Return to Transcripts main page


Conservatives Take Shots at Sotomayor; You're Wrong, It's My Right of Way; Supreme Fight; Attorney Charged in Murder Plot

Aired May 28, 2009 - 15:00   ET



TROOPER: You are under arrest.


TROOPER: You are under arrest.

PARAMEDIC: I would like to press charges.

RICK SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): An update on the officer who fought the paramedic and kept him from taking a victim to the hospital.

Judge Sonia Sotomayor is a bigot and a racist, so say Limbaugh and Gingrich and...

TOM TANCREDO (R), FORMER U.S. CONGRESSMAN: That somebody else is less qualified, less able, less competent than you are because of the color of their skin or their sex, it makes you a sexist, a racist. And it doesn't matter what color skin you have.

SANCHEZ: Tom Tancredo joins me live.

This woman says two African-American men locked her in a trunk. It's a lie.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It just was a total fabrication on her part.

SANCHEZ: What you're saying on today's national conversation for Thursday, May 28, 2009.


SANCHEZ: All right, it's this breaking news story that we have been following for you.


That is my chin. Here I am. Ready?

Here's the story. Father Cutie has been following the situation for us for quite some time. You want me to go over here? Let's go to the shot with Father Cutie. All right, I should tell you the signal's going to be breaking a little bit because there's a thunderstorm going on right now in South Florida, but we want you to hear what he has to say, his description of what he's going through. He is -- bear with us. This shot will come back, I promise.

And now he's speaking in Spanish. I will translate for you.

He says: "Those whose faith is something that we continue to do. Here, before this community which I have chosen to serve and where I live, I am going to continue to proclaim the word of God and my love for God. Now more than ever in my life, I'm showing God this love.

"He is the source of all love. This sin for me didn't begin just a couple of weeks ago. I have been searching in my heart and in my soul. I have talked to friends and about all the virtues within the faith and for all of us who try and proclaim ourselves as Christians.

"A man should be able to -- a man should be able to be married, it seemed to say, and still serve God, to be able to live a life through the sacrament. I would never want to hurt anyone, and certainly not my family or my friends or this community.

"And I also want to state clearly. And I also don't want what I do to in any way stain or hurt all those good priests in the Catholic Church. I will always love the Catholic Church and all its members for my faith and theirs. I will always keep them in my heart.

"But, today -- but I want to start today by going into a new family, but I will never abandon my service to God. And I will always promote unity for all people of faith. In a world that's always changing, I want to bring unity to people of all faiths who honor God. But I do ask, please respect my privacy.

"There's so many lies that have been said, rumors, and things that have hurt me, people who are looking for money, people who have been trying to take advantage of the situation to -- for themselves. Please, stop this. I'm asking you to stop this.

"As we begin this new stage in my life, I ask that you treat me with the respect that we deserve. And I also want to thank many people at the international level and here in South Florida, all those who have given us unconditional love. All I ask for, that God bless all of you."

Let's see if he's going to try and take questions. Again, that's Father Alberto Cutie. And Father -- Padre Alberto, as he's known, you hear him there being sought out. There he is with an Anglican bishop, has made this decision as you saw right there.

We apologize for some of the technical issues we had there at the beginning. That was an issue with our camera, I suppose.

The long and the short of it that he is no longer a Catholic, certainly no longer a Catholic priest, seems to be saying he's going to remain a Catholic in his heart, but he's leaving the Catholic faith because he's in love with the woman you may have seen there a little bit earlier, a woman that he was photographed on the beach with, which is what started this entire controversy, which seems to be the reason for his decision now to remain a priest, but in the Anglican Church, and not in the Catholic Church.

The news as it breaks. If there's any developments in this story, certainly, we will bring them to you.

And this story that we're following as well -- are there signs that the same problems that we had in Iraq when we turned over much of that war, not to soldiers, not to Marines, not to people who are accountable to the American people, but, rather, to contractors, accountable essentially to no one, and now being repeated again in Afghanistan?

Is it possible that the same mistakes that may have happened in Iraq are now happening again in Afghanistan? The same group, in fact, kicked out of Iraq, Blackwater, is now under investigation in Afghanistan again.

Suzanne Simons is an executive producer here at CNN. She's written an amazing book on this topic about Blackwater, the guy who founded Blackwater, and also the very lucrative business of war.

And before we do anything else, I want you and I to watch this report.


SANCHEZ: It's filed by our own Pentagon correspondent, CNN's Chris Lawrence, takes us through this new imbroglio, the one going on in Afghanistan, and then we will talk about it on the other side.

Go ahead. Hit that, Rog.


CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: This isn't just American contractors vs. Afghan officials. It's the contractors against their own company. And it all comes down to, whom do you believe?

(voice-over): An Afghan civilian was killed in Kabul, shot by American contractors on a dark, dusty road. That much, both sides agree. But the security company says the men were drinking. The contractors say the company's making that up to put the blame on them.

STEVE MCCLAIN, XE CONTRACTOR: We were not allowed to use our weapons until we feel that there's an imminent threat, and that's what we felt that night.

LAWRENCE: On camera for the first time and talking to CNN by satellite, they asked to us conceal their faces for their families' sakes.

The contractors say they were driving their interpreters home at night on a major road, two trucks, two contractors each, when an Afghan car accelerated up to their lead truck and rear-ended it.

MCCLAIN: My vehicle went out of control and flipped a few times. I ended up hitting -- hitting something.

LAWRENCE: They say the Afghan car turned, rushed toward the second truck and almost ran over a contractor.

(on camera): Was your gun right there with you, like, in the front seat?

MCCLAIN: You have your weapon, like -- like nearby you. And when I got out of the vehicle, I had my weapon in my hands, yes.

LAWRENCE (voice-over): They opened fire with AK-47s provided by the company. An Afghan was shot in the stomach and died. Two others were injured, including a pedestrian.

Another civilian shooting two years ago ultimately got Blackwater banned from Iraq. Its security guards were accused of killing 17 civilians there. Blackwater renamed itself Xe and still gets multimillion-dollar contracts in Afghanistan. These contractors are former U.S. troops hired by Xe to give weapons training to Afghan soldiers.

In Steve McClain's termination letter, the company says he breached his contract and violated its alcohol policy.

(on camera): Had you ever had a drink in the six months or so that you had been in Afghanistan?

MCCLAIN: No, not in Afghanistan, no. No, sir. There was no question as to where you drink in. It was: I know you were drinking. I know this happened -- pretty much trying to force us into making a statement on that.

LAWRENCE: What would they have to gain by -- by insinuating that?

MCCLAIN: If you can say that a guy was drunk, you just turned that into a personnel issue, like a single issue with the contractors. So, you know, for them, it's a -- it's a business move to make us the scapegoats in this.

LAWRENCE (voice-over): The company told us: "That did not happen. Their direction was to cooperate with the investigation. And lying is not cooperating."

(on camera): I have got a copy of their original DOD contract, which does not provide the contractors with weapons. But the U.S. military says there may have been a local decision which gave them the authorization to have them. The military is considering referring this killing to the Justice Department. But there are some Afghan officials who want it heard in Afghan court.

Chris Lawrence, CNN, Washington.


SANCHEZ: And once again, Suzanne Simons is joining us now.

Doesn't this come down to accountability? If a soldier does something, if a Marine does something, we know who they're accountable to.

SIMONS: Exactly.

SANCHEZ: Who are these guys accountable to?

SIMONS: Well, that's a great question, because in Iraq, as we saw, there was no clear line of accountability.

But, in Afghanistan now, the Army's Criminal Investigation Division is investigating this. And they would be held accountability if they do, in fact, find wrongdoing under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So, under a military code of law is how the contractors would be accountable in Afghanistan.

But as you just heard Chris Lawrence say, the Afghan government is showing interest in possibly prosecuting. So, it still -- we still don't know a lot.

SANCHEZ: Let's talk about Blackwater in particular. Blackwater is no longer allowed in Iraq. They were essentially kicked out by the Iraqi government.

SIMONS: Yes, they were.

SANCHEZ: And now -- are they changing their name, so they can continue to do this?

SIMONS: They did change their name earlier this year. I think it was about the end of January, February. They wanted to rebrand.

They realized, hey -- I spoke with Erik Prince. The book that I wrote is about Erik Prince and how the company actually got formed and what had happened.

SANCHEZ: Rebrand?

SIMONS: He understood the fact that the company's name had become radioactive, and so I think a lot of the discussion between the executives was, well, we feel like we're doing a good job. We need to change our name.


SANCHEZ: But there's something terribly dis -- I think most people watching this, whether you're on one side or this argument or the other, would think that there's something terribly dishonest about me telling you, your company is not allowed to work here anymore, because you screwed up.

SIMONS: I agree with that, but... SANCHEZ: And then you come back and say, OK, that's not the name of our company anymore. It's the same people.

SIMONS: Right. Right. I completely agree with that. And companies do it all the time. They do it all the time.

There have been several other instances of companies who have gotten in trouble before and have changed their name like -- I agree. But...

SANCHEZ: To be fair, if George Bush is to be criticized, as is Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, for allowing...

SIMONS: Right.

SANCHEZ: ... these guys to become really a little too big for their own britches in Iraq, shouldn't President Obama be criticized the same way if this is happening in Afghanistan?

SIMONS: Sure he should.

But the problem is that the United States went to war with not enough troops. General Shinseki told the Congress exactly that. And the Pentagon disagreed. They went to war without enough people.


SANCHEZ: So, these guys are making up the difference?

SIMONS: Exactly. So, what is President Obama to do, come into office and say, all the contractors, go home? Guess what that is going to do to our military operations overseas? We may as well pack it up and bring everybody back, because they are not going to sustain what they have started.

SANCHEZ: That's a heck of a story.

SIMONS: Isn't that amazing?

SANCHEZ: The name of your book again, "Master of War"?

SIMONS: "Master of War: Blackwater USA's Erik Prince and the Business of War."

SANCHEZ: It's something all Americans should really know about, because they are fighting in our name.

SIMONS: They are.

SANCHEZ: Whether we like it or not.


SANCHEZ: Suzanne, thanks so much.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey. Whoa, whoa. Wait, wait, wait.





SANCHEZ: This is a story that captivated so many of you. And now we have got a follow to this bizarre story that aired yesterday, an officer arresting a paramedic who needed to get a woman to the hospital. Talk about priorities.

And this woman says two African-American men abducted her and her daughter. But it was all a hoax. Well, now she's being charged.

And are right-wing extremists right to brand Sotomayor a racist and a bigot? Rush, Newt, Tom and more are hitting it big, both sides, right here.


SANCHEZ: In case you haven't heard, we started this newscast with the announcement, his own announcement, which I translated for you, that Father Cutie is leaving the Catholic Church. He's going to be an Anglican and he plans to get married to the woman he loves and which he was photographed on a South Florida beach.

Already, reaction coming in. This is from Ralph4159, who watched that report, saying: "Father Cutie can't even keep his own pants on, yet he wants gay and lesbian Catholics to remain celibate for life? Hello?"

And then we have got somebody over here on MySpace. And they're saying: "Translator extraordinaire. Good job."

Aw, shucks.

A Pennsylvania woman is being returned to Philadelphia after being caught red-handed lying. And there's no doubt that her lie has serious racial overtones. Not kidding here. This woman says she and her daughter were stuffed into a trunk of a car, which was reason for concern, until somebody watched a surveillance video at the airport and the video shows Bonnie Sweeten and her 9-year-old daughter in Philly's International Airport getting ready to board a flight for Orlando instead to Disney World.

And it gets better. We're now getting reports that the 38-year- old mother, seen here, in her booking photo from Orange County, Florida, jails had a few reasons to run, reportedly $12,000 worth of reasons. Police say it may have been stolen.

Ashleigh Banfield anchors "Banfield & Ford." That's "Banfield & Ford." Notice Banfield is first on that. She anchors over at...



SANCHEZ: ... truTV. That's the right answer.


SANCHEZ: She's joining us now live.

You know, Ash, I guess -- it's bad enough that she may have stolen and that she seems to have lied. But this thing about two black men, that just ices this nasty cake, doesn't it?

BANFIELD: Yes, the hackles on the back of your neck are screaming Susan Smith, aren't they?


SANCHEZ: They certainly are.

BANFIELD: Doesn't she know the story? She's 38. It only happened two decades ago.

And not only that, but, for God's sake, Rick, doesn't anybody know these days about how forensics work? There are cell phone towers triangulating constantly where you make calls from, and there are video cameras like the ones you just showed showing where you at almost all times. She's not the cleverest tool in the shed.

SANCHEZ: Is she -- there is a possibility that even more charges are going to be filed? Is there any to -- because we hear about all these hate crimes all the time.


SANCHEZ: Is there a possibility you can nail her on trying to blame this on two black men?

BANFIELD: No, not really, because here's the weird thing. While this seems like a horrific crime that happened, she didn't really do anything other than make a phone call and lie.

And that's a serious charge when you cause a lot of problems for a number of different police agencies, not the least of which she caused a lot of problems for the father of that daughter, who got very scared and made an appeal for her safety.

So, making false reports and using a fake I.D., which is identity theft, are the ones that she will be the most likely be facing. As for the other stuff, no, it's not a hate crime, what she did. It may not even been a federal crime. I know she went over state lines, et cetera. That could be a custodial thing.

She could be up against a criminal, you know, infraction, whereby she defied a court order, a court custodial order. But, no, the other stuff, it just sort of defies intuition, but no.


SANCHEZ: You know, we got some video some coming in. Hold on. Let's watch this together. You got a monitor there? Can you see...

BANFIELD: I do. I'm on a delay, but I will watch with you.

SANCHEZ: All right. Here it is. I was just by Chris Hall (ph), my producer, that we have got video coming -- this is the dad apparently picking up the child in this case. That was the 9-year-old daughter apparently being taken away from the mom.

Help me out here, Ash.

BANFIELD: Well, here's the thing. We are not clear what the custodial issues were between the two, because it was only just yesterday I think he was saying on "The Today Show" -- or it might even have been this morning -- she's a good mom.

I don't know that there's an antagonistic relationship here. And I don't know that she did something against a court order. If she wasn't allowed to take that daughter out of her jurisdiction without his permission, well, that could be a criminal violation of a custody...


SANCHEZ: Well, it's a shame that she had to drag the daughter into this whole thing in the first place.


SANCHEZ: It's bad enough if you're going to do something like that. The daughter is perfectly innocent and has done absolutely nothing wrong. I feel almost bad even putting her on TV, which I think we were trying to avoid, but the dad has a right to claim her here.


BANFIELD: Well, absolutely.

But here's the thing. Before we all freak out that this daughter was stuffed into a trunk, she wasn't.


BANFIELD: For all we know, this daughter just thinks she was on a trip to Disneyland with her mom. She may nothing of all of this.


SANCHEZ: She was dragged into it in the media...

BANFIELD: Absolutely. SANCHEZ: ... which I guess is not a real world for her. All she did was, she went to Disney with her mom.


BANFIELD: Well, and her mom may end up in jail for a few months.


BANFIELD: Because what she did is on the -- it's on the top end of the spectrum for a sentencing. And if it's a three to five, this judge could say, I don't care if you're a first offender. You are going to do a few months in jail for this. You really put a lot of people out.


SANCHEZ: He might be angry.

BANFIELD: He or she.


SANCHEZ: Yes, he or she. Or -- or -- and he or she may be African-American.

BANFIELD: Or Hispanic, my friend, Sanchez.

SANCHEZ: We will talk about that in a little bit.


SANCHEZ: Ash, thanks so much. Congratulations.

BANFIELD: Thank you.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: His mantra, if you will: no witness, no case.


SANCHEZ: What happens when his former colleague, a big-time lawyer, is accused in a murder? This is a shocking report. We're going to bring it to you.

Also, the list of big names from the right calling Sonia Sotomayor a racist is growing today. We're going to be sharing that with you. In fact, you will hear who else is now going at this.

Stay with us.


SANCHEZ: All right. I haven't had a chance yet to explain something you to, and I know we're getting a lot of reaction to it. Some people like it. Some people don't. Here's somebody who doesn't.

Pat Shaw is watching. Middle of that Twitter board, if you can there, Robert. "Hate that new scroll format. Hard to follow. Why Sotomayor scroll hour after hour? Is CNN against her nomination? Hope not."

We're neither for, nor against. But we will tell you this. We're just trying to give you as much information as we possibly can get on an issue that relates to just about every single American. So, what we're doing is, we're scrolling not only her rulings, but facts about her. And we will continue to do so for the next several days. We think it's an interesting way of sharing information with you, kind of added information, information-plus, as they say.

All right, let's talk now about a lawyer. Lawyers are used to being around people who are in trouble, right? Well, this is about a lawyer who is in trouble, big trouble.

These words, conspiracy, racketeering murder, that's what they're talking about. And this is the kind of heat that doesn't come down often on attorneys. This is an amazing story. It's told by CNN's Joe Johns.

I want you to watch.


JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As a defense attorney, Paul Bergrin grabbed headlines with his high-profile clients like rap stars Queen Latifah and Lil' Kim. He's also known for defending an Army Reservist convicted in the Abu Ghraib prison investigation.

PAUL BERGRIN, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: What the government should be doing at this time is supporting these soldiers who have dedicated and devoted their lives and risked their lives for Americans abroad and in the theater of Iraq.

JOHNS: But, earlier in his career, Bergrin was a federal prosecutor. He worked in the same office as this man, Ralph Marra, who is now acting U.S. attorney for New Jersey. But now Marra is charging his former colleague with 14 counts, including conspiracy to commit murder and racketeering.

The allegation is that, as a defense attorney, Bergrin was intimidating witnesses against his clients. At least one of those witnesses wound up dead.

(on camera): This doesn't happen a lot, though?

RALPH MARRA, U.S. ATTORNEY: With a lawyer you mean?


MARRA: No, that doesn't. But witness intimidation is an everyday occurrence, frankly. It really is. JOHNS (voice-over): Prosecutors say, when it came to certain witnesses against his clients, Bergrin had a unique strategy.

MARRA: There's clearly evidence and it is alleged in our papers that that was his mantra, if you will: no witness, no case.

JOHNS: Five years ago, Bergrin popped up on the government's radar. DEA agents had locked up a guy from this neighborhood named William Baskerville. They said they had Baskerville on cocaine distribution charges.

A court document asserts that, in a jailhouse visit, Baskerville told his defense attorney, Bergrin, that an informant named Kemo had given him up.

MARRA: Bergrin had discussions with Mr. Baskerville's associate. And that's where he uttered the famous line, "No Kemo, no case."

JOHNS (on camera): Baskerville's buddies when looking for Kemo, and found him here, near the intersection of South Orange Avenue and 19th Street in Newark. One of Baskerville's buddies walked up behind Kemo and shot him in the back of the head three times. He was dead.

(voice-over): If true, it's more than witness intimidation. It's witness elimination. Baskerville was convicted on drug charges and conspiracy to murder a witness. But Bergrin's lawyer says his client did nothing wrong.

(on camera): Though he would not do an interview on camera, his lawyer told me Bergrin denies all the charges against him and nay statements like "No witness, no case," or "No Kemo, no case" were referring to impeaching the witness, destroying the witness's credibility on the stand, not killing the witness.

(voice-over): But there's one current running through all of this. Paul Bergrin is a former assistant U.S. attorney. His job was to prosecute the bad guys.

MARRA: Are we somewhat ashamed of it or troubled by it? Of course we are. And do we wish it wasn't one of us? Yes, we do.

JOHNS: Now the former prosecute faces judgment.

Joe Johns, CNN, Washington.



TANCREDO: If you think that somebody else is less qualified, less able, less competent than you are because of the color of their skin or their sex, it makes you a sexist, a racist. And it doesn't matter what color skin you have.

(END VIDEO CLIP) SANCHEZ: Well, there's Newt, there's Rush, and now there are many, many more, like Mr. Tancredo on the right, who are calling Sonia Sotomayor a bigot and a racist. What she said to bring it on, we will share it with you, both sides.

Also, there's a powerful earthquake striking Honduras. I'm going to show you the damage that has hit there, and we're going to continue to follow it.

And then your bank is about to nail you with some new fees. Ouch. I will tell you what they are.


SANCHEZ: And, as we come out of that, I want to share with you the fact that your creativity astounds me. I'm going to tell you more about what I'm talking about in just a moment. Hold that thought.

First, there's been a major earthquake, and it has left the Central American country of Honduras reeling. It was a big one, 7.1 magnitude, hit around 3:30 this morning.

So far, three people dead, two of them are children. Forty others injured. The worst damage is in a place called La Lima, where all these children we told you about have died.

We are watching it and we'll bring you developments. If more information comes in on this story, as it warrants, we will turn it around.

Before you go to the break, though, Roger (ph), let me just show -- let me just show folks what I was talking about a minute ago.

"You just made a phony call to 911 claiming to be abducted by African-Americans. What are you going to do next? I'm going to Disney World!"

Funny take on a story we told you about moments ago.

All right, hit that flare, Roger (ph)!



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mama, are you all right (ph)?


SANCHEZ: Yes, this is amazing, parts of this melee that you may have missed. And there's new information on the antics of a trooper who stopped a paramedic from doing his job because of -- something about cutting him off.

And then this woman, see that right there? Look at that video. Forcibly removed from Los Angeles Airport before the president was to depart from California. We're going to tell you what we're finding out about this story.

And then Judge Sotomayor's words being used by some in the GOP to call her racist, bigoted. We'll examine what she said and what they're saying about her.

Stay with us. We'll be right back.


SANCHEZ: The judge is Puerto Rican. She is a woman. She grew up in the projects of the Bronx but continued on to Princeton, where she graduated second in her class in law school.

She's also, though, a racist and a bigot. At least that is what some high-profile Republicans are saying about the president's pick to fill the vacated Supreme Court justice seat.

Here is what Rush Limbaugh says about Sonia Sotomayor: "Here you have a racist. You might want to soften that, and you might want to say a reverse racist."

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich: "New racism is no better than old racism." He tweeted this. More from Newt: "White man racist nominee would be forced to withdraw. Latina woman racist should also withdraw."

What is it that has them so fired up? It's a quote, a quote from the judge eight years ago, where she says -- go ahead, Roger (ph), put that up for me, if you would -- "A wise Latina woman would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male."

To be fair, though, let's add context and see the quote in its complete form. And it does sound a bit different when we do that.

And we want to do that. So, let's put that one up now, if we possibly can, and let me read to you from that.

"I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male" -- and this the part that a lot of folks will point to -- "who hasn't lived that life." "Who hasn't lived that life."

She goes on, by the way. That thing goes on for quite a long time. It's very nuanced, and she goes on to point out that many, many men, white men , have come to decisions on the Supreme Court that were good for many minorities.

So, regardless, the drumbeat continues.

Listen to what Tom Tancredo last night on CNN, for example.


TANCREDO: Everybody's afraid to challenge her on it for fear of themselves being called racist. So, therefore, it sets this perfect stage. There is no other way, absolutely -- you would have to admit -- I cannot believe that even this show, even this network, even you guys, would not agree that anybody else saying something like that, anybody who is attempting to especially reach the highest court in the land, would immediately be disqualified. There is absolutely no two ways about it.

That is what she said. And by the way, it wasn't a slip of the tongue. That quote was in her prepared text. It's not something she stumbled upon.

And you tried to -- I will be happy to see, interested to see, how she tries to explain that during that hearing.


SANCHEZ: And there's the man himself now, Tom Tancredo, live from Denver. Tom Tancredo, five-term Republican congressman from Colorado.

And we're also going to be joined by Eric Boehlert. He's with Media Matters for America, the group that says they can correct conservative misinformation in this country.

Good to have you both.

Tom Tancredo, good to see you again.

TANCREDO: Likewise. Good to be here.

SANCHEZ: Let me start with you.

Judge Sotomayor is a racist? Is she?

TANCREDO: Let me tell you that -- well, certainly her words would indicate that that is the truth.


TANCREDO: What can I say? How else can -- you know, I can't look at her heart. I have nothing that can analyze her soul.

All I can tell you, just exactly like the things I say are always, you know, used about describing me in one way or the other, all of us in public life have to deal with that. And when you are looking to be on the Supreme Court, don't be surprised that if you say something like that, or if you belong to an organization called La Raza, in this case, which is, from my point of view, anyway, just nothing more than a Latino -- it's a counterpart -- it's a Latino KKK without the hoods or the nooses.

If you belong to something like that, you have to explain that in a way that's going to convince me and a lot of other people that it's got nothing to do with race, even though the logo for La Raza is All for the Race, Nothing for the Rest. What does that tell you?

SANCHEZ: All right, we're not talking about -- you know what, we're not talking about La Raza here though.

TANCREDO: But she's a member. She's a member of La Raza.

SANCHEZ: We're talking about that precise quote.

TANCREDO: But she's a member. She's a member of La Raza.

SANCHEZ: But the thing that has you and Rush Limbaugh and Newt Gingrich saying that she's a bigot is this statement that she made.

Eric, have a go at it.

ERIC BOEHLERT, SR. FELLOW, MEDIA MATTERS FOR AMERICA: Well, even you, Rick, are leaving out the context. The statement was a part of a speech where she was addressing specifically judicial diversity when it comes to race and sex discrimination cases.

That's where she's saying, you know, if you bring your life experience to the bench, that a certain member of the bench could make, in her opinion, a better decision on sex and age -- on sex and race discrimination cases. She wasn't saying that, you know, Latina women make better judges and things like that, so it's absurd.

And frankly, this is a rush -- no pun, this is a rush to the gutter from the right, 48 hours after the Supreme Court nominee -- and we're talking about if she's a racist or not, based on a sentence from a speech eight years ago. This is really pathetic. This is pathetic.

SANCHEZ: But you know what, Tom, the thing about this is, that I've got to challenge you on, is when she says, then, "... a male who hasn't lived that life." I mean, isn't she right...

BOEHLERT: Regardless...

SANCHEZ: Tom Tancredo, let me ask you a question. Have you ever worn spiked heels? I'm serious now.

TANCREDO: No, I have not. Does that mean -- does that disqualify me from bringing a Supreme Court justice?

SANCHEZ: No, but it disqualifies you from making decisions where you know what it's like for women who may be suing a company who have worn spiked heels.

Is there nothing...

TANCREDO: Baloney! Baloney!

Oh, Rick, that is absolute baloney. I couldn't make a judgment simply because I've never worn spiked heels about whether or not the law is correctly applied? That's ridiculous.


SANCHEZ: No, wait. Tom, it's not that you couldn't make a judgment. It's that, wouldn't it be fair to say that someone who has had a specific experience would be able to use that experience whether they're a woman, whether they are of Italian descent like you, whether they are of Cuban descent like me, and say, you know what, that would probably serve me well, whether I'm a journalist, a judge, a congressman, or whatever?

TANCREDO: I hope and pray that the decisions made by the members of the Supreme Court are based upon the law, not about how they feel about the law.

SANCHEZ: And you know...

TANCREDO: Where you say to the guy, you know, how do you feel about -- can you teach music? No. But think the "Minuet in G."

Well, she's saying, I guess the law doesn't matter, but I feel the law in a way that other people can't. What is this? Why don't we just throw out the Constitution?

SANCHEZ: OK. Let me ask you a question.

TANCREDO: Why don't we just amend the Constitution?

SANCHEZ: Let me ask you a question. This is something that's dear to your heart.


SANCHEZ: Let me read to you from another person on the Supreme Court.

BOEHLERT: Exactly. Exactly.

SANCHEZ: "When I get a case about discrimination, I have to think about people in my own family who suffered discrimination because of their ethnic background or because of religion or because of gender. I do take that into account, my own personal background and my own family members."

That's Judge Alito talking.


SANCHEZ: Why weren't you on CNN complaining about that when he made that statement?


TANCREDO: Let me tell you, had I heard it -- let me suggest to you that there is something different about saying my background will always influence the way I see it. Nobody argues that. Who would not think that anybody's background, all their life experiences, would not be part of the way they see the world?

BOEHLERT: That's all she said.

TANCREDO: But she goes far beyond that. BOEHLERT: No, she actually said less than that.

TANCREDO: And because of the color, because a brown woman...

BOEHLERT: In discrimination cases.


TANCREDO: That is a racist statement. You cannot get away from it, you guys.

SANCHEZ: Well, to be fair...

BOEHLERT: You're just completely ignoring the context. You're just completely ignoring the context.

SANCHEZ: All right.

You haven't had a chance to say anything here for a while here, Eric, so go ahead. What is the context?

BOEHLERT: Like I said, her statement was in the context of discrimination cases, and she's saying as a woman and as a Latina, she would bring a certain perspective, just like Judge Alito and every other Supreme Court nominee who has gone through a nomination hearing has said -- Clarence Thomas talked about how he would bring his background.

SANCHEZ: Well, I've got to tell you, I looked at this thing and it would have taken us probably 10 minutes to read the entire thing. It's that nuanced and that long, kind of tough...

TANCREDO: She has gone on.

BOEHLERT: Right. That's why it's important to keep the context. That's why it's important to keep the context.

SANCHEZ: Here's what I'll do...

TANCREDO: Go and look at the rest of her statement.

SANCHEZ: Congressman...

TANCREDO: Go and look at the other things that she said...

SANCHEZ: That's what we're going to do. I'm going to put it on my...

TANCREDO: ... which actually make this worse. It gets worse.

SANCHEZ: I'm going to put it on my Web site, all right? We'll put the entire thing in context.

BOEHLERT: And you have to understand...


BOEHLERT: ... this is the one sentence they're highlighting in the last eight years. One sentence in one speech, and it's even bogus.

SANCHEZ: All right. We'll leave it at that.

Good argument. I'm glad we had a chance to express some good thoughts on both sides.


SANCHEZ: Eric, and, of course, Congressman Tom Tancredo.

Good to see you, my friend.

TANCREDO: Good to see you, too. Any time.

SANCHEZ: Likewise.

A woman taken away by security. This is at Los Angeles Airport. Not far from the president, by the way.

Find out why, who this woman is, and what was going on here when she threw herself on the floor as authorities tried to take her away.

We'll be right back.


SANCHEZ: All right. There's some new developments in a rather odd incident involving a woman covering the president's departure from Los Angeles International Airport just a few hours ago. We were watching it and we were kind of perplexed trying to figure this one out.

In case you haven't seen it, here it is. Only CNN affiliate KTLA was rolling to capture the scene.

See it there? See the woman? Apparently, Secret Service is now saying that the woman is Brenda Lee (ph). She's from Macon, Georgia. She's from a newspaper called "The Georgia Informer."

Her presence worrying some White House staffers there, enough for them to call the Los Angeles Police Department to escort her out of the press area. She wouldn't go quietly, taking her seat in a show of passive resistance.

Officers picked her up and then toted her away. Secret Service isn't talking about this. We've made some calls.

Lee (ph) is soon going to be release. And she wasn't arrested, nor was she charged. But that is how it went down.

This is the one that's -- this is the one that's really had a lot of folks talking. What would a -- what would make a trooper stand in the way of a paramedic who's trying to do his job, trying to get a patient to the hospital, to arrest him?

Ashleigh Banfield is going to join me to discuss this when we come back.

Stay with us.


SANCHEZ: I'm right, the other guy is wrong. That's what both sides are saying after an Oklahoma trooper and paramedic lock horns on the side of a highway, getting physical while a woman was in the back of an ambulance screaming for care.

This is a test of egos, it seems, at the expense of a patient, a victim. The concerned relative of the victim who called the ambulance, by the way, to the scene because her mother may have been having some kind of heat stroke -- or his mother, I should say -- used a cell phone to video this confrontation.

The paramedics and the officers involved remain on duty as both agencies investigate this incident. The officers claim the ambulance driver failed to yield for them as they responded to a call.

Now, the ambulance driver says the officers drove at a high rate of speed without the sirens on and they were unable to pull over safely on the oncoming traffic. In other words, what they're saying is, that before this thing even happened, they had a fight over who should go first.

Kenyada Davis, the son of the woman in the ambulance, couldn't believe what was going on.

Let's take a little bit of this from the beginning.


KENYADA DAVIS, SON OF AMBULANCE PATIENT: Highway patrol pulled my mom's ambulance over because he's mad we didn't pull over. And he tried to arrest the police -- the EMT from taking my mother to the hospital.


SANCHEZ: All right. And there's the officer, and telling him, "You are under arrest." He comes up, he grabs the guy.

Ashleigh Banfield joining us now.

You know, I've got to tell you...


BANFIELD: I'm sorry for laughing. SANCHEZ: ... I mean, timing is like one of those things that you -- like, it's OK to do things in life, just be careful when you do them.

BANFIELD: Yes. I've got to say, I'm sure everybody's trying to sort through what this melee was all about, but there's one thing that the officers are definitely guilty of, and that is bad judgment.


BANFIELD: Failure to yield? Are you serious? A moving traffic violation...


SANCHEZ: While the woman is in the ambulance and you can hear her screaming.

BANFIELD: Right. It's insane.

SANCHEZ: You know, boy, I wish we had that. I think we got out of it a little too soon.

But as soon as the officer goes at this paramedic, you can hear the woman in the ambulance scream.

There it is. Listen.


SANCHEZ: Did you hear that? That was the woman screaming at the top of her lungs while her son was saying, "Mama, mama, it will be all right."

Can you imagine you call an ambulance and you have to put up with this?

BANFIELD: No. And I smell a big, fat lawsuit coming on behalf of this woman and her family. And I'm pretty sure that everybody else is looking at that too.

But as far as is other two parties, will any of them be charged in all of this, you know, ultimately, they let these EMTs go to the hospital, and they were met by troopers at the hospital who even there did not arrest them, but said you may face charges in the future. So, I think while internal affairs looks at the incident and decides what to do about the officers, I mean, they could be facing official misconduct, they could even face assault.

SANCHEZ: Well, but -- yes, that's just it. Even what he was doing was the right thing to do because this paramedic was a heinous guy and had done some terrible thing, let him finish treating the woman and escorting her to the hospital. Then deal with him.

Isn't that just common sense? BANFIELD: You would think. There are some laws that would allow a police officer to do this if it were warranted, Rick. But what? Failure to yield? Please.

And that escalated to what they said was assault on behalf of that EMT, which they said were responding to. Which, by the way, a lot of police officers use when they're in a situation like this. Not to suggest that they used it.

But I think there's a real he said/he said kind of thing coming up on this one. And I don't know that either will be charged, but I'll bet you see that civil lawsuit.

SANCHEZ: I love the way you said that, failure to yield?

BANFIELD: Failure to yield?


SANCHEZ: Ashleigh Banfield, as usual, good job. I enjoy talking to you.

BANFIELD: Always nice to see you, Rick.


All right. When we come back, an update on that abduction story that we told you about. The woman who said two black men put her in the trunk of a car when she was actually on vacation in Disney World. Unbelievable. New pictures we'll share.


SANCHEZ: As we go to break, I want to share some stuff with you.

First of all, let's go over here, if we can, to Facebook, where we see several responses.

Roger says, "I see no reason for the police officer to have his hands around the neck of a paramedic. I saw no resistance. This looks like excessive force and a bone-headed move."

And then Mav Smith also says, "How juvenile is the Republican Party about Sotomayor after what we Democrats had to put up with regarding Justice Clarence Thomas?"

I guess there's always two ways to look at it.

We thank you for all your opinions. We'll see you tomorrow.