and that ambulance, it was a really huge experience. And 25 February 2009 is my new birthday. Life is really beautiful. The beauty of life, the value of it, without any fight, it really is beautiful.

I don't remember anything. What will I do with the rest of my life now? I have my loved ones. I have my family. I will marry my fiancee. And I am planning to have a happy life with her. (END VIDEO CLIP)

SNOW: Something that can look so horrible could actually be a life-changing experience. Think about that.

And, guys -- Robert, let's go over to the Twitter board, if we can. Folks who are watching this say it's changing them, too.

The one in the middle there, Rob.

"Seeing the guy get run over, not once, but twice, made my day seem a heck of a lot better. Amazing that he survived. Wow."

All right. There's a new poll out on who America says is to be blamed for our economic woes. We're going to tell you who's on top and who's on the bottom.

Stay with us. We will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SANCHEZ: Back to this boating mystery that's off the coast of Clearwater, Florida. Let's start with this picture. First thing we should do, put this up, Roger, you've got it. Look at that. This is really the picture that captures everything. This is a still, Coast Guard just as it's arriving. This guy's been sitting on top of that boat for 48 hours. And now for the first time, he's also told his story. Kudos, props go here to the "St. Pete Times." They got the interview with him and now we're hearing what happened to the other three guys who were with him. Let's start with Corey Smith. There you see Corey Smith in the middle. According to Nick Schuyler, who survived, he took off his vest and jumped in the water early on. Why would a person take off their vest and jump in the water when all they have to do is hopefully hang on and somebody, the Coast Guard will find them.

Marquis Cooper, see him on the left? According to Schuyler in the "St. Pete Times," he also just took off his life vest and just started swimming away. And now Bleakley, see him there on the right, the other football player, he played for USF, University of South Florida, a story that Schuyler is telling the "St. Pete Times" is, he stayed on the boat almost until the end, the other two fellows were gone. Finally he succumbed, he started throwing up. Schuyler tried giving him CPR, first aid, but eventually he, too, took off his life vest and just jumped in the water and apparently drowned. Chad Myers joining us now.

I've got to tell you, you and I have been talking about this story for the last several days. And the more I hear about it, the more bizarre it gets, the more mysterious it gets. But do people who know about these things, I've covered rafters, being Cuban, coming over from Cuba, I know what happens to people who are out at sea for long times. This starts to become actually not just plausible, but very possible, right?

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Well, you're in seven to 14-foot waves. The boat flips over. They're clinging to what is barely above the water. You can see it was barely enough room for the one guy when they found him. Imagine four guys trying to hold on to a very slippery hull of a boat. Nothing else -- no real hand holds to hold onto. Plus now you're talking about ingesting salt water. I know that's where you're going with this.

SANCHEZ: In fact, let me tell the folks what we're talking about. Story after story, look this up, we did, there's actually even a name for it. What happens when you -- 48 hours, you're going to want something to drink and eventually even if you know you're not supposed to drink saltwater, you get desperate and you do it. Even in small quantities, it's called hypernatremia. Greater than normal concentration of sodium in the blood, sodium is an electrolyte that helps with nerve and muscle function, and it also helps to maintain blood pressure. We are finding out that what happens when you do this, you can go stark raving mad and start seeing things that aren't there.

MYERS: You get completely dehydrated. The more saltwater you take in, the more saltwater you want because your thirst is elevated at that time. Now, this salt ingestion may have been completely accidental as these waves are crashing over these guys. You know, plus they're in 63-degree water. You can get kind of a delusion from the hypothermia as well. They're 35 miles away from the shore. The one guy thought he saw some lights and was going to try to go swim to that light. Still, the story about taking off the life jackets --

SANCHEZ: Its hallucinations. Almost becomes like a hallucinogen. And think about this, they are three primed athletes. These guys don't have a lot of body fat, they don't have a lot of reserve on them, right?

MYERS: That is correct, too. Plus, when you get that saltwater intake, your body flushes a lot of fresh fluids out and you become more and more dehydrated, then your brain doesn't work as well. The muscles and the blood to your brain doesn't go as well and I guess like you said, they lose it. They really accidentally lose consciousness, so to speak. It's a 100 percent possibility.

SANCHEZ: It's why Schuyler's story fits that equation. Obviously doctors and experts and the Coast Guard will continue to file reports, and we'll continue to read them and bring you the information. But that, my friends, is the very latest. My thanks as usual, to Chad Myers.

MYERS: Always.

SANCHEZ: Driving without a license and speeding. Both illegal. Both usually nets you a fine. That is assuming the judge isn't taking money to send you to jail. That's right. What if a judge is taking money from the jail to send them more inmates? And what if those inmates are kids? This is happening and we're talking to the victims next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) SANCHEZ: We welcome you back. I'm Rick Sanchez. Let me look over here and see what we've got. The market is down 307. Susan Lisovicz is telling us, she's there following this on Wall Street. It's being described as a blood bath on Wall Street today. I guess the only silver lining is that yesterday they were up but not up as much as we are down right now. We're going to continue to watch this and see what it does. It's now below 317. You know what, we'll just keep this up during the newscast. We'll get back there to the story at the very end to catch up with Susan Lisovicz.

In the meantime, take a look at this story that's had us incensed all week long.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SANCHEZ: County judges took millions of dollars in kickbacks from privately run juvenile detention facilities. Did you get that? Are you ready for this again? Let me say it again. These guys, these judges, Mark Jabarella and Michael Conahan, pocketed millions from these centers in exchange for sending them kids who possibly didn't even belong there. Shouldn't even have been in jail. But the judges were getting kickbacks, so they sent them there anyway.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SANCHEZ: Judges were getting kickbacks. Millions of dollars from a jail who said, we need more inmates and we need you to send these kids to jail. It's an unbelievable story. Since then, we've learned that they have pled guilty to fraud, and that these two men will likely serve a minimum of seven years behind bars. They helped the prisons get millions of dollars and joining us now for an exclusive interview is someone we are going to want to hear from.

This is Jamie Trocki, he was jailed for 60 days by one of these judges. By the way, with no lawyer, and no real trial. His father is Charles Edwards, who is also joining us. Mr. Edwards, if that were my son, I would be furious. Sir I can only imagine you are, too.

CHARLES EDWARDS, FATHER: Yes, sir, I am. And yes, sir, I was at the time.

SANCHEZ: Let me just frame this for you a little bit. I know you're probably not used to being on camera. It's the first time you've given an interview to somebody. When you first learned that your son had gone to jail and was sent there by judges who were being paid literally to send him there so they can grease their own pockets, what did you say? What was your reaction?

EDWARDS: Well, when I -- when it first happened, I was shocked. At the time when my son was sent away, we didn't understand why, because he had some minor citations that we had paid. And we were told he was going to be coming home. And he was eventually sent away. But when I heard recently about the scandal, I was furious. And it really started to -- I started to understand more why what happened to my son and a bunch of other children, why it happened. I started to understand why. SANCHEZ: Jamie, let me get your reaction as well to this. I'm curious, did you expect you would be going to jail for your violation, which I understand is something that in most states, students get perhaps probation for?

JAMIE TROCKI, JAILED BY CORRUPT JUDGE: No, I didn't think I would be going to jail. I thought I was going to go to court, maybe get probation or something like that. Just got sent away.

SANCHEZ: 60 days? Did you serve them all?

TROCKI: Yes, I did.

SANCHEZ: What was it like?

TROCKI: It was shocking, actually. Never experienced anything like that before. And I really didn't know what was going on, when I was going to come home. Things like that.

SANCHEZ: I'll tell you, to be sent to jail by judges who are actually taking money to send you there, certainly puts a whole new spin on our justice system. It's something we've been looking into. My thanks to both of you for taking us through this story as difficult and perhaps uncomfortable as it may be.

Some say he's the new leader of the Republican Party. Others say he's a pawn of Democratic political strategists who are maneuvering in a Machiavellian way. Which is it? Rush, the new ideological leader or Rush the victim of this?

Speaking of political maneuvering, Karl Rove was a master of it but now he's going to testify to Congress about potential political abuses during the Bush administration. We'll be back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SANCHEZ: Welcome back. I'm Rick Sanchez. We're just now getting some information that I want to share with you. We are being told, and we've been following this for a while, because who doesn't love Robin Williams, right? We're now being told that Robin Williams will have aortic valve replacement surgery. Obviously to deal with whatever form of angina or heart condition that he may have. So Robin Williams, who has canceled four of his shows in Florida, which we reported to you yesterday, we now learn will have aortic valve replacement surgery. Interestingly enough, the same surgery that Barbara Bush, former First Lady Barbara Bush has been undergoing. There's some information, interestingly enough, tied together. The latest information on those stories as we are following them right now.

Meanwhile, the Dow continues to be 313 down. Susan Lisovicz joining us now to bring us up to date on what's going on. Man, did I hear somebody tell me that they're calling it a blood bath out there today? Why is that?

SUSAN LISOVICZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Why is that? Rick, because we're already at levels that are just, you know, almost unthinkable. It was only in October of 2007 where the Dow reached its all-time high, above 14,100. To think that we have not yet found bottom, just indicates the kind of fear that's prevalent in the marketplace. So how do we measure it? We measure it with the point loss, which is severe and the level. We're below 6,600 for the Dow Industrials. That's the levels we saw in April of 1997 when one of the headlines of the day was about the Clinton Whitewater scandal. Just to give you an idea.

SANCHEZ: Stay there. We're going to be coming back to you to check this, hopefully by the end of the day, which is about 12 minutes away on Wall Street. It will go in the other direction. I'm just saying, as Murph would say, I'm just saying, I hope, we hope. We'll be back in just a minute.

In fact, right here next to me and we're going to be talking about the situation, the Machiavellian ploys and Democrats, when it comes to Rush Limbaugh or the other side of the story. We've got both.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SANCHEZ: Welcome back. I'm Rick Sanchez here at the world headquarters of CNN. Machiavellian political strategy, that's what we're going to talk about. In this case, it's all about Rush Limbaugh, has been for the last week. Show me the picture of Mr. Limbaugh. There he is. This is what Dems want you to see over and over again. They have been fuelling the Rush Limbaugh flames. I want to take you now through how this whole strategy started. Started with a survey by a Democratic polling firm reportedly that shows how Americans dislike Rush Limbaugh.

Are you surprised? Some are. The poll was taken shortly before the election. Look at this, it's got Rush Limbaugh coming in at 58 percent for dislikes. Actually, the question was Americans who feel cold about him. Asked as well about Reverend Wright, that came in at 51 percent. So Rush Limbaugh seems to make Americans cold or is more disliked than Reverend Wright. Well it seems that some Democrats may have seen that and they decided that they would pounce on it, especially after Limbaugh really touched the trip wire so to speak when he said this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: I don't need 400 words. I need four. I hope he fails.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SANCHEZ: Well, then the GOP voted in mass against the stimulus and some Democrats decided, perfect. We'll make it all about Rush Limbaugh. Is that the case? Ok, let's go to Patricia Murphy. She's joining us here, with citizenjanepolitics.com as she every day does. And then Mark Preston, who is the CNN political editor who also joins us on a regular basis. I want to show you now a graphic if you would, Mr. Preston. This is interesting, from Minority Leader John Boehner. This was in the "Washington Post" today, it's an op ed. "In a carefully calculated campaign, operatives and allies of the Obama administration are seeking to divert attention toward radio host Rush Limbaugh and away from a debate about Republicans' alternative solutions on the economy and the irresponsible spending binge they are presiding over."

Mark, the GOP in Mr. Boehner's own words, looking for a way to wiggle out of this situation that they may have been put in by the Democrats?

MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICAL EDITOR: You know Rick, some might say that that op-ed in today's "Washington Post" is probably about three days too late. This story is really nearing its end at this point and John Boehner and other Republican leaders really should have nipped this in the bud on Monday. They really did give Democrats three or four days of press and their ability to really try to tie the Republican Party to Rush Limbaugh.

SANCHEZ: You know what's interesting Murph, let me bring you into this, you mentioned yesterday, look, this thing could backfire on the Democrats, they have to be careful. This guy is very popular. And he is with what, let me do the math, 42 percent of the people say they like him, right? Listen to this graphic all right. This is interesting. I want to share this with you. It's from David From, a conservative by the way. He says, "If you're a talk radio host and you have five million who listen and there are 50 million who hate you, you make a nice living. If you're a Republican Party, you're marginalized."

PATRICIA MURPHY, EDITOR, CITIZENJANE POLITICS.COM: Yes, a couple of things here. He has more than five million listeners. He has many more than that.

SANCHEZ: Twenty million.

MURPHY: And when you replicate the media that's been covering him for the last week it has got to be about a hundred billion. I mean we have totally jumped the shark on Rush Limbaugh at this point. But here's how I think it backfires and we started to see this last night and today. Attacking Rush Limbaugh is a no-lose when you start to see the tentacles of the coordinated campaign attacking Rush Limbaugh from the chief of staff of the White House out to Capitol Hill, out to the interest groups, normal people are going to say, don't you have anything better to do? We have a blood bath on Wall Street. Don't we have anything else going on?

SANCHEZ: Down to 20 seconds on this, because we have to get to the Wall Street story Mark. But are Democrats even denying that they're doing this?

PRESTON: You know they're obviously saying of course it's a coordinated effort but in fact it is a coordinated effort. And as you go to Wall Street right now Rick and you look at how the Dow just keeps slipping, as you look at the fact that we have a health care crisis, I think Democrats should probably change their tune on this issue now.

SANCHEZ: We've got a problem, it's a big problem. Susan Lisovicz is here to take us through it as a matter of fact. You guys hang in there, see if we can get back to you on this. But Susan, what's the Dow doing? Getting a little better than it was though, right?

LISOVICZ: Well you know, it's hard to look at the glass as half full. You basically, you want to get out of the way of a falling knife and that is what's happening. The markets are falling. We're not really looking for a bottom when you see this kind of carnage for every stock that's going higher right now, there are 14 to the downside. I think two culprits today, one is that Citigroup, which was one the most valuable financial company by its stock price just two years ago, went below a buck, broke the buck as they say on Wall Street. Psychologically important, just incredible that this huge, huge company is trading under $1 a share. And also GM's auditor saying it may not be able to survive this economy alone. It may have to file for chapter 11.

SANCHEZ: We're going to treat this like breaking news. We're just going to get a quick break in though. I want to come back to you. The president said yesterday, suggested to Americans, hey, there's some great buying opportunities there and some people went out and bought. The market was actually on the plus side. How did it switch so dramatically from that to what we're seeing today? That's the question to Susan Lisovicz coming back, stay with us, we're on this market story as breaking news right after this break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SANCHEZ: Yes, this is breaking news. The market's down, down. We have got Patricia Murphy standing by, we've got Susan Lisovicz there on Wall Street, now we have Wolf Blitzer joining us as well. Wolf, how big a risk might this be for the president of the United States seeing these markets decline day after day?

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: It's really disappointing I'm sure for folks over at the White House. We may be hearing from the president address this issue once again as he did earlier in the week Rick. He's going to be speaking shortly. We'll have live coverage coming up here in "THE SITUATION ROOM." I'm sure it's on the minds of a lot of folks even though people at the White House are trying to play down the day-to-day fluctuations of the markets.

SANCHEZ: But there's serious political fallout for something like this. I mean President Clinton watched the market carefully according to his books after his presidency. Is it something that your folks are telling you that this president needs to do as well?

BLITZER: He's going to be watching it of course like all of us are watching the markets, but they're trying to make the point, you know what, you can't just take a look at the markets, you have to look at the long-term. You just can't go day to day and they'll see what happens. He's got a lot of work ahead of him. SANCHEZ: Yes, you're right Wolf. It's the argument about Main Street versus Wall Street. Susan Lisovicz is on Wall Street. Does that thing hold water?

LISOVICZ: Well it's very tough to find somebody who's investing in long term. Warren Buffet has said he's greedy when others are fearful. But even he who invests for the long term, who has an unparallel track record said the economy is going to be in a shambles this year and next. And check out what the market did today. We're at levels that we haven't seen since April of 97 -- Rick?

SANCHEZ: Wow, 6597. My thanks to Patricia Murphy, Susan Lisovicz. Let's take it back to Wolf Blitzer now in "THE SITUATION ROOM." Wolf?

BLITZER: Rick, thanks very much. Happening now, America's troubled health care system under examination. We're standing by to hear directly from President Obama about a high-powered brainstorming session that's going on at the White House right now.

Plus, bold and unprecedented attacks deep inside a critical airbase in Afghanistan.